“You’re still breastfeeding?”
“You still cosleep?”
“He’s still not potty-trained?”
“She still wakes up at night?”
“You mean your child still acts in a way that is completely age-appropriate, natural, and normal?” Oh. Wait.
You might have heard it, you might have even said it. I know I’ve heard it.
When someone uses the word still in relation to a behavior, they are implying that the behavior is not normal or acceptable.
A parent might ask something like, “My 3 year old is still nursing. I’m completely ok with him breastfeeding full-term and weaning naturally. But my doctor says he shouldn’t still be nursing to sleep. What do I do?”
First piece of advice to that example: get a new doctor. Your doctor shouldn’t be telling you how or when to feed your child.
Second, stop saying still. And stop believing it. When we say still about our own kids we are conceding that they are not behaving normally. We are believing the poor judgement and advice from other people and society. I know that it’s hard not to believe something that is continually thrown at you, especially if you don’t have a strong support system. The best thing to do is find a support system; like-minded friends or family, even online support groups are amazing. And trust your intuition.
“Still breastfeeding” continues to combat the normalization of natural, full-term breastfeeding. The same goes for cosleeping, babywearing, et cetera.
You could always say, “Yes, I still plan to breastfeed and babywear my child as he goes off to college.” Then just smile and change the subject.
Still not potty-trained. Still not talking. Still not sleeping through the night.
All of these stills are ignorant when they come from other people. They are just made up expectations that aren’t realistic in any way, shape, or form.
A child will learn to use the toilet when their mind and body are ready; whether that is 2 or 5 or 7. The range of “normal” is pretty wide.
All of the stills come from a society that puts incredibly unrealistic expectations on kids. A 5 year old having a meltdown isn’t still behaving like a child. He is a child. And he’s having a hard time. Empathizing with him is a lot healthier than judging him for not acting like a mature adult when he isn’t capable of acting like a mature adult.
Changing worldviews isn’t an easy thing to do. Especially when surrounded by unsupportive or uneducated people. Not uneducated as in stupid. Friends, family, and doctors aren’t stupid. They just might not be educated on age-appropriate behaviors and usually appear to be unaware of attachment theory. Which is an injustice to all parents seeking them for advice.
We live in a society that is very anti-children. Especially when you can see or hear them. We need to normalize childhood and that starts with our words and our actions. Normalizing childhood shows society that they are individuals with needs and wants unique to them. By allowing kids the freedom to be kids rather than tiny, obedient robots, we are allowing them to learn empathy, assertiveness, self-confidence, independence, and drive, without any form of coersion or control.
We all want what is best for our kids. Just because something seems different doesn’t make it weird or wrong. Trust your instincts. Find like-minded people for support. Do your own research when something doesn’t feel right, whether it be a child’s behavior or the advice of your doctor. You know your child best.
What do you think?