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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Choices...by Lindsay

(Lindsay submitted this article to Motley Moms, which kindly saves me from blogging on an already crazy, over-scheduled day. Thanks, Lindsay!!! -Donna)

As parents we all have to make choices for our families. Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping, rocking to sleep vs. crying it out, etc.

Many of the choices are made after discussions with our husbands and we do what works best for our families. Some choices are made because we have researched and decided it is the best option for us. I choose to breastfeed for this reason. Some choices are made out of convenience...like picking up a pizza on your way home from a busy day. Some choices are made to save money or be "green"...this is why I choose to cloth diaper and use vinegar to clean with. Some choices are made based on our interpretation of the bible...which is why I choose to spank my kids (on occasion). And sometimes we go with "tradition"...on Sunday night it's "Eat-Anything-You-Want Night" (meaning if it's in the house, you can have it for dinner, even if that means popcorn and cereal), because that's something I did as a kid and LOVED.

As a new parent, I used to get defensive when I heard that someone else had made a very different parenting choice than I had made. I wanted to explain to them why I thought my choice was "best." I felt like their choosing something else meant they weren't well-informed. I also sometimes felt guilty because I made a different choice. For example, I don't buy organic food (most of the time). It's just not something I am overly concerned about. I do try to make healthy choices: veggies and fruit in our diet as much as I can, not buying sugary processed foods, and getting my kids to drink mostly water. But even then I break my "rules" and get cookies from the bakery on a whim just for fun.

What I have learned is that most of our choices don't really matter in the long run. My husband's grandfather is 91 yrs old. He has eaten high-fat, fried, made-with-real-butter, made-with-white-flour, smothered-in-gravy foods his whole life. He has also gotten plenty of exercise and eaten all those things in moderation. He still works on the farm every single day at 91 yrs old. While I think breastfeeding is important, that's not on job applications when you are an adult. I have a friend who fed their child nothing but peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a whole year because he "refused" anything else. He is now almost 7 and a perfectly healthy, happy, well-adjusted kid. I wouldn't have chosen to do that myself, but he is fine despite what I "think."

The point of all of that is this: As parents we make the best choices for our own family that we can. However, we will all run into someone at some point who has made different choices, and that doesn't necessarily make either of us right or wrong. And since we all know how difficult it can be to raise kids, especially small kids, we all need to be supportive of each other and not judgmental. My choices are best for my family, your choices are best for your family, and I won't criticize you if you won't criticize me. :)


Karly said...

Choices...I think that is the hardest part about being a parent. Well, maybe the second hardest-sleep deprivation is a killer! Anyway, being a parent means having to make hundreds of choices everyday. Some are easy and some more challenging because I am just not sure what the "right" choice is. I really wish each kid came with an owner's manual!

I agree we should all support each other, whether we make the same choices for our family or not. In the end we are all just trying to do the best we can!

Maria said...

Yes! Let's try to support each other as much as possible.

Question: Is candy a choice on those Sunday nights? I love the idea, but the micromanager side of me bristles about thinking that the kids will be eating candy for dinner. Let me know...

fawnda said...

Great post. Choices are hard and being a first time mom I feel like there is a "right" choice for everything and if I get it "wrong" My son's life will never get back together.
It is a good reminder that what is best for me and my family is not what is best for everyone else. So, if I choose something different it does not make me a bad mom.
You get so much advice as a mom, it is our job to choose what is best for our family. We know our kids best!
Well said!

Lindsay said...

Maria, no candy is not an option. The rule is that is has to be in the house and typically we don't have candy in the house. However if it happens to be after a holiday, and there is candy in the house, then I would have to say no. I do have a general say about what they pick but I rarely say no.

It is kind of freeing just to let them pick what they want. I always loved it as a kid and it is a tradition that all my siblings use with their own kids.

Rachel said...

We have a similar night at our house--Sunday night is "OYO" night (On Your Own). It's an opportunity to use up leftovers from the week, and I do enjoy having a bowl of cereal sometimes, too! It is freeing, and it's a great opportunity to start making good personal choices.

Well said, Lindsay. Every child is different, every parent is different, and we have to do what works best for us. Thanks for giving us a forum to discuss this important topic!