In reference to my mothering, I’ve been asking the above question a lot recently. Still not certain of the answer.
The daily practices I’ve been wondering about:
- Jones naps sometimes from 1:30 to 3:30, sometimes from 2 to 4ish, and sometimes I don’t get around to putting him in bed till 3:00 — usually because he’s playing and enjoying so much, and I don’t really care to interfere.
- We always read books on mommy and daddy’s bed before bedtime, but everything else in the nighttime routine is up for grabs. Sometimes there’s a bath, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we watch part of a movie, sometimes we play, sometimes we are out-of-the-house until bedtime.
- I don’t push him too much on accepting new foods. I put things on his plate, and sometimes I make him try a bite, and sometimes I don’t.
- He always sits in his chair for meals, but often he’ll watch a cartoon while he’s eating so I can fix myself what I’m going to eat. We eat a few times a week together as a family for dinnertime. Other times, Bryan is out studying, or I’m not hungry when Jones is, etc etc.
- In general, if Jones asks for food of some sort, I take it as a cue that he must be hungry and let him have it. If he asks for more, I usually say no and tell him we’ll wait for the next meal. But I rarely say ‘no’ to a first-time snack request.
- He has HATED milk from the get go. He breastfed (off and on from 15 months or so) till 20 months, when he self-weaned. He’s always loved yogurt, so I’ve let that be his dairy and source of calcium (with some cheese, too). He’s never had a full glass of milk — and I’ve always wondered if that was okay. I remember having battles with my mom over milk (because I hated it too) and wonder if I’m missing out on some essential part of parenthood. Like, “All kids must drink milk with dinner.”
- We kind of do ‘whatever’ during the day. Sometimes we play outside, sometimes we play trains, sometimes we go places, sometimes we watch movies. I don’t have a set TV time for him, or room time, or a day he can play with friends. We ‘wing it’ on a daily basis.
- I let him jump on the couch. And get rowdy with his toys. And eat snacks while walking around the house.
Catalysts for the wondering:
- Observing other (American) families and the way they do things, and if things are different or they are stricter on some areas than we are, I inevitably wonder if I should adopt what they do.
- Knowing I had a baby when I was young and before I felt ‘ready’.
- My boy is extremely rowdy — and hard to control when in public. I’m not certain if he’s this way because of how I parent him, or just because its who he is. (He gets disciplined for crossing the lines in any way — not coming when we ask, throwing fits when we have to ‘help him’ do something, hitting mom or dad, running into the parking lot, etc. — but he’s a doozy when we’re away from home!)
- I thought that I thought through how my son’s actions and behavior affected other people when we were in public and was careful to act, teach, and train accordingly. But some recent criticism has made me wonder if I’m not strict enough.
The main question I’ve been pondering recently is whether or not I should care about these practices. In general, they’ve always been on my “Second List”, behind the things on my “First List”, like obedience, repentance, kindness, enjoying life and nature, learning to pray, knowing you are loved and cherished, etc. I’m not saying that if you do things differently than I do, that your priorities are out-of-whack or something — I’m just wondering, is what I’m doing okay? Is it harmful, helpful, or neutral for Jones? What will this cultivate in him later in life? And if I do end up caring, am I doing so because I don’t want to upset other people, or because it is a conviction I’m following? At the moment, I don’t care. These don’t bother me, and I’ve never really cared enough to fork over the effort that scheduling and some other parenting techniques require. I did the scheduling thing when Jones was an infant, and it brought anger, frustration, and craziness into my life — I didn’t like my baby very much, and that wasn’t the goal of being a mommy. When I threw it out, things changed for the good. I’ve just been reflecting — did I throw out too much? Or was it appropriate for our family and our needs?
Sometimes I really wish there were a manual for this sort of thing. When Jones grows up, the only thing I truly care about him knowing and understanding is that me, his daddy, and Jesus are all safe places for him, no matter what happens.
Addendum: Found this post at GirlTalk later after writing this post. Good thoughts.