Once I read 'Happiest Baby on the Block', and loved it so much I confess my baby book reading slowed to a crawl. I felt content to take the information in that book and just run with it, but recently the copy of Baby Wise (Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D.) which has been sitting lonely on my night stand began to once again spike my curiosity. I had heard from friends that because I loved 'Happiest Baby', I would hate 'Baby Wise' but I do love me a schedule so I wondered if I would find some useful tips, and honestly the polarizing effect of this book on mothers in my social circle made me very curious.
I had to take the bus yesterday and took that opportunity to make some headway into Baby Wise. I was fully expecting to dislike it. And even from the little I have read I strongly doubt it will be a method I can ever fully buy into but I feel as though a lot of the bad rap this book and method has received is from people who haven't read it. I say this because the methods (as far as I have read) are no way near as controversial as I had imagined.
I am about halfway through the book, so there will be probably be more posts as I get deeper into the methods, but I wanted to share thoughts so far. After only a few pages I sent a text to my friend telling her I already had ideas for multiple blogs from what I was reading and it was true. Lots of really great insight and reasoning behind the ideas. I suppose there are foundations for most parents as they think ahead to why they make certain decisions about how they parent, and I related to the ones mentioned.
The thing I really loved is the foundational principle that your baby joins your family. This sounds simple, but the author compares it to families who welcome the baby in and allow the family to change to make life revolve around them. This is something I know I personally have to be aware of as we welcome our little man. We have waited so long, I feel as though he has been consuming my thoughts already and yet I want to be sure that he does not begin to feel as though this is how relationships with peers and others will play out. I want to prepare him fully for the world. This example is used in the book to illustrate child-centered parenting is what I am truly hoping to avoid by making other choices in how we parent. It sounds extreme but I think it could be so easy to fall into this pattern in life and I know it would be easier to make the tough choices at the outset rather than backtracking once life patterns become established.
"Marisa's parents have adopted the child-centered approach. As a result, Marisa will never have to wait for anything. If she wants something, it is given to her on demand. Baby-sitters? They make Marisa uneasy. So an evening out alone together simply isn't an option. Either her parents will take her everywhere they go, or they will miss a function due to Marisa's inability to take part. As for eating, if Marisa suddenly rejects her bananas she'll be offered a variety of options until her particular preference is revealed. Then mom will stock the shelves full of Marisa's delight, only to learn days later that the child's pleasure is back to bananas. Welcome to the circus." "Sadly, Marisa's parents are not aware of the disabling impact their attitude has on their daughter. Instead of building Marisa into a self-assured adult, they are fostering the emotionally crippling attitude of me-ism"(23)
Who wants to be around those children? Not me. And I would like people to enjoy my child so I want to give him the tools necessary to get along in the world by making sure he understands that he is fully loved, and oh so valuable, but also that the world does not revolve around him :)
Of course a baby takes time and attention, and rightly so, but this book makes the point that the best thing parents can be for their children is strong example of love. Parents must chose to parent in a way that continues to give their marriage the attention it needs and deserves."Too often, parents lose sight of this fact, getting lost in a
parenting wonderland of photos, footsteps, and first words. Baby becomes
central to their existence. Yet the greatest overall influence you will
have on your children will not come in your role as an individual
parent, but in your joint role as husband and wife"(20)
That means making your marriage relationship a priority; continuing (or starting) date nights, making time together at home to connect each day where children can see this priority, as well as just the simple interactions of love such as hugs, kisses, and playful words. This feels like as easy piece of the parenting puzzle to misplace in the wake of lack of sleep, new routines, and generally becoming parents! I hope that speaking our intention to make marriage a priority will help us transition well into this area of parenthood. We want our son to feel confident in our marriage, and safe and secure in the home we provide for him and we understand that it will take intention and work. I believe the truth that, "A healthy husband-wife relationship is essential to the emotional health of children in the home. When there is harmony in the marriage, there is an infused stability within the family" (20)
Ok, so we're off to a good start Baby wise and I. We are totally on the same page about bringing a baby into a family and having it join our team, giving them a "we-ism" foundation. And also as we continue to make our marriage a priority in our home. We seem to both believe that these are motivations for making the parenting choices which will form the structure of of family...now let's see if our methods match up?!