Thursday, May 14, 2015

Does that not make me at all qualified???

I originally write this post in January of 2013.  I was newly pregnant with our first child when I received what I thought was a rather off beat comment from my Mother in Law (MIL).  She said "it will be different with your own child."  It was in reference to my experience as a nanny as well as my experience/degrees in teaching.   

Recently an acquaintance of mine made a similar comment to that.  "Just wait, you only have one child."  When I questioned her further I found that she did indeed mean to Imply that my previous and current knowledge mean nothing when I have another child.  When she said it, it instantly reminded me of this post.  Upon re-reading it I realized everything I wrote (but didn't post) then is still true now.  I can now officially say, now that I have a child, I in fact use my experience and degrees in my everyday parenting as well as in my overall parenting philosophy.  I didn't see it changing then and I don't see it changing if another child comes along.  

So here is the post I wrote about that very first comment, that to me, can easily apply to this one now.  

January 2013

I have been working with kids for as long as I can remember.  I love education and specifically early childhood education.  I have a resume full of experience using the various degrees and certification I have acquired over the years. However, people seem to think that none of this qualifies when it comes to raising my own child.  That the experiences I have had and knowledge I have gained will not affect how I parent.  

So I can be trusted to mold the minds of children in a school or day care setting but that I am unable to apply that same knowledge and concepts to my own child?   How does this make any sense?

My Mother in Law (MIL) said "it will be different with your own child."  Yes, but only to an extent.  I will be able to focus on just one child, not 25.  I will be able to instill my out own set of beliefs and values into them.  It will be different because these guidelines will show through in my child.  My child will clearly know what is expected from them from an early age.

My background has taught me a lot about how I would like a child to behave and what values I hold of high importance.  Anyone who works with children from kindergarten up can see what values are instilled in a child at home.  The kid who can't button his coat probably has it done for him all the time.  The kid who never says "please" or "thank you" is likely not required to do so at home.  The kid who shares toys or supplies willingly was taught to share at home.  These are clear cut things in my book.  I know I want my child to mind his manners at school so I need to teach and reinforce them at home if I expect him to use them else where.

This knowledge that I have gained can only benefit our future child as I understand what is required of them in schools and why certain activities are more than just fun things to do.  That there is actual science behind them.  Lessons to be learn.

It kills me that some people, adults older than I mainly, are quick to disregard these experiences and knowledge I have gained over the years.  That magically I will forget everything I have learned because I popped out a child.  Or even worse that the knowledge I have gained doesn't apply to actual parenting.  I beg to differ.

The example that comes to mind happened over the second or third time having dinner with my In-Laws.  The whole family was gathered including hubby's older brother, his wife and their 2 year old son.  They were attempting to get the little boy to try a new type of food.  I am sure you all know exactly where this is heading.  The boy was quite opposed to trying it.  His parents were saying things like "look it's good" and then they would take a bite.  He still refused. "Just a little piece," or "only one bite" they begged.  It was not enough to even get the boy to touch the food let alone try a bite.  

I watched this interaction go on for most of dinner when my now Sister in Law (SIL) asked me if I had ever dealt with situations like this at my job.  I said I had on many occasions which clearly prompted her to ask how I dealt with it.  She and her husband (Hubby's Brother) are super smart, fact based, logical people.  I approached the situation in that manner.

I first suggest that they let him touch it and play with as it is something new to him.  Think of being in a foreign country trying a new dish.  You will use all of you sense to try to associate the food in front of you to something that you already know.  The little boy has only a limit knowledge base so he will be more shy about it and take longer in making those connections.  You need to give him time to explore.  Then when he is ok touching it you prompt him to give it a kiss.  This puts the food near the mouth, possibly even puts some food on his lips, where he might then lick and get his first taste of it.  If he eats it you can then possibly do a cause and effect approach. Think ABA for the teachers out there.  You kiss the food you get a bit more of "x" food you like once they have finish it all.  In this case it wasn't needed but I mentioned it to them anyway.  Eventually, you can work up to them putting the food in their mouth.  The child may or may not chew it and more likely they will spit it out.  This is still a success.  The final step is actually trying (Chew and swallow) a piece of the new food.  I noted that it could take several times with the new food to work up to taking a bite of it.

The little Boy gave the food a kiss and even put a bit in his mouth and spit it out.  To me this is a success for the first time with a new food.  Acceptance happens over time.  

My now Father in Law (FIL) said that my techniques was Bullsh!t, picked up the food, got the little boys' attention, Showed him the food in his hand and took a bite exaggerating how good it was.  I kept quiet as I was not about to say anything to the head of the family I was trying to fit in with.  

My knowledge and experience on the topic was instantly dismissed.  I could have easily started stating facts about how the use of modeling has limited success when it is between adult and child.  That it is far better to have another fellow child model the behavior as they are more willing to follow along with their peers.  This is why parents may find their second child isn't nearly as picky of an eater as their first.  Or that they are more willing to try more things with less hesitation because they see a sibling eating the same thing.  This yields a much higher success rate.  

I could have also added that in getting the child to participate in their own discovery of the food it allows the child to make new connections and further concrete already discovered concepts.  It also promotes the use of his other senses, all of which are Incorporated into the act of eating.  Not to mention working on fine motor and oral skills that he can only benefit from with added repetition.  

Had this been my child I would have said all of that and added a "with all due respect, sir" into the mix.  However I was not looking to step on ones toes so I let the situation fizzle its way out with awkward silence.


2015 me, needs to interject here.  I probably would not have stated all of that to my FIL.  I likely would have said that "With all due respect, sir, we do things a bit differently and that is ok."  If asked further as to why we do what we are doing, I would then state some of above.  I like to avoid confrontation with my In-Laws as we already have enough of that as it is by parenting differently.

I could think of a dozen different ways off the top of my head to get the little boy to try the food.  I would have guessed only 2-3 different ways that would have worked.  This was just one way that I have seen great success.  Let's face it, what they were doing wasn't working.  That's the whole reason they asked me in the first place.  They were looking for another way to attempt something (well, that and to try to include me into the conversation as I was pretty quiet the whole time).   It's not to say that the way I mentioned to them will work every time or is even appropriate for even situation because its not.  This is simply another tool that can be used.

Clearly my knowledge in this situation was beneficial, or at least could have been had it not been shot down by the elder of the group.  Am I saying that my knowledge and experience makes me an expert at parenting...  Of course not.  I also don't think that I will know the answer to everything for every situation I will encounter with my own child.  I know I will be thrown into new situations all the time when I am a parent.  What I do believe, is that my background will make those situations easier to handle.  

So, I take offense to those who are quick to dismiss my background as anything other than helpful.  So give your advice...  I'll listen to it, take it under advisement but in the end I will do what I think is right for me and my family.

Do you think that education and experience equate to parenting knowledge?  


I really am interested in hearing from you all about what you think on this topic. 

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