Everyone has their own views on how to raise children. It seems logical that many of us raise our own children the way we were raised. Not that my parents did anything wrong in raising me, in fact I think I turned out pretty good. The journey to adulthood however was a rocky one and I'm hoping by recognizing what I felt I needed in my childhood (and ultimately didn't really get) that I can give my own child a better journey towards the grown up they choose to be. Here are my thoughts on how we plan on raising our child (these are just thoughts, I want to be totally flexible so that I can adjust to my child's needs as well as my own).
Birth: Seems like the logical place to start. We are planning a peaceful homebirth. I have a great husband, doula and midwife so my confidence in our choice to birth at home is really high. I feel like I can be relaxed here and that things are more likely to go the way nature intended it if we are away from the medical world. Plus I can't tell you how wonderful it sounds to give birth in your home, have a shower in your own bathroom and crawl into your own bed with your new little baby and sleep uninterrupted by nurses and hospital going-ons.
Breastfeeding: The benefits of breastfeeding are impossible to ignore. Formula is not an option for us. We have a postpartum doula who will help me get the hang of breastfeeding if needed. I am also hoping to breastfeed for an extended period of time. It would be great if we could breastfeed until age 4 or 5 but we will just have to go with the flow on that one.
Sleeping: I was "taught" to sleep using the Faber method of crying it out. I don't think this method taught me to self soothe but rather taught me anxiety. We plan to co-sleep to the best of our abilities. We have a very small bedroom so we don't really have room for a family bed. We have a side-car co-sleeper for the early days but once the baby is older we are going to have find a different solution to the bed issue. The other problem that could affect our ability to co-sleep is that I am a light sleeper and Jon snores. If our baby is a light sleeper Jon may have to sleep elsewhere or if the baby makes noises all night I may not be able to handle so little sleep between the two of them. Again, we will just have to see how it goes.
Diapering/Pottying: I think I've mentioned before that we are going to try to practice Elimination Communication with our child. Jon and I both find it really strange to teach your child to eliminate into a diaper only to tell them a few years later that they should actually eliminate into the toilet. Baby's have the ability to recognize when they need to potty and if you recognize those cues of when they need to go and take them to the potty they will learn from the beginning to communicate with you about their elimination needs. Being that this is our first child I'm not putting a lot of pressure on myself to catch every pee or poop but I do hope that we can communicate regularly enough that eventually we don't really have to work at it, it will just be as natural as nursing. I do recognize that we will need to use diapers and when it comes to diapers I'm going to try to be strictly cloth diapering. We do have some disposables but I'm hoping to only use those when we are traveling and can't wash diapers or if we run out of clean diapers (which really should never happen but hey, it's good to be prepared).
Parenting: I believe in attachment parenting. I believe that children are to be respected as individuals from infancy. I'm not here to lord over my children, I'm here to love them and guide them. Creating a strong bond between mother and child is not about coddling them but about establishing love and trust. I want my child to be free to express themselves from an early age and be allowed to make their own decisions. However, I don't want to be disrespected in the process (for example, I don't want my needs for quiet or rest to be ignore because my child wants to run around yelling whenever he/she feels like it). We've been looking into the Montessori philosophy and reading books like Montessori from the Start and How to Raise an Amazing Child The Montessori Way. While I don't plan on using everything outlined in those books, I do really appreciate the emphasis on responsibility and respect. I feel that manners are an important social attribute and I like the way Montessori goes about teaching manners. We also plan on using the philosophy of consensual living in our home. Consensual living means that the needs of everyone are not only acknowledged but are included in the decision making process and solutions are mutually agreed upon. And finally I hope that in my communications with my family that I can continue to practice non-violent communication. I will admit that it can be real challenge, especially when I'm tired or stressed, but I do notice people respond well to it and I think it will be an effective method of communication with my child.
Schooling: Our plan regarding school is up in the air. I know that I do not want to send my child through the public school system however I'm not overly comfortable with homeschooling. I've been thinking of either a Montessori school (though many in the area don't go past grade 3) or a bio-regional school. I'm thinking that I will just put our child on the waiting lists and decide later. I've got more research to do.