Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Evidenced-based research

As a corollary to my stance on informed choice, I also believe in evidenced-based research.  I recently came across two parenting blogs that provide an evidenced-based research approach to common parenting issues:


Science of Mom

I like these blogs because, as has been evidenced time and time again, I find reading about parenting issues (sleep training, introduction of solids, discipline techniques) fantastically boring.  I tend to go with my gut, based on being a rational, well-rounded individual, and therefore finding people who ARE willing to cull through academic studies and summarize the findings on these issues in as unbiased a way as possible, saves me a lot of time and has the added bonus of helping my ability to defend a position with some degree of authority, while putting in very little of the dirty work myself.  BONUS.  

Anyway, the Science of Mom has this 6 part series on sleep training, which I passed along to the Roomie, not as a way of persuading her, but as a way of giving her some information she might not otherwise come across.  The Science of Mom lady's findings very closely match my own experiences from sleep training the Big Yam and from going with my gut, and are best summarized using her mantra:

"Parent with love. Parent with respect. Parent with knowledge. Parent without fear."

Her sleep training summary can be found here. I very much believe that it's detrimental for parents to tie their sense of worth as parents to their ability to silence their baby's crying.  Crying is their way of expressing frustration.  It is GOOD to experience frustration and the associated adversity and I believe that part of being a successful parent is giving your child the space to work through frustration and adversity and more importantly, the space to express their full gamut of emotions and know that they're being heard and not immediately mollified.  

I also believe strongly that you have to treat children, and even babies, as rational human beings.  Babies can understand long before they're able to talk, and it's important to give them the respect of explaining your actions and why you're doing what you're doing and making them feel secure.  Since we returned to regular work schedules on Monday, we've been putting the Big Yam down to sleep in his crib and he's been waking in the night crying out for us.  On Monday night, the Dotytron hopped out of bed and grabbed him and brought him in for Sleep Away Camp, which immediately settles him.  Last night, I hopped out of bed and went into his room.  I told him that we were here, that I was going to pick him up, that I would sing him a song, and then that it was time for him to go back to sleep.  He requested two songs, and I sang them, and then I laid him down in the crib, tucked him in, and told him that Mama and Baba love him but that it's time to sleep and that we're right next door and we'll see him in the morning.  And he said, really quietly, "okay" (which obviously pierced my heart with a million tender shards of love and affection) and I left the room and he stayed down until morning.  Getting the "okay" from the Big Yam goes a long way to ensuring Yam compliance (in the immediate term).  

The "okay" kills me.  On Saturday night, when we were at our friend Fox's one bedroom apartment for a big French Canadian-themed dinner with a bunch of Supper Clubbers, I put the Big Yam down to sleep on Fox's bed and tried getting him to go to sleep but he wasn't having it.  I told him that I was going to leave the room to go get Baba to come in and sing him some songs.  He was lying on his back, in this strange bed, in what is obviously a bachelor pad, and he did his quiet "okay" and lay there with his eyes open staring up at the ceiling while I left him in the dark room.  That two-syllable word was so filled with trust and patience and the love that underscores both those things that it still rends and mends me in endless simultaneity today.  Such a small moment, but I was filled with love for my brave little trusting Boobla.

The Roomie's parenting style came up recently in discussion because she's been criticised for it by some close (mutual) friends of ours.  The Dotytron, as usual, was so smart and had this to say: "As far as parenting styles go, I'd only be concerned for baby T if the Roomie wasn't doing well.  Since this is the parenting style that's making her happy then I know that T will be happy.  If she's 'setting herself up' for something down the road, then it's going to be what it's going to be, but for now, the most important thing is that she's doing something that works for her."  He's a smart cookie, that one.  The Roomie's style is her style.  It fits her life and her choices make her happy.  Her style wouldn't work for me and the Dotytron because we are two individuals with a lot (some would say too many) interests and in order for us to be happy, the baby had to be incorporated into our lives as a discrete individual inside a family of similarly discrete individuals who had to maintain a balance between accommodating this new addition and still pursuing our individual interests.  Subsuming my life to a baby's would never work for me and would make me unhappy and therefore would produce an unhappy baby and family unit.  

My friend G always comments about how during one of our get togethers during my early days with the newborn Big Yam she was impressed with the ability with which I fluidly switched from talking about being a new parent to switching to my opinion on some current event issue or another that had come up in a parallel conversation, and how that hadn't been her experience with other parental figures in her orbit thus far.  Can you IMAGINE a Karl Lagerfeld who didn't have things to say on films or popular culture or philosophy or Idle No More or the fiscal cliff?  I HAVE OPINIONS, PEOPLE.  AND THEY MUST BE HEARD!  

That's why going to the drop-in centre always made me slightly screwy in the head.  It was nice for the Big Yam, but not great for my intellectual development to be dealing with all the "careers" (my term for stay at home moms).  Perhaps it was this particular sample.  I get that the conversation would necessarily be rooted around the commonality, or what brought this disparate group of people together in the first place, but you would think that after a few months of going some place 3+ times a week, the conversation would veer towards other things.  

Tonight for dinner we had freezer posole with crushed tortilla chips and avocadoes and shredded cabbage mixed with lime and sour cream.  It was amazing:

I've put down the recipe for the sour cream pancakes we made on the weekend.  These pancakes turned out nice - they have a lower flour-to-wet-ingredients ratio than most and so they come out a little eggier, but definitely not dense or dry.  I'd say they're like a cross between a Dutch baby and a regular pancake.  They're also not too sweet and could hold up to many different toppings.  I adapted them from a recipe on Smitten Kitchen.


Sour Cream Pancakes
makes 14 4" pancakes

3/4 c. plus 2 T. all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
2 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
2 cups sour cream
4 eggs
unsalted butter, for cooking pancakes

- whisk sour cream and eggs together.
- whisk in dry ingredients until combined.
- slowly heat 1/2 T. of butter at a time in a heavy cast-iron skillet (what I use) or your preferred pancake pan.  
- drop a scant 1/4 c. of pancake batter at a time into the pan, cook until golden and set on bottom and bubbly on top, and flip.

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