Welcome to Educated, Common Sense Parenting! This is my parenting education/commentary blog. Start here and read About This Blog.

I believe too many parents today have let their children rule their households. Their children dictate their daily lives, demand every ounce of their attention and do not show any respect for their parents. This needs to change. The only way to do this is if parents start letting good old common sense start dictating their parenting practices and stop letting their children run the show. You're the parent. Act like one.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

"Start As You Mean to Go On," Accidental Parenting & The Baby Whisperer

There are a zillion books on parenting out there. Most of these books are targeted to first time, clueless moms who will believe anything they read. Unfortunately, the first "go to" book most moms read after having their baby is What to Expect the First Year. After thoroughly being stressed out by What to Expect When You're Expecting, moms somehow take another blow by using What to Expect the First Year as their mini-Bible for that precious first year.

HOGG-wash, I say! Tracy Hogg, that is. She is dubbed "The Baby Whisperer" and her book, The Baby Whisperer Solves all of Your Problems has been my go-to book for Baby #2. I will present lots of her wisdom in my blogs. For those of you who are not familar with Tracy Hogg, she's a very witty, non-nonsense, yet compassionate Brit who wrote several New York Times best selling Baby Whisperer books before passing away from melanoma in 2004. Hogg advocates putting your baby on a structured, flexible routine from Day 1. Hogg states, "It is not a schedule because you cannot always fit a baby into a clock. A routine gives the day structure and makes family life consistent, which is important because all of us, children and adults, babies and toddlers, thrive on predictability. Everyone benefits." Essentially, Hogg is on the same page as Ezzo's Babywise philosphy however, Hogg presents a kinder, gentler version of Babywise.

The first bit of wisdom Hogg presents is her theory that often parents who are struggling with the three main "parenting problems" (sleeping, eating and behavior) have often fallen into "accidental parenting"--which is simply parents starting bad habits that they later have to break. I don't care what any of the What to Expect books tell you about not being able to "spoil" a baby under three months--it's definitely possible and I am living proof! Brooke came out of the womb feisty--unlike Will, she was not a baby who was born "knowing how to sleep." For three months Scott and I held, rocked and bounced her to sleep for nearly every nap and bedtime. For the first six weeks, I was OK with this. After all, wasn't I supposed to hold and comfort my baby whenever she needed me? Around six weeks I had a nervous breakdown because I was so tired of this "cajoling to sleep" routine and by three months, my back hurt so much from carrying a 98th percentile baby that I could hardly get out of bed. But I guess she wasn't spoiled??? HA!!! Perhaps "spoiled" is not the right word, but she had definitely gotten used to her sleep routine that involved Scott and I aiding her sleep every single time. It wasn't her fault--although our intentions were good, we never taught her to fall asleep on her own.

Hogg uses a great phrase, "Start as you mean to go on." Simply put, don't create bad habits that you will have to break later. Just start with what you want. If you want your child to fall asleep on her own without you holding her, teach her to do this from Day 1 (there are various ways, not just Cry It Out). If you don't want your child to become dependent on a pacifier, don't stick it in her mouth every time she makes a peep. Although many "habits" can be broken much easier at three months than say, nine months, why even START a habit you'll have to fix later? Accidental parenting is the root of many problems parents face. Here are the two main ways well-meaning parents can unknowingly become an accidental parent:

1) Being inconsistent/changing the rules: One day, you allow your child to eat on the couch, the next day you yell at her for spilling her Cheerios all over the furniture and tell her to quit eating on the couch. You're mad, she's confused and frustrated. Or your child intentionally throws food off her highchair and says "uh oh!" You laugh because it it is sooooo cute for a 10 month old!! Believe me, I have numerous videos of me laughing hysterically as Brooke throws green beans, sippy cups and Cheerios off her highchair saying "uh oh!" However, when that same child is 2 years old, it's not so cute...just a lot of cleaning up!! As Hogg says, "Start as you mean to go on." Before you laugh at food flying off the highchair, think 6 months into the future and try to imagine your reaction. If you still think you'll be laughing, then that's fine. If not, set limits now and stick to them (just get a video of the incident so you can laugh later).

2) Keep providing Band-Aids: When parents are faced with a new problem, they often resort to a "quick fix" or Band-Aid solution. Baby is crying hysterically, mom and dad are both exhausted. They feel they can't make her stop crying so mom and dad take baby to bed with them so they can all get some rest. Understandable. However, a month later mom and dad are frantic wondering why baby "hates her crib" or "will never sleep." Sure, in the short run taking your baby to bed and getting her to sleep is FAR easier than researching a sleep method and sticking to it for days, weeks or months. But remember, before providing a Band-Aid, think six months into the future...and make your choice. This definitely applies to older children as well. Think grocery store...kid screaming...mom buys him the candy bar he's screaming for...screaming stops. Six months down the road, the harmless candy bar becomes a toy truck, then a brand new bike..then God knows what. You get my drift. Spoiled brat in the making.

Accidental parenting is something we probably all have done or will do at some point in our parenting lives. Lord knows I have...and there is not doubt in my mind that I will do it again. In order to prevent it, we as parents have to become "PC", according to The Baby Whisperer (it's not what you think!) But more about becoming a "PC parent" in the next blog.

In the meantime, I am going to START the long weekend with a glass of wine...because that's how I mean to GO ON for the next three days! :-) Happy 4th everyone!!!

1 comment:

  1. If you plan to have kids in the future, I would advise anyone/everyone to get a dog, first. Everything you mention can be achieved (behavior-wise) if you own a dog. Sleep training. No peeing in the house. No jumping. No biting. ETC.

    Same principles apply to parenting. If you think what they are doing now as a pup is cute, just imagine when it's a full-grown dog ...