Stop parenting in absolutes (please)

I’ve written extensively about my children and their pure hatred of sleep. Both kids quit napping before they turned 2, and neither has ever slept through the night for more than a night or two in a row. Basically, my husband and I haven’t slept in almost six years.

Something beautiful happened in the last few weeks, though.

I bought my kids bunk beds.

Yeah, baby, BUNK BEDS.

My kids love the bunk beds. They snuggle together every night in the bottom bunk. They no longer try to come into our bed. They don’t even wake up. Buying those bunk beds is the best decision we have made since we decided to start a family.

I posted about this recent miracle, to which one reader advised me with the following:

“You never allow your children to sleep with you at night. Just an easy way out.”

Let’s put a pin in that “easy way out” comment. I’ll just assume you all laughed as hard as I did at that.

I’m choosing instead to focus on “never allow your children to sleep with you.”

Actually, I just want to focus on the word, “never.”

It worries me when we parent – or address someone else’s parenting – in absolutes.

In my experience, parenting is mostly a gray area. The only absolutes I believe in are what I like to call the “airplane laws”: no smoking, do not leave baggage young kids unattended, and report suspicious activity (to the doctor or, in my case, to my mother and then the doctor if she agrees that something is definitely going down).

I’m not sure there is anything else (outside criminal activity, of course) that is an absolute.

Sure, we know that we should never feed our children fast food, but it’s a Tuesday night and we’re all exhausted and Chick-fil-A is seriously so.good.

Yes, I know that I should always brush my children’s teeth, but they fell asleep on the couch and there is no way I’m waking them up.

Absolutes are dangerous. They don’t account for differences between us and the way our families work. Absolutes can make a mother feel that she isn’t doing a good job or make a father feel like he did something wrong. Telling a parent that something subjective is an “always” or a “never” writes off unique circumstances.

“You should never allow your children to sleep with you” dismisses the exhausting, frustrating work my husband and I put into trying to get our children to sleep on their own. It refuses to acknowledge that there are benefits to co-sleeping. It acts as though there is one sleeping rule and everyone should follow it and if you don’t, you are taking the “easy way out,” wherein easy = lazy = bad parenting.

Life is not built on absolutes. Some of my happiest moments stem from deviating from the nevers and the alwayses. I used to say that I never wanted to get married, but now I have a best friend by my side all the time. I always planned out my next steps, but a surprise pregnancy set me on a different path.

It’s OK to make up rules and stick to them if that’s what works for that family. In my family, we run things a little differently. We try our best to do good things, eat good food and get good sleep. Sometimes, we bend the rules. Sometimes, we have ice cream at 10 a.m. Sometimes, we say bad words or make a mess or get rude or stay up too late or forget to do that thing we were supposed to do.

I guess you could say that we never really know what we are doing, but we always turn out OK.

And that’s why, should the bunk beds fail me, I’ll let the kids back in bed with me. Airplane rule No. 2: Never leave the little ones unattended. They know their momma will always be here for them.

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4 Comments on Stop parenting in absolutes (please)

  1. Joanne
    October 15, 2016 at 6:48 pm (3 years ago)

    I love this. I live this! I’m that mom… you just never know what the day may bring, but I have a happy, confident, compassionate and loved child!

  2. Brandie
    October 24, 2016 at 6:43 pm (3 years ago)

    Love this!!!! We are all different and we are all doing the best we can. FYI everyone, our babies all slept in our bed from day one until they chose to move to their own bed. We’ve never even owned a baby bed. Our 3 yr old is still in our bed for naps and night time and we wouldn’t trade it!!!! We have 4 children ages 14, 13, 11 and 4. They are all well adjusted sleep perfectly fine alone and are healthy additude filled teenagers!!!! Don’t let some @$$hole get to you. Rock on momma, yyou’re doing wonderful!!!!

  3. Knila
    November 10, 2016 at 6:32 am (3 years ago)

    Thank You,

  4. Leah
    November 12, 2016 at 7:38 am (3 years ago)

    Lol, the only being that ever slept in the crib at our house was my old, cranky cat! And I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. My daughter gradually started sleeping in her own bed most nights at the age of 5, now at 11 she only sleeps in my bed if it’s a girls night. My son is 9 and occasionally sleepwalks, but always right to my room, to right between mom and dad, so I always know he’s safe. My only absolute is that I wouldn’t change it for the world ❤


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