Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Reasons My Daughter Isn't Spoiled

Alternate title: Mind Your Own Business and Let Me Choose How to Parent My Child

In the recent past I have had several people tell me I'm spoiling my baby, or at least they implied it. I'm not going to name names (or relationships) but these were people close to us who (I hope) respect my decisions on parenting and just in general. I'm sure they meant nothing but the best. But here are the reasons they are very, very wrong.

First of all, my daughter is seven weeks old. You can't spoil a seven week old. A seven week old has no concept of ownership or entitlement- neither does a seven month old for that matter. A seven week old can't think "that's mine" or "I deserve this" or "I get what I want". A seven week old only knows what they need to survive and be happy, and only in the vaguest sense of the word "know". They know innately. It's an instinct that they have no way of suppressing. This is honestly something I could do with a reminder of from time to time, especially when it's 4pm and we've been doing cycles of ten minute naps followed by twenty minutes of fussing and crying since 7am.

Secondly, she needs me. Put yourself in her cute little socks. She grew inside my body for nine months. My body was her entire world. Then she suddenly got thrown into a world where she has to poop and eat and be changed, and deal with being too hot or too cold, and sometimes she's lonely, and sometimes things hurt. Don't you think you'd probably cry a lot and need to be held by the one person you know? Wouldn't that be comforting no matter what was wrong?

Did you know crying and needing to be held are an evolutionary advantages? In hunter-gatherer days a baby who cried as soon as mom put him down was a baby that wasn't left behind- a baby that survived. A baby who sat quietly on the ground while Mom and Dad hunted was not a desirable trait back then. Babies needed to self-advocate or they wouldn't make it. And we've spent a lot more time in that lifestyle than in the modern one, where apparently babies should be neither seen nor heard. (By the way, the info in this paragraph is more or less from the fascinating book Kiss Me! by Carlos Gonzales, of which I am only on page 101 but so far has discussed why children are the way they are. You should check it out if you're interested in understanding your baby or toddler better.)

Lastly, in a way I want to spoil my daughter. I want to spoil her emotionally. I want her to know that her mom is always going to be there for her to take care of her and love her. I want her to know that we will always do everything we can to make sure her needs are met. Of course she'll learn someday that we aren't able to give her everything. But that will come later, and it'll be an easier blow if she spent babyhood being fed as soon as she was hungry, kept clean and dry and warm and given cuddles any time she needed them. The arguments over toys or food or parties will come later. For now she doesn't want much from me and I'm going to do my best to give her everything she needs.

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