Family-Centered Parenting | Giftie Etcetera: Family-Centered Parenting

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Family-Centered Parenting

I've written about this before, but I just read an article a friend posted that got me all fired up about it again. :/ The ironic thing is that the article was pretty innoculous. :) I'm just easily fired up. ;) Go to Mathochist's blog (see side links) to read the article. I'm not linking it directly here, because I don't really agree with the article and don't want you to read it as my suggestion. I'm just explaining my muse. ;)

As a family-centered parent, I believe that you do what is best for the family - not for the child alone and not for the parent alone.

It's why I'm a usual proponent of breastfeeding, but not always. If the reason a parent choses not to breastfeed is simply so they don't have to bother, I'm not in favor of that. (I do believe they have a RIGHT to choose that way, but they also have a RIGHT to bare arms, and you wouldn't see me happy if they had a gun in the house, and a RIGHT to free speech, yet I would be displeased if they used hate speech, even as it is their right.) But if they have a legitimate, family-centered reason, I'm in favor of not breastfeeding, even if it otherwise would be beneficial, for that reason. For example, if the best structure for a particular family involves a SAHD and mom is working a job where leaving the work-site to breastfeed is very difficult (because of the nature of the work as opposed to because of a monkey butt boss), maybe the value of a SAHD outweighs the value of full-time breastfeeding. And part-time breastfeeding just doesn't physically work for some female bodies. If mom tries, but she works and her milk isn't coming in and she reaches a point where the struggle to breastfeed is taking her away from precious time with her baby, I say quit. An unpopular view, perhaps, but my view nonetheless.

Family-centered parenting is why I use time-outs so early and consistently, long before experts recommend them. Ander needs to learn to be a part of the family. Getting temporarily removed from the family, in a sense, by being put in a corner and left alone, is the most effective way I can conceive of to make him understand the value of playing by the rules so he can enjoy his place in the family. Rules and structure are really important to me, alongside love and openness and acceptance.

It would be easier for us to use more sitters, have me work full-time, and use the playpen for something other than my two minutes in the bathtub each morning. But it wouldn't fit our family-centered parenting philosophy, so I wouldn't do those things.

At the same time, I won't quit my job and become a SAHM, because while that might benefit Ander somewhat (and given the great place he is right now, grandma's house with other kids his age, he wouldn't get as much benefit as some kids in worse situations), I measure decisions based on the benefit to the family as a whole, and we would struggle financially and emotionally if that is how we structured our home.

Spanking would seperate us from each other, so we don't use it.

I could go on and on about decisions that we make as parents. I'm not strict enough. I'm too strict. My expectations are too high. I read too many books. I should at least consider breastfeeding, even if my doctor says no. I took away the bottle and paci too early. I took away the bottle and paci too late. Ander will walk when he is ready, so quit pushing him. Ander will walk if you practice with him and make him want it. And on and on. My parenting decisions are not cool with everyone. I know, because people tell me.

But I am cool with my decisions not being cool. :)

What I'm not cool with is that so many people don't believe that parents can be cool with their decisions not being cool. I hear (and, more often, read) that parents who don't breastfeed are made to feel guilty. Nope. You either feel guilty, or you don't. Noone can make you feel. Parents who work feel guilty, so they overcompensate by sending their kid to a program like a Montessori school (as the article on Mathochist's blog suggested). Perhaps that parent isn't overcompensating, but truly believes that some Montessori, some of the day, is beneficial, but that full-time Montessori is too unstructured (which is probably close to where my opinion about it is). I'm not going to (nor would I want to) change the mind of my friends who spank, do extended breastfeeding, work 80 hours a week, stay-at-home with their kids constantly, buy too many toys, buy too few toys, or do whatever else they do that is different than what I would do.

And why in the heck would I want to? :)

After all, I don't have to live their lives.

So why do bloggers, book authors, magazines, and even friends try to tell us how to parent? Why would someone say that they want people to believe what they believe? I'm not Buddhist, and even if you truly believe in Buddha, why would you want more from me than to respect your faith and your right to have and practice your faith? ('Course, I get in trouble with evangelicals here, because conversion of the rest of us is a tenet of their faith.) All I'm saying is that every single parent is different, and there is no reason that we should all parent the same way or under the same philosophy. And if an author tries to convince me otherwise, I tend to blow off the rest of the message, even if she may indeed have a good message, but I'm not cool with the assumption that if I disagree with the author, I must be guilt-ridden.

Nope, I'm cool with being a minority parent, who doesn't believe that the child should lead the way and who doesn't believe that the parent should lead the way, but believes that the good of the entire family should be the guiding light.

Plus, if you didn't notice, I'm just plain cool. Which is why I don't understand why more of you aren't calling me constantly to join you for coffee. :/ ;)



Mamaebeth said...

i have been working on a similar idea in my head for the past few days... i'll try and get it hammered out soon and posted.

we should have coffee this week...

Giftie Etcetera said...

He he. My underhanded, not-obvious-at-all ploy to get more coffee is working. Evil laugh.

Mathochist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mathochist said...

Thanks for clarifying. I am still not sure how what's best for the child isn't what's best for the family, or vice versa, but maybe it's just semantics at this point.

I think it's good you are diciplining your child so young. IMO if they are old enough to disobey (and in both my experiences this starts ~6 months) they are old enough for some kind of consistent discipline. It's good you are smart enough to ignore tantrums too. I *know* to do it, but I suck at it.

If you haven't read any love and logic stuff, you might look at the book for young kids (see my reading list on my blog). It's got some pretty good ideas in it. I have been using some of them in the past 4 days since I started the book, and I have to say I have more patience for misbehaving (and correcting it), and am having even more fun parenting than I was before.

I would love to take you to coffee if it didn't take me three days to get there. (And I drank coffee.)

Janelle smells said...

I agree with you on SO many levels... and I have to say "monkey-butt-boss" That is the funniest thing I have ever heard HAHAHAHAHA.

Frog said...

You deleted someone's comment? My, that will teach me to not wait so long to read blogs!!

Giftie Etcetera said...

I didn't delete. :) They must have "self-censored." He he.

Mathochist said...

I deleted my own comment and reposted it. It being the end of the day and my mommy brain being up way past bedtime, the original comment did not say quite what I intended it to.