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Archive for the ‘breastfeeding’ Category

Think about the way things have changed even just in the last 10 or 20 years, regarding how we talk about disabled people, how we treat the elderly in society, how REAL change has happened, and all the better for it.

Now consider these statements and imagine they were said to one of those groups in society.

‘He should not be doing that.’

‘He needs to shut up.’

‘Give her a good slap.’

‘You’ve got to let them know who’s in charge.’

‘What is it then male or female? Can’t tell with those clothes.’

‘What have you done to him?’

‘Isn’t he a bit big to be in a push chair.’

‘If she does not like it MAKE her eat it!’

‘If he cries at night just ignore the cries.’

‘Don’t hug them every time they feel sad, they will become dependent on you.’

‘Ewww do you HAVE to feed them in public?’

‘Her favourite food? Oh well why don’t you just give her any old thing?’

Except all these things were not said to an elderly person or a disabled person. All these comments have been made to my children or to me about my children, in a city which prides itself on being tolerant. They are cruel comments, they are hurtful. If as I suggested at the start they had been said to a disabled or elderly person there would be outrage. For some reason there still exists the belief that it is ok to talk to children or about children in this manner. It is not! The ‘what have you done to him’ comment was made by someone who actually stopped in the street and peered at my son who was at the time bandaged up due to eczema. It still makes me feel shaky thinking about it, and my son still remembers it. I don’t know any other better way to put this that children are people too, a bit of a tired phrase but a simple truth that is sadly and often overlooked.

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I have 4 children, a boy of 17, girl of 15 and two boys aged 3 and 18 months.
At this stage it really feels as if I have every parenting issue to deal with.

Let me start by saying I have always believed that your children are people, your very best friends. They are the ones you WANT to spend your time with and ENJOY respecting as the incredible human beings that they are.
It has come to my attention, over and over again, that not everyone seems to accept these parenting principles.

“Dont you want to have a night out away from your children?” No
“Dont you want your life back?” Errm I’m not too sure where you’re coming from here..my children ARE my life.
“Your children shouldn’t be your friends they wont accept rules from you” Respect is surely built on mutual respect..what nonsense!

…and now, as I get constantly asked “Are you STILL breastfeeding..?” Yes and there is no STILL about it!

The latest issue to cause stirring of disapproval is the fact that I cosleep with my 18 month old.
It is no secret to those that know me that I am an insomniac and have been for the last 17 years..coinciding of course with the birth of my first-born. From the early years half of me never really sleeps and I am “on guard” listening out for any sign that my child may be disturbed in any way.
To me this is quite normal. This is how it is to be a Mum. You are the guardian of these wonderful little people and you want to make sure they are comfortable and happy at all times. What on earth could be wrong with that?
My last two children have been bad sleepers with Reuben, 18 months, awaking on average every two hours.
I work from home and try to work around the children which isn’t easy but its my preference.
After so many years of limited sleep I started to feel really run down. I can only describe the feeling as mounting panic with palpitations and constant nausea thrown in for good measure.
Reuben slept in a cot in our bedroom and I found myself  hopping in and out of bed so frequently that I found it impossible to get back to sleep.
I’d feed Roo then he would fail to settle so I’d be up again. My body seemed incapable of falling back into a real sleep because it had learnt that as soon as it did so it would be woken up!
I was beginning to feel really desperate and actually near to suicidal. I think I was losing the power to reason and just turning into kind of soulless robot.
It is here that I will admit that part of the reason I hadn’t coslept before was the ridiculous stigma attached to it.
“You’ll never get him into his own bed”! WHY did I listen to this ludicrous statement?
I could have saved myself so much angst.
My local health visitor had already suggested that I leave my son to Cry it Out although I had repeatedly told her that I would not contemplate doing this. Indeed I am INCAPABLE of this method. It goes against all my instincts and natural parenting ideals.
I asked my husband  how he’d feel if I took Reuben into bed with us, making a neat little space for him between us.
At this stage it was obvious to all household members that I was becoming quite physically ill through sleep deprivation and my husband was only too happy to have Reuben in our bed on a more permanent footing.
The first few night were difficult. My insomnia peaked and I lay awake most of the night listening out for sounds I knew to signify Roo wanted a feed. It was almost as if I had to recondition my brain and body into not leaping out of bed every two hours.
On the third night something magical happened.
Reuben only woke twice..something unheard of for him!
It became obvious that he was sleeping more deeply sometimes awaking briefly only to snuggle up to my husband or I and settle back to sleep.
To me this feels like the most wonderful, nurturing, comfortable thing I can do with my child.
I breastfeed him throughout the night as required but now we all stay cosy and warm and the actual QUALITY of sleep is so much better.

We have been cosleeping for the last 4 months now and although before Reuben often came into our bed he rarely stayed there all night.
Now he wakes beside us and I feel his little hand batting at face, playfully hoping for my eyes to open.
What could be a more wonderful sight than that little face first thing in the morning?

I still endure sour comments from ignorant  people but my friends and family have been incredibly supportive.
My insomnia is still a lurking ghoul but there is no doubt about it…cosleeping saved my life!

Fizzylady – Sylvie Foxworthy

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I’ve heard some people who parent gently say “I don’t need experts, I just trust my instincts”, or “you should never learn parenting from a book”. Well, I don’t entirely agree.

My childhood was abusive. As a result, I had no good model for how to parent, and my “instincts” were shaped in pain and fear. The only instinct I did have was that I didn’t want to parent how my parents did. I knew I didn’t want to smack, ever. I also knew I never wanted my child to cry himself to sleep. Beyond that, I knew nothing.

I even, initially, liked experts like Jo Frost (Supernanny) because she “got the children to behave without ever smacking them”. Given this was a vast improvement on my own childhood, I watched her programme avidly while I was pregnant. Until, once, I saw her really hurt a child by dragging him by the arm to the naughty step. That really upset me and at that point even my dimmed instincts told me “this isn’t quite right”.

I looked to Gina Ford, and her Contented Little Baby Book. The version I had was one of the early ones where she talks about leaving small babies to cry, and about weaning from breastfeeding as soon as possible. The tiny amount of instinct I did have told me this wasn’t an expert I wanted to follow either, and when I learned about her attempting to sue a parenting forum because one or two of its members had said unkind things about her, I knew I wasn’t going to take advice from a bully.

I looked at The Baby Whisperer by the late Tracy Hogg. It seemed gentler, but even then, something about it wasn’t quite right. It was the story of the woman who was “still” breastfeeding her two year old behind her husband’s back. My instinct said “what a horrible man”. Tracy said it was the mother’s fault, and that breastfeeding a toddler was wrong.

It wasn’t until after I’d given birth someone recommended the Sears’ books to me, in particular The Baby Book. Although the heteronormativity, and classism in the book really got to me, the majority of their actual information on babies rang true to what little instinct I had. Being able bodied meant I was able to use a sling, and this stopped my baby’s near constant crying.

Learning that bedsharing was not only okay but might even be a more “instinctive” way to parent was a huge relief to me as I’d been doing it “accidentally” already, and feeling terribly guilty for doing so. My then husband set up a side-car arrangement with the cot fastened onto the bed. Gradually me and the baby ended up sleeping in the spare bedroom together, as things between my then husband and I became strained (various reasons).

I read more books which resonated with how I felt. Unconditional Parenting in particular hit a nerve with me. Of course! Punishments worked in the short term, but in the long term tell the child nothing of the “why not”. Putting a child on a naughty step for hitting, for example, tells a child that hitting is undesirable behaviour, but doesn’t try to understand why the child hit out in the first place, and usually doesn’t attempt to tell the child why hitting is wrong. Extrinsic (external) rewards also don’t teach a child why something is right. A sweet or a star on a chart won’t teach a child why tidying up is a good thing. It may get the child to tidy, but doesn’t explain why (because it’s easier to run about on a clear floor, it’s not right for Mum to have to tidy everything, it’s dangerous to have toys lying around, and so on).

Kohn also argues that children view punishments as withdrawal of love, and rewards as bestowing love, whether or not that is our intention. So in the examples above, we’re saying “I don’t love you when you hit. I love you when you tidy”. We shouldn’t be using love as a bargaining chip.

Kohn’s book, and other similar “experts” resonated well with what I was trying to do; give my child a relatively happy childhood, help develop his internal moral compass, help him to grow into a happy adult and so on. I sought out other books that worked along these lines.

I was starting to learn that I did have instincts after all, but that they’d just been hidden away. Personally speaking, I did need the experts to help me, but only to an extent. My instincts and the right “experts” work in tandem to help me parent.

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