In case you didn’t know, I tend to practice parenting in an evolutionary manner whenever I can. (I don’t get to do it all because I still lack things like alloparenting and lots of multi-age playmates, but as EP isn’t about a checklist, but rather looking back to how humans thrived and understanding why it works to see how it can fit with your life, I’m okay with that.) However, in parenting this way, I have been told by many about all the things my daughter will supposedly never do. From family, friends, and complete strangers. Everyone has an opinion and rarely is it positive.
But my daughter is now coming up on 3 in a few months and I thought I’d revisit the myriad things I’ve been told and where she stands now…
Because we co-sleep: “She’ll never get out of your bed.”
Yes, my daughter is still in our bed. We love co-sleeping. We get to cuddle at night and wake to each other and it’s wonderful. However, I’m still going to hold out and say that she’ll probably request to move to her own room before she leaves for university. Me thinks once a sibling is in the picture and she can share a room with another kid, she’ll be booting us out as quickly as possible!
Because my daughter stayed physically close to me or her dad for the first year of life and wasn’t left alone: “She will never go out and explore. She’ll be too afraid to leave your side.”
Ha! Well, for a while my daughter was clingy. She didn’t want me to leave her side. It’s that whole separation anxiety thing which is totally normal. However, now when we go to the airport, for example, she simply runs off to explore things and play on the play structure without so much as a glance back. I find I have to be much more careful to follow her because she’s not afraid at all to go out and explore her world. Yes, she has times when she wants us to join her on her explorations. I see this as a good thing because it means she wants to spend time with her parents. As for leaving her with others? If she trusts the person and has fun there, she kicks us out the door. I know because she does this a few times a week when she heads to her friends’ place while I do school work. No crying, no tears, no feeling horrible for leaving her upset and being told she’ll get over it. I get a hug, a kiss, and told to leave.
Because my daughter is raised by her mom at home and not in daycare: “She won’t know how to socialize with other children.”
Perhaps she seemed more shy than other kids at a year or so as she wasn’t used to strangers or just feeling the usual separation anxiety, but now? Well, she’s far more social than the vast majority of children she comes across. She is the child that runs up to every new kids she sees, and often it’s them who is shy and hides away. But she doesn’t give up, she’ll just run up to the next child, and so on and so forth. She also likes old people. Middle-aged adults? Not so much unless she really knows you. I’m okay with that – it’s a good safety thing to have in my opinion.
Because she was/is nursed on demand: “She will be a self-entitled brat.”
I’ve actually written an entire post on this one which you can read here. In short, allowing my daughter to nurse on demand means she nurses when hungry or wanting comfort or close contact. All things I don’t hold over my daughter’s head. It does not mean she gets what she wants when she wants. At all. So no, I don’t have a self-entitled brat and anyone who knows her can attest to that. I do, however, have a toddler and that means there will be moments she gets upset and angry when she doesn’t get something she really wants. That’s okay. I act like that too sometimes. (Oh wait – I was nursed on demand until I self-weaned too. Yep, that’s it. My measured disappointment when things don’t work out must be due to that. Got it. I guess that’s why I’ve turned out so horribly from it too.)
Because I wore her all the time as a baby: “She’ll be delayed in learning to walk or crawl.”
I do know that in traditional societies where there are lots of dangers and babies and toddlers are worn until they are about 3, walking is delayed. But they walk. My daughter wasn’t worn as much as that once she was mobile, and though she was worn all the time when she was a baby, once she was a bit older, it was when we went out. I really don’t get how using a stroller would facilitate walking or crawling. In fact, babywearing builds up your baby’s stomach muscles making them stronger which should help walking or crawling. However, my daughter was delayed in neither walking nor crawling, though she didn’t go through the usual process of practicing either of them. She just did them one day (or in the case of walking over 3 days).
Because she was exclusively breastfed for a year (by her choice): “She’ll be malnourished and sick.”
Iron deficiency is something that many parents worry about in an exclusively breastfed infant. However, we did delayed cord clamping so it was not something we had to worry about. Otherwise, she’s healthy as an ox, strong as anything, and now loves fruits, veggies, fish, eggs, etc. She’s not a picky eater (but neither am I and she would have had all sorts of food tastes through breastmilk) and will try anything (most of the time). She still says “yummy boobies” are her favourite over anything else and that’s fine with us because she eats and she eats well.
Because I nursed her to sleep: “She’ll never learn to fall asleep on her own if you don’t force it.”
I can say that we do nurse to sleep for naps still (although if she’s with her dad she falls asleep without the boob on her own). With respect to nighttime, just a few weeks ago my daughter nursed then pulled off the boob and took about 5 minutes to fall asleep on her own (just happily looking at the ceiling and talking to herself). She’d done this a few times – sporadically – in the past so I thought it was one of those times. However, we’re into week 3 and it’s happened every single night. So it seems that, on her own, she has shifted her sleep patterns. She still nurses at night 1-2 times (before a massive morning nurse), but falling asleep? Yep, she is capable of falling asleep without being latched to the breast.
What’s the point of this? It’s really for all you parents out there who are constantly being told all these horrible things you’re supposedly doing to your child. When you parent in a way that is no longer mainstream, people feel they can tell you it’s wrong. Especially because timelines won’t necessarily align with what most children do these days (though it begs the question if most children are doing what they are biologically adapted to do or what we’re forcing them to do). Unless you are so supremely confident in your parenting, you may find yourself having doubts at times. Your child hits 2 and is still nursing to sleep? Perhaps a creep of doubt comes to your mind and you start to panic and look at things like sleep training. What I’m trying to say is that your child will be not just fine, but great. Following a child’s development and lead is what human societies have done for the majority of human history, and they have incredibly strong and independent children to show for it. And if, because our society isn’t amenable to this type of parenting all the time, you need to speed things up, that’s okay too, so long as you do it as a responsive parent and truly pay attention to what your child is telling you about the experience.
At the end of the day, take all the “never”s you’re told and realize they are coming from a place of fear of the unknown. Then throw ‘em all away because no one knows your child like you and no one should make you doubt what works for you.