Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Parenting Advice and Milkies - Saving Every Last Drop!

Over the past few years every (well, certainly most!) one of our friends have started having babies.  With random exceptions for teenage mothers and some older (I use that term in the kindest way) mothers most of the kids in our circle are 5 and under.  Birthday parties are a nightmare blast!  Oh and frequent too!

Along with it have come some very opposing view points on parenting and LOADS of advice.  The thing about parenting advice is it isn't relevant until you actually have the child out of the womb and in your home...without live in help like your mother-in-law or the lovely nurses from the hospital waking you up every half hour just to jack with you.  Really, they couldn't coordinate the intrusions a little better?  From Midnight to Seven AM it was not stop each night!  But I guess it's not a resort, so I shouldn't expect a $15,000 price tag for 3 days to come with a semblance of peace & quiet should it?  I couldn't imagine the hell my wife went through on top of all that.  Yes you're a goddess Tina.  Alas, I digress.  Our whole world changed when it was just us and a baby.  Suddenly all that advice couldn't be clung to tightly enough...if it could have been sorted out.  Now, with two under two...HA!

First, let me give a crude polar analysis of parenting styles (but you've already started in about advice? I'll get there...promise).  Some parents are super strict some are the super lax.  Some are all natural, hippy-esque, some are individually wrapped, pre-packaged everything.  Some are all about the routine, some are all about letting the baby choose it's course.  Some are obsessive, need the best, brand new and only the top of the line for their little angel, others understand the value of spending on the heavily used things like cribs and less on clothes that are quickly spit up on and out grown or would only be worn by Suri Cruise. We're about the middle of most of those, but we've definitely "chosen sides" on some things we deemed important. 

So advice. The whole "choosing sides" thing is hard on big issues.  I remember a one-year-old's birthday party a group of us got into a mildly heated argument about sleeping habits.  A friend who did the Ferber method of letting your baby cry it out and only checking in, not rescuing the child was breaking it down for us.  Ours was six-months-old and still in our bed...not for lack of trying otherwise.  I couldn't handle the hours of daughter thought it was a punishment.  By 16-months she wouldn't sleep anywhere else but her crib.  The same Ferber friend also had her daughter potty trained before two-years (skinny little whip cracker also bounced back to pre-pregnancy weight two weeks after birth of their second one.  Thanks for giving my wife even more of a body image complex).  Another friend's son is nearing four and hasn't accomplished it.  There is the self-soothe technique versus the dreaded pacifier.  Cloth diapers versus disposable.  Breast milk versus formula.  Every thing is parent and child specific.

Everyone rationalizes their decision and why it was best for them and their baby.  Frankly, it's impossible to sway some folks too.  So here is an example of the poles meeting in the middle?  That obsessive, got to have EVERYTHING best for my baby and the all natural mom had a meeting and came up with the obsessive natural mother technique...for breast feeding at least.

Really odd, the stereotypical, overly obsessive, breast feeding mom doesn't do bottles at all.  The stereotypical lady who will drop $40 on a pouch to shove in their bra probably wouldn't think there was an alternative to formula. 

If you go to the website, there is a awkward informative infomercial style video.  

"As long as you have a crib a car seat and a milk saver you'll be OK."

Back to the advice.  You know, the crib actually isn't necessary, and the car seat frankly if isn't either, but you're not leaving the hospital without one.  Sure both are entirely convenient and would be ridiculous to not get, but there are alternatives.  Pretty sure that diapers and a mother are the only real necessities when it comes to babies.  But whatever, I'm not advocating overly simplified and rudimentary child rearing.  We have a ton of gadgets and gizmos that we could live without for our children.  Oh before I get any hate mail about the car seat comment, I'm referring to people without cars who'd put the kiddo in a sling and hit the subway or whatnot.  Not advocating laying babies down in the seat like the baby boomers experienced.  So maybe I needed to amend that, but then I'm already getting to specific and off point.
When I saw that flyer in the store, I knew I wanted to write about it.  I just didn't realize the road it would take me on.  For the record, I think this product has a great concept, but like most "this is the most important thing you can do for your child" sales pitches, I'm very cynical about their approach.  Guilt trips irritate me and rarely persuade me to follow your lead. 

What parenting paradoxes have you found?  Any sage advice?


  1. I won't advise on parenting directly, only on the concept of advice, itself.

    For goodness sake people (not you, Dorn), please develop a sense of awareness about whether someone is interested in hearing your opinion vs others (often me) who couldn't give a crap!

    So you had an at-home underwater birth. It went well. That's your story, but it's not proof that other methods aren't as viable. You take pride in your organic lifestyle, OR you brag that your toddler likes the Matrix films (I've heard both stories). Either way - you've probably been at this for only a few years with a few kids.

    You can't trust most of the chatter on this stuff, because, guess what? We're all OVER INVESTED on this topic. We HAVE to feel like were making the right decisions in order to sleep at night.

    Here's my anecdotal evidence: Have you noticed that kids of the most opinionated parents are often of the twitchy/nervous variety?

    I have two great kids. I have no idea what I'm doing. Both statements are true.

  2. I absolutely love your true statements. I think they have the same resonance even for parents of those twitchy kids. And I have noticed the correlation, but I'd never really pegged it like you have.

    You can ask a child of a single parent what it was like to grow up in that environment. You could ask a parent of a mentally handicapped child what it was like. You could ask a person who grew up in a household with a dozen children if it was easy to get lost. You could ask a child with gay parents what it was like. I think at the heart of it, every situation would say "I didn't know any different."

    Like the stories people tell of their experiences, it doesn't rule out the other options. It does certainly bias opinion or skew clarity on the situation.

    Pretty sure this is why Freud became as famous as he was for linking psychology to our parents and childhood. Could you imagine the advice he'd have given?