Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Yes, We Know What We Are Doing

We have now discovered that we think our son has a milk allergy. We are very aware that he may not. There may be some coincidence that could explain the physical reaction to the milk. Maybe he had a virus. Maybe his teeth coming in affected him. Maybe he ate something else that just did not agree with him. The fact remains that the milk is the most likely culprit.

I really do not have a preference either way about the allergy. I obviously would prefer that our son not have to deal with a food allergy, but if he does, we will deal with it. Still my mother and my mother-in-law are disturbed by the allergy. And I do not mean that they are concerned with my son's well-being. They are concerned because we decided it was probably the milk and switched him to soymilk.

For some reason, they both launched into all of the reasons that we did not want him to be weird. (In our world, I did not know that drinking non-cow milk was weird, but in my parents and in-laws world it is.) At any rate, they both told me that we did not want our son to be allergic to milk. Instead we should think of all of the other problems he could be having.

I wanted to scream. We are adults. We are highly educated, and besides the formal education, my husband and I are in fact highly intelligent people. At any rate, we have common sense. So why do our parents try to explain to us all of the common sense reasons that our son may not have the allergy?

Sometimes with a baby, I just want to scream to other people that we do know what we are doing. You may find that you feel the same way. Other people presume to tell you what they think that you need to know about your child, and it does not apply only to your family members. Perfect strangers feel no problem telling you about what they believe is best for you and your child. You likely will have at least 457 old ladies tell you that your baby needs a hat.

Instead of getting angry, the best reaction to these innocuous efforts is to simply smile and say thanks. If you are like my husband, you will feel the need to at least tell them that your child does not like hats or that wearing shows is ill-advised according to pediatricians. You should be prepared to do one of them and move on. Just know that you are doing what you believe to be right for your child.

If people make comments about more politically-charged topics, such as your choice of clothing or food for your baby, then you should be willing to tell the person that you are making your own decisions. Do not allow people to make you feel bad about your parenting decisions.

These issues typically are more involved when it comes to family. You may find that your parents and other family members have problems with the decisions you make from breastfeeding to using a baby sling from the time your baby is born. Just know that you have to make the choices you feel are the best ones.

One of the reasons that you should stand up for yourself right now is that you must show your parents that you are your own family. It can be very difficult to find yourself at odds with your parents, but you will discover that if you begin to stand up for your baby at the very earliest instance possible, then you will have a better time doing it later, and there will be no confusion as to who is in charge.

Your child must know that appealing to Grandma and Grandpa is not the way to go. Instead your child should know that he or she needs to depend on you for all decision-making. Work on standing up for your baby by practicing what you will say when issues come up. Know where you stand so that you will be on the same page when it comes to your baby.

By Julia Mercer

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