Letters from Leila, mother to Milly.
I’m extremely proud to be a gentle/respectful parent to Milly. But I know not everyone finds it as easy as me, so I want to share my journey with you in case it helps in any way.
Like everyone, I do find this style of parenting hard sometimes. But it’s always the other stuff in my life that makes it hard — like work.
My passion before Milly was music, so I’m setting up a music business to help unsigned musicians and composers earn from their talents (@UnsignedLibrary).
It has been tricky to balance this because since Milly was born, SHE has been my passion. My obsession. Literally my everything. (I should probably change my business to better reflect my new passion but I’m so close to launching, I’ll stay with music!)
A typical gentle/respectful parenting element is bed-sharing and we love it — although she does hog the whole bed! This allows us to breastfeed and cuddle each other to sleep every night.
And sometimes when I’m laying awake, unable to sleep — like now! — she might stir and seem like she’s in pain or having a bad dream (or one of the many other reasons it could be, as babies are not supposed to sleep continuously because if they didn’t wake for a problem it could make it a lot worse) I’m there right by her side.
With a gentle touch of her hand, rub of her back or suckle on my breasticle, she settles and continues with her beautiful snore-fest.
I’m sure there are some of you thinking, “but she’ll never learn to sleep through if I’m constantly helping her or she’ll be super clingy because of the extreme closeness”, right?
Well that’s not true. It’s actually the complete opposite.
Being by her side strengthens her confidence in every way and even improves cognitive development — Brucey bonus! She’s secure in the knowledge that she is totally safe and always will be, hence why Milly is always the child on the other side of a massive field.
She never really checks if I’m there, because she KNOWS I am there. This, for me, is THE most amazing feeling so far in my journey as a parent: seeing her independence and courage.
But back to the sleep issue.
I’m 34 years old and have never been able to sleep through the night, whether it’s because I’m over stimulated, have to make a to-do list, my husband is snoring, Milly’s creepy hand has come up for a fondle, or it’s simply the way the stars are aligned.
Whatever the reason, I don’t expect my 15 month old — who doesn’t yet have full brain development and is still learning to string together the word “hello”, to sleep for a continuous 12 hours straight. Yeah right!
I hope more parents start to choose the gentler approach to raising children. It is so beautiful to watch your child grow with as much respect for you as you have for them. Yep, I’m totally gushing right now!
This is just one little snip in my gentler parenting journey. I’ll tell you some more soon.
Letters from Leila 💋
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