Dina Ridenour, a certified public school teacher and attachment parenting mom of two beautiful girls, came into her parenting style by natural instinct. "My husband Don and I were married for 10 years, enjoying our time together when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. We did not plan to get pregnant then, but it was the best thing we ever did by accident! We love our role as parents. Our parenting style is kid-centered. They drive most of what goes on around here and we are perfectly fine with that."
Becoming a mom by surprise at age 35 was an adjustment for Dina, but she soon realized that this was actually a benefit in disguise. "As I was meeting the many demands of motherhood, I realized at 35 that I was much more ready to do all the sacrificing that I believe good parenting requires. Don and I had our fun and we were both ready to concentrate our energies on being good parents.
I believe in attachment parenting because I believe in giving my children a firm foundation on which to stand so they can spread their wings safely and fly. I feel an accepting environment is created when children have their needs met and feel loved and cared for. I have joked that my children never really cried as babies. I was always there to meet whatever need they had, be it my milk, a hug, food or sleep. They came first. This taught them to trust and helped them become very caring and loving themselves. My proudest moments come when I am told how loving or kind my child has been or that my child sees an injustice and speaks out for the underdog. That's the kind of child we want to send out into the world."
Dina and Don did not plan to co-sleep with their kids. In fact, they spent countless hours before their first daughter Chloe was born decorating a nursery, putting up a crib and even painting a beautiful mural on the wall. But after Chloe arrived, co-sleeping just felt natural. Now, nine years later, they're still all sleeping in the same room.
Dina says, "We love co-sleeping. We still co-sleep even now (my girls are 5 and 9) but we have four single beds going across the room. Everyone has their own space, but at the same time we sincerely love the closeness it allows. I love waking up hugging and snuggling with the girls. What better way to start the day? For those who joke and wonder if my kids will be bringing their spouses into the bedroom someday, I just laugh. Everything in its own time. When they are ready, they’ll go. My oldest says she is getting ready to go into her own room soon. She is beginning to want the freedom that being 9 brings. Most people would say she is a loving and confident young lady who has a great sense of herself. I feel the outcome is worth the investment.”
To those on the outside, it seems curious that a certified public school teacher would choose to homeschool. But for Dina and her family, the decision came naturally. “I believe there is a lot of good going on in public schools. I know because I was part of those good things for many years. But honestly, I homeschool because I am able. I was really dedicated to educating other people's kids for 10 years and now I want to educate my children -- it's as simple as that. I believe what makes the difference in a child’s life, whether going to public school or being homeschooled, is the involvement of the parents. If you are a diligent, loving parent and provide a safe, loving environment for your children, I believe they will thrive no matter where they are educated."
Don't let the mommy wars take you down. There are many different approaches to parenting and many ways to raise happy, healthy children. Discover your own parenting style and be proud of your own parenting choices, whatever they may be.