Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing my job right. I know, surprise, surprise, this whole blog is about me wondering if I'm doing my job right. I'm not the only one wondering, though. If you look at a copy of a baby handbook that is even ten years old, the guidelines they provide are completely different than a current copy of the same book. One of the topics that they vary greatly on is whether or not its appropriate to coddle your baby. There was a time when coddling had a pretty negative connotation when raising your kids. Coddling was equal to spoiling. That implies that you're somehow ruining your kids before they've even gotten a chance to be a kid.
Now, the books tell you that you can't spoil the baby before six months. That coddling is a good thing. That coddling actually doesn't spoil your baby, but provides them with the security to be independent. There are paragraphs about why this theory is now more accurate than last decade's. Its no wonder I'm constantly wondering if I'm doing my job right - the experts can't even agree and they are, well, experts.
I have definitely been accused of coddling my kids. I followed the ideal that before they are six months old, you should respond to every cry. I tried to teach them that if they needed me, I'd always be there. But what happens after six months? Do I just start letting them wail and wondering why it's no longer working? Independence is a tricky thing to teach. Do it wrong and you're bordering on neglect. How do you teach your kids that when they really need you, you'll be there, unconditionally, but sometimes, they will have to figure things out for themselves?
It's pretty easy to tell if you're doing a good job when you're teaching your kids something concrete like the alphabet - they either recognize the letters or they don't. How do you tell if your child is learning something far more abstract like independence? My girls are very outgoing and friendly. They have their moments of shyness, but usually will go up to just about anyone to say hi or even ask to be held. They have always been this way. According to the books, this is because I coddled them when they were babies and taught them to be secure in the fact that I was always going to be here. Without having to worry about that, they are secure enough to strike out and be outgoing. I'm skeptical though. I think they might just have outgoing personalities. I certainly don't think that shy kids aren't secure. So, maybe my job is just to not mess them up. Maybe I've been entrusted with the care of these two really great people and my job is just to make sure that I don't somehow spoil their greatness.
I think, as a mom, I'm destined to fret over whether or not I'm raising my kids right. I tend to think that if I'm not worrying about it, then I'm not doing a very good job. Parenting wasn't meant to be easy. But then, nothing that's really worth doing ever is.