Do Unto Others

The Ergo is her happy place!

Some time back, I made the number one biggest mistake a parent can make in today’s digital age: I had a question regarding a particular aspect of child care, so I Googled it.

Specifically, I was concerned about how much time Katie was spending in the Ergo – morning walks, afternoon chores and errands, and the occasional evening when nothing else would calm her down – and so I took to the Internet to see if they had any magical words of wisdom on this subject. (“They” being the experts. Whatever that means.)

Fortunately, I realized the error of my ways and closed my browser before I was sucked into the craziness that is online parenting advice, deciding that my own common sense would serve me much better than the random, strongly-worded opinions of strangers. (I will admit that, before coming to my senses, I did take a few minutes to scroll through some of the message boards. I learned that putting her in a sling or a carrier of any type for any amount of time would ensure she would never be independent and that her limbs and muscles would not grow properly, but also that wearing her encouraged bonding and intimacy and should be done all hours of the day or night and not doing so meant I didn’t really care about her well-being.)

Among the arguments and the so-called scientific studies and the “authoritative” declarations, one statement in particular caught my attention. The lady who made it was adamant that baby-wearing was demeaning to child and mother, was detrimental, was something no sane parent should even consider doing.

“How would you like it,” she asked, “if you were strapped to somebody like that?”

The answer, of course, is that I wouldn’t – but that really has nothing to do with whether I should put her in an Ergo or not. After all, there are many things that I would absolutely despise but that my daughter finds necessary or enjoyable. Being swaddled, for instance, or being laid on the floor underneath the ceiling fan, or having somebody else help me clean up after certain bodily functions. (In the interest of full disclosure, Katie truly hated that last one, too, for the first several weeks of her life, and was not shy about letting us know of her displeasure. But I think she would have liked the alternative even less.)

Katie and I do not have the same needs and desires. This is in large part due to the fact that she is an infant and I am an adult, but it also true that she is her own person, with her own wants and needs and preferences. It isn’t enough for me to do to her what I would want done to me, really, because what I would want would be to be left well enough alone, to be given my personal space. She clearly needs something different than that.

I realized, as I thought about Katie and the Ergo and her desires versus my own, that the Golden Rule really only works when it is broadly applied. I want to be treated with respect, I want my desires to be considered, I want to be loved, and so I should do these things for others. If I get too specific, however – I, as an introvert, prefer quiet spaces and want others to give me alone time to recharge, for instance, whereas an extrovert might want the exact opposite – the Golden Rule is not enough. I must go beyond what would be best for me and consider what is of the most benefit to the other person, even if his or her needs are radically different from my own. In order to truly love another person well, I must do unto him or her not what I would want for myself, but what brings about the best good for that person, as near as I can determine it.

Speaking of which, there are a few things that need doing around here this afternoon, and a certain little girl will be happiest snuggled up against me as I do them. Into the Ergo she goes!

Family and Parenting, Loving Others

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One Response to Do Unto Others

  1. jywatkins says:

    I’ve heard this referred to as the Platinum Rule (to supercede the “Golden” one): Do unto others as they would have done unto them. It’s a great lesson in realizing that we all need different things. Thanks for the post! And although I don’t want to be strapped to someone else in my current state, I can totally see why Katie and other little ones would like it so much, feeling safe and close to mom!

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