I have heard and read this comment by so many moms so many times. It's like the mantra for when you did something before you educated yourself on it. I am guilty of this as well. So many things in our American culture that we "just do" as parents without really thinking about WHY we do it or if there is another way. Why is it in our culture we do not question "what we do"? Are we afraid of breaking tradition? Bucking the system? Questioning authority? Is it fear?
14 years ago, when I had my first son, I was seriously lacking in available resources for research. There were things I instinctively knew I wanted to do or not do, but so much that I just didn't know and no way to find out, or I didn't know ho to find out. I knew I was going to breastfeed (which in the end didn't last very long due to many factors), I knew I wanted to try for a natural birth (which once labor hit I was singing a different tune, yet I still ended up with a mostly unmedicated birth), I knew I was NOT going to circumcise my son, I knew I wanted to keep him close though I knew nothing of babywearing or the gear and I knew nothing of safe cosleeping. I also knew nothing about vaccines, vaccinating was just "what we do". I never questioned it, not for years and not until I was pregnant with my second son 4 years later.
My parenting ideals haven't changed much from my 1st child, though I have become softer in my discipline techniques, I have become very firm and headstrong about many issues. I am for all intents and purposes a crunchy hippie alternative parent. Those of us who go against the mainstream have taken a lot of heat for our crazy natural ways. We seem to always be defending our choice for doing what is NORMAL, what is natural, and what is best for the child.
This year has been a good year for those of us on the alternative flow. We have made the AAP back down and take back their statement on FGM and "ritual nicks", the ACOG has realized that the increase in induced labors is a cause for the increased amount of cesarean sections and as well are changing their stance on repeat c/section. The CDC announced a stunning and dramatic drop in the rate of infant circumcision, from 56% in 2006 to 32% in 2009! Babywearing and kangaroo care has been proven to be very beneficial for mother & child, and today Harvard released a study that shows "cry it out" is detrimental while cosleeping and giving your child attention helps create a secure and independent adult! Those of us in the natural community of course are all thrilled with this years events but at the same time we can't help but roll our eyes and say "Duh! e have been saying this for years, but it's nice that you all are finally catching up"
Currently there is a lot of media attention on the issue of circumcision, which is great! I just feel so heartbroken for the mamas I see posting about how they had their son(s) circumcised (and many despite the fact they really didn't want it done but left it up to dad) because it was just "what you do" but they are so glad to know now the truth and help spread the word of truth when it comes to this painful medically unnecessary procedure.
The tide is finally turning from a culture of it's just what we do to a culture of WHY do we do that and discovering the truths. A culture of researching parenting decisions and questioning and changing. I can't even begin to describe how this shift makes me feel, how much it brings me hope and joy for the future generations of children born in our culture. I can't wait for the day when moms no longer feel the guilt over an uninformed choice and will no longer have to say "it's just what we do".