Alone to Confident: Parenting Outside of the Mainstream

It is brighter here.

When my oldest child was born, I hid.  I kept secret the fact that we shared a bed, that I breastfed him almost around the clock and that I never, ever accepted his crying as necessary.

The message from those around me was clear;  babies must cry and sleep on their own.  I was so lonely.  I was scared.  Though every part of my body was confident in my choices- in meeting Owen’s needs- I was filled with self doubt and uncertainty.

Then I began to educate myself.  I read all that I could get my hands on and examined information from different schools of thought. I watched video’s from “experts” who told me precisely how to let my baby cry and how to schedule my baby’s feedings to make my life easier.

Then I learned why I should never leave my baby to cry and was reminded that my baby was in charge of his own schedule.  I attended workshops that explained that a baby’s needs and wants are the same.   The more I learned the more confident I became.

Slowly, as people around me were talking about sleep training and scheduled feedings, I began to speak honestly about the choices that I was making.

When Owen got a little older we sent him to school.  It was not a fit for us.  He was still young so we pulled him.  I was at a loss- I could not find a school that I was comfortable sending him to.  I decided that I would homeschool him.  I did not tell anybody.  I kept it a secret.  I knew what people would say: “oh gosh, I knew this family who homeschooled and they were so weird“.  When people asked why Owen was not in school we gave a semi-honest answer: “he’ll miss the cut-off date”.

I started to learn more about schooling.  I read about public schooling and private schooling and the institutionalization of education.  I learned about homeschooling- all the different types.  I knew a lot about education before I had kids.  The more I learned the more confident I became.

Now, when people question me about how my son will be socialized, or how my children will learn independence if they share a bed with us, I do not feel defensive or scared.  When “concerns” are voiced about what my children are missing, I am armed with facts and information.  I do not worry that I am making the wrong choice.

For those who are still struggling with being the only one doing things “differently”, I offer you this small piece of humble advice:  Learn!  Learn all that you can.  If you have time, learn about the way other people parent too.  Arm yourself with information, facts, and truth.  Not so that you can spout off and sound like a know-it-all when somebody questions you, but so that you can relax and feel at peace. As you listen to the accusations being cast on you, you will know that you are informed, learning, and always striving to do better.

Click here for resources to surround yourself with like-minded parents.