Before I had Anders, I had worked with kids for over a decade and had read hundreds of books on raising children. I had developed many hypotheses that I didn't get to fully put into practice until I had my own family. (And perhaps, if you have read the same books I have read, you have similar expectations.)
Here are the things I got wrong and right in my little n=1 study.
Responses to this post would be appreciated. I am curious to know which of these results other people achieved with different techniques!
-By eating a high fat, med protein, low sugar diet I won't get morning sickness: RIGHT. (But pregnancy was still horrible.)
-By having my baby at home, where my subconscious brain feels safe, I will have a complication-free birth: RIGHT
-By having my baby at home I will have a peaceful birth: WRONG. Birth is horrific (in my opinion). Don't matter where you do it.
-By having my baby at home, and by studying birth psychology (hynobirthing, reading Baby Catcher), I will have a fast birth: RIGHT (less than 4 hours!)
-By eating a WAPF diet I will have a baby that does not spit up. RIGHT
-By eating a WAPF diet I will have a baby that never gets cradle cap, eye infections, or other illnesses. RIGHT
-I don't need to hire a lactation consultant as breast feeding is natural and easy. WRONG (I had actually always planned on having a lactation consultant as everything I had read told me that if I wanted to be successful at breastfeeding, that was the way to go, but then my mother put in her two cents and, well, I took her advice. Terrible mistake. Anders didn't get enough food for his first week.)
-By eating a WAPF diet and nursing Anders until he is three, he will not get cavities. WRONG (Well, we were traveling and not eating the WAPF diet when he got the cavities, and we arrested the cavities by returning to the WAPF diet... so this one is a little inconclusive).
-By following Dr. Mendelsohn's advice in How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, I will avoid needless (all) trips to the doctor and the emergency room. RIGHT (after his well-baby, Anders went to the doctor only twice before he was five, once to retrieve something he put up his nose and once for diagnosis of impetigo rash. I did fail to avoid his getting an unnecessary chest xray by following bad advice from a doctor friend of mine.)
-By following Baby-Led Weaning I will have a baby that does not choke on food, regardless of the size presented i.e. I will not have to cut anything into baby-sized portions. RIGHT
-By putting my baby in cloth diapers, I will have a baby that never gets diaper rash. RIGHT
-By following RIE techniques I will have a secure and respectful relationship with my child. RIGHT
-By following RIE techniques I will have a self-confident baby. RIGHT
-By following RIE techniques my baby will develop good communication and cooperation skills at a very young age. RIGHT
-By following RIE techniques my baby will be able to entertain himself for long periods of time. RIGHTISH Anders could entertain himself longer than standard babies, but not as long as I had hoped for.
-I don't need to be "consistent;" babies are smart enough to understand why we do things this way one time and that way the next time and explaining these things to them makes them better decision makers. RIGHT
-By feeding my child whatever I am eating, I will have a child with an expansive palate, who enjoys flavorful food, including fish, sushi, and spicy foods. RIGHT
-By never having an opinion about whether or what my son eats when meals are presented to him, I will raise a "good eater." RIGHT
-By raising my son with RIE techniques he will be a safe climber and never get a hard hit to his head or break a bone. RIGHT
-By raising my child in reality--and therefore never giving him floaties or help that will give him an artificial relationship with the water--he will teach himself to swim at a young age, and be safe around pools and other bodies of water RIGHT (this means I sat in a chair near the pool while he crawled over and explored the water, not that I let him play near the pool while I went and made dinner).
-By inviting my son into the bathroom with me, discussing what is interesting about poop and pee, and allowing my son to spend time naked, I will have a child that is a) not afraid of toilets b) not afraid of pooping c) potty trains himself with ease. RIGHT
-There is no super-defiant "no" phase for respectfully raise children. RIGHT
-Because I don't chase after him or control him, because it is "our" goal to not lose one another, I will have a toddler that never runs away in stores or parks or other places. RIGHT
-By giving him information about safety around cars but not being controlling about it, my toddler will make safe choices in parking lots and around cars. RIGHT (He requested to be held or hold my hand.)
-If I use NVC, the woods good and bad will never be necessary. WRONG (concepts exist because we experience them, not because the words create them. It's important to be cognizant of what we are trying to express, but good and bad are fine, useful concepts.)
-If I create a respectful relationship with my son, he will give to me when I ask, for example, we will not struggle over him getting into his carseat. RIGHT (Anders was forced into his carseat against his will only once in his life.)
-By raising my child respectfully, he will not throw tantrums. RIGHT (though he did experience some strong emotions sometimes)
-By never hitting my son, I will have a child that never hits. WRONG
-By focusing on creating a secure attachment and respecting his needs, I will have a child who never protests when I drop him off somewhere or have a sitter come. RIGHT (I never once dropped him off and let him cry, or hired a baby sitter and let him cry. It was always his choice, and he chose to give me time off when I asked for it.)
-By not engaging in helicopter parenting and having a secure attachment, my child will choose to sleep in his own room RIGHT (though he went back and forth, and then at age 3 1/2 he stopped having a room of his own, so he slept with me from then on. Except at hotels when we have a suite. then he has the opportunity to have his own room and he takes it, and sleeps in it just fine.)
-By inviting my son to life with me, I will have a child quite advanced for his age in the study of real life. RIGHT (Note this is where RIE and I part ways. RIE does not invite children to life with their parent, but rather puts them into daycare.) Note what Anders could do when he was two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uenJsBFd5wU.
-By eating a WAPF diet, we won't get colds. WRONG. (Though none of them have been serious. Anders has never been on antibiotics.)
-By eating gourmet, adult food from a young age, I will have a child that does not like the classic kid foods like pasta, pizza, hot dogs, and french fries. WRONG (He does like these foods, but also they are not really on his radar. He never requests them like he does steak, fish, and sushi.)
-By eating adult food from a young age and having absolute authority about what goes in and what does not go in to his mouth, I will have a child who is an "adventurous eater," willing to try new things. RIGHT (But though he has happily tried oysters, iguana, and testicles, he will not try most jellos, puddings, mashed potatoes or anything of that consistency.)
-Children allowed to freely choose will choose to wipe their noses. WRONG *Was happy to wipe nose on shirt starting at age 4, finally started using tissues at age 5 1/2
-Children allowed to freely choose, will choose to bathe. RIGHT
-Children allowed to freely choose, will choose to wash their hair with shampoo. RIGHT/WRONG (He started washing his hair with shampoo at age 4 1/2.)
-Children allowed to freely choose will choose to clothe themselves around the age of 5. RIGHT
-Children allowed to freely choose will share when it feels good for them to share. RIGHT (And they will not share when it doesn't feel good.)
-By making him largely responsible for his own safe choices, my son will make safe choices. RIGHT (I have been continuously impressed with his ability to judge whether something is safe or not for him to do.)
-If I use NVC with my son, his pretend games will have NVC. WRONG (Ish, he uses more non-NVC communication in his games than he does NVC, but he does use a little NVC.)
-If I am not violent and threatening, my son won't play games in which he uses threats and pretend violence. WRONG
-By focusing on creating a secure attachment, my child will not exhibit the nervousness, eye-twitches, and stuttering that are common at this age. RIGHT
-By teaching my son that his needs matter, and taking them seriously, I will have a child that does not whine--not because he is told not to whine, but because it would never occur to him to whine. RIGHT
-By treating my son with respect and empowering him to make his own choices, I will raise a child who is not obsessed with power (like dinosaurs, police, anything that represents being big and powerful to a child). WRONG (My conclusion here is that small, powerless people know they are small and powerless, even if you treat them otherwise.)
-If I raise my child in reality, my child will not get nightmares. RIGHT
-If I raise my child in reality (no night lights) and spend time with him looking at the stars, my child will not be afraid of the dark. RIGHT
-Because we don't watch other types of television, my son will enjoy documentaries. RIGHT
-If I homeschool my child, he will confidently converse with and make friends with people older and younger than he is, including teenagers and adults as well. RIGHT
-If I homeschool my child and we are television free, he will happily play with girls in addition to boys. RIGHT
-If I homeschool my child and we are television free, he will not care about the current popular toys or clothes. RIGHT
-By opting out of preschool and bringing Anders to life with me, I will get along with him better, have more in common with him, and like him more than other parents with children the same age. RIGHT (This is completely subjective of course.) I expect this to be even more true at 10 and 15 than right now.
-By not entertaining Anders from the beginning, I will have a child that is able to entertain himself. RIGHT (By this age, Anders can play by himself for hours at a time, and entire days when we are at the farm.)
-By never dropping Anders off anywhere against his will or hiring a babysitter and leaving him against his will, I will have a child who is not clingy, happy to go to camps and have babysitters, and who is an excellent judge of those caring for him. RIGHT *Anders is also generous with me. Sometimes the babysitter available isn't a great one, but I tell him I really need a night to myself, so he says he can do that for me.
-It is not necessary to read to a child before he is three years old in order to have a child who loves to read and can read at a young age. RIGHT
-Raised with information and freedom, young children will choose to eat healthy foods in addition to unhealthy foods. RIGHT
-Raised to see their bodies as their responsibility young children will take good care of their bodies. RIGHT (Anders doesn't take as good care as I would like him too, but he does a very good job.)
-Children can be exposed to reality (including death and violence shown documentaries) and it will not make them anxious if they have competent parents and a secure attachment. RIGHT. (Though Anders did sometimes reject certain books or documentaries by saying they were too scary, he was happy to try them again later. He chooses his tolerance level.)
-Children raised in reality are focused on their futures from a young age. RIGHT.
-If brought to life with their parents rather than put in a room with other people their age, young children will act more mature than their peers. RIGHT (Though the most noticeable difference is in how he speaks. People constantly comment to me about how advanced his vocabulary and ability to communicate is.) By constantly I mean every time we go out at least once and often more; everywhere we go people comment to me that Anders speaks incredibly well.
-By doing the above, parenting will be easier, less stressful, and more fun. WRONG. Despite the success of most of my hypotheses, parenting in this way is not easy and is completely exhausting. And being so different from the mainstream is stressful.
-By doing the above, parenting will be easier, less stressful, and more fun if I live on a farm. RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT SOOOOOOO RIGHT
-By doing the above, parenting will be easier, less stressful, and more fun if I live in an office complex like the one I describe here: http://roslynross.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-ideal-unschool-community-here-and-now.html I WAS NOT ABLE TO TEST THIS ONE
OTHER THINGS I LEARNED
-Diet makes a big difference. When Anders does have a lot of junk food, he can become quite emotional and obnoxious.
-Cavities that don't hurt don't (usually) don't need to be filled. Honest dentists do exist.
-Topical medications can cure impetigo if you are dedicated; internal antibiotics are not necessary despite the doctor dramatically insisting.
-Despite efforts to not prop Anders and other efforts to encourage core development, he still did not retain his ability to squat nor does he bend from the hips. I am currently unclear on why this is.
-Four-year-olds are competent to follow a complicated route to a store a mile away from home without help (if they have traveled it before).
-Four-year-olds are competent to purchase items on their own.
-Even the youngest of children are competent with sharp knives, provided they are supervised and taught proper chopping techniques.
-Homeschooled children can be quite advanced academically compared to their pre-schooled peers, despite spending very little time each day doing school work.
-Anders's threshold for pain is higher now. He doesn't cry as much when he gets hurt, and many times he says, "It's not a big deal," and doesn't cry at all. But otherwise he has retained his ability to cry when injured. I saw him question this when we moved to Nicaragua as the children he hangs out with are extremely stoic. He started to try to be stoic too, but after I explained to him how crying releases stress hormones and is very good for us, he made a conscious decision to allow himself to be different from his peers in that way.
-Saying "No" to things Anders asks for is not a big deal. People gawk at me refusing to buy Anders things in the grocery store and him just accepting it like it's no big deal. If it is a big deal, he lets me know, but that is the exception not the rule. In general, it just isn't a big deal to him. My own inner child can barely handle it. "How can you not care about not having candy! You have to care! What's wrong with you?!"
-I am also surprised by just how influential I am, how many instances Anders simply defers to whatever I think is best. It's hard to explain because Anders is a very opinionated and strong willed little guy, yet ... he's also very compromising and reasonable and easy to get along with.
THINGS I DON'T KNOW YET
-By eating a WAPF diet and having him take cod liver oil every day, I will have a child who has a broader palate than he would have had otherwise i.e. a child who does not need braces despite the fact that both his parents wore them. (This wont be entirely conclusive with Anders as I did not start eating the WAPF diet until right after he was born. WAPF says you have to eat their diet for two years prior to conceiving to have a child who does not need braces.)
*I am sure there will be a lot more surprises! I just don't know what they are yet...