This is the 30th installment of Barren Advice. You can ask questions that are fertility or non-fertility related.
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At what point do you stop trying to repair a relationship, and just move on? What if this relationship is with someone you've hired to care for your child?
The situation in brief is: my babysitter e-mailed me that she was quitting, because she disagrees with how we're putting V. to sleep. She's been trying to do it our way but has been very frustrated. We've been e-mailing back and forth about it since Friday. I'm waiting to hear from her whether she's willing to give it another shot, making some compromises but not doing it her way (15-min CIO), but at the same time I'm wondering whether the relationship will be sustainable in the long run if we have such philosophical differences.
It's like, do you quit the RE who proposes a plan you don't feel right about?
I always believe in listening to others; especially if they're adamant. Who knows--they may make a really good point and make me see the world from an entirely new angle. You can pick up advice in places where you least expect it. But I listened to your babysitter, and she didn't change my mind.
You're the parent, you make the rules.
This is not to say that there can't be differences in the way you do things or rules that apply when they're with some people and not with others. But those changes need to still reflect your overall philosophy and how you put your child to sleep--one of the first ways we nurture a child--is usually tied to a larger picture of how you want to be as a parent or what you believe works best for your family.
In other words, our twins can have an extra sugar when they're with grandma because complete hedonism is part of our family philosophy (I'm joking...but only a bit...there is only so much joking in my joking), but they can't break kashrut. It just isn't allowed in our family and anyone who wishes to be alone with our children needs to respect that. It is too hard to teach a child the basics of life when they are getting conflicting information. I can't expect them to keep kosher if they don't see the point of it and I can't expect them to see the point of it if we only follow it when it's convenient. Or if they only follow it here or there. It is just too important to our family's overall philosophy to let that one change from caregiver to caregiver.
Sleep training is very similar--it's something that you are teaching your child. So it is understandable that you want consistency. And it sounds as if your feelings about sleep training are tied to an overall family philosophy. In addition, from your blog posts, you sound far from inflexible but you also sound like you've given this a lot of thought without dismissing the babysitter outright. In other words, you heard how she wants to put your child down for a rest, considered it, and decided that it didn't really work right now with your family.
And that decision should be respected. She is free to quit, but she isn't free to give you advice on everything from the way she likes to do sleep training (if it differs greatly from your method) to which toys she believes you should be buying to how you set up your home. She gets to do all of those things in her own life, but she doesn't get to go into another home and tell them how to run it. The only exception to this thought would be if you were doing something that was physically or emotionally detrimental to your child, and this, of course, is a slippery spot. I am talking about things that would fall under the guidelines of CPS (child abuse or neglect) and not differences in parenting.
It's funny that you used the example of an RE because when you hire an RE (because that's what you're doing when you use his clinic), you are asking someone with specific knowledge to fix a specific problem. The RE should be focusing on your ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes--he should not be focusing on your marriage, cooking advice, or what he thinks of your wardrobe. At the same time, you may have opinions on how he should do his job, but ultimately, what you are paying for is his expertise and therefore, you should take his advice because he knows more than you on the topic. Plumbers work on pipes and not in doling out commentary on your choice of wall paper. Interior decorators should be concerned with the choice of wall paper but not with the contents of your refrigerator and your caloric intake. Most of the people you will hire have specific knowledge that you are paying to access.
But here's where the analogy fails--a babysitter is there to fill a need rather than fix a problem. The need is that there must be someone at all times with the child and if it isn't going to be you, it needs to be a replacement you. The babysitter is not hired for her expertise (and with the exception of a sleep trainer or Super Nanny, is not there to fix a specific problem), but for a very specific reason--she can replicate you. She can provide nurturing as you provide nurturing; she can provide education as you provide education; she can provide safety as you provide safety. Which is why I have a deep respect for babysitters, nannies, and caregivers--they are the parents when the parents cannot be there.
Lest I sound like a hardass just with hired babysitters, I want to reinterate that I feel this way about anyone you trust with the care of your child from five minutes to five days a week. It doesn't matter if they're friends or family or someone you hired from a nanny agency--everyone should want to know about how you do things and should want to work with you rather than against you in raising your child. They can be the nicest person who knows how to entertain children for hours with origami butterflies and making macaroni-and-cheese from scratch. But those things are secondary--I'd rather have someone that I trust will be forwarding the core beliefs of our family or the necessary rules than someone who is going to teach me how to be a parent. And this isn't to say that we can't learn from one another and pick up tips from babysitters or other parents. But once you've weighed the advice and decided that it doesn't work for you, everyone should be respecting your decision.
If she believes that your family isn't working, it isn't her place to fix it. It is her place to match with a family where everyone works well together. I think Super Nanny has gone to some people's heads, but truly, unless you are asking for advice in terms of core parenting issues, she should not be weighing in on the main issues: food, sleep, and discipline. And therefore, even though there are drawbacks in changing caregivers--major drawbacks that need to be considered too--weigh the drawbacks against your feelings on your core beliefs and see which one weighs heavier.
No really, the beauty of a blog advice column is that you get to weigh in with your two cents too. Let the questioner know if you support the advice, add to the response, or dispute it completely.
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