Before I jump into my thoughts on Babywise, (the next post) I thought I’d give you a heads-up on how I approach parenting books and methods in general. I have always liked How-To books…. I get that from my mama, who buys a book anytime she wants to do something, whether its decorating or ballet or grilling hamburgers. Seriously. She bought a book on how to grill a hamburger.
I had heard alot about the Babywise method long before I ever got pregnant, and after hearing about the success that so many friends had, I thought “I should look into that when it’s my turn.” I read it twice when I was pregnant, then again a couple of weeks ago, although I didn’t really tell anyone about it because I had no idea what kind of response I would get…especially since I also have alot of friends who are anti-Babywise.
That’s the thing about parenting books and methods. I never knew it before, but there’s this crazy “mama” subculture where everybody stands firmly on one side or another and judges everyone else who doesn’t see things the same way. At least that’s how it seems. Breastmilk or formula? The seemingly innocent question “so, are you nursing?” makes first time mamas like me fidget and stutter because you never know the reason behind the question… am I about to get a lecture on the benefits of one or the other? Is this person going to criticize me for my choice? Am I going to be too “granola” if the answer is breastfeeding (especially in public), or too insensitive to my child’s “real” needs if I use formula?
And don’t even get me started on the “Cry It Out” debate. If you do it, you’re a cruel parent. If you don’t do it, you are teaching your child to be demanding and letting him run your life. And that’s just the start.
It’s like there’s a line drawn in the sand and you have to pick a side. It’s exhausting! And of course, first time mamas are supposed to know exactly what they think and have everything figured out from day one, because “winging it” will ruin your baby. Or something like that. I don’t know…I’m new at this.
All I know is that there seems to be 100 different ways of doing any one thing, and everyone you meet has their own idea of which way is “right.” If you don’t agree, you’re a bad mama. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.
So I picked up Babywise and I read it. Three times. Then I picked up The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and I read that. Then I got a Dr. Sears book advocating Attachment Parenting, and I read that one too. I even picked up a Dr. Spock book. And I’m not done. The list goes on. (feel free to throw out any other recommendations as well)
Alot of people would say “Whats the point? Don’t read books, just do what feels right. Go with your instinct.” And that’s what I’m doing…. but I am also not going to just ignore the wisdom of people who have spent their entire careers studying babies and their developmental patterns. There’s lots of resources out there, and people who are much wiser and smarter than me have some good things to say on raising babies. Since I am only 8 weeks in compared to their 40+ years of parenting/research/medical practice, maybe it would do me some good to at least listen to what’s out there.
But I can’t stop there…. Sure, I should take advantage of the good stuff out there, but there’s also alot of bad stuff out there and I have to take that into consideration as well. Not everybody who writes a parenting book is a Christian who tries to look at it (even the small things) from a Biblical perspective. Not everyone is going to have the same priorities in what is important in raising children. Not everyone will have the same end goal of raising boys who primarily love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, regardless of their social skills, education, IQ, etc. I can’t just assume that the author of the book is correct, across the board, because the author doesnt know me and doesnt know my babies. But they do know alot about babies in general, and that’s helpful.
Too many people pick one method and adopt it hook, line, and sinker without evaluating everything objectively or even looking into alternatives…to the detriment of their babies and their own sanity. I don’t want to let a book or a method do my thinking for me, but I don’t want to ignore available resources either.
So I’ll read parenting books like I read theology…. with my filter on “high.” I’ll be on the lookout for things that make my gut say “that doesn’t square with what I know to be true.” And I’ll tell you what I find.
When I’m reading these books (and reviewing them here) I’ll pull from the things that are good and that make sense to me, and that I think will work for my boys. I’ll toss the things that I don’t agree with and ignore whatever goes against what I feel is right. I won’t subscribe completely to any specific method unless that method squares 100% with my instincts, my boys’ needs, and my views of Biblical parenting. But I’ll make use of some tips and tricks that experience has taught other people, and I’ll see what works for us. And in the end, hopefully I’ll be better off for having a more well-rounded view of things and for trying to look at things objectively. But what I’ll end up with is MY view (well, mine and Nate’s…) of what is best for our boys.
Do I like Babywise? yes. Do I subscribe 100%? No. Do I like Attachment Parenting? yes. Do I subscribe 100%? No. And the same goes for all of the other methods out there that I’ve come across. Somewhere in the middle, I’ll find a balance. Hopefully. I’ll let you know if I ever get there.
In the end, the only book I can say I completely agree with and won’t part from is Scripture, and it has alot more to say about parenting than you’d think!