Am I Old School or New Age?

I think about this a lot.  I am aware of my reputation among some friends to be a holistic or “spiritual,” thinker which I think is New Age or could also be Old School traditionalist, depending on your definition.

I believe in eating whole foods with the least amount of preservatives.  I made my children’s baby food at home, all organic, and some pretty odd concoctions that I couldn’t even stomach, just because they would eat it.  Tofu as finger food…gross. Am I Old School for wanting to eat homemade foods without preservatives or New Age with eating healthy whole foods without preservatives?

I don’t and haven’t eaten red meat since I was in the 7th grade. For my love of animals? No, because I was in love with the actor, River Pheonix and wanted to be prepared for when we met and I would be his perfect mate.  He later died of a heroin overdose.  Old school childhood obsession/rebellion or New Age vegetarianism of not eating mammals?

So far, I only allow my children to participate in one extracurricular activity per season.  I want them to play with their friends, outside/inside/upside down.  I want them to follow what they enjoy for an activity, but to do what they enjoy everyday without a goal or extra pressure.  I want them to play, build, run, create, and use their imaginations.  Is this an Old School “just go outside and play” vision, or New Age, “let them be who they are” belief?

I don’t do for my children what they can do for themselves.  They fold their laundry, put it away, and make their own lunches and snacks at times. They pick out their own clothes (but tend to need a lot of fashion tips), bathe themselves and do their own homework.  I want them to Depend on me to teach them Independence. I am here to support them and love them and show them exactly how responsible they can be. Is this an Old School non enabler belief or New Age self advocacy belief?

The belief to care for our children in the way that we deem fit doesn’t have to mold into a category to make it acceptable, but so often, we tend to group ideas and philosophies in order to make them “normal.”  Sometimes it feels like parenting could be one of those taboo topics at dinner parties that shouldn’t be spoken of…along with religion, politics and favorite sports teams.  Always at risk to draw judgment and controversy!

I don’t recall ever being questioned about my choices or judged by my actions to the same degree as when I made the choice to have children.  Once we walk into the arena where others have played, the advice and comments and questions on what and how we are doing things suddenly become so important to everyone, including us.  Not only do we feel judged by others, we are often judging ourselves, especially in the beginning, because it’s new territory and each child is so different.  It can be hard to sift through what we are offered with good intent versus criticism to determine which suggestions we’d like to examine. But until we try them for ourselves, we don’t know what will work or if it will work.

Many of my beliefs and ideas on childrearing have changed dramatically since my children came into my life.  What I swore I’d never do makes perfect sense to me now when I do it.  I know I am judged by the decisions I make for myself and my children; sometimes through others’ insecurities and sometimes by genuine concern.  It is up to us, the parents, to either let go of the judgment or embrace the underlying message.

I was a co-sleeping parent who could still hang with those who wouldn’t consider sleeping in the same room with their kids.  It worked for us. I was a breast feeding mama who hung out with formula fed kids.  I gave my babies pacifiers in the hospital within the first days of their life, something some of my closest friends wouldn’t have dreamed of.  I let my kids eat hot dogs outside our home, despite the internal and mental pain it creates in me…so much more gross than tofu. But, we try on what fits and when it works, we feel and look good!

At the end of the day, no matter which style you choose or which category you fall into, isn’t our goal all the same? To love our children, respect ourselves and do the best we can without a foolproof instruction manual.  We’re all in this together, right?  Or as my son would say “Tomaeto/Tomato” (phonically speaking).  Our love and dedication for our children is the same whether we make them eat dinner at the table or let them eat in front of the TV. We want the same thing for our kids.  To be healthy, responsible, respectful, the friend others want to have and to be happy and proud of who they are and what they do.

So am I Old School or New Age? You can be the judge, it doesn’t matter.  In the end, its all the same.