Thursday, August 21, 2008


I am an active and visual learner. At least that is my best guess after reading a summary of learning styles on a random website. I am a visual learner in the sense that I prefer learning by seeing pictures, diagrams, or by drawing things out. I am an active learner in the sense that I need to actually do things before they stick strongly in my head.

For example: (visual) as a social worker I learn about families by drawing genograms, and that helps me sort out how to help them; (active) I still haven't learned to swim because my anxiety about water/drowning overcomes any attempts to learn from others or teach myself (I learned to ride a bike after my dad's and brother's attempts to teach me failed- I just grabbed the bike one day and kept trying until I got the hang of it- I am too afraid to do that to learn to swim).

My learning style has affected my parenting. Prior to having Miles I read about some of the struggles new parents have. However I didn't learn how to deal with these struggles until I was in the midst of them. An example: Breastfeeding is not always easy or natural. I didn't know what to ask for in the hospital in regards to breastfeeding and became worried that Miles wasn't getting enough (even though he latched well and it felt fine). I also couldn't rely on the nursery to bring him to me to nurse on a normal schedule. By the time I left the hospital, I ended up pumping breast milk and supplimenting with formula even though the doctor's told me about supply and demand issues with this plan. By the time he was 3 weeks old, Miles was on strictly formula. Looking back now I can see the factors that led to this chain of events. #1 my learning style, #2 my difficulty with asking for help, #3 my fear that I couldn't provide enough for my baby, #4 my desire for a quick easy way to console my hungry baby, and #5 the complete lack of privacy or support at the hospital (although I had plenty of people offer advice they certainly didn't provide the environment to be successful). This is just a short list of things that led to my "failure" in breastfeeding.

That being said, another thing I struggle with is how the "authorities" on parenting tell us what is right for our kids, i.e. "breast is best". [I know that sentence is grammatically incorrect. I'm not going to fix it, and I hope my readers understand what I'm saying.] Perhaps this is my cognitive dissonance talking, but I wish I had learned that my natural instinct of providing for my son is the most important thing to listen to. - not other parents - not "authorities" - not nurses or doctors or friends or husbands. I'm sure that I read that somewhere, but I didn't learn that until after I went through feeling guilty and sad and lost. Formula feeding is not bad for children. Breastfeeding is not always best for children. There is not one "right" way to be a parent. For Miles and I, we found a very happy and healthy way to get him his food. I will no longer feel guilty or sad about that. I've learned a ton about what to expect and what to ask for, so I will (hopefully) find happy and healthy ways to provide for all of my future children without feeling guilty or sad. I still have a lot to learn, and I look forward to doing so every day.

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