I count myself lucky to mother between two cultures. While my heritage is from the West, I live in Uganda and this affords me the opportunity to take a step back and have a look at parenting from a couple different perspectives. Parents in my own country value "experts" and efficiency; we devour books and choose our individual "parenting style" - a term that can bring nearly as much division as religion and politics. Ugandans, on the other hand, have a common way to parent and they count on wisdom that has been passed down. Everyone helps because everyone does it the same. I can't count the number of times I've lost track of my baby as he was passed from one set of hands to the next, quite often to someone I have never met, a practice we Americans would never dream of (I'm still working on my comfort level with this).
I have been privileged to compare these two ways, helping me see what is universal and what is simply cultural and I've identified goodness and the weaknesses in both cultures' approaches to parenting. While I believe there is something beautiful in trusting the time-honored ways of mothering, I'm also grateful for scientific research to quell the many myths floating about. And while I love the scientific evidence, I try to stick with books and other resources that don't instill fear or undermine mothers' wisdom, but instead encourage me to trust my instincts and love for my child.
Through it all, each mother and father must choose their own ways to discern what is best for their child and their family. Over the last several months, somewhat subconsciously at first, I developed a few questions to help guide me in the many decisions parents must make on a daily basis. In the end, people from both Uganda and America have questioned my ways. I glean from both cultures, but tend not to fit well into either one. But then, all a mother can do is march on doing her best, with confidence, boldness, and most of all, love.
My questions for discernment in parenthood:
Have mothers/parents throughout the millennia counted on this product/method? Or has this product/method just come into existence in the last couple of generations and is it unique to my culture?
Does this product/method encourage closeness or distance between me and my child? Does it build trust in our relationship?
Does this product/method place my comfort and needs over that of my child?
Is there good scientific evidence supporting the use of this product/method?
What is my motivation for using this product/method? Is it to have control? To be accepted by others? Do I really have my baby's best interest in mind?
My favorite books:
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International
Attached at the Heart by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker
Sweet Sleep by La Leche League International
The Tao of Motherhood by Vimala McClure
What would you add?