Parenting (So Many Acronyms)
DISCLAIMER: I tend to avoid most parenting topics since they are often pretty divisive. Things get tense or uncomfortable. And more often than not, everyone feels the need to defend their choices. That’s not what I’m doing here. Cameron and I made certain choices with a LOT of thought, a lot of reading and asking for friends’ opinions, and then a lot of going with our guts. So our choices aren’t up for discussion here as I feel I’ve weighed both sides of every issue and have landed securely on one side, or the other, or maybe somewhere in between.
WHY WRITE ALL THIS OUT, THEN? I have a decent social media following. And I get asked – daily – about parenting topics that aren’t related to baby led weaning. I don’t believe my way is the best way for everyone, but it’s certainly the best way for us. Since I don’t talk about much of this stuff very often, I figured I could share it somewhat privately, all in one place.
I’ll write it out as a short list and then break down just a few of them in more detail below the list! (If you’re not sure what an acronym is, here’s a list of common parenting acronyms.)
- No RIC
- No CIO
- Baby wearing
- Extended BF (also on demand)
- Extended RF
- BLW (duh 🙂 ) (also, no solids until 6 months at least)
- Peaceful/Respectful Parenting
- Homeschooling (mostly Montessori)
- SAHM as long as possible
- Potty learning
- Cloth diapers
- Natural birth
Regarding sleep training, we chose to attend to Alexander whenever he cried at night. Now at age almost 3.5, he doesn’t wake at all, and goes to sleep (most of the time) mostly on his own. So if you’re hearing that without sleep training, your baby won’t ever sleep all night, that’s not true. He started sleeping all night, most nights, around age 2. And it’s gotten progressively easier/better since then. We are doing the same thing with Annabelle. Most kids have slept in our bed: Alexander starting at around 6 months old and Annabelle since birth! It’s comforting for them, and it’s easier for me as a nursing mom to just roll over and nurse than to get out of bed and do it!
There’s a really encouraging book I would recommend that’s called The No Cry Sleep Solution. I read it a few times when Alexander was 4-6 months old, and it gave us some gentle solutions for better sleep.
Regarding extended breastfeeding, I nursed Alexander until I was 4 months pregnant with Annabelle: he was about 28 months old. I plan to let Annabelle wean herself as well. With both kids, I let them nurse on demand. In other words, if they show signs of hunger, I nurse. Around 2 years old, I started to encourage Alexander to wean because it was becoming uncomfortable for me. When he would ask to nurse, I’d offer him a snack instead. At night, I started limiting it to a few minutes at a time, and eventually, he just stopped asking.
If your baby is over age 1, you can encourage night weaning if you’d like. I recommend Jay Gordon’s method, as it is the gentlest method I know. There are other methods, such as putting something very sour on your nipples so that baby doesn’t like the taste. Those methods don’t fall in line with our style of parenting, so I would not try those myself.
Regarding car seats, we have a Diono Radian RXT for both kids. Alexander is still rear-facing at age almost 3.5, and he’ll RF until he outgrows the RF limits of the seat. He’s 3 feet tall and 30 pounds now; I believe 45 pounds is the weight limit for RF in that seat. It’s known to be MUCH safer to rear-face as long as possible. I won’t link to anything here, but you can find countless demonstration videos of this, as well as statistics galore.
Potty learning? That’s basically just child-led potty training. No bribes, no punishments, no rewards. Just waiting for the child to show signs of readiness, then taking off the diaper and jumping straight to underwear. Alexander went from diapers to underwear, day and night, in less than a week. He never got upset about it; we never shamed him. It was just that he was ready for the change, physically and developmentally.
For both kids, I had a natural, unmedicated labor (in a hospital). Here’s Annabelle’s birth story.
Finally, parenting in general. A lot of people assume that gentle parenting means permissive parenting. That’s not the case at all! Permissive parenting means you just can’t say no. Your kids rule your house. And that feels chaotic for a child, having no boundaries. We don’t follow that style of parenting.
Gentle parenting (or peaceful, or respectful) means that there’s a mutual respect between us and our kids. We respect that their needs (even though they sometimes seem outrageous or “dumb”) and wishes. We also set firm boundaries and follow through with empathy. There’s no punishment necessary. In his 3.5 years, he’s never been spanked, he’s never been in a time out, his things haven’t been randomly taken away. Sometimes, if he is using a toy to hit his sister (for example), the toy will be taken away, but that is a consequence directly related to the “crime”.
Kids don’t have a lot of impulse control, so we choose not to punish him for being a kid. As an adult, I lose my patience and sometimes lose control of my emotions. If my husband laughed at me or put me in my bedroom and shut the door on me instead of trying to comfort or calm me, that wouldn’t be very kind. When Alexander is having a tough time and being aggressive, it usually means something else is wrong. So I try my best to comfort him, figure out WHY he’s being aggressive, and help come up with a solution.
There’s also something called a time in. Instead of putting the child off to figure out their “problem” alone, you sit with them for a few minutes, give them words for their feelings, and explain the boundary that they forgot. You just enforce your limits, with empathy. By showing them that they aren’t bad, that you still love them, and that you WANT them to do better (because you know, they didn’t WANT to be “bad” or do something that hurt someone… sometimes they just lose control), they learn that you’re on their side. And when they truly believe you’re on their side, they don’t want to disappoint you. It’s a good sort of cycle that eventually leads to kids who do what’s right because they intrinsically know what’s right, not because they’re avoiding some extrinsic punishment.
In addition, here are some of my favorite parenting books:
- It’s OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids
- Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting
- Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (a Christian parenting book that uses scripture to encourage peaceful, respectful parenting)
- Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life
These are in order of my preference, as far as practical ideas you can use RIGHT NOW.
I also love Sarah Nurshable’s Facebook page.
I’m currently reading a few other parenting books, so if I come across others that I like, I’ll add them here.