Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The "Whatever Works" Parenting Style

Eliot and Alexander surprising me with a Mother's Day dinner

In the past few days, there has been a controversy fueled by a Time magazine cover showing a Mom breastfeeding a three year old with the provocative caption: "Are You Mom Enough?"
Portrait of the so-called attachment parenting technique or guilt-inducing title?
If I had to label the technique I used during the first year with my first child, the only word that comes to mind is survival. My husband and I quickly became huge believers of the "Whatever Works" technique. Alexander was a baby who cried the minute you tried to put him down in a crib or in our bed (believe me, we quickly threw the towel in there), he would wake up repeatedly during the night and would only fall back to sleep drinking one of the MANY bottles (milk, chamomile, water...) on the couch while I watched some middle-of-the- night show on the Discovery Channel (this is how I found out that catching lobsters is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, so not a total waste of time).
I wondered if it was my fault, after all, I had plenty of baby books which I read religiously. Although, my sleep deprived husband, pointed out: "These are not novels! What does it say about sleeping?" He was referring to his sleeping.
But when I reached the words: "Let him cry it out," I knew I just couldn't follow through.

Today his sister Eliot's first grade teacher wrote to say how impressed she is that Eliot brought in a book to read to the class (the duty of the leader) just in case the designated leader, who is right before her on the alphabetical list, was absent. Well, it turned out that girl was sick and so Eliot was ready to be the leader. She had even prepared a Q+A session. What most marvelled the teacher was that she had thought ahead like that. That's Eliot at six. So little and yet so determined.
Alexander may (I said may) not have been as proactive. After all, he has been known to claim: "We have homework but we don't really need to do it..." Huh?
On the other hand, Alexander still worries about whether a new boy at his old school (where Eliot goes) has made friends yet. Nobody beats him in the empathy department. Both great kids but very different. This is why I can't take credit for either of them. Nature over Moms and Dads, my humble advice is to not listen to anybody's advice and to just do....well, whatever works.


  1. This is so true-love reading your blog!

  2. you are two great people with two great kids. The road between you and them will be necessarily your own private and customized road less traveled.

    So hurry up and plan a visit to us in Idaho, so we can all enjoy time together!

  3. Hi Jennifer, I stumbled upon your blog and it is seriously funny. I love your writing style and wit... Very funny. There is a possibililty that my family and I will be moving to JB or Singapore (not sure which one yet) and you have given me lots to think about. Thanks! Cheers from the US!


    1. Thank you, Elena-that's really great to hear! Wishing you the best on your possible move!