Sunday, March 29, 2009

If I hold my tongue, won't I get drool everywhere?

Photo by Leeni! on Flickr
I have several soapboxes in assorted sizes that I mount with regularity here. Offline, I try to show a little more tact, but in all honesty, I am not always successful. I recognize that bludgeoning someone over the head with my parenting philosophies is probably not going to be helpful, but the more I try to hold things in, the more likely it seems that eventually I blurt things out with more bluntness than grace. As a great coincidence (???), I am facing another opportunity to refine my approach.

A very special friend of mine is expecting her first baby. She was the one who first introduced me to GKGW (religious--I do not consider it Christian--version of Babywise). It sounds waaaay too dramatic, but I honestly think there is something almost demonic about that material. Aside from my strong disagreements with it, I've known of so many people (myself included) who, after reading it, even if they consciously rejected the ideas, still felt an insidious influence from its teachings.

We've been friends for many, many years. I've seen a lot of pain and some deep struggles that, in my opinion, stem from some of the practices and the general adversarial attitude that the whole Ezzo philosophy entails. She is constantly striving to please God, and I have no doubt of her love for Him, yet I've seen how this view permeates every aspect of her life and relationships. I know that she is very intelligent, and the type to read and study things, but I think all of her info is coming from the wrong sources. Her family is strongly in favor of all the Ezzo practices, from CIO before 6 weeks, scheduling feedings (and spanking toddlers for not finishing all their food), spankings before one year, etc.

I'm sure she knows that my views are a bit different, although we generally talk of other things. I would so love to share my heart completely, hand her a stack of good books, etc. But I don't want to just dump all over her or alienate her. I respect her and care about her, and I know that my tendency to come on too strong might obscure that. So, dear readers, I am asking your advice (even if I do not promise to abide by it ;) ).

I'll see her this week, and it may be the last time before the baby is born. I've thought of giving her the Sears' book on Christian parenting, Crystal Lutton's Biblical Parenting book, or Sally Clarkson's Ministry/Mission of Motherhood set. Even though the AAP and every other pediatric organization that I know of denounces Ezzo, since she is looking at it from a religious perspective, I doubt they would carry much weight. Or, should I just forget the books all together, get her a nice baby gift, and hope and pray that she will ask direct questions that give me the opportunity to explain my convictions?

Another option that occurred to me was to simply tell her up front that I have some very strong feelings about things that I would like to share with her, but that I don't want her to feel steamrolled, and that if she is interested, to ask, but that otherwise, I'll try to keep my mouth shut? She knows me well enough that I think we could both feel comfortable with this.

Gentle Readers, I am eagerly awaiting your suggestions. :)


granny2five said...

I most times refrain from commenting on your blogs, because you know my stance anyway - and we're in complete opposition on many things. However, I feel some "mature" input might help you here. I know you feel you have this whole parenting thing down to a "t" and can even give book, chapter and page to support your philosophy. If I've learned anything (and I HAVE learned a few things) in my 60+ years, it's that there is rarely only one way to do a thing right. I did nothing the way you would recommend it be done, yet raised healthy (no allergies), happy, fine and upright children who are proving to be a gift to society, with grandchildren following. My sister's views were somewhat different from mine. We didn't always agree on what should and should not be done in parenting, but she, also, has raised four beautiful children, who are now equally beautiful adults. While you may believe firmly in your views, they're not necessarily the ONLY way things can (or should) be done. Hold your tongue. Advice that isn't asked for will not be received. And your answers are not the ONLY answers. If this young woman (who, I might add, you seem to feel has problems in other areas of her life as well) wants your input, let her ask you for it. Otherwise, just be her friend.

Polly said...

Are we twins, separated at birth?!

Here's my advice. Give her 1-2 books (the Sears book would be great...DEFINITELY SALLY CLARKSON's books, as they really speak to the Christian mother's heart, I think...maybe even Clay Clarkson's Heartfelt Discipline?? or the Lutton book, which I haven't read....also I think Grace Based Parenting is good, but doesn't really address babies, I don't think) and maybe another little gift or two (baby stuff) if you can afford to throw one in. A card saying "I loved these books and they have taught me so much, I hope you enjoy them too! If you ever need any advice/support, let me know!!"

she is then open to accept and read, or shelve them for a while, etc--but they are good to have on hand. She knows that since you've had several babies you are experienced--hopefully she'd acknowledge that and use you as a resource.

I read Babywise and was stunned at the way the author used fear (you'll get a bad, rebellious kid) to induce mothers to rigidly schedule, feed on schedule, etc. If the baby won't stop crying, but him/her in their crib, at least they might fall asleep...geez. Also the way it sets up an opposition between parent and child from Day One. I'm afraid many Christian women who go into motherhood w/ the right heart (I have a friend who is a Babywise believer) are getting misinformation.

Anyhow. I think a couple of books, very casually given w/ another baby gift and a note that says they were great help for you, would be nice. :) Good luck!

Blessed Mama said...

I hate confrontation, so my way isn't always the best way. If you value your relationship, though, you might need to wait until she asks for advice before giving it.

As for Ezzo, I usually just give moms a heads up that scheduled feedings can cause their milk to dry up (in addition to lots of unnecessary crying--by baby and mommy). They all get on a schedule eventually.

Heather said...

Since you have known her for years and consider her a dear friend, I think in this situation it is absolutely ok to gift her some better parenting books. And I know you and know that you are always so gentle in sharing these topics with women. So if she knows you and respects you, she will receive the wisdom/knowledge in the spirit that you are giving it.

I think you and I both know we're far from having this whole parenting thing figured out! And we certainly don't think there is any "right" or ONLY way to parent/raise our children. ;) We are simply doing the best we can and as we feel the Lord is leading us to parent OUR children. But as you and I both know, when it comes to people using techniques that are harmful to children physically and to the parent/child relationship, sometimes you just must speak up!!

Dorm Mom said...

How does she feel about Dobson? Even though he is very punitive, he has denounced Ezzo, IIRC. Since he's widely respected in the Christian community, that might be helpful.

While I agree with Granny, that there isn't necessarily one right way (and I don't think you're saying your way is THE right way), some parenting practices like the ones Ezzo and Pearl promote can cause not only physical and emotional wounds (and I don't mean from punishmenet) but spiritual wounds as well.

Maybe it would even be best to start at square one and buy a devotional book on the importance of grace.

I'll be praying for you to handle this with wisdom and tact and that God will guide your heart and tongue. And open her heart, if it is in His plan.

dulce de leche said...

I appreciate everyone's comments so much. You are wise women--the kind of Titus 2 ladies that I need in my life. Each of you had insight that is helpful.

Granny2five, thank you for your honesty. I truly don't feel that I am the perfect parent or that I know everything. The fact that I am coming across that way to you, someone who knows me well and loves me, is a good warning that I could easily be perceived the same way by my friend. I definitely need to work on my communication skills, and with my friend, practicing silence may be the best option.

Polly, thanks so much for your comments. You nailed it with your observation about the fear-based approach. I think that you are right about the Sally Clarkson books, too--they are not about parenting philosophies, don't push any agenda, but are wonderful devotional books for mothers. She had asked me earlier about breastfeeding, and I have some extra copies of the Sears breastfeeding book that I picked up really cheap. I'm thinking of those along with a baby gift and some chocolates (what mom doesn't need chocolate???).

BlessedMama, you are truly a peacemaker, and I appreciate your wisdom and input. You are so right, and your comments avoid the slightly hysterical sound to which I am prone. :)

Heather, thanks for knowing my heart and for the encouragement. You lift me up in so many ways!

Dorm Mom, you zeroed in on the heart of the issue--grace, and the wounds that are so often left by the Ezzo/Pearl beliefs. I want to act in grace towards her. I think she is a Dobson fan, so that might be helpful, too. I appreciate your prayers more than I can say.