My New Years Resolution this year was to get back to blogging, on all my blogs. So far, this hasn’t worked out great, Leo is crawling and during the hour nap that he takes in the morning while Oliver is in preschool, I often try to do things like shower, do laundry, wash dishes, or just catch up on reading articles on the internet. It was while doing the latter that I came across two articles that point straight to the reason that this blog ground to a halt earlier this year.
I started this blog because I had parenting issues I wanted to write about that didn’t fit in with the theme of my expat blog. Along that line, I realized that what I wanted to do most was to build a community where parents from around the world could share their experiences, good and bad, in a supportive environment. I wanted to bring parents together.
As I read more and more parenting sites, I saw that most of the popular sites aim to divide us and I became quite jaded towards the idea of parenting blogs. As we see in the news media, extremism gets more ratings than moderation. But we do it to ourselves as well.
The two recent, “in the news” articles that affected me, are the introductory post of Mayim Bialik (the actress who portrayed “Blossom” and now has a PhD in neuroscience and practices Attachment Parenting) on the TODAYMoms blog and the article in the New York Times by Amy Chua, a professor at Yale Law School, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.
It’s not necessarily what was written, but the comments, which I found so disappointing. So many commenters full of vitriol and personal attacks against the author and other parents. As the child of a Tiger Mom and as an AP parent, I’d like to comment on both these articles.
My mother was a very critical, typical Asian “Tiger mom,” and expected only the best. If I came home with a 96, I could expect to be asked why it wasn’t a 100. My father, however, was a typical American dad. To be honest, my feelings now are that my mother was too strict and my father was too lax. I love them both, but that’s how I saw it.
In high school, I completely rebelled against my mother’s strictness, and my father allowed me to do whatever I wanted. Even as a grad student, my mom wanted me home by 10pm, while my dad would allow me to stay out all night. I turned out okay in the end, my brothers and I all turned out well-adjusted and successful, despite having a Tiger mom and an American dad (the “despite” was a joke).
My Own Parenting Choices
I’ve chosen to be an AP mom. Actually, I chose to follow my instincts. I didn’t know a lot of parents when I had my first child, so I didn’t have any idea what to do. I just did what felt right. Six months in to parenting, someone mentioned to me that what I was doing was called Attachment Parenting. I looked it up and thought, yes, this is exactly right. Here are some thoughts about what I read said about the AP lifestyle in the comments to the TODAYMoms blogpost:
We co-sleep. My husband and I and our two kids. Oliver sleeps in a toddler bed pushed up against our queen sized bed, we’ve got a bed rail on the other side, and follow safe co-sleeping practices. For critics who wonder how a marriage can function if kids are in the marriage bed, there are plenty of other places to enjoy a marriage outside of the bed. It’s pretty exciting to brainstorm how and where you want to do it next.
We extended breastfeed.
In public. Breastfeeding in public isn’t the same as urinating or defecating, it is feeding a child. Eating in public is perfectly legal. I might not want to see everyone out there eating in public, depending on their table manners, but generally I manage to ignore what other people are doing at their tables.
Another point made, is that it is for the mom and not for the child. You cannot make a child breastfeed, especially when they have teeth. If a child doesn’t want to nurse, the child will bite and no mom wants that.
Finally, there was criticism that many parents can’t do everything that goes with being AP. That’s not what AP is about. AP is mainly about taking biology into account. Our children are biologically wired a certain way, they are still the same, biologically, as a child born 10,000 years ago. It was best then for a child to be upset to be away from it’s mother.
Now, we are no longer hunter-gatherers, we live in a modern society and can’t raise our children exactly the same, but we can take the biological needs of our children into account and try to fit them into our lives as best we can. AP means listening to your instincts about what is right for your family. If the family can’t sleep all together because the kids or the parents are light sleepers, or you prefer to have sex in your bed with the kids tucked safely away in their own rooms, then it’s okay not to cosleep. If you can’t breastfeed because of health or mental or any other problems, it’s okay. Formula is not as good as breast milk, but it is acceptable. It is not poison. I was raised on it and so were most of the kids of my generation. I can’t carry my kids as much as I’d like because of back problems. That’s okay. You do what you can.
In the end, I know a lot of families and a lot of children. I don’t know a single family who parents exactly the same as any other family, and all the children I know are turning out fine.
What are your thoughts on parenting?