Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Family and My Kids

Welcome to the May 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With or Without Extended Family

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how relatives help or hinder their parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I can count on different members of my family for different things. When I found myself in a bad situation in the middle of the night, I counted on my sister to let me crash at her place. When I've been stranded with vehicle troubles, I could count on my dad to help find a solution. When I needed to discuss parenting ideas or even whether to keep a baby, my mother was an excellent sounding board.

Image short descriptionApril 2012
My father has a lulling effect on babies.

That said, I don't rely on my family when it comes to my kids. My dad has a no-diapers policy. He'll only take grandkids out once they're out of diapers. I once moved close to my mom & sister so they could help with Sasha, but they weren't truly able to be of much assistance after all.

Gran and SashaOctober 2009
Gran & Sasha (1 month old)

So, when we were expecting Spencer I didn't feel I had any options for Sasha. It may have only been my perception, but I never asked anyone to be available for her when I went into labor. I was worried how things would go once I was in labor. I did consider that I might be able to call some family to come to the hospital just to take her to a waiting room. I worried that I would be distracted fretting about her. At least having her in the room with me, I'd know exactly how she was being handled. I could know that her needs were being met.

Jenni & SashaElmo and Jenni took turns at bedside and playing with Sasha.
(This pic was actually taken about 20 minutes after birth!)

In the end, Sasha was a little uncomfortable as Spencer was making his debut. We had Daddy and our Doula with us, though. The two of them managed our care. I don't think anyone in my family would have done better.

Despite having family in the area, I feel we are basically on our own. Perhaps I'm just a control freak. Do you trust your family with your kids?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Dealing With Unsupportive Grandparents — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, The Pistachio Project tells what to do when your child's grandparents are less than thrilled about your parenting choices.
  • Parenting With Extended Family — Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy shares the pros and cons of parenting with extended family...
  • Parental Support for an AP Mama — Meegs at A New Day talks about the invaluable support of her parents in her journey to be an AP mama.
  • Priceless GrandparentsThat Mama Gretchen reflects on her relationship with her priceless Grammy while sharing ways to help children preserve memories of their own special grandparents.
  • Routines Are Meant To Be Broken — Olga at Around The Birthing Ball urges us to see Extended Family as a crucial and necessary link between what children are used to at home and the world at large.
  • It Helps To Have A Village – Even A Small One — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how she has flourished as a mother due to the support of her parents.
  • The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego.
  • One Size Doesn't Fit All — Kellie at Our Mindful Life realizes that when it comes to family, some like it bigger and some like it smaller.
  • It Takes a Family — Alicia at What's Next can't imagine raising a child without the help of her family.
  • A new foray into family — As someone who never experienced close extended family, Lauren at Hobo Mama wrestles with how to raise her kids — and herself — to restart that type of community.
  • My Mama Rocks! — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment is one lucky Mama to have the support and presence of her own awesome Mama.
  • Embracing Our Extended Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares 7 ideas for nurturing relationships with extended family members.
  • Doing Things Differently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares how parenting her children far away from extended family improved her confidence in her choices.
  • Snapshots of love — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the joys of sharing her young son's life with her own parents.
  • Parenting with Relies – A mixed bagUrsula Ciller shares some of her viewpoints on the pros and cons of parenting with relatives and extended family.
  • Tante and Uncles — How a great adult sibling relationship begets a great relationship with aunt and uncles from Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy.
  • Tips for Traveling With Twins — Megan at the Boho Mama shares some tips for traveling with infant twins (or two or more babies!).
  • Parenting passed through the generations — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the incredible parenting resource that is her found family, and how she hopes to continue the trend.
  • My Family and My Kids — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders whether she distrusts her family or if she is simply a control freak.
  • Parenting with a Hero — Rachel at Lautaret Bohemiet reminisces about the relationship she shared with her younger brother, and how he now shares that closeness in a relationship with her son.
  • Text/ended Family — Kenna of A Million Tiny Things wishes her family was around for the Easter egg hunt... until she remembers what it's actually like having her family around.
  • Two Kinds of Families — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how her extended family is just as valuable to her mommying as her church family.
  • My 'high-needs' child and 'strangers' — With a 'high-needs' daughter, aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings has had to manage without the help of family or friends, adapting to her daughter's extreme shyness and allowing her to socialise on her own terms.
  • Our Summer Tribe — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a love of her family's summer reunion, her secret to getting the wisdom of the "village" even as she lives 1,000 miles away.
  • My Life Boat {Well, One of Them} — What good is a life boat if you don't get it? Grandparents are a life boat MomeeeZen loves!
  • Dear Children — In an open letter to her children, Laura at Pug in the Kitchen promises to support them as needed in her early days of parenting.
  • Yearning for Tribal Times — Ever had one of those days where everything seems to keep going wrong? Amy at Anktangle recounts one such day and how it inspired her to think about what life must've been like when we lived together in large family units.
  • I don't have a village — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wishes she had family nearby but appreciates their support and respect.
  • Trouble With MILs-- Ourselves? — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake Half Asleep explains how her arguments with her mother-in-law may have something to do with herself.
  • A Family Apart — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings writes about the challenges, and the benefits, of building a family apart from relatives.
  • First Do No Harm — Zoie at TouchstoneZ asks: How do you write about making different parenting choices than your own family experience without criticizing your parents?
  • Military Family SeparationAmy Willa shares her feelings about being separated from extended family during her military family journey.
  • Forging A Village In The Absence Of One — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about the importance of creating a support network, a village, when family isn't an option.
  • Respecting My Sister’s Parenting Decisions — Dionna at Code Name: Mama's sister is guest posting on the many roles she has as an aunt. The most important? She is the named guardian, and she takes that role seriously.
  • Multi-Generational Living: An Exercise in Love, Patience, and Co-Parenting — Boomerang Mama at The Other Baby Book shares her experience of moving back in with Mom and Dad for 7 months, and the unexpected connection that followed.
  • A Heartfelt Letter to Family: Yes, We're Weird, but Please Respect Us Anyway — Sheila of A Living Family sincerely expresses ways she would appreciate her extended family’s support for her and her children, despite their “weird” parenting choices.
  • The nuclear family is insane! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle is grateful for family support, wishes her Mum lived closer, and feels an intentional community would be the ideal way to raise her children.


  1. Interesting, and I definitely feel you. I do trust my mum with my daughter, but only in small doses. She has very 'old-fashioned' ideas about children; how they should behave and how they should be treated. She doesn't approve of attachment parenting. So though I do let her have my daughter for a few hours every now and again, it's not something I'm overly happy about - more just a necessity when myself and her dad have something to do that our daughter can't come along for.

    1. I trust my dad with my kids in small doses as well. I trust my sister, but she is very busy and spends a lot of time at my dad's. No one in my family parents like me and I'm the weirdo of the family for it.

  2. If my sister lived closer, she’d be my go-to babysitter in a heartbeat. Of course she’s also my children’s named guardian! It’s just so hard for my very sensitive kiddo to go with anyone who he does not have a close relationship with, so other family members are not likely candidates for childcare (because we don’t live close). I wish that were different!

    1. I don't think Sasha would go with a near-stranger (including family), either. It was so great that our doula went to so many appointments with us and built a rapport with Sasha.

  3. I'm definitely blessed to have crunchy parents that I do feel comfortable leaving my daughter with... but it was a little harder for me to learn to let go with my ILs.

    1. My mother totally supported and encouraged my parenting ideals, but was physically unable to tend to my children alone. And now she is gone.

      Our children & I have never met my ILs.

  4. Like you, I have family I rely on for different things. I would trust MOST of the people in my immediate family with my son. My parents have different ideas about how they parented me and my three siblings, but my mom readily admits that "back then" they didn't give HOW they parented a whole lot of thought. Though they weren't into AP, now that they know about it, they are supportive for the most part. My mom is a trooper at doing just what we want and need her to do. I would absolutely trust my sister as well, no question. Other family members, only in small doses. Not because I think they wouldn't be loving, but because I think they wouldn't care for Bennett in a way that he was used to, and they might not have the patience I try to practice with him.

    I think a lot of your reservations do have to do with control, and I say... THEY SHOULD! I mean, we are responsible for the health and wellness and love and safety of our children! If we don't "control" who plays a part in that, who will? I firmly believe in trusting our instincts. If your instincts send you messages, you have no choice but to listen to those messages.

    (Great photo of your dad with sleepy Spencer, by the way!)

    1. Thank you so much for the supportive comment about my control issue! I definitely agree that mothers (and others) should follow their instincts, in all sorts of settings.

  5. We don't live close enough for it to really be an option, but you're right that I didn't even bother to finagle a way for their support to work (during birth, I mean). Maybe we're both control freaks; maybe we just know what's best for our kids and our own peace of mind. I'm sorry you don't have your mom around anymore. I could definitely see not wanting to rely on a grandpa who won't change diapers — sounds like my father-in-law!

    1. "maybe we just know what's best for our kids and our own peace of mind"

      well said!

  6. My older child has medical issues...and the family members in reasonable driving distance have chosen not to learn any aspect of that child's care. So...yeah. We didn't ask for their help when #2 was born - they've actually never babysat (and at this rate, won't be given that opportunity until the children are old enough to take care of themselves).

    1. I can relate! It is our last child that has medical issues and some of the response we got from family was very discouraging and served to push us away.

      I also prefer my kids be old enough to tend to themselves before leaving them with others.

  7. I'm in this same boat in a way. We live about 10 hours away from my family, as we moved to SC with my husband a year ago. Leaving my family in MS. There is one huge difference between my family and his. In raising my daughter alone for the first 9months of her life, i learned i could rely on my grandmother, mother, aunt, uncle, cousins and close family friends to help and they would watch her in a heartbeat whenever i need to work and couldn't take her with or just needed a shower. They respected my parenting decisions, they were responsible, they were always begging to come over and do my dishes, so they could get some cuddle time in. I loved having them around, as they would help when needed, but never pushed, or argued with my ideas on parenting my child. Then we moved... His family, minus his Aunt, are pushy about their lifestyles, (which some are 'unsafe' and some are simply crazy). They are dependable to be here, they rarely want to help when i need it, they are responsible, as his mother has fallen asleep in watching. I feel very alone in my parenting out here, other than my husband, as his aunt works full time and has a hard time being available with her schedule. After I had our son 2 months ago, my mom was only able to stay for a week, and she took my daughter (sadly) for a trip back home to visit her Bio-dad's family. I knew she was safe with my mother, she would be there for anything she needed and was really only an extension of myself. She could give that love she needed while i healed. His mother claimed she would be coming over to help out. I only learned that her helping meant, crashing on my couch, making it impossible to do anything and dirtying up my house even more, along with waking babies, arguing with my breastfeeding in the living room, or outside and getting mad that i refused to leave her alone with my child. Sorry for this super long post, i started to rant.. Very sorry...

    1. I don't mind you ranting here. What a bum deal! I wonder how supportive my ILs would be if we lived near them. I don't think they parent the way I do, either.

    2. Their idea of parenting involves spanking, popping of mouths, tvParenting and all the sweets it takes to keep a child smiling.

  8. I don't trust family with my kids. Reason being, they've showed me no examples when they could be trusted. My in-laws have been very deceptive about what they do with their other grandchildren and it seems to me that if they lie to those parents, they'll lie to me!

    If you are the parent, it's your job to protect your children and part of that involves putting them in the care of those you trust... you're doing a great job!

    1. You got it! Thanks for the support! I really thought I was just going to come off as a control freak... this has been so reassuring. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

  9. I've noticed that as my kids get older, it's a lot easier to let them deal with people who might have different ideas and values than myself. It used to drive me insane when the kids would come home with a fast food meal smeared all over their shirts; now I can just laugh. Now I can trust the kids to hold their own values (sometimes mine, sometimes not) and I think it's healthy for them to see people making other choices--it strengthens us all to have the discussions about those differences. So, I can totally understand your feeling alone, and I hope that it gets less so over time.

    1. All a part of them spreading their little wings...

  10. With one set of grandparents I feel very supported even if their ideas of parenting differ somewhat. The grass roots philosophy is the same. I feel only partially supported by the other grandparents. This is because our idea of 'healthy' is worlds apart - whether with chemicals, food, or otherwise. My mum is probably the most hands on when it comes to changing and feeding the baby/toddler. My MIL won't change any nappies but my FIL will. My dad would but has never needed too. I feel I can trust my parents to look after my little one.

  11. As far as trusting parents/in-laws or other family with the kids . . . yes and no.
    Control freak? Probably a little.
    I've left the girls with my parents for a few hours. (We don't live anywhere near them, so this is like once a year, and only after we've been at their house for a few days to acclimate them.)
    Unless it were an emergency, I would not leave my children with my in-laws for longer than it took me to shower. (We have very different ideas about what it means to "watch" the children.)
    My niece is awesome with kids and I would trust her to babysit in a heartbeat if she lived nearby.
    We're pretty much the weird ones in the family as far as parenting style goes :-)

  12. I would leave my girls with my in-laws if they would offer to watch them. My parents watched my first daughter for a week each when we went to Europe a few years ago, and my mom managed to take on the task again last year with both my kids. I think it was too much to ask of her though, and we ended up not speaking for nearly six months. We've struggled with creating boundaries since then both for her sake and ours. I think it's a good thing that you haven't relied on others very much, as it shows you have clear boundaries and understand the burdensome responsibility of taking care of others' kids. I have gone too far the other way and am making my way back to the middle. Thanks for giving an account of how "the other side" lives! :)


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