This originally appeared on ScaryMommy.com. Republished here with permisison.
So, you want to raise kids the right way? Easy!
1. Breastfeed them. Or don’t. If you want to give the natural way a shot and you have the determination, support, and drive, go for it! The medical community says it’s best for babies. If cracked, bleeding nipples, and latching battles don’t sound like your cup of tea, or if you just don’t really have it in you after nine months of miserable, painful pregnancy, don’t breastfeed. You see, there’s this amazing thing called scientific advancement that made the creation of a substitute—called formula—a nutritionally acceptable alternative to breast milk, and no one has yet to cite their mother’s choice to use it as the factor that turned them to a life of crime. Whatever you decide is best for your baby and you is the right choice. Period.
2. Co-sleep. Or don’t. Some parents who do it responsibly swear it helps with bonding and makes nighttime feedings easier. Other parents don’t trust themselves not to roll over on the baby in the night or worry too much about suffocation from bed sheets, among other things. As long as you’ve done your homework, I say either option is the right one, Homes.
3. Sleep train/Let them cry it out. Or don’t. Some babies do really well with this method, learning how to self-soothe relatively easily and enjoying hours of peaceful, uninterrupted slumber as a result. Other babies simply aren’t having it, requiring a more hands-on comfort approach until, gradually, they’re ready to doze off solo. If you’re listening, mamas and papas (and unless you’re a cave-dwelling imbecile, chances are good you are), your baby will tell you what’s right for him.
4. Wear your baby. Or don’t. For some, baby wearing is where it’s at, maximizing bonding potential and fostering mad love between parent and child. For others, achy joints from toting around additional baby poundage and an overwhelming desire to have a fucking second to oneself make baby wearing sound more like an exercise in self punishment than one in relationship building. If 6-20 pounds of baby on your person increases the parent-child love factor for you, I say wearing the hell out of that baby is right for you. If back problems and emotional stress at the mere thought of baby wearing plague you, I say scrapping the idea altogether is your best bet.
5. Feed them organic food. Or don’t. Some parents have the luxury of growing their own food or of being able both to tell the difference between true organic labeling and loophole labeling at the grocery store and to afford high-priced organic fare. Others aren’t capable of gardening or farming and/or don’t have the cash flow to purchase overpriced organic foodstuffs. Ask yourself: Am I feeding my child? If the answer is yes, you’re doing it right.
6. Ban TV until they’re in kindergarten. Or don’t. There are people out there who believe strongly in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines when it comes to screen time for children, opting to occupy kids’ time by unplugging and engaging them in developmentally appropriate activities. There are others who have a hard time believing a few hours of educationally sound programming a week will turn their children’s brains into mush. Whichever ideology rocks your socks is the right one.
7. Circumcise your sons. Or don’t. Some parents follow thousands of years of circumcision tradition, believing that circumcision wards off infection and offers their gents cosmetically appealing genitalia with little or no pain at procedure time thanks to the advent of a little something called anesthesia. Others can’t stand the thought of mutilating their little prince’s privates and opt to leave the decision whether or not to slice in his hands when he’s grown. Cut or don’t cut, peeps—your penis preferences don’t define you as a parent.
8. Stay home with them. Or don’t. Some parents strongly believe in being the sole caretakers for their children and are either lucky enough to have a reliable single income that makes staying home an option or have worked hard to make staying home a reality. Other parents either can’t afford to stay home or enjoy having a career in addition to being a parent and find the social interaction kids get from daycare beneficial to their children’s development. SAHMs, WAHMs, WOHMs, and even SAHDs rejoice! Whether you stay home or work has little to no bearing on your child’s risk of becoming a homicidal maniac.
9. Ditch the sweets. Or don’t. Many parents and healthcare professionals believe a balanced, nutritious diet is the only way to go when it comes to nourishing children. Other parents and healthcare professionals are certain a piece of candy here or a cookie there aren’t going to thrust children into lifelong, sugar-induced comas. Doesn’t matter if you nix treats altogether or allow the occasional ho ho—you’re kicking some parenting ass, you.
10. Love them. Sorry, friends, but there’s no “or don’t” with this one. Whether you show love by playing a round of H-O-R-S-E in the driveway or by snuggling them before bed each night, rest assured that there’s no such thing as too much.
It all comes down to this, parents: If you’re trying your best, congrats! You’re doing it right!
Now, pat yourselves on the back and then go get a big ‘ol glass of wine or a heaping bowl full of ice cream. Lord knows you deserve it—it’s hard work not fucking these little monsters up.
Lola Lolita is a mother, wife, educator, recent inductee to the parents-of-children-with-cerebral-palsy club, and self-proclaimed wine addict. She lives and works in Detroit with her husband, two-and-a-half sons (#3 in the oven), two dogs, and a lifetime of self-esteem issues. Follow along on her blog, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Twitter, and Facebook.