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Parenting is Not Black and White

Kate's baby diary explores the complexity of caring for children when there are so many opposing viewpoints regarding the "right" answer.
Oct 31, 2007
Parenting is Not Black and White
I think one of the hardest aspects about parenting is that it isn't black and white. There are few right answers, only many different approaches.

I'm a CPA because I like boundaries and definite answers. When I look at a situation I tend to see two opposing options but not a range of solutions in between. It's just the way I'm wired. My husband, Didi, and a good friend, Jen, are different. They see the world as gray, not black and white. Where I see limitations, they see possibilities. Where I see dead ends, they see challenges that need to be addressed.

I must confess that I think the grays have it right when it comes to parenting. There has never been a subject so widely studied for which there are so many differing views and all of them plausible options. Really. As a black/white thinker, that is a hard thing for me to say because I so greatly desire to know the RIGHT answers to life. But with parenting, there are few to be found.

Take for instance the very basic issue of feeding the baby. There are generally two camps that address this issue. Schedule feeding and demand feeding. The schedulers think their method is right because it teaches babies to have a regular digestive system, allowing them to enlarge their stomachs over time. They also believe that schedule feeding helps infants to learn to sleep through the night. Demand feeders believe that it's important to allow babies to self-regulate as they avoid overeating. This way, they believe that the babies will feel secure knowing that their needs will always be met. Either way, the baby will be fed and will get enough to eat. Most likely, few people do either demand feeding or schedule feeding exclusively. For the most part, I'm a schedule feeder because it fits more with my personality. I like the idea of being able to confidently rule out hunger as the reason for Lydia's crying. However, Lydia is presently teething, which means that she's in pain and in need of some extra T.L.C. Therefore, I've been feeding her more frequently, if she seems to want to do so.

Lately, I have been discussing with Adrienne, one of the mothers from our group Mothers of Infants (MOI), how we can encourage our babies to sleep through the night. We both have little girls, although Lisa is six weeks younger than Lydia. The other babies in our group are sleeping through the night, so it's difficult not to compare our children and wonder what the other mothers are doing right. However, I reminded Adrienne that our girls are smaller and thus likely to get hungry more quickly. But we question if there's something we could be doing that would make a difference in our kids' sleep habits. Should we wake them at the same time every morning? Should we be more strict about their routines, making sure they eat and sleep at the same times every day? If we let them cry longer at night would they eventually stop waking up to be fed? Or is it perhaps because Lydia is teething and has just gone through a developmental leap (she's started sitting up on her own) and because Lisa is going through a growth spurt? Unfortunately, there's no definite answer, only trial and error.

I think the scariest thing about parenting, is wondering whether or not one is creating a bad habit that will be a nightmare to break. Adrienne and I don't mind getting up for our children now, but we really don't want to do it when they're 6! I don't mind that Lydia pulls my hair at the moment, but I will when she's older and stronger. I know the time when I must train her is close at hand, but when does it start?

To me gray means uncertainty, and uncertainty means instability, which I dislike. But on the plus side, it means that I must rely more on the Lord as He alone knows what is best for Lydia. Thankfully, God the Father also knows and understands me and He equips me daily to do this work that He has called me to. So I will daily trust in Him as I strive to do the best possible job I can in raising Lydia. And in the end, I will remember that the most important thing is that Lydia would grow up knowing that she is loved by her parents and by the Lord God.


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