It has been one of those days… Two failed nap attempts. A toddler who constantly wants to nurse.  The perpetual sounds of cranks and whines. There seemed to be nothing that would please him.

I kept it together pretty well, but late this afternoon I finally lost my patience. I missed the mark when it came to my job as a mother. It kills me to not be the epitome of the gentle, attached mother that I want to be (and that I usually am). But today (and really, all week) things have just been off track. He is extra whiny and needy, and my patience is stretched thin.

On days like this I could use more ideas for grounded, gentle and patient parenting. A few things that work for us so far…

What helps me set the tone:

  • A prayer to start the day, and intermediate prayers asking for God’s mercy throughout the day.
  • Beginning the day with a playful/joyous spirit.
  • Really focusing on him for the first hour of the morning (after my coffee is made, of course!)
  • Getting enough to sleep. Lately it’s been hard for me to go to bed on time.

What helps me try to get both of us back on track (or what helps me keep my sanity):

  • Taking the time to pay 100% attention to him for a while. Read books, play outside – whatever he wants is what we do.
  • On the flip side, letting him watch TV. Sometimes it is either this or I might jump ship.
  • If my husband is home, I am a big fan of letting them have one-on-one time. This is definitely a win-win for everyone.
  • Take a trip to the mall or Target. Take a walk. Water the plants together.

What are your ideas? If you have older kids, tell me: does your patience grow as time goes on? I sometimes wonder if I would be more patient if I had more perspective on just how young Calvin really is. I hope I don’t come off as sounding horribly impatient; my husband always tells me that he is amazed by my patience with Calvin. But when that patience cracks… boy, do I hate that.

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This post is written for inclusion in the Carnival of Gentle Discipline hosted by Paige @ Baby Dust Diaries. All week, April 26-30, we will be featuring essays about non-punitive discipline. See the bottom of this post for more information.

My husband and I were both raised with a similar discipline style; a style that included spanking. We’ve always known that our parents loved us and wanted what was best for us. We thought that their methods seemed to work and were perhaps even what was best. We had good childhoods and though we can both recall instances where we were spanked, these aren’t disturbing memories and we harbor no resentment from the spankings. So we figured that we would parent in a similar way.

That was until I decided to question spanking and to look at other options. I don’t know if there was any one specific occurrence that pushed me firmly down the path of gentle discipline; instead it was a very slow process. Many pro-spankers firmly believe that spanking is the only way to ensure a well disciplined child and that didn’t sit well with me.  Some of these people seemed to equate “discipline” with children being seen and not heard. I read books such as Raising Cain and Unconditional Parenting that really challenged behaviorism and culturally accepted ways adults treat children. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I did not want to teach my child that “might makes right.”

Another aspect of this is that I am a Christian. As a Christian I believe that children are made in the image of God. As an Orthodox Christian I believe that babies/young children are icons of innocence. As such, I think that children are deserving of the same respect that we would show any other individual – no matter their age, their size or their mental capacity. It’s a very basic ideal that many of us believe in – but too often we do not extend it to children.

There are a lot of Christians who spank their kids, and they do so because they really, honestly believe it is the best thing to do – that it is what the Bible tells them to do. I disagree with them. I believe that spanking is totally inconsistent with the way that Jesus treated children and with the way that God treats his children. I don’t believe there is any grace in a “you did wrong, now I will hurt you as a punishment, then I will show you forgiveness.” If you want to research what the “spare the rod” Bible verses really mean, I would recommend Thy Rod and Thy Staff Comfort Me by Samuel Martin. A free copy of this book can be found here.

All that said, I want to be crystal clear that we bear absolutely no ill will towards our parents who spanked us. In some ways I feel audacious in saying that we are going to do things differently. I worry about challenges that I won’t be able to handle. I dread judgment and lack of support from those that disagree with us. But the more I think about it and the more I read about it, the more I’ve come to believe that gentle discipline is the only option for our family. I pray that my husband and I would demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit in all areas, parenting included: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.


Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/Welcome to the Carnival of Gentle Discipline

Please join us all week, April 26-30, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA and April 30th is Spank Out Day USA. In honor of this we have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives.

Are you a Gentle Parent? Put the Badge on your blog or website to spread the word that gentle love works!

Links will become available on the specified day of the Carnival.

Day 1 – What Is Gentle Discipline

Day 2 – False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy (coming Tuesday, April 27)

Day 3 – Choosing Not To Spank (coming Wednesday, April 28)

Day 4 – Creating a “Yes” Environment (coming Thursday, April 29)

Day 5 – Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All (coming Friday, April 30)

Book Review: Bedtiming

March 18, 2010


snoozing Calvin

I read about this book on Moxie and was intrigued since it purported to take a developmental approach to sleep issues. There are some interesting developmental resources available on infant/child sleep… Moxie herself has some of the best resources on this. But I was still curious about seeing a more comprehensive study of such issues. The premise of this book is that if you want to make sleep changes that happen easily and that will stick, you need to do it in the right developmental window. Since I have tried to make changes before – and I’ve usually failed miserably – I thought that this sounded like good information to have.

I should note that Calvin and I had been experiencing sleep hell when this book arrived. I was really at my wit’s end – what was going on with my little guy who was previously so content to nurse a bit and then go straight back to sleep? Now he cried and squirmed and tossed and turned. It didn’t matter if he slept in his own bed, or in my bed… no matter what I tried, he could not sleep. He was nursing at night more than a newborn and still he could not sleep. I am so thankful that Moxie had several great posts on the 18 month-old and how he didn’t want to sleep. Misery loves company.

So you can bet that upon receiving the book I quickly flipped to the section that would address my current woes. According to the book, 17-21 months is not a good time to implement changes because of the toddler’s fear of separation and his determination to hold his own in conflict situations. Instead, stay consistent in bedtime routines and just wait it out. I really was not surprised by the advice because it was exactly what I was experiencing. While I would have liked a solution, I can definitely appreciate the fact that what I was experiencing was normal.

In the end though, I didn’t feel that this book  really had a lot to do with sleep. Instead the book is a developmental overview up to age four. The developmental stages are loosely tied to sleep issues. Sleep is really only mentioned at the very beginning and the very end of the book. I think this would be really helpful information for new parents who don’t yet know much about developmental stages. Otherwise, I think that Moxie’s information about sleep regressions is every bit as helpful – and I’d even venture to say that it’s probably more helpful.

The second to last chapter is devoted to a brief analysis of the major “sleep training” techniques: CIO a la Weissbluth, CIO/gradual extinction a la Ferber, and no-cry solutions a la Pantley. The authors contend that there is no best way to help your baby sleep so they run through the major options and leave it to the parent to choose. I am anti-CIO (I particularly abhor Weissbluth’s method), but I do appreciate the way that the authors handled these topics. In the CIO section they are careful to point out that there is nothing wrong with nursing or rocking your baby to sleep and that indeed, this is often a very enjoyable activity.

Long story short: Take a look at this book if you want a good developmental overview that can be related back to sleep issues. There is a little chart in the front of the book that is especially handy for quickly determining whether or not your child is at a good age for changes. There was once a time when I thought that I would easily go on nursing Calvin at night until he was no longer interested… that time passed. There will most likely come a time when you want to make changes to help your child (and you!) sleep, so be prepared beforehand.

Keep them rear-facing

February 15, 2010

Earlier this week I took out Calvin’s carseat so that I could clean the seat and install a seat protector. He is still rear-facing and his muddy little shoes were not playing nice with the interior of my new car.  Just for kicks, I set the carseat in a forward-facing position and I let him sit in it. Wow, it was so nice… so much more room. I was tempted to install it like that, but I just couldn’t – not when he is only 17 months.

A few days later I stumbled across the following link: Why Rear Facing is Better. If you have a little one, please check this out. Just a few stats for you:

  • Forward-facing children under the age of 2 are 75% more likely to be injured.
  • Toddlers up to the age of 2 are more than 5 times safer riding rear-facing.
  • After reviewing studies from the U.S. and Sweden, a study published in the highly regarded British Medical Journal advises keeping children rear-facing until age 4.

Yes, it’s a bit of a sacrifice to keep Calvin rear-facing. He would probably enjoy the car more if he faced forward and I would definitely have an easier time getting him in and out. But I am resolved to keep him rear-facing until he reaches the weight limit on his seat – his safety is worth it.

Looking for a good convertible carseat at a reasonable price? I have The First Years True Fit and I love it. Similar to the pricey Marathon seats, this seat seems super comfy, is incredibly easy to install and one year later it still looks brand new.

That I wouldn’t mind sharing a bowl of cereal with a baby.

I’ve mentioned “attachment parenting” or “AP” several time already but I haven’t really gone into what it entails. I first learned of AP about five or six years ago thanks to the wonderful message boards at Mothering.com. As I prepared to have children there was no doubt in my mind that I would parent in an AP style. Since then I have found that many non-APers have misguided views about what AP entails. Common misconceptions include:

  • AP parents don’t discipline their children
  • AP parents coddle or spoil their children
  • It’s too hard to be AP / AP is unrealistic
  • AP produces overly dependent children

To be fair, there likely are AP parents that are like this. There are parents everywhere that are like this. But this is not what AP is about, and most AP parents can’t relate to these statements.

At it’s core, AP means that you believe that your baby/child is a person worthy of respect and not an inconvenience that needs to be managed as such. It’s about a long-term committment to meet your child’s needs. It’s about integrating your children into your life. It’s about parenting from the heart without the baggage of cultural views. AP parents strive to be in tune (“attached”) to their children.

At first glance any decent parent would say “hey, I do that!” But then you later find all sorts of exceptions: they don’t meet their child’s needs at night, they don’t nurse the child except when it is convenient to do so, they discipline using a short-term fix rather than a long-term focus, their attitude sends a clear message that their child is an inconvenience. Now that I’ve criticized some parenting practices, let me be quick to qualify that I am not an AP poster child, nor am I anywhere near the perfect parent. But I do believe that there is a lot we can learn from attachment parenting practices – a lot that flies in the face of the way that our modern culture tries to parent. Read the rest of this entry »

Limiting Toys

January 7, 2010

When my son was about nine months old, I learned an obvious lesson: his happiness had no relation whatsoever to the amount of toys that we had. In an effort to keep him entertained, I had scoured Craigslist and the neighborhood consignment stores for the very best toys. I found some good things that he still enjoys, namely a Fisher Price Laugh and Learn house and his toy trucks. But I quickly discovered that the majority of toys did not hold his interest for more than five minutes. He was much more interested in normal household objects, particularly those that we might consider trash (empty boxes and such). I resolved not to buy him any more toys until his birthday. Read the rest of this entry »