Changing My Mind
By Lory LaGro
Lomita CA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 3 May-June 2000 p. 82
"No child is going to take control of my life." That's how I used to think about children and parenting and I told many people my thoughts. When I heard about a parenting class at my church that was supposed to keep parents in control, I was interested. The textbook for this class, Preparation for Parenting, by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, advocated strict schedule feeding, baby sleeping in his or her crib (apart from parents), scheduled sleeping and waking periods, limited holding, and baby "crying it out" to sleep. I thought these ideals were great because I didn't want my child to be spoiled. I wanted him to know who was the boss! I never attended the classes because of schedule conflicts but I did do research on the program and was given the textbook for the class.
Soon our son was born and my heart softened a little. My "cry it out" rule was 10 minutes maximum. Another mother who embraced the same philosophy told me not to hold my baby too much because I would spoil him and to feed on a schedule, which I decided would be every three hours. My milk supply decreased in a matter of three months and I had to supplement. Nevertheless, I continued to believe in strict scheduling and letting my baby cry alone. I was told by others that this encourages order in the home, as well as discipline, which appealed to my desire to remain in control.
For the first six months of our son's life, I followed this philosophy. My son sat in a vibrating swing chair all day, except for diaper changes and feedings. Friends and family members held him more than I did! At night he slept in a crib and I remember crying with a broken heart, listening to him cry to sleep alone and in a dark place. It was awful for me but I felt it was the right thing to do.
Gradually, however, I changed my mind. A very close friend of mine gently encouraged me to investigate a different parenting style and I began to realize the way I had been parenting wasn't right for me. Others had told me that it was the right way, but every feeling inside of me said, "no way." I started attending LLL Meetings when my son was one year old. I also quit work and became a stay-at-home mother. I watched other mothers interact with their children at LLL Meetings and noticed how secure the children seemed and how loving and non-confrontational the mothers were. This was what I wanted - a loving, respectful, trusting relationship with my son! Through my friends, La Leche League, and a lot of reading and studying I believe I have found the right parenting style for my family.
My son was in a crib for about the first year of his life. I had been told that the parents' bed is the "marriage bed" and children don't belong there. In the beginning I believed that too! Gradually, my mind changed. When my son was about a year old, I brought him to bed with my husband and me and he's been there ever since. My thoughts went from "he should be able to sleep on his own and not depend on me" to "I can't and won't leave my baby to cry himself to sleep on a cold, hard mattress, alone in a dark room." It is wonderful when our two-year-old son nurses peacefully to sleep with no crying. We're all together and it feels right to us. When he wakes up in the morning, he is happy and asks for his "nummies." My husband supports my decisions and trusts me, which is important. I now believe that it is right for me to temper firm parental discipline with gentleness and respect for my children's individual needs.