Monday, September 29, 2008

A response to "Responsibly starting solids"

I just finished reading a post on regarding starting babies on solid food. Always one to play devils advocate I had to throw this out there . It shy's away from the topic a bit, and certainly isn't meant to discredit or argue any of Dr. P's points. Just another point of view is all.

In a hunter gatherer society, both parents were responsible for providing for the well being of their children. As the popular "ring sling" hadn't been invented yet it's likely that more parents shoved a chicken leg in their kids hand and got busy with trying to survive than sitting around breastfeeding for 8 out of the 12 waking hours of the day. If you look at the cool vids and pics of African Bush people on National Geographics, many of the children are down in the dirt playing and fending for themselves while being watched by older siblings while the parents are off taking care of their responsibilities. The children that are being carried are only a few months old, and are being carried in a sack on the back instead of being carried on the front. Naturally we aren't native African bushmen....bushwomen....whatever, but the argument was about hunter/gatherer people and the bush people are the best example we have.
I have also even seen videos of some Asian cultres pre-chewing food for babies that appear to be less than a year old.
Not to say that breastfeeding is bad, in fact I think it's great! I just can't help but wonder if parents are stifling a child's natural independance and growth to satisfy a personal need to nurture.

My personal opinion is that there is a certain amount of instict that plays into this. Many children will go after the solid foods as quickly as the breast at 4-6 months. Should they still get the good stuff? Of course. How long? who knows? I don't think that breast milk is going to take care of the dietary needs of a teenager or adult, so at what point do you draw the line?
In my strictly non-medical but commonsensical opinion A child should be given the option of solid food as soon as they are able to eat it. Infants are physically unable to eat solid food, they don't know how to pick it up, or put it in their mouths, they don't have the teeth or the dexterity of the tongue to gum it to pieces, and so they obviously need milk, and mommy's is best. Once they are able to overcome the obstacles of feeding themselves solids, I think they should be eating said solids.

I also believe that this new "breastfeeding" movement has become more combative over the years and is not more about the "rights" of the breatfeeding mother than the well-being of the child.

Many of the breastfeeders (members of a league which I will not name) seem to think that a mother keeping a full time job is a bad thing. "They aren't putting thier child first". That's a bunch of crap. I'm pretty sure that a child that is raised in a financially stable environment while eating pumped milk, formula or solids is in a much better environment to thrive than one that is raised in a financially strapped, stressed out household where mom stays home with them. Of course if Dad is making enough dough to keep it together on his own then great, but I think you will find that by percentage, this is a very small demographic.

Also, let's look at the flaws in the belief that this "is in the best interest of the child" Childhood makes up a very small portion of our actual life. And while our experiences during childhood may have a pronounced effect on our adult life it is by no means the deciding factor. If you were to ask a large group of degenerates, fatties, drug abusers, womanizers and people with poor health if the lack of breatfeeding, co-sleeping etc was the root of their problem they would probably laugh at you. with the few exceptions of medical conditions and the obviouse genetic predispositions to certain diseases you will find that the majority of these situations are the result of poor dietary or life choices made during adolescence or early adulhood. Sorry ladies, when you decide to withhold the breast, and/or start solid foods isn't going to have a big impact on their adult lives.

I think that what has a greater impact on a child as they grow up is how much love they experience and how much responsibility and independence they are taught. Children thrive in a constant and happy environment. They crave the interaction of mommy and daddy, and they are pre-wired to start reaching and branching out on their own. These are good things and should never be overlooked or dismissed.

The choice to breastfeed a child until they are 3 or 4 years old, and homeschooling them may even be a detriment to them. I have personally known and/or read about teenagers that distinctly recall being weened from the breast at 4 years old, or the ones that weened themselves out of embarassment at 6 or 7. This is an apron string that will need to be cut, cutting it once they have reached the age of conciosness is in my opinion extremely unfair. It's kind of like taking a 4 year old boy to get circumcised. That's something he will never forget. Ask any adult that was circumcised as a newborn and they don't remember anything about it. Keeping a child homeschooled for their entire life can be equally unfair. I personally fight with the crap that my children are exposed to in public school on a daily basis. But! I would much rather expose them to those things now and teach them how to work through this ugly world than to turn them loose to college as a clueless 18 year old where they will not have me to guide and teach them.

Some parents and experts say not to give your children aceteminolkadf;l......(whatever) or ibuprofen. So....when they are cutting teeth and screaming their heads off at 3:00am should we....use the old rubber mallet to the head trick, or maybe some whiskey on the gums? What about when they're 7 and get a nasty bone bruise? Maybe an expensive trip to the hospital and some good ole' narcotics? Just a question, I don't have the answers feel free to post some.

One thing that I will definately agree with the experts on is feeding children stuff that contains bleached flour, preservatives and other nasty chemicals. These really are bad for everyone. Unfortunately our life only has so much time and money set aside for food prep and while our family tries to eat healthy sometime "good enough" just has to be good enough. The baby gets a lot of fresh veggies and organics, but the rest of us.......let's just say that we will be well preserved when we die.

To sum things up, I'm not trying to start a fight, or tell people that they way they are raising their children is wrong. Far from it, what I am doing is asking that people be open to other ways of seeing and doing things. I do not know your life or how your life decisions are affecting you now or how they will affect your children in the future. Conversly though, you do not know our lives and how things are working out for us. Keep an open mind, question everything and weigh it against common sense. And above all be wary of anyone that says they have "the answer" Only God has "the answer" anything else is just human speculation.


Permission to Mother said...

I appreciate you expounding on all the various topics and letting me know that you posted in my comments section.

As a working mother myself, I admire your wife's efforts. I went to work at 12 weeks post partum with my first two, often felt way over my head, and fortunately was able to do it different for the third. I love how your wife makes babyfood and posted about it on her blog. I wish I knew about her simplified system much sooner.

Great to hear your point of view.


Lauren said...

Hey There!

Interesting take on all of this. My hubby could care less about parenting...

I wasn't so sure I was going respond, but I decided to.

So many of the choices we make regarding mothering/fathering can be polarizing. Breast vs. Bottle, Homeschool vs. Public/Private School, Work vs. Stay at Home, Cloth vs. Disposable. We all have our child's best interest at heart, right? And just like skinning a cat, there are may ways to parent your child.

In your entry you mentioned:

"Many of the breastfeeders (members of a league which I will not name) seem to think that a mother keeping a full time job is a bad thing. "They aren't putting thier child first". That's a bunch of crap."

Three out of the four LLL leaders in our area all keep a full time job. So I don't think that they think working is a bad thing. One of those leaders put her daughter in daycare at a very young age and pumped, just like your wife did. So I don't think that there is any judgement there.

Also, at the last meeting that I attended there were just as many working mothers there as there were stay at home mothers.

From an outside perspective, it may seem that LLL is just a bunch of angry, men-hating feminists who are out to judge others for thinking differently or making different choices than they do.

Quite the contary, my friend! It's all about woman-to-woman support. While some of us may have very strong views, most of us are very respectful of others.

I encourage you to come see what it's all about. Fathers are welcome to attend the meetings held on the 4th Monday of the Month at 6:30 p.m. in PSL. Just as I did, you'll probably find that LLL is much different than what you would expect. (I had a lot of sterotypes and prejudices to overcome.)

Anyhooo. Rock on for being such an involved father!


kerbouchaud said...

Lauren, thanks for stopping in.
I try to be as involved as I can in the rearing of not only our infant, but also 2 older children from a previous marriage that live with me full time. I think that it's very important for Dad's to do thier fair share. Sitting around drinking beer and watching the ballgame just doesn't cut it in our house.

I hope that I didn't offend you with the LLL comment. This is of course and outsiders opinion. My wife attends LLL meetings and I have other friends and family members that attend these across the state. My observations are of course a generalization based on comments, posts and news articles that I have read. To say that the LLL supports these ideals or actions would be irresponsible which is why I didn't specifically name them or blast them with a negative post. To the contrary I think that they provide a very nice solid support structure for new and old Mom's. Naturally every group and organizatoin is plagued by your "militant jerks" (I'm the militant one in my user group)and LLL is no different.
I guess the whole point of this post was to make people think, and I hope that I have succeded in that goal.