Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wrong or different?

While living in India I'd often smile (or complain on a not-so-great day) at how polar opposite the culture was from everything I was used to in the US. In India, they drive on the left side of the road, form mobs instead of lines, write underneath the line instead of on top, have the same sentence structure as Yoda, and value relationships over productivity. Cleanliness is barely even a concept, and it's certainly not next to godliness.

It's not surprising that child rearing looks pretty different as well. In India, it's a common occurrence for a stranger to take your baby from you and disappear into the gathering. One American family I talked to was approached by an Indian while on a train, asking if their little girls could play together. The American family happily agreed, and before they knew it their toddler was several whole train cars away with an Indian family they had never met. No big deal, right?!

Me stealing a baby during my trip to India in 2010
Indians treat their children as royalty; for the first five years of life every want and need is met by parents, siblings, relatives, and members of the community. Babies aren't allowed to cry, nurse on demand, are not diapered, and sleep with parents until they're old enough to sleep with siblings. The entire household revolves around pleasing the babies and toddlers, and they are not disciplined until they go off to kindergarten. I'm pretty sure I don't ever want to be a kindergarten teacher in India :)

During orientation for my time in India, I remember hearing over and over that things are different, not wrong. It's such a simple concept but so contrary to human nature. Whether looking at marital disputes, parenting styles, or cultures as a whole, it's so easy to say my way is right and yours is wrong when in reality there may not be a right and wrong. My eleven month old daughter is not on a schedule, has never cried it out, and I can count on one hand the number of times she's slept for eight hours straight. I'm not the parent I thought I'd be (are any of us, really?) but my husband and I do what works for us and our daughter. We are laid back and a schedule stresses us out more than it helps us. My daughter likes to be held and I love to hold her, so she's constantly held. She doesn't need a nap to be content, and most days everyone in the house is happier if she skips the nap, and that's okay.

I naturally embrace black and white situations where there is a clear right or wrong. I firmly believe in absolute truths, but some things just really truly don't matter at the end of the day. As long as we're loving our daughter unconditionally and doing everything in our power to build her up and teach her Biblical principles, I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter that she didn't nap today.

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