Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The "Right" Way to Parent

This morning, I was reading through some comments left on a friend's Facebook thread.  There was something said there that made me think, and, quite frankly, offended me as well.
This mom was talking about her decision to circumsize her son.  In her post she defended her decision (good for her!) and then went on to say she did "everything else right, such as co-sleeping, extended nursing, and not vaccinating."  This brings me to a few things:
#1-If she didn't view circumcision as "right", why did she do it?
and, probably more importantly, #2- who is she to say that co-sleeping, extended nursing, and no vaccines is the "right" way to be a parent?
I did not co-sleep for either of my kids.  I have heard too many horror stories of parents rolling over onto their kids in the middle of the night and suffocating them.  I myself would probably never ever sleep knowing there was a newborn in my bed, just for fear that I would hurt them somehow.  Motherhood is a sleep-deprived experience in and of itself, so why make it worse?
On to the circumcision discussion.  I am going to make that one short, sweet, and to the point.  It's not up to me to tell another parent whether or not to do it.  And it's not up to others to tell me what to do.  You are more than welcome to have your own opinion on matters, but don't use it as a stepping-stone to being judgmental and mean to people whose opinion doesn't match yours.
Extended nursing?  Yeah, tried that.  Apparently I just wasn't made to be a nursing mom.  I tried with both my children, and my body just decided that it didn't feel like making milk.  I gave it my best shot, and tried just about every idea thrown at me to make my body up its milk production.  It didn't work.  In fact, it just got progressively worse.  So rather than let my kids starve because I was determined to do it the "right" way, I went and bought formula.  And you know what?  It was fine.
That leads me to the last of the topics I have weighing on my heart today: vaccination.  There are so many out there against it, and it breaks my heart.  Smallpox was completely eradicated where there were vaccines given for it.  You cannot get autism from vaccines.  All those medical journals that had studies in them about the autism-vaccine connection have now been pulled from said journals.  The doctor that originally published these "studies" is now under investigation, and has totally recanted his "findings."  On our journey with Madi, we have learned a lot about the immune system.  As Madi's is not normal, and never will be, we cannot give her certain vaccines.  Live vaccines in a person with a weakened immune system can do much more harm than good.  So we rely on "herd immunity" to keep her safe.  The theory surrounding herd immunity is that if all the other members of the population are protected, they will not catch the disease, thereby protecting the person with the weakened immune system by getting rid of chances of exposure.  Without herd immunity, Madi could get very sick.  She could die.
So in the end, who are we to say what's right and what's wrong with an individual's parenting?  According to the mom that made that comment, I did everything wrong.  I take major offense to that.  Let's be real, here.  Every mom (and dad, for that matter) makes mistakes.  There's no such thing as a perfect parent.  Just because my friend uses cloth diapers and nursed her kids till they were one and a half doesn't make her any better than me.
The only "right" way to parent is to love your child.  To do the very best by them that you can.  To teach them to handle what life throws at them, and to let them know that they are miraculous, fantastic beings that are treasured. 
It's that simple.

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