I am not in a competition on raising children.
I believe everyone has his or her own way in raising theirs, but there are so many times when I am judged at how I raised up my children that I think this ‘judgement’ deserves a blog post here.
I often received raised eyebrows when people know that I let my baby sleep in a sarong cradle. Some were surprised that I give pacifiers to my babies almost betting that I would have trouble weaning them off it. People judged when they saw that I feed my toddler on the go. Others gave disapproving look when they sighted my kids playing on tablets or smartphones. Many criticized when they see my kids’ overactive behaviour. And this will almost certainly set you off laughing: I let my children use the milk bottle for as long as they like.
You may disapprove some of the ways I deal with my children. But I believe that I am bringing them up well.
Why “no sarong rule”?
What is wrong with children sleeping in a sarong cradle? Some said that it will cause over-dependence on sleeping in one and “spoil” the baby. All my 3 children grew up sleeping in one and up till 3 years of age during nap time. They slept on the bed from 6 months old for night sleep. The sarong cradle is an amazing piece of cloth that once hung onto the sarong cradle metal frame, creates a hugging sensation to the baby who tends to sleep well in it. The rocking motion of sarong cradle is very soothing to the child, mimicking the feeling in mummy’s womb. And from my 3 times experience, my child can sleep anywhere with or without sarong cradle. I do not have problem getting them to sleep on the bed either. So why the insistence of no sarong rule?
Pacifier is better than thumb
When my children were babies and started to suck on their thumbs, my mum gave me a very good advice to use the pacifier. I listened to her and trained my babies to suck on one. Once they knew how to suck, they no longer put their thumbs as and when, regardless clean thumbs or not, into their mouth. They stopped thumb sucking and asked for pacifiers only when they wanted to sleep. I only gave it to them during sleep time so that they would not suck on the pacifier during waking moments. I would not like to see my child walking around with pacifier in the mouth as a habit. I no longer needed to worry about my child putting his unwashed thumb into his mouth and was happy to take one stress off me. Sucking thumb habit can be permanent and extremely hard to break. I was keen to avoid that.
When it came to weaning off the pacifier, it was easy for my children too. For Missy 11, I only needed to tell her that I would be stopping her on pacifier and pretended to throw away. She never asked for it anymore. She was 2 yo. For Master 9, he never asked for it when I kept it from him during night time. He just took an hour more to sleep as he felt something was missing and he rolled about for an hour or 2 before finally sleeping. Sometimes I felt sorry for him and gave him the pacifier again and it was really after a holiday trip that he was finally weaned from it. After the trip, I kept it away and he never asked for the pacifier again. Master 4 was never a fan of pacifier, and at 4 months old, I remembered stopping every single time he put his thumb to his mouth and he never sucked his thumb after that period. My takeaway from this: it takes time and patience to wean off something, eventually the child will adapt and accept.
Feeding my toddler on the go
As much as I agree that training independence is important, I do have to occasionally feed my toddler on the go. Since the day he could hold a spoon, we would let him sit with us and eat by himself despite messy meal times. However if he stopped eating for whatever reasons, we would feed him. I am totally fine with feeding him even if he walks around as long as he eats his meal. When the Grandpa looks after my children, I am used to him feeding the children when they were young. Even though I had insisted that he let my child eat on his own, being a grandparent, his top concern is always ensuring the kids eat their meals and thought nothing of feeding them. I would probably do the same in future when I am a grandma. Now, I would have been a proud mama if my children never needed to be fed by me and could obediently sit through their meal times and finish whatever’s on their plates. I know this will not happen and I would prefer not to choose a battle over meals with the children. The most important thing is that we have tried and encouraged self-feeding on every chance we have. I am not interested in stubbornly forcing my child to eat on his own if he prefers being fed. So what if I feed my toddler on the go? Eventually, they will grow up eating their meals by themselves just like what my elder kids are doing now. Why judge when you see me feed my child while he walks around?
Playing on tablets and smartphones
I totally believe that for certain things, absolute abstinence is the sure way for backfire.
In our family, I am the one who is against letting the children touch technology when they would have otherwise engaged in other activities. Especially during family interaction time with cousins and grandparents or friends, I would prefer keeping technology out of reach. Despite my insistence, there are some occasions that my smartphone makes for peaceful times or technology is negotiated for some well-deserved rewards. If one were to keep technology totally out such that the children are totally deprived of what their classmates are playing, this may cause backfire in future with stronger addiction risk. Didn’t you play ‘Tetris’ or ‘Game and Watch’ when you were young? So, if you do see my children playing on the tablet or smartphone, it shows that I am not depriving them of their childhood games.
Kids are active by nature
Oh, how I envy other children who are so well-behaved when they are outside. I do have 3 active children. Sometimes, I received indirect comments that my children are termed “naughty” because they seemed so. As a mum, it hurts. It also sounds like I am not bringing up my children well. But what they do not know and see is that my children are normal. They are active, maybe slightly more than others, but just doing what normal children do: mischievous at times, squabbling with siblings, curiosity at play. They are kind-hearted by nature, are filial to their parents and respect their grandparents and elders. Maybe your children are brought up well to behave obediently in public, but that should not be the judgement on other children who are allowed more freedom to express themselves.
Retaining the milk bottle for as long as they like milk
There are many parents who wean their children off the milk bottle when they are in pre-school or earlier. For me, I prefer them to drink from the milk bottle for as long as they enjoy drinking formula milk. I speak from my own experience. I stopped the milk bottle at age 8 after we moved house because my mum warned me that my new neighbours might laugh at me. So the moment I stopped drinking from the milk bottle, I never touched formula milk anymore as it never tasted the same from the cup. Because of this, I allowed my children to drink from the milk bottle till they wanted to wean it off. I want them to benefit from drinking milk for as long as possible. There is nothing wrong with prolong use of milk bottle as what I choose to believe. Some think that using the milk bottle will cause misalignment of the growth of teeth. However, if you think about it, how many times would the child drink from the bottle each day? 2 times? 3 times? I do not think that such short sucking motion would cause much harm, honestly. So, apart from the glare of outsiders who deemed milk bottle as babyish, what is so wrong with using the milk bottle for a longer time?
After reading this, some of you may disagree with my way of raising kids. That is perfectly normal. I believe every parent raises his/her child with the best intentions. Just be careful that some insistence of “rules” may not really benefit anyone and may cause unnecessary strain in relationship or more stress in the already stressful parenting world.
I am quite happy with the way that I raise up my children. In fact, as they gradually grow up, I am more convinced that they are brought up to my expectations. Some traits may not show up now, but as the years go by, some of them are emerging. Of all the things in parenting, I would choose to insist on raising children with good attitude and right values. The rest are not really essential.