BBH Dad

What Makes A Good Parent?

2 Comments 25 April 2012

What makes a good parent?

Likely, if you randomly ask 10 people from various walks of life, you’ll get 10 different answers.

Consider something for a moment…

There is a massive business in the “parenting advice” industry. Ask yourself, what was happening all the centuries before these manuals and guides hit the bookshelves?

Were there less good parents? I doubt it.

How interesting it’d be if we could travel back 150 years, and ask another random 10 parents from various walks of life the same question, “What makes a good parent?”

This leads me to the next question to consider, and this is the point I’m trying to make…

Does reading/consuming a lot of parenting books and materials make you a better parent?

Would be cool for you to leave a comment below. I’ll start.

Here’s my take on the question:

No.

Reading a lot of parenting books does NOT make you a better parent.

But (and this is a big ass but) …

I say that BUYING the parenting books DOES make you a better parent.

Yes, I said “buying the books will make you a better parent.”

Why is this? 

It’s intent.

I think intent is what makes a good parent.

If a parent is thinking about the content they need to consume to be a better parent, and follow through with the act of purchasing that content, then… perhaps just read the front and back cover, maybe skim through a couple chapters… I believe they are acquiring the intent and self awareness to be a better parent – even if they don’t actually read the entire book.

Intent makes all the difference.

It’s less about consuming the parenting books. It’s more about being self aware. When you spend an hour in Barnes & Noble in half lotus position reading or skimming through parenting books, and perhaps walk out with the one you think you’d benefit from most, you’re practicing self awareness – ironically, even if you don’t know you are.

It’s simply your intent to learn and grow as a parent that matters most. It’s this intent that pushes the needle in your favor toward being a better parent.

So, don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t read all the parenting books, or keep up with all the parenting blogs, or comment on all the parenting Facebook pages. This is a new phenomenon.

Be hard on yourself if you don’t even bother to expose yourself to those books, blogs and voices that are truly making a difference.

Looking forward to your comments below.

*this post was inspired from a study in the book, Freakonomics

about the author:

Eric Walker is “BBH Dad” ’round these parts. He operates a stay at home “kitchen table” marketing business. Eric LOVES profitable “for purpose” marketing. He’ll be blogging more about your birth business. He wants birth practioners to get paid more for the work they do. He believes, as the birth movement grows, the marketing will have to mature. You can visit his personal blog here.

BBH Dad

The Morning Routine That Fosters Bonding and Balance For The Entire Family

8 Comments 16 October 2011

written by Eric Walker (BBH Dad)

It’s usually around 6:30 a.m. that Lucan wakes. Ella too.

Katie delivers Lucan over to my bed, which is separated from her bed by the co-sleeper. Or sometimes I just reach into the co-sleeper and scoop up my little man.

This is Ella’s special moment to have ‘mum-mums.’

Since night weening, she’s only given access to nursing right before bed, and first thing in the morning. This period of time in the morning between Katie and Ella is special.

Similarly, this has become a special time for me and Lucan.
 

 
 
My boy is wide-awake once he lands into my bed.

I peel back the curtains a few inches so a little bit of light can shine through. It isn’t much, but he lifts his head toward the light and smiles.

I peel off his night wear and wet diaper. He’s all bare. Then I cover him with a baby blanket and firmly run my hands the length of his entire body as if he has just fallen into a lake and needs the friction to prevent hypothermia.

He loves this.

He grunts and smiles. He stretches out his legs, and throws open his arms over his head. This is Dad and Lucan time.

It’s cool knowing that across the “co-sleeper divide,” Mom and Ella have their own special time too. Occasionally, I hear Ella giggle as I say something funny like Lucan-Bucan-Ducan. Or sometimes Lucan will toot, and I’ll say stinky. This always gets a laugh.
 
 
These first 15-20 minutes of our day have become a ritual, an important beginning of our day that we all cherish.

Upon reflection, here is why we feel it means so much to our family dynamic:
 

  1. This allows Katie (Mom) and Ella (older child) to have one on one time. We’ve found this to be much-needed. It’s a part of the transition process for everyone as a result of bringing a new child into the family.
  2.  

  3. This gives me (Dad) bonding time with the new child (Lucan). I’ve already noticed how much of a positive impact it has had on our relationship. Once the day gets started, I’m often deep into work. I might not reappear (despite working from home) until mid to late afternoon, and disappear again until dinner hours. This consistent bonding time is crucial for our relationship.
  4.  

  5. It also takes the pressure off of Mom (Katie), and helps preserve the closeness she has with Ella (older child). Ella still needs her Mom time. And Mom’s need all the support they can get ;-)
  6.  

  7. Finally, our hunch is that this small daily ritual has contributed to the great relationship that is budding between Ella (older child) and Lucan (younger child). They’re off to a great start.
     
    Ella has begun initiating play, showing affection and asking for Lucan to be a participant during random family moments and outings. The rational is that since Ella is still receiving one on one time, we’re proactively defusing any resentment that may arise on her part as a result of sharing attention with her new sibling.

 

 
Your Thoughts?
If you have more than one child, what are your thoughts about this? What “rituals” have you formed that foster bonding and balance in your family?

Attachment Parenting, Babywearing, BBH Dad

Portable Car Seat and Baby Wearing Question for You (please comment a response)

42 Comments 28 March 2011

a guest post by the BBH Dad, Eric Walker

Ella and I were sitting across from one another eating a muffin at the cafe when I noticed a mother enter through the doors uncomfortably lugging her baby around in a portable car seat.

I bet it was a 15-pound car seat with a baby inside. The baby couldn’t have been more than three months old. I immediately asked myself, Why doesn’t she just hold her child?

Seriously, it looked ridiculous.

And I couldn’t figure it out. She looked miserable too, and with all the evidence that proves keeping your infant close is better, why do so many moms and dads make the choice the carry their babes around in a portable car seat carrier?

She was leaning to the side to carry the portable car seat with her forearm like carrying a purse. And with each step, her weight would shift to one side –as if she had a severe limp– and then she’d shift weight to the side that the carrier was on to increase the momentum, swinging the portable car seat to ease the the burden of it’s weight.

Again, why didn’t she ditch the portable car seat carrier and just pick up her child and hold him near?

I thought to myself. That would kill my back, my shoulders, and definitely my arm.

And for what? That baby was no where near her mama. She was getting jounced back and forth like a cradle with the bow about to break.

I turned to Katie and said, “I’m not so sure having the ability to lift your car seat out of its base from the backseat and propping it into a shopping cart or carry it around as if it were the uncomfortable tote at the airport is such a good idea.

That’s when she told me about baby wearing and attachment parenting.

I said “Oh” and asked if I could write a
short blog post about this topic and ask for opinions from the BBH community.

On the one hand, you have the ultimate portable car seat carrying parents, and I am whole-heartily NOT in favor of it.

I am all for parents simply picking their child up, and putting them in a carrier that is close to ones body, or a sling, or heck… even a blanket, and just carry the kid with your arms.

But I understand that there are all sorts of occasions where having a contraption like the portable car seat carrier might be helpful. I tried to put myself in your shoes, and came up with the following scenario that might warrant the use of a portable car seat.

When I drive my older child to preschool, instead of unbuckling my baby from her car seat while stopping my older child from jumping out of the car prematurely, and then having to deal with my baby crying from the change of position while walking the older one into preschool, I just unlatch and go. And then when coming back out to the car, and putting her back in the car seat again, which would mean buckling up, dealing with her crying (again) because of another change of position (twice in five minutes), I can just latch the car seat back in and be on my way — unscathed …etc, etc. You get to bypass the whole scenario in half the time and eliminate the crying by simply leaving the happy baby in the warm, cozy portable car seat and carry her around.

I might want that portable car seat carrier in a situation like that. I bet you can think of dozens of situations where the portable car seat carrier is VERY useful. Please do leave a comment for how you use it if you do use it at all. We want to hear from you.

But how much is too much?

I don’t think there is a wrong or a right. It’s a matter of preference. Which is why I want to hear from you. You know my preference, what’s yours?

Are you Pro portable car seat carrier? Are you Pro baby wearing? Maybe some place in the middle… either way, go ahead and leave your comment that describes your stance on this topic.

Attachment Parenting, Babywearing, BBH Dad, Birth Experience, Breastfeeding, Co-Sleeping/Bed-Sharing, Home Birth Advocacy, Home Birth Safety, Motherhood, Pregnancy

Navigating the Bring Birth Home Blog – A Road Map

2 Comments 26 October 2010

When you visit a blog, and you take a look around, one thing looks pretty familiar from site to site – the sidebar.

The sidebar was created to help us navigate a blog or website.

While the categories, popular posts, news feed subscriptions, and archives might do a good service, it can still be rather challenging to navigate the blog, especially if there have been a lot of posts.

I’ve recently noticed that there are some gems of articles hidden within the Bring Birth Home Blog.

I wonder if our readers are finding them…because sometimes they’re hiding behind the “Older Entries” button at the bottom of a section.

Let’s face it, who likes to click and click around a site, spending more time searching for a particular article than reading?

That is why I have created this post - to create a clear and easy to follow road map, (think of it as a list of the Chapters at the beginning of a book!) for you to navigate the Bring Birth Home Blog all the easier. Now you’ll know just what you’re getting under each category.

Bookmark this post to get back to!

Why Birth Experience Matters Series

Description: A ten part series that describe exactly why birth experience matters to both mom and baby. The first half of the series tackles Birth Management and Intervention. The second is all about Creating a Peaceful Birth Experience.

Part One

Part Two

Pregnancy

The BBH Dad

Home Birth Safety

Home Birth Advocacy

Breastfeeding

Babywearing

Bedsharing/Co-sleeping

Motherhood

BBH Video Blog

The Bring Birth Home Store

Have you purchased any BBH logo merchandise? Or maybe you need some supplies for birth or just after birth? We have partnered with Mama Goddess Birth Shop to bring you nursing supplies and home birth kits!

Good Reads & Movies

I will be adding to this post as more articles are added! (and as I organize some of the messiness within this blog!)

BBH Dad

Why I Advocate for the Dad and Doula Relationship

9 Comments 01 July 2010

by Eric Walker

Hey Dads, I want to tell you about the best partnership besides your significant other that you can possibly make.

No, it’s not with the loser ex-high school buddy who wants to buy you that extra shot of whiskey at the bar you wished you wouldn’t have stepped into.

I’m talking about the relationship I encourage you to have with your doula.

It doesn’t matter if you’re having a home birth or if you are having a hospital or birth center birth. Your doula will be your best friend.

What is a doula? 

Doula is a Greek word that means “a woman who serves.” She is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth.

She understands the needs of a woman during a labor and is there to support her through the process both emotionally and physically.

Before I begin to list all the reasons why the doula and dad relationship is so important and beneficial for dads, I have a confession to make…

I wasn’t exactly sure what our doula was going to do at our home birth. Let’s just chalk that up to inexperience and naivety. Because once our doula arrived and participated at our home birth, we couldn’t have done it without her. No joke!

Keep reading to learn about the most significant factors that our doula contributed toward our home birth, and in particular, how it benefits Dad.

How many of you dads enjoy giving your significant other a back rub?

If you’re anything like me, I rather remove an ingrown toe nail. I’m not particularly good at rubbing backs, and it takes a lot of energy and effort.

(But during Katie’s pregnancy I was sure to step up my game and change my attitude about the rubs)

Nonetheless, Katie labored for 24 hours, and the most intensive time period was from midnight to 7 a.m.

All the practice I had during our natural birth class couldn’t replace the expertice of doula’s hands. When I rubbed Katie’s lower back, she later told me it offered no relief.

Our doula knew exactly where to put her hands and instantly releived pain through counter pressure.

Katie said she could practically read her mind. She refers to this moment as pure magic.

This allowed me to be more “cheerleader” and “encourager” and for the most part I left the counter-pressure-relieving rubs to our doula. Nice!

Can you imagine me -Dad- saying to Katie during the intensity of labor, “Um… honey… why don’t you try a different position for labor. I think sitting on the toilet might be better. Here now, let me walk you over there and get you set up properly.”

Hah. Yeah right.

First of all, I would never think of that. Second of all, my influence during labor is about 0 out of 10.

So, what I found amazing, and tremendously helpful was the influence and expertise of our doula.

Any of the her suggestions to move or try different labor positions made Katie more comfortable. They also continued the forward progress of labor.

Only an experienced doula can acquire this kind of wisdom.

For example, as a first time mom, Katie would have never thought of sitting backwards on the toilet with a pillow to lean on to rest. That was our doula’s suggestion, and it worked! Katie made it through some of her toughest contractions that way.

Similarly, our doula knew when to leave Katie alone, and also when to instruct the rest of us when to leave her alone.

Birth wisdom!

This one is my favorite… Our doula worked with our our midwife and together they were like a dream team.

Seriously, if I could award a Gold Medal for successful birth coaching, I would have given them one.

They couldn’t have been more in sync during Katie’s labor.

Around 2 a.m. I needed to crash for an hour or two.

Our doula relieved me so I could sleep. She provided me the opportunity to rest. This proved to be super important so I could have the birth experience during the home stretch of labor.

Super bonus here… Our doula brought along her own oils and when Katie was tired, she rubbed them on her belly and spoke encouraging words.

It’s pretty magical to witness the wisdom of an experienced doula helping along the woman you love…

And knowing that it all leads toward the successful delivery of the most precious piece of cargo you’ll ever bring into your arms.

Put that into perspective!

Lastly, but just as important, our doula always had something encouraging to say. Her energy was great.

Dads, don’t ever be afraid of a doula taking your place during labor and birth. No one can take your place. A doula has a very special role all her own. And hiring the right doula and midwife for your home birth is like assembling a team. A birth team.

BBH Dad

How Dads Can Walk the Line and Decide in Favor of Home Birth

9 Comments 10 June 2010

by Eric Walker

Your significant other has told you that she wants a home birth.

Oh man! Maybe you want to react and shout “No way, you’re crazy!”

Today’s post is for dads, so go grab your husband. Tell him to play this Johnny Cash song first. It goes like this…

I keep a close watch
on this heart of mine.
I keep my eyes wide open
all the time.
I keep the ends out
for the tie that binds,
Because you’re mine
I walk the line.

So what do you do, Dads?

Maybe you fake being supportive and wait for the perfect pillow talk moment to slyly shoot the idea down to test its depth.

Maybe you’re all for it, and you follow the instinctual lead of your partner with full confidence.

No matter what your feelings about home birth, you know the trouble and turbulence that awaits you if you don’t play the relationship game to win.

And really, that’s all we want isn’t it? It’s peace.

On one hand, we know for us Dads to have our peace, we have to help create a peaceful birth experience.

But home birth!?

WTF!

Who is having freaking home births these days besides crunchy hippies who go against the grain, and Hollywood going ex-tv talk show hosts who can afford to make documentaries about home birth.

I mean really!

Alright dude, here’s your wakeup call—

Home birth is real.

It’s a slow burning movement, and you might be pleasantly surprised like so many once-skeptical dads turned homebirth evangelists.

So please, heed the advice (free, and worth every penny) I’m about to provide here, and read this post with an open mind.

I’m going to tell you about how I walked the line and discovered that home birth was, indeed, the best decision for my family.

The “walk the line” method will work for you if you apply it throughout at least the first five or six months of your partners pregnancy.

Whether you’re all for the suggestion of home birth, or you’re dead set against it, the “walk the line” method is a solid way for both you and your partner to agree that home birth is the right choice.

Let me attempt to petition the part of you that just questions whether it’s a good decision or not. Period.

Good decision making is an essential skill for relationship success in-general, and effective house-hold and family nurturing in-particular.

But first, the reason I like the “walk the line” method is because it’s an effective means to diplomatically lead and make important decisions. It’s also nearly fool proof, and virtually eliminates any chance of catching hell from your significant other.

If you can learn to make timely and well-considered decisions, then you can often lead your significant other (and family) to spectacular and well-deserved success i.e. a peaceful birth experience, successful labor and delivery of the single most precious piece of cargo ever to be sent to your metaphorical doorstep – your child.

However, if you make poor decisions, i.e. you’re a dickhead who won’t even entertain the idea of homebirth, you risk relationship failure (and failure in many related aspects) and therefore, your time as a leader will, most likely, be brutally short.

The “walk the line” method is the unique skill of being able to maintain an intermediate position between contrasting choices and opinions. In this case, it’s whether to have a home birth or not to have a homebirth.

I know it can be tough to embrace homebirth. On one hand, you’re expected to behave in a socially accepted manner, especially as prescribed by law or morality. And dang man! Don’t you know it? Big brother is making homebirth illegal in some states and countries.

Morally speaking, you might catch hell from your fellow drinking buddy. I know I did.

When I mentioned I was having a homebirth, he said, “Have you lost your mind,” and went on to tell me a bad situation he had at the hospital, and how if he was at home, he may have lost his child.

He ended his diatribe by saying, “Now would that be fair to your baby?” My replay, “Ummm… no… hey bartender?! Another Makers Mark on the rocks, please.”

But trust me when I tell you that all you want to focus on securing the emotions of your significant other, and how those emotions will impact you.

I’m not advocating that you do this at the expense of your own. But the “walk the line” method also provides you the space to rant, rave and raise holy hell if you feel like it.

Now that I’ve set the stage for walking the line, let me tell you the dead simple way to implement the method.

Commit to both a hospital birth and a homebirth.

And by all means, include a birth center birth if that is a consideration you and your significant other would like to entertain. And do so for the first five or six months (minimum) of pregnancy.

Why? A few reasons…

You are literally forced to gather information, and experience about both hospital care and home birth.

Then you can toggle back and forth between hospital care and home birth. This makes for very healthy conversation and participation because you’re doing this with your significant other.

You’re gathering information, and having an experience with your significant other FROM the SOURCE. Therefore, your positive or negative responses won’t ever be AT your significant other. This is a critical aspect of walking the line.

I took some notes about my “walk the line” experience.

Although I supported and trusted Katie’s decision to home birth from the start, I wanted to go through the motions to be sure I wasn’t just drinking the Homebirth kool-aide.

There were two major areas that I decided to focus upon when I walked the line between attending regular hospital procedures and homebirth midwife procedures. Here were my findings.

These findings were personal to me and Katie. Your findings could be different. That’s the point. Although, our findings were very similar to dozens, if not hundreds of other hospital vs. homebirth experiences.

The two categories are Care and Relationship.

Care reflects the type of care that mom receives from the practitioner. Because of my athletic background, I’m a strong believer that the way you practice to play is the way you will perform during game time.

So for me, I considered the prenatal visits to be just as critically important as when we actually had our baby. A bad record in the care department leading up to birth makes me feel as if the care during birth would be poor too. Why wouldn’t I think this way?

Relationship reflects the bond that is developed such as trust and friendship. I might not be the world’s most sentimental or even emotionally aware guy. I do alright, but I’m no dummy.

Relationships are built on trust and all the underpinnings of friendship, and that stuff matters when it comes time to labor and birth. In fact, it matters a lot.

Let’s talk about Care first.

If you’ve listened to my home birth story, you know that I had resigned from my teaching job (and the full coverage insurance that went with it) only two weeks before I found out she was pregnant.

It’s an understatement to say that I was concerned.

We had to sign up for Medicaid. I met with one of the ladies there who was handling our paperwork and ask if Medicaid carried a certain stigma. I was concerned that we’d be treated unfavorably, or be judged because we were using Medicaid. I was assured that wasn’t the case.

Nonetheless, I noticed that all the Medicaid peeps went in the room on the right side of the hallway, and all the insured peeps went into the room on the left side of the hallway. Talk about Sneetches with stars on their bellies or no stars on their bellies. I didn’t believe her, and she wasn’t convincing.

But I did later find out that the kind of treatment we received was no different than those that had insurance. I found this out by asking a lot of questions from the Dads that were employed by both public and private institutions.

With homebirth, insurance and how it relates to care wasn’t an issue whatsoever.

In fact, our midwife wouldn’t even accept insurance. You paid with cash, check or credit card. Working with our midwife was based on whether she liked us and we like her. It had to be a match.

Relationship

We saw someone new every time we went to our hospital visits.

This may seem crazy to you. It definitely seemed crazy to me. Creating continuity was extremely difficult. It meant adjusting our schedule to their work schedule, which didn’t stay the same each week.

Creating continuity with our homebirth midwife was a breeze.

We spoke on the phone and arranged a time. Or when the homebirth midwife was over to our house, we’d both get our calendars out and decide on the next meet up time.

Out of all the different hospital midwives we saw, none actually touched Katie’s stomach.

Besides lathering the cold jelly on Katie’s stomach with a Doppler, they didn’t actually touch her belly.

Our homebirth midwife would touch Katie’s belly as if it were a crystal ball.

Doing so she discovered what position our baby was in.

Our midwife took urine samples every time. I don’t remember what she was checking for, but it was reassuring. Our homebirth midwife had discussions with us about our vision for birth, and what she wanted the experience to be like.

She asked us questions like whether or not we wanted vitamin K or eye ointment. Our homebirth midwife pleasantly answered all the questions I asked. I asked far more questions that even Katie asked, but maybe that was because Katie already knew in her heart.

At the hospital, there were 11 midwives, which meant we had a 1:11 chance of getting the midwife that we were visiting on that particular day.

When I asked questions, they weren’t pleasantly answered. I might get an answer like, “Well, usually we do it like this…” Or one time, I asked a hospital midwife how she felt about alternate birthing positions, and she shot back, “I have a sore back so I won’t do a lot of those positions, and I’ll never do a water birth. It’s best if you just let us take care of that for you.”

Too often I wanted to throw daggers at the hospital midwives. I don’t think I would have walked the line with the hospital midwives if it weren’t for the fact that it was only a five minute drive.

There was no driving involved with the homebirth midwife.

I was sure to always shovel the sidewalk of snow when she arrived to our home. Don’t overlook the convenience of having your midwife come to your home.

Our hospital visits would last, literally, three minutes.

Add an additional five minutes with my pestering hypothetical “what if” and “can we” questions.

Our homebirth visits lasted an hour or two.

Katie would fix up a fruit and cheese plate. We’d talk and laugh. Then our midwife would do her thing for awhile with Katie. Then it’d be my opportunity to ask questions. Our homebirth midwife would answer them completely, and tell stories.

My “walk the line” experiential verdict about hospital care vs. homebirth midwife:

When it comes to the actual birth, you’re sharing and living the most intimate and personal experience with a person whom you should like.

Not a potential stranger where you don’t know what you’re walking into.

I could easily justify homebirth over hospital birth after seven months of walking the line with both.

This is unfortunately not laughable, but pleeeezzzze. No relationship existed between us and the hospital. It was in and out.

Our homebirth midwife on the other hand, she’s a friend for life.

She came to our home before, during and after birth. She visited us about a dozen times before Ella’s birth. She was at our home for 24 straight hours during labor. And she returned the day after Ella was born, two days after that, a week after that, and two weeks after that.

Whether you’re all for home birth, or dead set against it, walk the line, man. Then you truly will have the experience, not just the hunch, to say to yourself, Yup, homebirth is a good decision.

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