When you first discovered you were going to be a parent, what kind of parent did you think you'd be? Or even before that, was there a parent out there you thought you'd emulate, or a parenting style you thought you'd adopt when the time came? I know that I certainly could point out things I would not do--can't we all? That was probably easier for me (still is, if I'm honest) than articulating what kind of a parent I would be.
So, fast forward, now that you are a parent/going to be a parent, have these ideals changed at all? Are you the parent you thought you would be? When I reflect on this, I am amazed, and have to just laugh. I have turned into a bit of a granola lovin' hippie. I have learned, from a parenting networking site that I frequent, that there are two ends of the parenting spectrum. One one end, you have what are referred to as "silky" moms, and on the other end you have "crunchy" moms. Silky moms exclusively use strollers, vaccinate on schedule, their children sleep in cribs, formula feed their babies, begin feeding their babies solid foods by four months, go for easy/convenient/inexpensive food and baby care/cleaning products, they implement the "cry-it-out method to get their children to sleep, get epidurals, use disposable diapers and circumcise their sons. Crunchy mamas, on the other hand babywear (carry their babies around in slings), delay, select or deny vaccinations, they co-sleep or bedshare with their children, breastfeed, hold off solid foods until at least six months often practicing baby-led weaning, they buy organic/all natural food and baby care/cleaning products, practice attachment parenting, try for drug-free births, cloth diaper, and will opt not to circumcise their sons.
I guess I am what you could call, a "semi-crunchy" mama. I lean more to that side than I thought I would, and wear that badge with pride. Basically, I do my own research, and I would encourage any parent to do the same. Every aspect of my parenting is well thought out and researched. I carefully consider everything that goes in or on my daughters, and am aware of how their experiences shape who they will become, even as the wee little things that they are. I would hope you would do the same with your own children, and not just do it because that's what the doctor or your mom told you to do. Certainly, the doctor and your mom have some merit, but I, for one, want to have reason apart from their "expertise" that justifies the choices I make for my children. I like that I can articulate the "why" behind the way we have chosen to parent, and can cite sources to back up the way our daughters are being raised and cared for.
Everyone has an opinion, and extremists that lean heavily to one side or the other can certainly offend. No one wants to be accused of doing the wrong thing, or less than the best for their child. Therein begin great debates. Vaccinations vs. no vaccinations; formula feeding vs. breastfeeding--it can get ugly! This was the very best thing that I ever did for my girls--- are you ready? In the midst of doctors, friends and family telling me what they thought was right for my children, I decided to go with my "mama instincts." Hands down, I know my girls better than any of them ever will. Sometimes, what they say just doesn't feel like the right thing to do--that's "mama instinct"--I trust that feeling. I think God put it there for a reason. From that place, I can then determine what works best for our girls, and make decision that is right for us. I think that "mama guilt" is just part of being a mom, that "I should have/would have/could have" regret is par for the course--we aren't perfect. I find that I have much less "mama guilt" when I hone in on my "mama instincts"--maybe you will too.
From this hippie to you, peace.