I have been quite lucky so far. Aside from one passing comment about not cuddling my little one “too much” (who knew there was even such a thing), no one has accused me of spoiling my baby. I don’t really believe that kids can be spoiled, although maybe it’s just a terminology issue – some babies become materialistic and entitled, but I think that has more to do with how you raise them than how much stuff they have. As for spoiling with love, well, I simply don’t think that’s possible.
I’ve written before about the kind of mother I want to be, and I still stand by those words. I don’t let Harley “cry it out”, choosing rather to cuddle and comfort her. I want her to know that she is heard when she asks for help, even when she’s too young to articulate what she needs (or even know it herself). I already linked to an article explaining that children who are cuddled and loved as babies are more adjusted and have fewer mental health issues, but apparently it goes beyond even that.
Over and above sound mental health, which is a reason enough in my book, children who are cuddled and tended to when they cried as babies also end up smarter and more empathetic. Who knows how true that will turn out to be – after years of people saying that breastfeeding improves IQ they’ve now found that there isn’t a significant correlation. So maybe it’s all just confirmation bias – I know the kind of parent that I want to be and I pick and choose those studies that confirm that it’s the right thing to do. But I’m also okay with that.
I want Harley to know I’m here to make her feel better. I want her to know I listen to her. I want her to know that I’m always here for her. Those are qualities that my mom shared with me, and I think they modeled behavior that made me a better human in general. I really listen to people. If I say I’m there for someone, I actually show up and support. I know how to be a good friend, how to support people I care about, how to be loving. Sure, there were other experiences in my life that reenforced that behavior, but I really do believe that it all starts with the bond with the tiny human – she knows that I will come when she cries, and as a result of getting the comfort she needs when she’s upset, she will be more inclined to offer comfort when she sees others upset.
At least, that’s the hope.
So, is it spoiling my baby? I don’t think so. Will it make her smarter? Who knows. But if nothing else, it makes me feel better; it makes me feel like I’m being true to myself, and there isn’t much more I could hope for. Except maybe for one day to be able to show her that I love her without needing to hold her while I work…