I like to think I brought my children up according to my intuitive instinct, which, to be honest, was much more difficult than parenting according to ancestral advice, guidance from doctors or books.
It was harder because it involved ‘well you’ll be sorry’ glances from probably well-meaning relatives, who thought it was their way or the highway.
It was harder because it involved trial and (a lot) of minor errors. It was harder because if you want a quiet life, you have to remove yourself from certain circles.
I didn’t set out with any objectives. Knowing we were expecting twins, my only hope was to deliver them safely, and then keep us all alive.
I bought them cots and slings, but had no plans to do cry-it-out or attachment parenting. I had read books on both, and although attachment parenting sounded more up my street, two babies in my bed, baby-wearing and on demand, full-term breastfeeding, free birthing to cloth nappies, no nappies? Some concessions would be necessary
As it turned out, parenting by instinct actually meant I did a lot of that above list, but not as many as I would have had the babies been singletons.
I have been rewarded with a sense of having done things ‘my way’. Whenever I did succumb to the advice of people who did not know me or my babies, we all seemed to suffer, so I distanced myself from such people as far as possible. Especially in the earlier months when my new parenting role was fresh and more delicate to criticism. Now my twins are nearly 3, I am hardier and more confident. I have heard this tactic has also been deployed by other mothers ‘doing things differently’.
Having had two non-identical and very different children at the same time, taught me babies need to be parented according to their own needs an temperaments, which I found extremely difficult when there has to be some kind of routine and unanimity.
However, for me, the notion of parenting them to a formula, or prescribed random idea of how they should be behaving, made no sense. Of course there had to limits and boundaries, but I tried to allow them to have their needs met, whether these needs were desires for comfort and attachment, (perceived by some as wants, not needs) or ‘genuine’ needs, such as for food or a dry nappy).
Hilariously, I feel if I had breastfed my twins for 6 weeks or 3 months, I would have got ‘well done, you did great to do that long!’. As it was, breastfeeding for more than 6 months, I got ‘freeeeeeak!!’
That is not really hilarious at all, it is tragic. The same attitude pervades with sleeping arrangement, diet and the rest, that is why I make my life easiest by disclosing as little as possible for the time being, about everything, even to closest friends.
My parenting advice, bring your children up however you see fit, that is your prerogative as their parent, but do not berate or criticize other mothers for doing differently.
Unless you have some hardcore, solid evidence about how your way is most likely to produce the happiest and most well-rounded of ADULTS, lets assume you are also engaging in trial and error.
Try to exercise open-mindedness, class and respect, you at least owe it to your offspring to exemplify tolerance.