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Question of the Week - Confidence

In general, I'm a pretty self-confident person. Whether it's due to nature or nurture or most likely a combination of both, I generally am not filled with self-doubt or second guess myself. I'm also not filled with modesty, apparently, but I didn't say I was perfect. In fact, I do have many flaws, but I know them well and have learned to just live with them and/or learned to compensate for them in other ways. In general.

This is not to say that I don't go through periods of self-doubt or lack confidence in certain areas. This became very apparent to me during the last year. IMO, there is nothing more humbling than being a first-time parent. As I've said before, there were so many things that I thought which turned out to be way off base simply because I didn't know what being a parent was really like. Especially the parent of a very fussy little girl. Those first few months of trial by fire plus the really difficult times while suffering from PPD, they really rocked my self-confidence in so many ways.

But slowly and surely, I've rebuilt my self-confidence in many areas, including parenting. I didn't do it alone. My therapist and I had many long conversations about parenting, and her praise of my parenting instincts helped build my confidence. Being the obsessive researcher I am, I have researched every area of parenting that seems to affect me. I've read books, perused websites, devoured message boards, obsessed over mommyblogs and daddyblogs, and snatched up many parenting magazines. I've had good conversations with our pediatrician. I've watched my sister and her family, my brother and his family, and many friends and relatives go through these early years of parenting. Most importantly, I listened to myself, my husband and to my baby.

So now I'm feeling pretty confident that the choices Londo and I have made are the right ones for us and for the Pumpkin. Even when those choices are not necessarily the "norms" of society. I've heard of other people getting anything from funny looks to big lectures on some of the choices they've made which are the same that I've made. I've been thinking that I must be very fortunate in that most people haven't given me a hard time about my choices, even when they don't choose the same or may not even agree completely.

But is it just luck? Or is it my confidence in the choices I made and the ability to back up my choices with research or observations about my child? I'm sure it's a combination of both, since I know other confident parents who get harassed by well-meaning (or maybe not well-meaning) people telling them that the decisions they made are wrong. But still, I believe that confidence not only helps to keep other people from questioning you (at least to your face), it also helps you not second guess your decisions based on what some mis-informed and highly opinionated stranger might say to you.

That got me thinking and wondering, which in turn makes me want to ask this Question of the Week:

What parenting decision have you made that you are confident about?

The first one that comes to my mind is "extended" breastfeeding*. I'm continuing to breastfeed past one year. Granted, I did move to whole milk for the Pumpkin during the day, but that was really so I could stop pumping. I still nurse her at night, in the mornings and when I'm home during the weekend and she seems to need/want it. Of course, I researched the natural age for weaning, read the AAP recommendation that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child" and discovered that the WHO recommends breastfeeding continue for "up to two years of age or beyond." In addition to having done the research, I'm completely confident that this is the right decision for the Pumpkin and for me and Londo. I know she will continue to get benefits from the breastmilk, and the bonding of nursing is a great benefit to both of us.

I tend to just talk about my continuing to breastfeed as if it's the most normal thing in the world, which I believe it is in most of the rest of the world. If anyone has given me a funny look, I haven't noticed because I simply can't imagine who would. If anyone does look at me funny or indicate that I shouldn't still be nursing, I'm more than happy to educate that person on the medical research and the fact that this decision is right for my family.

Have you made any decision(s) that others could question, or that even you questioned, but now you are confident in the decision(s)? I'd love to hear about it!

*For the record, I hate this term. Just because people breastfeed beyond a year should not label it "extended" when in fact it is both normal and healthy for children to continue breastfeeding beyond a year, our social and cultural norms aside.


Becoming Mommy said…
actually, with the exception of putting him in childcare (For obvious reasons) I've been confident in all our choices for him.
I don't think confidence keeps people from telling you you're wrong. But I do think it helps you deflect the lectures with the thought of "wow, that was possibly the most ignorant thing I've every heard."
Jan said…
First of all, I want to say that I totally agree with your assessment about projecting confidence being a factor in how often you get mommy drive-bys. I used to wonder who these people were who touched pregnant women's bellies without their permission or gave unsolicited advice at the mall because it had never happened to me. Then, when I had my second, just as I was beginning to doubt not so much my choices, but my ability to cope with it all, it happened to me like 3 times in the course of a week. That just can't be a coincidence.

The parenting decision about which I get some grief, but that I am absolutely confident is the Right Thing for my family/kids is having them one a pretty strict schedule, particularly with respect to sleep. We very very rarely keep the kids up late (past 8) and even less frequently skip naps. And yes, that means we are unavailable for most evening engagements and virtually all afternoon ones. But I also don't think it's a coincidence that my kids are generally well-rested and so am I. And we almost never have bedtime battles; their bodies are so trained that it's time for sleeping that they wouldn't think to argue.

Other non-mainstream stuff we do/did: NO commercial TV and very little PBS or video TV; no store-bought baby food; cloth diapers (at home -- daycare won't take them); breastmilk/formula mix until almost a year (very low production, but my pediatrician told me that 2 oz a day was hugely better than none, so I pumped and breastfed even when my production dropped down to only 5% of their daily consumption).
Kat said…
Mmm, with my in-laws EVERYTHING is questioned and disapproved of. My SIL can do no wrong (her LO is 3 weeks younger). My MIL actually openly laughed at me when I said we were co-sleeping. You don't even want to know what she said when we said we weren't raising DD in a religion...

DH and I expect nothing less from them, it is their way (and we are so far from where they are) and anyone who doesn't conform is pressured to do so.

A few of my friends raise their eyebrows when my boob comes out (what will they think in 6 months' time?) but equally start justifying feeding a 9mo puree when I am present just because I BLW. Sometimes the criticism comes from within and we project outwards.

Kat x
La folle maman said…
Oddly enough, my decision to PUT our son into an in-home daycare is one I feel most confident about right now. I think we timed it just right by keeping him home until just before the stranger/separation anxiety stage hit. Not that he doesn't have these moments but I believe exposing him to daycare provided him with the benefit of playmates (fortunately, our caregiver's youngest is only a few months older), exposure to a new bigger environment (our townhouse is really small and he seems to get bored sometimes) and not to mention the benefit a sane mother. It was just too much for me to struggle with working part-time from home and trying to take care of a mobile baby at the same time. When he was younger, it was much easier but as soon as the crawling and climbing started, I just couldn't manage both.

However, I do have many doubts elsewhere. My personality is such that I'm always second guessing myself. So this parenting thing and the multitude of "friendly advice" DH and I have received really took its toll. Especially since everyone at my husband's company seems to be CIO/Ferber/BabyWise followers and I lean more towards the No-cry solution (not entirely, I just think there's a point where enough is enough). He'd show up for work tired from a long night of being up with our son and they'd flood him with suggestions like, "Oh, that's too bad. He'll never learn to sleep on his own like that. What you need to do is shut the door and turn off the monitor."

Not being confident in my decision about this, DH and I have had many fights about it. We're closer to a middle ground now but it's been hard.
I'm Not Skippy said…
Since my son is only 6 months old I don't have many big decisions, but I feel good about 2 big decisions.

1) We moved the kid out of the bassinet in our room at 6 weeks, and he's not allowed to sleep with us. It's worked out wonderfully.

2) The biggest. I decided that as long as my wife nursed I would change EVERY diaper. The only exception are the times I'm not home with her (which isn't often) and when he's at grandma's during the week. It gave me a chance to bond with him almost as much as nursing did for my wife.

Other dad's hate it when I share that.
-goofydaddy said…
I love it whenever i have to explain to someone that i'm a stay-at-home dad. it's still a foreign idea to a lot of people. I'm confident with that decision, and glad that i got to spend so much time with my daughter the first 18 months. i'm not so confident about putting her into daycare, but it is only 3 days a week so we still get plenty of daddy-daughter time. :-)

la folle:
I tend to agree with you - we never employed any methods, because situations with different babies are always different, and always different with the same baby (wrap that one around yer brain!). if a baby cries, it's usually for a reason. and most of the time waiting it out won't work because a specific need is not being met. I used to think that maybe she was trying to trick us into getting her and playing in the middle of the night (not true). however, comforting always worked for us, and sleeping somewhere other than her crib was never an option. when it's bedtime, we forced a routine, and she caught on eventually. there were times when she regressed (and still does), but we tried to take it in stride and modify the routine a bit to work with everyone involved. at some point it all works out.
ImpostorMom said…
The only thing anyone has ever said anything to me about was CIO and I am totally confident in my decision to do that because he sleeps and it worked for us.

For the most part I'm pretty confident in my parenting decisions. Breastfeeding until almost 14 months and weaning when we were both ready. CIO and when to introduce solids.

I'd say the thing I'm least confident about is how to dress him for bed each night. I agonize over that each and every day. It's ridiculous. :P
Cloud said…
I'm confident about continuing to breastfeed (and pump) past her 1 year birthday.

Everything else, I'm prone to bouts of uncertainty, but I'm getting better about ignoring those!
ms_magiana said…
One thing I have been confident about is "sleep training." I followed (basically) the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child methodology - and became a protector of my baby's sleep. And although I did get the occasional, "Oh, they'll learn to sleep through it (noise, lights, etc.)" or "Oh, I just wagged my babies everywhere - they adjusted" comment, I KNEW what was best for my child. And I reap the benefits to this day. :)
Most confident.... Breastfeeding. Perhaps it is the only one I never feel doubts about. We breastfeed on demand and will until we are both ready for weening (I am thinking 2ish)
Everything else I have doubts, or concerns or just feel suseptible about... and try not to tell people about them. Co-sleeping, nursing him down, food (wtf!), naps.

Actually I also feel really good about putting him in montisori (soon!!!!)

the two things my mom did for me that I am doing nearly the same for my son are the ones I feel no doubt what so ever about.
Colleen said…
I wasn't terribly confident with our oldest, since I had no close friends or family near me and since we were the first of our friends to have kids. I was confident, though, of all the medical decisions we made, the days that we literally harassed the pediatrician because we didn't feel they were quite getting to the bottom of something...brushing us off as being overreactive 1st-time parents.
With the second child, we have been a lot more confident about more of our decisions, even though he is nearly the polar opposite of his brother...although the colic very nearly killed all of us! :)
Shellie said…
I think we are sharing brains on this one. I also agree on the nursing thing. I will never regret having nursed till it was really time to quit 2 yo, 3yo and 10 mo. Most of my regrets were just not finding the right info or resources in time to avoid some things. For the most part I feel like I learn as I go and make good choices for my kids. Study it out and follow your guts. Consider what's said, but trust yourself. Mamma really does know best!

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