All Articles Tagged "parenthood"
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.”-William Shakespeare
When it comes to matters of the heart, even the most mild-mannered, forward-thinking, calculated planners, and thinking-four-steps-ahead-looking into the future people forgo all logic and live in the moment. It’s science. The parts of our brains that are associated with reason and emotions are literally two different systems. The latter of the two isn’t even a part of the cerebral cortex–the image that is commonly thought of as the brain; it’s inside.
I bring this up because most would lose both parts of their mind if their significant other wanted to name the child they’re expecting after an ex. In an advice column on Slate, a woman sought insight on whether or not she and her husband should name their unborn daughter the same name as his ex-girlfriend.
The mother-to-be explains that before she and her partner met, he was in a long-term relationship. The ex and her beau no longer speak. However, when the inquirer got pregnant, he proposed naming the child his ex’s name. Both parties like the name because it’s nice and it’s not very common, but she’s wary of feeling weirded out by the name because of its origins. The columnist, right off the bat, said that this is unacceptable.
If one were to say the word “dog” repeatedly for a minute straight without any pausing, at first one would probably be thinking about or picturing a dog as they say it. Very shortly into this exercise, you would stop picturing a four-legged animal. Eventually, you wouldn’t be thinking about just word, how silly it sounds, and quit after about 30 seconds because you sound ridiculous saying the word “dog” over and over again. This process is called habituation: the diminishing of a physiological or emotional response to a frequently repeated stimulus. The same thing happens when you’re at a concert and the loudness seems unbearable at first and within minutes you get used to it.
The initial hesitance to name your child after your partner’s ex is understandable, but it’s strictly emotional because of the association with the name. However, think about how many times you say your child’s name. How many times do you have to tell them to stop doing something they shouldn’t be doing or referring to them in conversation? You probably do so hundreds of times within a week.
I’ll use my life as an example. My sister named her son after herself. When she announced this, I hated it because we’re siblings, so I didn’t want to associate this child I’d love dearly with someone who spent a healthy portion of my life getting on my nerves. Shortly after he was born, I don’t think of her at all if I am referring to my nephew. My daughter’s name is Cydney. While I liked the name, I wanted to spell it with an s. Seeing “Sydney” literally looks incorrect to me because I am used to how my daughter’s name is spelled, and it’s so uncommon that spell check puts a red squiggly line under Cydney.
When feelings come into play, people tend to think about the right now. In the moment, no one would be thinking about this and could care less about habituation. Everyone has different motivations for why they want to give their offspring certain names and unless you’re a single parent, all names and reasons for them should be discussed. Usually, the names parents throw out in month one of the pregnancy are long-forgotten anyway.
All that being said, would you name your child after your partner’s ex?
They say never say never but there are just some things I cannot and will not do. But let’s face it – in life there’s always something we won’t do. So mommyhood is no different. So there’s nothing wrong with having some non-negotiables. As a mom, you’re in a new league of high regard and expectation, and I intend to carry the title well. And trust me – I’ve given this list a lot of thought, and it’s all out of respect for my son and my own desire to keep life simple without the extra chaos.
So here’s my list of things I’ll never do as a mom:
- Breastfeed past 12 months. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the days that my boobs return to me (They’ve been my son’s for the past 11 months). I’m so ready to get my body (and boobs) back. Don’t get me wrong, a nursing mom and her child share a special bond and I’m forever grateful for it but let’s be honest – your body changes. So my goal was always to nurse for a year, and nothing more. Besides, doctors agree that there’s no true benefit to breastfeeding past a year. And I won’t EVEN mention the fact that my son has two teeth with two more on the way.
- Use baby talk. In my household, there’s no use of “baba” or “binkie.” Honestly, hearing baby talk makes me cringe. It’s so unnecessary.
- Dress my son in any outfits with monkeys. Call me an extremist when it comes to being Pro-Black, but I cringe when I see little Black babies wearing clothes with monkeys in the same way I cringe when I see Black men shine shoes at the airport. It bothers me.
- Tell my son to stop crying. Adults do this – tell kids not to cry – not realizing the damage their potentially causing. I’m a strong believer in the power of words. So if you tell a child enough times to disregard his/her emotional expression, his/her emotional issue will eventually become psychological, which will ultimately impact his adulthood, stunting his/her emotional growth.
- Deem him as “bad” when he gets rambunctious. Again, it’s all in the power of words. So I’m not a fan of the “B-word.” Kids will be kids. Speak light into them.
- Allow him to be pushed in a stroller past age three. C’mon, let’s be real. This has more to do with the parent, and less to do with the child who doesn’t want to walk.
- Put him on a leash, literally or figuratively. “The Leash” is all about boundaries, or the lack thereof. So apparently, the literal device was intended for parents to keep an eye (and hold) on their child in public places. For me the device is just as irrelevant as “time out” – just not my thing. Besides, it looks really weird (and humiliating for the child). Figuratively, I will not put him on a leash. Instead, I’ll encourage boundless possibilities. I want him to be his own person, and create his own norm. Everything else is already taken, and boring.
- Avoid the sex talk. It’s one of those things I’ll just have to do. The day I have the talk with him will be the day that confirms my baby is growing up. There will be more than one “talk” and more than “one day,” but he’ll know it’s all coming from a trusted place.
- Wear a scarf/bonnet or pajamas to his school. I represent him as he represents me. We will not go out like that. Ever.
- Give money for every A he gets on his report card. I never grew up like that. Despite graduating with honors (and on honor roll as a child), my parents never gave money for A’s as reimbursement. Their logic: You go to school to get good grades. Why “pay” you for something you’re already expected to do? This logic also applied to chores. Their response was why pay you to do certain tasks in the house when you should want to live in a clean, well-kept home. Granted, I was indirectly rewarded in other ways, yet monetary was never the expectation.
- Let his girlfriend spend the night. Seriously! Do I really need to explain this one?! Trust – I will be/am one cool mama, but I’ll never be that cool. I will always be his mother first, and friend second. And because of that, he’ll know better and won’t even dare ask.
- Let a day pass without telling, and showing, him that I love him. May he never doubt my love for him.
I have a pretty good marriage. It’s not perfect, but what we have works. However, I have to admit that there are moments when I am so pissed at my husband, I don’t even feel like talking to him. The thing is, though, even when those moments strike, I still talk to him. Why? Because we have two kids and I don’t want to teach them that ignoring someone is the way to deal with their emotions.
When children are brought into this world, ideally, both parents should be in the picture. Both parents should be an active part of their lives. Sometimes that is the case and despite differences and disputes, both parties parent the children effectively, whether they are in a committed relationship or not. But sometimes, things don’t go so well. Sometimes mom and dad are not together and it’s obvious to everyone, including the child, that they just can’t stand each other. Even worse is when the parents are together, and they exist in an unhealthy relationship.
Our children learn how to function in relationships by watching our relationships. We are the ones who treat them how to be kind, patient, trustworthy, supportive, encouraging, and loving. When a child sees his or her parents being critical, rude, impatient, frustrated, angry, and bitter with one another, it sends them a clear message. It shows them that it’s okay to let your emotions get the best of you and behave in any manner you want, regardless of the potential consequences.
Recently my husband and I were having a friendly argument. It was about a television show – nothing important, really. But while we engaged in our debate, our three-year-old son interjected and said, “Guys, guys–one at a time, please.” I started to giggle and we both toned things down (we are from New York City, so we can get pretty intense). In that moment, I realized how much he pays attention to how we interact with each other. I realized that he is watching us–closely. How we treat each other matters to him. Even when I am my angriest with my husband, I save the attitude for later. The kids really don’t need to see that.
It’s inevitable that problems will occur in a relationship. Maybe it’s a small-scale dispute between a happily married couple, or maybe it’s a full-blown fight between a two parents who can’t bear to be in the same space. Whatever the case may be, it really is in everyone’s best interest (especially the children) if the adults in their lives can learn how to be civil with one another. Civility shouldn’t be optional.
Regardless of what the situation is between you and your ex, make a commitment to be kind in your child’s presence. If your ex is making it hard for you, limit your time around him (not the child’s time around him). Greet him when you are in their presence. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t say nasty things. Don’t let another person control your being.
If we make an effort to always remember that our kids are watching our every move, not only do we influence what they learn about relationships, we influence what they learn about kindness and about always having control over their behavior – no matter the circumstance.
Relationships are far more complicated than children can understand, but observing how we interact is simple for them. Remember, they don’t know the history behind your behaviors. Children live in the moment. And without context, they can end up picking up some bad habits from the people they are supposed to admire most on this earth. I have no intentions of raising people who can’t be kind, even when it’s difficult. After all, the world could use more kindness.
Martine Foreman is a freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, speaker and coach. To follow her journey as a busy mom, wife and honest chick from Brooklyn, NY (now living in the burbs), check out her personal blog, CandidBelle.
by C.C. Mendoza
Everything in my world came to a screeching halt last week when my son walked in the kitchen as I was stewing chicken and said “So, Mom, I kind of just don’t understand what this sex thing is all about. Do you think we could watch a video about it?” I didn’t let my jaw drop. After a few stutters, I started out with some questions like “Well, what do you know about sex so far?” and “Who have you talked to about this?” Obviously, I have three children, so I know all about sex, but I wasn’t sure where he was coming from with his questions and if I had any doubt in my mind that he was going through puberty they were officially erased. I’d long been suspicious of his “extended stays” in the bathroom and hair that was seemed to be growing everywhere. So, rather than wing this one (he is my first kid) I made an appointment with his pediatrician and decided to find out everything I needed to know about his pubescent youth before having “the talk” with him. Through that conversation with Dr. Alejandro Hoberman here is a mom’s guide to boys and puberty.
Choking the Chicken
Moms, don’t freak out. My pediatrician’s first piece of advice was that if his father is around, the subjects of masturbations and wet dream should be left to his father or a male role model. Boys don’t like to talk to their moms about masturbation. Nonetheless, some of us are single mamas and don’t have a choice. Dr. Hoberman said a wet dream is just a sign your son has developed sperm adequate enough to make a baby. The day dreams that often accompany the morning sticky icky are usually what causes them to start masturbating. Signs your son is masturbating or may have had his first wet dream include constant underwear and sheet changes, spending or asking for more time alone, “extended stays” in the bathroom, constantly asking for more lotion or other moisturizing creams and daydreaming. Some words of advice for mothers of tween boys: stop barging into his room or the bathroom when he is showering. You will likely get an eye full.
What is that Smell?
It is seriously dangerous to walk in my son’s room sometimes. His body odor has taken over our third floor. Dr. Hoberman says the increased odor emanating from my son’s underarms and feet are a result of his adult sweat glands forming and his inability to address them. One of the things I did for my son was to buy him a shower caddy. He takes a shower twice a day (in the morning and after school), and he uses his caddy to reinforce his shower routine. Also, moms, no more deodorant. If you song is a member of what we call the boff club (code word for stinky) he officially needs antiperspirant. It’s probably time to start making your son a clean kit. The kit should include cologne (or oils which come in roll format and stop your son from depleting the ozone layer with Axe spray), deodorant soap (Dove will not work for him anymore), lotion and facial cleanser.
Everybody goes through it. The zit monster visits all young boys at night and voila! They wake up with a pizza face. Dr. Hoberman says signs your kids acne is out of control are extreme redness or pain in the vicinity of pimples, bumps that entirely cover a certain area of your boy’s face and failure to see any progress after use of over-the-counter products. But, if you think your son’s acne is caused by puberty, make sure they have a regular face cleansing routine that does not include using a wash rag or sponge. These cleaning accessories carry germs that are often too sensitive for facial skin.
The Eating Dilemma
Puberty takes up about $75 of my grocery bill every month. Dr. Hoberman says during puberty boys will eat and sleep more than they ever have. This is mostly due to a huge period of brain and body growth. He says it is not unusual for pubescent boys to eat massive amounts in one sitting and to complain of hunger constantly. (He warns that if this eating is accompanied by an excessive exercise or long stays in the bathroom your child could be suffering from bulimia.) Your tween boy may also begin to gain some weight in the breast area this is usually associated with the growth of their breast muscles and glands. Dr. Hoberman says helping your son stay active is the best way to ensure that their bodies are able to cope with their new eating and sleeping routines. So, this is a great time to put him on the basketball team.
Is he crazy or is it me?
From peer pressure to strange requests and arguments with your boy, puberty will drive a mom crazy. Dr. Hoberman says during puberty most boys are looking for two things: acceptance and purpose. That’s why teen boys will often respond to challenges with “Well, everyone’s doing it,” and why they give in to peer pressure so easily. In their minds the only way to gain acceptance and purpose is by doing what they believes everyone else is doing. The doc assured me that it is normal for tweens to make unreasonable requests and basically act like crazy fools during puberty. Dr. Hoberman encouraged me to be very comfortable saying no and began talking to my son about saying no to his friends. One piece of advice he gave me is to make sure my son knows it is okay to lie to his friends. For example, if one of his friends are going to have a drinking party and they ask him if he wants to come he can say “I can’t, I have to watch my brothers this weekend.” A little white lie may be the barrier between your son and real danger.
How did you survive your son’s changing body and mind?
My first confession is that I’m not a step parent so you may think that the title is misleading. I have three children, and they are all biologically mine. My husband though is only the father of my youngest two. To my oldest, he has been a great step dad. He has taken care of her since she was three and I believe that when she grows up into adulthood, she will really understand and appreciate everything he has done for her. We are a blended family and our situation is very common these days, so we never really think about it. But I have the step mom conversation with someone very close to me quite often, and it’s made me appreciate my own situation. She has been a step mom for the past (CAN’T SAY) years, and she is still struggling with it.
“So are you a family of four or a family of five?” I ask after a lengthy conversation about how she can’t comfortably answer this question in public. She ponders the question, and she says, “Well, most of the time, we are a family of four.” Their stepson lives with his biological mother, and is only there (with his biological dad, her and their kids) every other weekend. That would make them only a family of five, on average, four days out of the month. But that just doesn’t seem like the right answer. “From now on, you are always a family of five,” I say to her. “You have to answer it that way even though you know it’s technically not true. Your husband will always say five, so you have to as well.” I try to put myself in her husband’s shoes. Would I feel the same way if my husband answered two when asked how many kids he had? I don’t know, because he always says three. But, then again, we all live together and they don’t. Their youngest two don’t even know their older brother’s mother.
After a visit with my friend recently, my four-year old son, who is very familiar with their family, asked me why her step son wasn’t there with them. I explained with an answer that doesn’t really answer the question. “Sometimes, he lives with his mom and sometimes he lives with his dad.” I’m sure my son doesn’t understand, but my tone is definitive and he doesn’t ask a follow-up question. Or maybe he just gets it, because for as long as he can remember, his older sister has had two dads.
I think she loves her kids more differently. As a matter of fact, I know it. And I’m sorry but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I tell her it’s natural, though we both believe that it’s something we can’t say out loud. (Uh oh, I just said it). I’ve always told my husband that if he felt that way about our kids, if he loved them differently, I would understand. But he says he doesn’t. He jokes about it and says, “actually, I’ve known Kayla longer than those other two Bebe’s kids.” And it’s true. He eased into his step dad role because we had six years as a family of three before our own children came into the picture. I never realized how it made our step status so much easier to deal with. That’s not the case for my friend. She was thrust into it, the courts were involved and she doesn’t have a good relationship with the biological mom. It has made things very uncomfortable for her.
I can only imagine. I’ve never been embarrassed about my situation. But there have been times, in conversations, when I just didn’t feel like explaining myself. When people ask questions about our family, sometimes I just avoid the conversation altogether. My friend’s step son and her son were born within a year of each other. That’s explaining she just doesn’t want to do all the time. And I get it.
Like most parents, we love our children and we desire that they have the best of everything. If they need it, we would like to provide it.
But what is the actual cost of parenthood?
What should we anticipate spending over our children’s lifetime? And how do we make the best decisions for our kids, our wallets, and ourselves simultaneously?
As first time parents, we spent hours researching products, toys, and clothing options for our newborn baby. Then we bought the best stroller, car seat, high chair, and activity centers well in advance of when we would actually need them. Once our daughter was born, I breastfed her, wore her in the baby carrier, and she barely used any of these items.
That’s when we realized that diapers, wipes, clothing, healthcare, and eventually baby food each month, all the daily needs of infants, created the real costs of parenthood. We never factored how much our monthly expenses would increase due to parenthood, and as our children get older, the cost keeps rising.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture annually tracks Expenditures on Children by Families per year. It was estimated in 2013, that the average American family of two parents spends about $245,000 over their child’s lifetime from infancy to their high school graduation. Excluding housing and transportation costs, which were the biggest expenditures, families spend on average $138,000 on childcare, food, clothing, and healthcare for their child.
This means that on average, children add about $7,500 per year to the annual household budget.
How many parents in America can save $138,000 by the time they reach labor and delivery?
Personally speaking, we did not, and we now have two children to care for. We, also, have not talked about paying for college, which adds another $50,000 to $150,000 to the budget.
So how do we do pay for our love of parenting?
Our spending habits have changed drastically from life without children, to life with one child, to life with two children. The good news is that The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms life with more than one child gets cheaper per capita. For instance we spent less money preparing for our youngest child, because she uses her sister’s stuff.
Items we spent hundreds of dollars on that were barely used the first time around are now getting sunshine and slobber. For example, we spent $300 on the 4Moms MamaRoo swing chair that our oldest sat in maybe twice. Our youngest daughter, however, loves to spend an hour or two in it each day. Thank God!
Before having multiple children, we bought baby clothes in abundance months in advance. Now we wait to assess what we already have, when we actually need it, and if there is a sale or coupon that will make the purchase even sweeter. I also take my emotions out of the shopping experience. No more buying something just because it is cute.
Food is the second biggest item on the list of expenditures for children. I still breastfeed both our girls, but they also eat table food. For our oldest daughter, we bought all organic baby food, because we did not feel like making it. But now, we have found joy in using our food processor to make our own. As much as I loved the neat little pre-made packages food, I have to admit that making it at home is much more cost effective.
We don’t pay for childcare, because we are fortunate to work from home. (See How to Afford Being A Mother: Work From Home) However, in a year or so, we will have to consider pre-school options for our oldest. In our current situation, an extra $5000 – $12,000 per year for private education is not ideal, but if the public schools in our neighborhood are not up to par, we will opt out.
Everyone likes luxuries and expensive experiences, but I must admit we have spent less money on these sorts of things since becoming parents. Priceline’s bidding feature has become our best friend when traveling.
We are not fans of debt, so budgeting, short-term cash savings, finding ways to increase our income, and/or cost cutting are our major money management strategies in our home. I’d love to hear some of your strategies for managing the cost of parenthood.
Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace. Clarissa is also an expert in impact investing. She is the Communications Associate at Impact America Fund.
This article has been causing a buzz recently because it’s so relatable to parents, especially moms and dad who often turn down invites from friends. Patrice who writes the DJNDevin Blog allowed us to share her funny (and oh so true) list of reasons she and her husband probably won’t make it out the house to attend most events. Enjoy!
Over the past weekend, we unfortunately missed at least two pretty important celebrations of life events for some of our closest friends (and thankfully they are the type of people who understood the reasoning for our absence, and they’re ok…everybody isn’t though). These were occasions that we were actually invited to, RSVPd for, and expected to attend. Then a little thing called life happened, and our fun-filled weekend was replaced with a killer sinus headache, an exhausted Mommy, a sneezing/stuffy Daddy, trying to get a car battery replaced, a coloring book marathon with my four-year old, and a massive poop explosion from the 11-month old tyrant! So I decided to turn this experience into a special FYI for the world to be informed about. It is necessary and we’re probably not the only family that needs to share this heart-felt disclaimer.
Here it is! 6 Reasons My Husband and I Probably Won’t Make Your Event, And Why We Don’t Want You To Take It Personally…
- We Have Kids I know. I know. This one is too easy and a lot of people are tired of hearing it. However, I feel like most Need to! Especially those who do Not have kids. While we still love you, we also need you to know that you have noO idea the strange ish that randomly occurs in a household with children. A temperature that’s two degrees over the norm, or a baby whining because of a missed nap can dramatically curve Mommy and Daddy’s care about meeting up for drinks and chatter.
- We Are Tired Like, not normal tired. The type of unbearable exhaustion where you fall asleep on the toilet and sneakily nod off while your child is reading “Corduroy” to you for the 678,467th time today. Please understand that all of that great intention we had to make it to your housewarming just got flushed down the toilet as soon as we sat down in one spot.
- We Don’t Have A Babysitter Contrary to popular belief and practices, there are seriously only like two people in the Entire Universe, outside of ourselves, that we will allow to keep our children! Yes, we continuously crack jokes about how people can “come and get them” but ummmm, not so much. If those two individuals aren’t available, we will All stay at home! Period. There is NO outing serious enough to hound somebody to watch our children, or sacrifice their safety Just to say we attended the hottest night out of the year. Fail! That’s why we both went to college and had a whole lot of fun and got that all out of our systems! We don’t feel guilty or as if we’re missing out on anything. Sorry, but Not sorry.
- If One Of Us Can’t Attend, Nine Times Out Of 10, Neither Of Us Will Attend This is a hard one for people to understand, and we’ve lost friendships over the concept. We are married. We are not pals, boyfriend and girlfriend or side buddies. We are a union. A team. We make our appearances together in the situations that call for it. This isn’t really negotiable. If hubby is sick and shut in, so am I, and vice versa. Of course this doesn’t apply to the token Girl’s or Guy’s Night Out. We respect each other’s individualized socialization. I’m referring to the things we are both hoped to be in attendance for. This also applies to situations where one spouse may think/know that the crowd at a certain event is questionable. Again, nothing personal against you, but we choose not to put ourselves in awkward or obviously drama-filled situations when we don’t have to.
- We Actually Do Have A Financial Budget And Priorities Not to rain on the parade of your $100/meal dinner party, but this week’s automatic tuition debiting from the Chase account, and the Costco diaper/wipe stock-up will probably hold a higher level of importance for us. I can cook you a fabulous meal, serve you a wonderful glass of wine, play some classic jazz tunes, and indulge you in the ambiance of my own darn home. All for under $200. We still love you though.
- We Just Don’t Want To Go Yep, it sounds rude as hell, a bit pretentious, and will probably cause our invites to dwindle in the near future, but it’s honest. The very few times that we actually get to be alone, we just want to enjoy each other. We still do enjoy each other and we aren’t going to apologize for that. Sometimes we even just want to be left alone as a family with our boys and just relax.
Now all of this isn’t to say that we don’t like you, are trying to purposely be douche bags, or ‘unsupportive,’ but we are humans. We want people to overstand that. We love and appreciate all of friends and family, but guess what?? We come first and we don’t want you to take that personal.
Check out more from the DJ N Devin Blog here.
We parents always delight about our ‘little blessings’ to each other and how our lives would be so different without them, but we also know what a pain in the butt is it to be a mom. Honestly.
Word is, someone out there agrees and this study says parents are miserable.
Researchers at the University of Western Ontario and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research wanted to figure out why some families decide to stop at having only one child. So they analyzed data from a German survey that covered more than 20,000 people across the country, and tracked their reported well-being from three years before having kids to at least two years after their first child was born.
According to the Washington Post, 30 percent of parents stayed at the same level of happiness. But on a 1 to 10 scale, 37 percent of parents had a one-unit drop in “happiness units,” while 19 percent had a two-unit drop and 17 percent had a three-unit drop.
To compare that to actual sad life events: Unemployment and the death of a partner usually lead to a one-unit drop in happiness, and divorce only causes a 0.6-unit drop. On average, parenthood leads to a whopping 1.4-unit fall in happiness.
But what does that say about people who only drop one-unit when their partner dies?
What was found in the study, published in the journal Demography, is that unhappiness stemmed from three main causes: health issues before and after birth, complications during the birth, and the generally exhausting and physically taxing task of raising a child.
The researchers also found that parents’ experiences and emotional states when they have their first child strongly impact whether or not they’ll go on to have more kids. If you stay happy more than a year after your first child is born, you’re more likely to have baby number 2. (Which makes sense: Why keep doing something that makes you unhappy?)
Older parents, and those with higher levels of education, were more likely to stop at one child if they had a bad experience.
That leads us to also wonder: why do people have kids in the first place? Is it pressure from families or society? Or are they trying to fill a void within themselves?
My oldest daughter slept with us until one week before her sister was born. She was 15-months-old at the time. I planned to let our youngest daughter stay in our bed until nine months, but the muscle I pulled in my back from improper sleeping positions instructed me otherwise. As an attached parent who breastfeeds, having our five-month-old in bed with us was easiest, but the aches over my body from accommodating her growth and mobility, plus our 18-month-old’s revolt against falling asleep alone, lead me to revisit the pros and cons of co-sleeping.
Per Dr. Sears, America’s pediatrician and an expert on attachment parenting, there are three important goals for beginning parents:
To know your child
To help your child feel right
To enjoy parenting.
Attachment parenting encourages skin-to-skin bonding after birth, responding on-demand to baby’s cries and cues, breastfeeding, baby wearing, and co-sleeping as methodologies to achieve these goals. For more on attachment parenting and Dr. Sears’ nationally recognized practice visit his website, Ask Dr. Sears.
For us, attachment parenting works! Our oldest daughter, Genesis, has a happy disposition I attribute to the bond we built from baby wearing, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping. However, there are those moments where too much attachment needs to be addressed.
We allowed Genesis to sleep with us until she was 15 months. The courage to finally kick her out of our bed came with the birth of her baby sister. I learned my lesson with Genesis, and I made a vow to evict Joelle, the little sister, from our bed before she could walk.
I don’t know about you, but I was uncomfortable with the notion of my babies sleeping alone fresh out of the womb.
Why should my child go from living inside of me for ten-months to no sight, smell, or sound of me for 3 – 8 hour increments at night?
Co-sleeping, to me, supports a smoother transition period.
The pros to co-sleeping are regulated breathing assistance from mother-to-child, a sense of security for babies who may feel uneasy in their new habitat, and less sleep interference for breastfeeding mothers.
Our oldest daughter is not a great sleeper, so sharing our bed with her made our nights much easier. Our youngest daughter does not have these issues. She loves to relax and sleep anywhere anytime. Because we let our oldest daughter sleep with us much longer than needed, she now feels entitled to disrupt our sleep at anytime. This is definitely a con we are slowly working on re-engineering.
All babies endure periodic breathing episodes the first year of life and more so during the first six months. When babies sleep with their parents, the carbon dioxide from the mother or father’s proximity rouse’s the baby in instances where they may be struggling to wake-up on their own. Pro! For me, the highlight of co-sleeping is that no one wants to get out of the bed 2 – 3 times a night to attach herself to a hungry infant. Why walk when you can roll over?
Now there are cons to co-sleeping as well. It is not recommended that parents co-sleep on couches. There have been many cases of suffocation where children are trapped by sleeping adults in compromising positions. I would be remised not to mention the presence of alcohol and drugs in most cases.
SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome, is not a risk of co-sleeping. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome happens when doctors are unable to determine a cause of death. However, research shows that crib-sleeping infants suffer from SIDS at a higher rate than infants who share beds with their parents.
The con of co-sleeping for me is the three feet of space it puts between the parents for the comfort of our child. I am also a stomach sleeper, but co-sleeping forces me to sleep on my side, which causes me all types of muscle pains. When the babies are smaller, I can get away with sleeping on my stomach, but cheeks, as we like to call our 5-month old, is not a newborn anymore. She is a tossing, turning, demanding to snuggle up baby.
As my husband said, “It’s time for her to go. I want to sleep next to my wife again.” And he has his rights, so we kicked our baby out of the bed. I feel so bad. Funny enough, I seem to care more than she does. In all of his talk about attachment parenting, Dr. Sears makes a point to highlight setting boundaries and prioritizing your infant’s needs on demand not wants.
With cheeks now sleeping through the night and her breathing pattern more regulated, she does not need to latch onto her mother immediately every three hours anymore. I may want her in my bed, but my back and my husband say no.
Last week, many children found themselves back in school and parents everywhere rejoiced on social media. Whether it was a cute selfie or full-length shot of their children, parents captioned photos with inspirational quotes, declaring the school year will be a success for their offspring. Although the cute explosion on our social media timelines had many of our ovaries screaming and repeatedly saying “Aw,” there were some of us who shamed these parents. Case in point, the elite Black travel community; you know, the people who repeatedly tell you how many times their passports have been stamped. Juxtaposed next to kids in uniforms were memes by the travel elite who wanted every parent to know: “While you look over your child’s homework, I’ll be horseback riding in the Andes,” “While you potty train your kids, I’ll be sipping champagne in Paris” and “While you deal with temper tantrums, I’ll be floating on water in Bali.”
Now, I love to travel and think it’s vital to one’s growth as a person. However, I can’t stand shaming another person’s life choices to make you feel better about your own. I get it, people like to make women feel some type of way for choosing not to have kids and these memes are like a middle finger to societal norms. But sometimes this behavior is also a cry for attention, possibly due to the deep-rooted desire for the thing these travelers seem to be rallying against: having families of their own. Sure, you can plan a trip with friends or siblings but there is a different level of intimacy traveling with a significant other (and the family you’ve both created).
Unfortunately, the latter life goals tend to make others feel defensive about their personal lives. For example, I had a friend who would repeatedly post this meme:
After she uploaded it to Instagram for the umpteenth time, I noticed a pattern. Whenever our group of friends spoke about marriage or building families, the above meme would appear on our timelines with a callous caption. Interestingly enough, this particular friend wanted to achieve similar family goals, but she masked them with subliminal posts like this, which reveals an even bigger issue: competitiveness.
Psychology Today reports the problem with competitive people is, “when they are doing well, they feel great and even superior to others, whereas when they encounter setbacks, they tend to feel shame and self-doubt. This results in anxiety and vigilance around social status and performance. They have to keep comparing themselves to others to make sure they are measuring up and haven’t fallen behind.” In a social media driven society, it’s normal to feel like you’re lagging behind in certain areas of your life. Though when you combine the fear of missing out with competition, scholar Alfie Kohn says, “feelings of self-worth become dependent on external sources of evaluation as a result of competition: Your value is defined by what you’ve done. Worse — you’re a good person in proportion to the number of people you’ve beaten.”
When the traveling elite shame those who are married or parents, they feel victorious because they still have financial or social liberties. Their “victories” help distract them from not feeling like “failures” for not having things society tells them they should when they should feel confident in their decisions regardless. But until then, I guess the memes will just keep on coming.
Have you shamed others for having children or getting married while you sip Bellinis in Tuscany? Come clean in the comments section.