Lately I've seen a number of parents on the web discussing the pros and cons of several different types of parenting philosophies. So I thought that I would put my two cents in as well.
First of all, I don't subscribe to one philosophy entirely and here is my reasoning.
1) Publishing books, cds, dvds, etc. is a money making business. Regardless of the persons credentials or intentions, the green back is the bottom line.
2) Babies and children are not one size fit all. Even within the same family, children have different needs and will behave differently.
3) Many parenting books are against other styles and they let you know. It's really annoying to me that the writers of these books won't concede that there is some truth to another author's ideas. To me this just screams "money."
4) It's a philosophy, but as mentioned in number 3, they will try to use everything in the power to convince a reader that what their saying is best. For example: Dr. Sears uses phrases like "scientists conclude" and "doctors agree" without citing his sources. The Ezzos like to use God in the rhetoric. They quote many verses from the Bible but many of these verses are controversial and open to several ways of interpretation.
5) They scare new parents into believing that if they don't follow a particular philosophy that the children will turn out "bad" or with some sort of physical or psychological damage. The Ezzos, for example, are notorious for comparing children of one couple who follow their parenting style against children whose parents are AP.
Having said all the above, I plan on writing a different post comparing AP and Ezzos since both parenting styles are hell bent on discrediting the other. This post is more about how I've gleaned information and used it.
Here's my take on parenting styles: read them all, try what you think might work, and throw out what definitely will not work. So basically use a little bit of everything. Prescribing to one philosophy can potentially make your short sighted and in some cases, arrogant. I've been researching the Ezzos, largely because a friend of mine uses their style and lent me the materials. In my research, a number of parents described themselves as being arrogant and judgmental of parents who used AP or another parenting style. Why? Because the Ezzos made these parents out to be as awful or un-Christian, which is ridiculous. (I have read a few pages of the text that I was lent and so far what I've seen on the net has been confirmed.) All parents want what is best for their family and their children. It's absurd to automatically label parents as being "bad" because they don't subscribe to your methodology. And unfortunately this is what the Ezzos and the Sears do.
So what do I use? A number of things in different ways and for different reasons.
I like the idea of having a good marriage relationship. The Ezzos promote this. Sears doesn't really delve into the family dynamic as far as just the marriage or relationship.
For feeding, we are on demand parents (Sears as well as AAP). The reason is because breastfeeding works as supply and demand. This is also the reason why I think HB stopped thriving. My supply went low and he stopped demanding so I stopped worrying about supplying. I wasn't offering him the breast any less number of times for any less number of minutes than he wanted. Now that his appetite is back so is my supply (at least judging by the pumping I had early today). Breastfeeding is endorsed by Sears, Ezzo, and the AAP. I don't follow a set schedule for feeding. It revolves around the very loose sleep schedule. If HB is hungry, he gets fed. As I said this is not an Ezzo belief, but Sears and the AAP tell parents to use on-demand feeding.
For sleeping, we are a loose schedule. Sears doesn't suggest scheduling. Ferber does, but in a more rigid sense. Children grow in spirts and as they age their sleeping patterns change. We implemented a schedule of three naps when HB was three months old because he was tired in the evenings but couldn't sleep. So we helped him split up his second nap. Now that he's older, he's starting to show signs of being able to handle two naps. I haven't pushed the issue because of the feeding stuff, but I probably will once his weight is back to snuff. When I say push, I mean see how well he can handle two naps instead of three. I don't plan on forcing him to do anything if it makes him tired and cranky. And the reason for two naps instead of three is because children grow when the sleep and actually need the longer stretches of sleep.
That being said, we also follow Ferber's advice for "sleep training." Sears advices parents to watch out for baby trainers and the Ezzos use the "cry-it-out" method. We do neither. We have a three part sleep routine: diaper change, rocking and singing, and laying down in the crib with the night night song. Hubby gets a fussy baby. When I do it, HB fusses until I close the door and then not a peep. It took a little while to do this so during the first couple of months we would poke our heads in and say something to him at different intervals that Ferber advised. Now he doesn't cry and he's happy. Plus if he wakes up in the middle of the night, he falls back to sleep if everything is okay. And yes, he still wakes up for feedings. Twice a night. The Ezzos expect parents to be able to get their children to sleep through the night by eight weeks. This is unreasonable in my view because as I said children grow at different rates and have different needs. I don't mind getting up for HB. Sure I'm a little sleepy, but it's not the big deal the Ezzos make it out to be.
Sears prefers to have babies co-sleep. We did that until HB was three months. But we wanted privacy and we wanted to be able to get into our bedroom later at night without waking up HB. So we moved him into his own crib and his own room at three months because that is when children's sleep patterns become similar to an adults (but not exact). Sears also prefers to "wear a baby down." Meaning let them fall asleep in a sling and then put them to bed. HB wakes up if we do that.
I like baby wearing for all the reasons Sears suggests it. I also like listening and responding to HB's cries. I can tell when he's upset about something or hungry or tired and I can respond. If I can't figure it out, I'll try feeding him, engaging him, etc. The Ezzos think this is bad because a child doesn't learn "delayed gratification" and sets them up to have trouble later when parents have more children. A baby is a baby. They aren't trying to control you. They have needs that need to be met and they are incapable of doing a lot of things. Otherwise a baby would do the stuff that they want themselves. Babies who take care of themselves entirely, in my opinion, are called adults.
Speaking of the AAP, that is one organization that I follow the advice of. First of all, most of what they say is based on safety. There's very little rigidity, ideology, or philosophy to it. Secondly, they are a conglomeration of doctors, not a single doctor or a small group of people. And they also tell you if they disagree. In their book they make sure to inform parents that some doctors will start solids at four months and some at six, but that the consensus is not before four months. The AAP isn't driven by money or fame (at least not compared to other parenting styles). They are driven by science and reasoning.
And so that's it in a nutshell. Do what works best for your family. If co-sleeping works, great! If putting your child on a schedule keeps you sane, great! But lets all be adults here. These are parenting philosophies, not the Bible. Ezzo, Ferber, Sears, and Brazelton are not gods. So please, be kind to someone who you don't agree with. Let them parent how they want to as long as the children are healthy and happy. If something seems amiss, a good suggestion of what works for you is totally appropriate. I love BSG for that very reason. We discuss scheduling, sleep, slings, etc. And there's no pressure. It's a question and answer. No one expects you to come baby wearing, but if you want to try it out, many of us will show you how.