Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Monday, September 12, 2005

Obsessive Parenting

I was reading Freakonomics recently and there was a short chapter on obsessive parents. I digested the information and thought about all the posts I've read on various forums over the years by obsessive parents who are so sure that the right stroller, the right books, cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, homeschooling since birth, organic foods, wooden toys, and of course, the SAHM who would never ever use a babysittter or daycare.

I think back 13 years to when my guys were infants, and life was easier for a parent. Back then I called it competetive parenting, but mostly it was more of a Your Milage May Vary time, when what worked for you may not work for me.

But now, it's blue states and red states of parenting. If you use a crib, you're a red state. If you use Gerber jarred food, you're a red state. If you own a bugaboo stroller you're a blue state. How did we get so divided? How did we all get so judgemental? And how on earth can we all pull together and agree to disagree?

I feel like one of those grandma's that says "back in the day when I was parenting" because it has been quite a long time, but really, back in the day I don't think I knew anyone who didn't vaccinate their kids. I knew plenty of people, me right at the top of the list, who attended chicken pox parties to expose our kids to the pox when it was convenient for us. It worked well for my family, but geesh, I've gotten more shit about this. Why would you purposely expose your child to a disease? Well, because it's better than nothing and the shot has only just come out and it wasn't really very effective. I figured it's better to get the chicken pox at 18 months than when they were 8.

Now, there seems to be hip clothing for kids, and you must get your kids Robeeze shoes and Oilily clothing. Who can afford this stuff? Why would you want to pay that kind of money for clothing they outgrow anyhow? Cars seem to be another blue vs red topic. If you drive a minivan, you're red. If you drive an SUV you're so damn red you have a baboon's ass. If you drive a hybrid or a Volvo, you're blue. This one has me shaking my head. But heck, if someone can fit car seats into a hybrid, then I say drive the damn thing.

What saddens me about all of this competitive/obsessive parenting is that mommies seem to have their self esteem dashed by the judgements of others. Parenting is such hard work in and or itself, and who needs a bunch of judgemental bitches telling you that you must subscribe to Mothering Magazine (very blue) rather than Parents (very red) and if you don't, you're a bad mommy. We're not even in the circ/no-circ or BF vs bottle territory here. We're talking mainstream parenting choices like "do you decorate your nursery?" and "do you use a sling or a baby bjorn or a stroller". These all seem to be legitimate parenting choices, but if you choose a sling, then you also choose not to use a stroller because Dr Sears says strollers are evil. This is the kind of stuff I hate. I just want to tell all the new moms I know to find their own way and use what works for their child. You might have a baby that hates being held. I did, and a swing was a lifesaver for me with the Girl. You might have a baby that won't touch rice cereal. Or one that wants rice cereal at 3 months old. Babies, like grownups, are different and have their own likes and dislikes. You have to learn what your child likes and go from there. You can't fit a sensory overloaded kid into a sling. It isn't gonna happen.

Love your kids, moms. And learn who they are and what they want and need. Forget what is politically correct. Use what works for your family.
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Blogger L said...

"I just want to tell all the new moms I know to find their own way and use what works for their child."

The quote above is the best advice I can ever give to new moms. Because all of the rules and regulations out there make it even harder for us new moms to feel confident. In the beginning, I always felt like I was doing something incorrectly because my daughter never napped on schedule or because she only nursed for 15 minutes instead of 20. But as she nears 1 year old (already! sniff), I look back and realize that I am much more confident in my parenting abilities when I make decisions based on what works for US, not what some magazine or self righteous person tells me.

12/9/05 6:37 PM  
Anonymous MetroDad said...

Right on, Mama! You nailed it perfectly.

12/9/05 10:02 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

I get a bit preachy when people I love are made to feel like their choices are wrong. Choices are rarely wrong, they just might not be the choices you and I would go with, but it doesn't mean that they're wrong for everyone.

Of course, MY children are perfect (what a joke!) and it's all due to my perfect parenting. :-) I've always made the RIGHT choices. Just look at my parenting history for verification. :-)

12/9/05 10:28 PM  
Anonymous AJ said...

I'm still giving out copies of Kurcinka's book on difficult children, and my child is bigger than I am! She and Ferber are still gds to me.

13/9/05 1:17 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Kurcinka and Ferber are two of my parenting Gods. Raising Your Spirited Child literally save my kids on several occasions from death by matricide.

The Girl was an actual patient of Dr Ferber, who not only was a huge help to us, he was also our neighbor and a lovely man.

13/9/05 5:17 PM  
Blogger nita said...

i love this post! i'm 40!!! and i've been a ball buster my entire life. i'm amazed to find myself questioning my actions all the time. there is no support out there, it's all articles and books and columns about what you are doing wrong.

ugh. i'm totally freestyling at this point :)

AND, for your kids...check out dynasty models in boston. nice owner, and they both have the look....

14/9/05 6:35 AM  
Anonymous Carrie said...

I avoid the parenting boards like the plague! I can't believe people get so worked up over such personal choices. I'm glad I'm confident enough in myself not to give a flying flip about what other people say. I have even gotten really irritated with some of my good friends because they seem to be into this obsessive parenting judgemental crap and have been lecturing me since the day I got pregnant. It makes me want to hide under a rock. It's brutal in the mommy world. I don't want to join it.

14/9/05 7:32 PM  
Blogger Belinda said...

All you have to do is look at my blog to see the freewheelin', often "wrong" way we raise our daughter! Razorback games at 5 weeks? Fleece pouch for almost 2 years? Sleeping IN YOUR BED WITH YOU? Nursing 'til age 2.5? You've NEVER let her "cry it out?"

You just have no idea how many times I've been lectured...and how wonderfully wrong every single one of those lectures have been!

Admittedly, we're in "Tantrum Child" phase right now, but this, too, shall pass. And the number of kisses, "I needa make you happy", and hugs while sleeping I get more than reinforces my parenting choices.

Pbbbblllttt to all the "experts"--particularly Charles Dobson, who I currently fear has LOST HIS EVER-LOVING MIND.

15/9/05 1:59 PM  

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