Each Child, Unique

Naomi Benjamin, Anoka County, Minnesota

Editor’s Note: This article was previously published in the Summer 2019 issue of Northern LLLights, the Area Leaders’ Letter for La Leche League of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

My first child is what many would call high needs. As a baby, she needed to be touching me pretty much 24/7, which was partly why going to La Leche League meetings was so refreshing (affirming that my baby was not broken, and that by holding and wearing her all the time I was not doing anything wrong). Until she was about two years old, the only way I could vacuum was to wear her, as she’d just cry otherwise.

Child on tableI was thinking about that the other day while I was vacuuming, as I have other reasons to wear my second child while doing housework. That’s her in the photo: she thinks she belongs on the table all the time. This is what came to mind while I vacuumed, wearing the climbing child. Why is it that, in general, our society is totally accepting of our children having different temperaments or personalities when it comes to things like how they handle new situations, how they respond to things like loud noises, etc. But then we turn around and have expectations about how they sleep, expecting them to fit a routine or even a parent-imposed schedule.

The same is true with other aspects of parenting. It’s easy to think that if something our child is doing doesn’t fit with what we’ve seen in other families — or how it worked with our other children — that something is wrong. It may be that one of the hardest things to avoid is to compare how things worked (breastfeeding, sleep, what solids they like best, anything!) with one child when others join our families.

It may help to relieve that mental stress if we can remember that every child is different, just like each breastfeeding relationship is different. Then we can hopefully relax and embrace the child we have, rather than trying to change them into what we expected.

Please send your story ideas to Amy at [email protected].

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