Sunday, July 21, 2013


I've never heard a valedictory address include "Thanks to my parents for starting me on solids at 6 months instead of 4."

I've never heard an Oscar acceptance speech thank parents for avoiding all bottles and pacifiers when the speaker was a baby.

I've never heard a prison inmate say "If my parents had just used cloth diapers on me, I wouldn't be here."

I don't think I've ever cared to ask my parents whether they placed me to sleep on my stomach or my back as a baby.

Choices made during the baby years are important, but, I feel like too often, some things are presented and followed as "all or nothing" when they are not, or should not be. In the grand scheme of things, many of the parenting choices at this stage have a very temporary span of importance. I suppose this is true of every other stage in life as well.

And yet it is often these "externals" that receive so much of the focus. Of course, health and safety are important. But the deeper things - love, discipline, empathy, grace... they're so much harder to grasp sometimes - to view in terms of daily actions and reactions. I do try to learn as much as I can about the externals, but I have to remember that they are not a substitute for the deeper things. Following a bunch of rules can bring good results, but limited ones. When it's all said and done, a lot of the things that are touted as all-important probably will not matter so much.

That doesn't mean that what I'm doing doesn't matter. It does. But ultimately, reminding myself of this should be freeing. Since the incidentals, "methods," and "labels" should not be all-encompassing, then "doing what works" in many areas is not going to ruin a child. And if it isn't freeing, then maybe I should chill out a bit. Perspective: It's what I need!