Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A parenting book review…

Alrighty folks, so did you complete your homework and finish the book? Winking smile

beyond the sling


I enjoyed it, mainly because I hoped it would give me insight into my mother-in-law’s world, ha! Before even having Eli, I would hear her talk about the importance of homeschooling, extended breastfeeding (going beyond the traditional 12 months), co-sleeping, and home birthing—all of which are discussed in this book. I thought “hey, she would LOVE Mayim as a daughter (in-law)!” Ha ha. I’m not gonna lie either, I thought she was a little “out there” Winking smile. Sorry Shay.

But, then Eli comes along and my whole outlook on life changed, as most of you mommies can relate. Suddenly little things became big things and the word “healthy” took on a whole new meaning to me. We naturally want nothing but the best for our children and to see them thrive and succeed in life. So far so good in seeing eye to eye with this book. I LOVED the chapter on breastfeeding because I’ve become so passionate about it (obviously if you’re a regular reader of my blog). I reeeeeeally want to continue to nurse beyond a year if I can because of how good it is for baby. I’m confident the only reason Eli’s had only one minor cold and knock-on-wood, no major sicknesses so far, (when the national average is 8-10, yes 8 to 10 colds a year during the first few years of life!), is because of nursing. My only disagreement would be on her stance of waiting a full year before starting solids. I don’t feel that’s necessary and a little overkill, but that’s just my opinion. I do believe you should not introduce any food (including rice cereal, well especially rice cereal) before 6 months though.

So the author, Mayin Bialik (aka “Blossom”) has a PhD in neuroscience. Because of this, she approaches parenting from the perspective of knowing how the brain works and operates and using this knowledge to meet the natural needs of a child to be loved, touched, and to form a secure attachment. Ok I’m following you Mayim. I was actually surprised that I could relate to way more of her parenting style than I thought I would. I concluded that I did, or agreed with about 50% if not more of what she was saying. The other 50% wasn’t because I thought she was wrong per se, but rather that there was an alternate way of doing things that would achieve the same results in a less exhausting/sleep deprived/total life consuming way. This alternate way however completely contradicted her beliefs. I parent using about 50% of “babywise” principles, which talks about getting your baby on a schedule and ultimately getting them to sleep through the night. Mayim disagrees with this style wholeheartedly. She comments how babies have no concept of “scheduling” and to “train” babies to be on a schedule would be more cruel than effective. I disagree. Why does Eli go to bed and wake up like clock work without crying then? I don’t shove him in his room at a bedtime I decided on and let him hysterically cry himself to the point of exhausted sleep like she claims moms have to do using a schedule! If he cries at bedtime I know something is wrong and I will go to him, hold him, talk/coo to him, burp him and/or rock him if needed. We all know babies have certain cries that tell us if they’re over-tired, hurting, mad, or hungry etc. Instinctively  we meet our child’s needs by deciphering these cries. But I believe without a doubt that kids thrive on routine and schedules from my own experience and with family and friends using babywise as well.

I had a hard time reading about the constant-attached-to-her-breast 24/7 nursing she often did and the co-sleeping because she felt that was the only way to be successful in meeting her children’s needs of love, affection, food and touch. I went into motherhood knowing and expecting a certain amount of sleep deprivation but I was not about to let that become my life. I would be useless as a wife AND mother being sleep deprived with a baby attached to my excruciatingly sore/sensitive nipples 24/7! In fact my hubby would have divorced me and I would have needed to be commited if this were the only way!

Instead, I fed him on demand as long as he liked (but no sooner than every 2 hrs in order to give the pain center in my brain a reprieve) and focused on helping my son develop good sleep habits in between my loving on, holding, rocking and talking to him. I did have many, MANY nights of interrupted sleep, as expected, but it didn’t define me. I wasn’t ever “beyond exhausted”. I still showered daily, got dressed and out of the house often. She has 2 kids and lives as if getting them to sleep ONLY by nursing/holding/rocking to sleep is natural. If she stopped nursing/holding/rocking when they fell asleep and went to lay them down, they cried, so the cycle would start all over again. Baby would sleep at her breast in bed/couch/sling and that was ALL. But this is all “expected” and “natural” because being a prudent and caring mother, “this is just what you do”. Shoot me now! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE spending time with Eli and cuddling him, but if I was chronically only half rested because I accepted that my child would be up every couple of hours nursing for the next 3 years of his life, I can tell you right now, I would NOT have another child. Does this make me selfish? Maybe. My husband and I felt our child(ren) would become part of our world, not have our world revolve around him. I’d say its working quite well. He sleeps through the night, he nurses like a champ, gets TONS of hugs and probably too many kisses, he has a sense of humor and loves people and interaction. That to me, means he’s thriving and my parenting “style” is working.

photo (1)

oh, hey there handsome. Speak of the devil….

I found the chapter on “elimination communication” very interesting as well. It makes perfect sense for her to potty train her children from day one and to be successful at it because they literally are a part of her body for those first 2 years. She learned very quickly to read the signs her boys were giving her when they needed to go potty. She explains that infants are born giving mom and dad signs that they need to go potty and that it’s us who need to be trained in reading them.  “Babies instinctively do not want to eliminate in a diaper, just as animals in nature do not want to eat or sleep in the same place in which they have eliminated”. I’ll buy that. If I stayed at home most days and didn’t venture out & about and still care about having a semi-social life I might actually consider doing this. Eli ALWAYS turns beet red and grunts when he’s actively pooping. I’ve always thought, “man, if I had a baby potty I could totally put him on it right now and he’d probably get the hang of going in it.” This thought ran through my head from day one since he’s been so obvious about it. I guess its sheer laziness on my part not wanting to stay within feet of a travel potty so that he can “sign” to me that he needs to pee every 15 min (which is what she determined her sons did as newborns! Yikes! I couldn’t do it). I’m not gonna lie though, I did just buy a baby potty and plan to stick him on it when he starts with the “poop” face. I’ll keep you all posted on how this experiment goes Winking smile.

This book isn’t very long, only about 250 pages, but I feel I could spend 250 pages of my own discussing it! (I’ll spare you, I promise). So I’ll limit my opinion to one last point and that’s her stance of “not introducing academics in any form to our children in their first five or so years of life. This included no ABC books, no singing the alphabet song, no puzzles with letters or numbers, and we even went so far as to not ‘teach’ colors, to the dismay of my parents and in-laws”. Oh jeeze. Where do I even begin!??!?! Say whaaaaaat????? WHY??? I get the lets-not-pressure-our-sensitive-kids-to-not-do-anything-they-don’t/aren’t-ready-for stance but COME ON! Kids are sponges the first 5 years of life! If you want to avoid forcing learning on them fine, just don’t show judgment or disappointment if they can’t recite their numbers by a specified age. If they can’t show you which one is the blue car, so what, move on. No big deal. And then she wondered why both her kids barely spoke any words even well after age 3. Well, there’s your answer.

So what did YOU think of her book? Could you relate? Did you find it too far “out there”? Inquiring minds want to know….

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Sportin’ his first shiner. Poor kid.

End opinion.


1 comment:

Cassi said...

Isn't it funny how we all just figure out what works for us and what doesn't? You are a great mommy Linds :) It's so fun to watch you experience this through your blog. They most definitely are sponges. I can't imagine how difficult of a time my kids would be having in school right now if I hadn't taught them to read or count! Damian is leaving Kindergarten reading at a 3rd grade level and Kaitlyn is also reading and doing simple math and already knows most of what will be required of her next year. I know with out that basic foundation they would not be as prepared for school. As far as schedules and bed times and sleeping arrangements... to each their own. My kids are asleep by 8pm every night. They need their rest and I need my quiet time to get stuff done and unwind. On a rare occasion of a bad dream or a sick kid they sleep with me and I definitely don't get a good nights sleep when they do. I wasn't able to breastfeed although I tried, where we lived I didn't get much help. But I lucked out with both of the kids always being very healthy. One doctor did tell me that my health during pregnancy affected theirs during the first year. I am blabbing but I love mommy talk. Take care and congrats on the round noggin :)