You’re Spoiling Your Baby!

“You’re spoiling your baby by holding her.  She’ll never be independent.”

“You’re spoiling your baby by still allowing an early morning feed. My baby slept for 12 hours a night at four weeks old and never needed to eat. Why would you want to get up at 5am?”

“HOW many diapers are you washing? Don’t tell me you’re changing her every time she is just WET?!!?”

“It doesn’t matter if she has the flu.  If you go in to comfort her in the middle of the night if she cries then you’re training her to be up all night and to never be able to soothe herself.”

“You let her touch your guitar and piano?  She’s going to have no respect for other people’s things if you let her touch your stuff like that.”

“You’re going to just let her stop eating? But she didn’t finish all of the food on her plate.”

“You seriously read her a book every time she hands you one?  You’re teaching her to always expect to get her way.”

“You’re still nursing her at ten months old?!?  I stopped breastfeeding right at six months when my kids got teeth, like you’re supposed to.  Babies don’t need milk after six months.  Anything beyond six months and the it’s just for the mother, not the kid.”

Our parenting choices are the ones that make sense for our family and our values.  They are based on sound research and a great deal of reflection, as well as consultation with our family physician and dietician.  Our choices are working for us, and we are happy with the results.  I’m sure that other peoples’ parenting choices have worked or are working for them, including the random people who keep charging in and giving me unsolicited advice. My choice to frequently change cloth diapers to avoid contact dermatitis is in no way a threat to anyone’s way of life.  My choice to wear my baby to walk to the community centre instead of dragging a stroller through the snow does not cause any harm to anyone.  So… why give me such a hard time about these everyday kinds of parenting choices?  Why do people even care?

I am overly sensitive to the term “spoiled”, as parenting an only child comes with the stigma of the “spoiled child”.  Parenting a child after infertility and loss just adds fuel to that fire.

It helps me to remember that some of the people saying these things are actually feeling guilty about how little they were willing or able to nurture their own children or how little attention and time they could afford to give them.  Sometimes they are desperately trying to justify their own parenting choices/situation by putting mine down. Sometimes people just parent in the way they were parented by default because it is all they know–it makes sense to them and is familiar, and they are threatened by any other way of caring for a child. In some cases, perhaps it would hurt too much to admit that there may have been a kinder/gentler/different way. I picture them as scared little kids who are lashing out… and then the comments don’t hurt as much.