Giving Away Our Authority

Today I can’t get rid of this feeling of being muted while screaming my views in my head.

My pediatrician is a believer in Ferberizing. I simply am not. I feel babies cry to communicate, cry to let us know something isn’t right. Yet, with the Ferber method, a parent “eases” them into self-soothing at bedtime. That simply goes against what I feel is right for me.

Yes, he still sleeps in the bed with us since he was six months and out of his bassinet. The fear of rolling on him suffocating him is gone for me.  Yes, I still breastfeed. Yes, both the baby and I are getting the best sleep since he was born. He hardly stirs, nurses, then falls back to sleep – most nights. This is what works for my family.

Some things that have shaped my view on co-sleeping:

  • Affects Infants Physiology Positively
  • Gives Infants More Self-Esteem
  • Provides Infants Protection from SIDS

From the Mother Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab of Notre Dame

Well since he was six months, my pediatrician expressed I needed to put him in his own room to sleep. At each check-up, her pressing regarding his sleeping arrangement became worse. Today’s visit was no exception – it was the first question she asked and she continued to drill me for the first 15 minutes about it. I felt like she was not going to let it be – her questions were direct and assuming.

And here’s the thing- I knew what to do. I knew it in the whole fiber of my being. I should have told her my beliefs on the matter- discussing the research that I have found which supports my views, and finally said that while I value her medical viewpoint, I am the parent here, and this is what works for my family. I can have a differing view then my pediatrician, but I guess somewhere in my soul I couldn’t deny her as an authority figure. I’ve always been taught that others – especially those who have spent thousands on an education that society values or those who have the loudest voice – are more right than myself.

This misappropriation of power seems a current theme in my life lately, and that’s why I had such a reaction to the situation.

I think there might be a morsel of truth in the mundane interactions of a stop light, a bit of truth to use in examining our life deeper. Do you look directly at the stoplight or simply follow the car in front of you for your cue to move ahead?

I look at the light. And then I will look at the car ahead of me to make sure it starts moving before I do. I do both.

I have to check everything out for myself. I research every little thing (thank you internet). Hence, I research if the light has changed before the car ahead of me goes. (Most of the time they’re texting and their choice delays my life.)

But just because the rest of the cars are edging up, allowing the least amount of space between cars doesn’t mean the light has changed. If I was just following the car in front of me, I might just go without looking at the light.

Sometimes following the people of ahead of you – be it at a traffic light or an experienced parent – may have become an unconditioned response. I don’t want that for my life.

Is this happening with my parenting decisions?

With the pediatrician, do I just lie or do I take the time to explain my beliefs? I felt something was off in our conversation. Does the doctor think she holds all the power here – the power to make choices for my child that I myself are more than qualified to make? I realize many of the parents that visit her are completely unprepared for all the choices one has to make when a child is born and probably make some bad decisions. But I do my homework! And my soul, mind, and body told me what I should have done.

So, here’s the point – my advice is to never let anyone else make an intimate choice for you – even if they seem like the authority on the issue.  You are an authority on what works best for you! And never let anyone else make you feel bad for what you know is right in your heart and gut. And also, take the time to become knowledgeable regarding the choices you make – don’t make situations like these a place for faulty rebellion. Instead use this a chance to honor yourself, a place to listen to your authentic self, allowing your researched choices to hold weight in your own mind.

But, here’s also the point- I never once asked her why she felt the way she did. Maybe she lost a baby co-sleeping. Maybe she made it her mission as a doctor to never let a baby die that way. Maybe she was shaming me into validating the way she parented. I don’t know. But I do know I was so concerned trying to work out the best reasons in my head and be able to counter other reasons she might bring up, I lost my authority as a compassionate person who shares the floor while communicating.

I’m working on finding the balance between maintaining my values while at the same time listening and weighing someone else’s opinion without losing my self.  Relying on my inner guidance, I am remembering my authority as a parent who knows my child the best, participating as an equal in finding the right path for my family to take.

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