Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Parenting on Purpose

I have been blessed to have a wonderful friend who has two daughters, ages 4 and 6. I've been watching her parent for the last 6 years. When we finally decided we were ready to get pregnant and have a child of our own, I'd already  had years of time to really think about the type of parent I wanted to be. While a lot of the specifics of parenting and the look of your day to day can change because of the diverse needs of your children, there is one thing that always has stayed the same for me. That thing is the idea that it is important to parent on purpose. 

I never wanted to be someone who just took each difficulty or each night or each act of discipline as a fly by the seat of your pants kind of thing. I absolutely think it has been so important for me to take time to enjoy Isis where she is at each moment, to savor those little idiosyncrasies of raising a baby. I've cuddled, I've loved, I've held, I've allowed some cry-it-out, I've fed, I've weaned, we've had fun and we've struggled and it's been quite a journey already and we are only getting started! But I will say that at all times I try to keep in mind that what I'm doing needs to be done on purpose. I tried not to go for a quick fix. I tried to go for things that would build a foundation of success throughout Isis' life - and at times that meant the in-the-moment situation was a little more difficult.

We decided to do Babywise, although it ended up being more of a Babywise/Baby Whisperer/Baby 411/Sleeping Through the Night/etc. kind of hybrid. I found what fit for us through a mix of incredible advice from incredible people. I wanted her to be able to rely on some consistency. I wanted her to learn to soothe herself and to learn to sleep well and put herself back to sleep in the middle of the night, because I believe teaching her good sleep habits as a baby will positively impact the rest of her life.

When it was time for her to drink from a sippy cup and she fought me on it, I held my ground and didn't give in with a bottle. I held and consoled her as needed and I was flexible with offering a cup with a straw, but I didn't give in, because I knew that she had to learn how to drink from something other than a bottle. She couldn't drink from a bottle forever.

I'm currently reading Boundaries With Kids by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It's all about setting boundaries and teaching kids how to set their own boundaries. It starts early, building consistency, parenting on purpose.

Now, I'm not saying that you have to get your child on a sleep schedule or fight them for a sippy cup. The things that are important to you and your family may be completely different than mine. The way you reach the same goals as me may be by a different path. I think the important thing is remembering that the goal of parenting children is to raise a healthy, functioning adult. At least for me, that's what it is. I try to do everything in a way that I'm building her up for success in the future, not just getting through the next moment.

I don't feel like I've articulated this as well as I could have, but what are your thoughts? What do you feel is the ultimate goal of parenting? Do you think about the future when you're parenting in the day to day? I'd love to hear other mom's perspectives! What works for you?

Also, you can probably tell I'm a reader. I love to read about everything, but I've really loved reading about parenting. No book has held all the answers for me, but I've loved piecing together what does work for us. Any great books you've read that have helped you build your perspective on positive parenting strategies??



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3 comments:

Amy said...

I think you said it well. I don't believe one "parenting philosophy" works. I think you have to have a hybrid. Right now the "Happiest Baby on the Block" method is working for our family. Who knows what we'll end up doing in a few more months? I'm glad to hear Baby Wise worked for Isis. You've inspired me! I may have to write a post similar and link yours. ;-)

Mama Smors said...

love it!!! i think "parenting on purpose" is crucial.... especially after being a teacher :) i am wondering if you saw the need for this even more once you were in the classroom? we all want our babies to grow up as independent, successful adults!

adriel, from the mommyhood memos said...

yes, parenting on purpose! such a good phrase!!!

i, too, am really interested in discipline books at the moment. i'll have to check out the boundaries one. i read one of his other ones - i think it was boundaries in dating - years ago. will have to have a look at this one.

i've just started a good one as well, but the name is escaping me right now... i'll have to write you again! i'm only a chapter in so right now it's more on the big picture stuff than the nuts and bolts and how-to's.

i'm particularly interested in what to do for tantrums... cuz my little man has strong opinions and strong reactions! he's definitely transitioned into being a toddler! love it! and... i'm finding it a huge stretch and i need some coaching on this stuff.

make sure to keep passing any good resources along!!! i'll try to do the same. :)

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