My son is now going on 8 months and crawling. He is finally allowed to crawl past the futon- floor bed but is forbidden from possible slight danger or a little dusty areas. Obviously electricity or chemical/plants are real dangers to save him from. She can change but is a control freak who can scream and shout indefinitely. My mother-in-law might have feed him crushed strawberry and left a stain but she forgave her eventually so she could look after him again. How can I show her that this overprotectiveness isn't the way?
I can offer some first hand experience from yesterday! My daughter (our first), is 9 months old, and she crawled for the first time less than a week ago. Now (6 days later) she's a pro and can go really fast. I am the overprotecting parent, and yesterday every time she crawled out of her play area, I would pick her up and move her back in. This continued for a while until it was my wife's turn to watch her. A couple of minutes later I saw my daughter crawling around the kitchen floor and I freaked out! I picked her up, moved her back to her play area, and asked my wife why she let her go into the kitchen? She said, "Why not? What are you worried about?" I didn't have a good answer except maybe the floor is hard (compared to the carpet where she plays), and my wife kind of laughed at me and said "She's fine!"
I can't say that will work for your wife, but it worked for me. I realized that I was being irrational.
That being said, my daughter can't stand on her own yet, but she can pull herself up and remain up, seemingly indefinitely, if she's holding on to something. But every time she stands up, I immediately run over and sit behind her so I can catch her if she falls. My wife laughs at me for this too, but I've seen her fall and hit her head before, so I'll probably keep doing this until I'm confident she can keep her balance. Unlike crawling on the floor, there's probably nothing my wife could say that would change my mind on this one. So choose your battles...
You can't protect your kids from everything.
That's a given.
Without saying your kid could play in the dustbin or the trash can, you can highlight that a clean but not aseptized environment can diminish the risk of allergies later in life and help building stronger immunity. For example, having a pet in house drastically reduce the risks of allergy and help the social upbringing of children.
For the physical risks, it's a bit harder.
Also, you can point that kids are empathic sponges. And a stressed mommy makes for a stressed baby, and no one want that.
The harsh part will be to explain all this without saying your wife is a bad mother : if she tries to care for your child, she is at worst misguided.
Humans have been having babies for centuries. And in all that time and in the various places around the world, we haven't all grown up in completely sterile, baby-proof worlds free of pain and hardship. And guess what? Most of us survived to adulthood and are doing just fine.
You grow by learning to deal with different things, even falling down once in a while or bonking your head. How will your child ever learn that you are there for them when things get bad if nothing bad ever happens? How are they going to learn that a stubbed toe isn't the end of the world if they never learn how to deal with pain? How will they learn if they like peaches if they never get to taste them? You can't build up a strong immune system without being exposed to disease.
This isn't to say that you should never protect your child. But don't sweat the little things. Touching a cold or hard floor is not even in the same league as being crushed by a falling bookshelf.
Finally, you need experiences to become a successful, well-balanced person. Your wife is robbing your child of these experiences. Also, people (babies included) have a way of learning to avoid experiences and things they don't like. So if the floor is cold and your kid doesn't like it, he will learn not to go there. Your kid will never learn that if he never touches a cold floor.
Your daughter will not be baby forever so she needs to learn. The best way of learning is to try stuff and experience the consequences. Your job as a parent is to find the balancing between giving enough freedom that learning can occur and given enough restrictions so that no serious damage either to people or property happens. This starts with crawling but will continue with walking, riding a bike, getting to school on there own, crossing a busy street, getting the hang of school, sports, going out on there own, friendships, learning to drive, boy/girlfriends, sexuality, drugs & alcohol etc. So you might as well start now agreeing on how to best handle this.
You and your wife should to agree on where to set the balance by looking at the consequences of going too far on either end of the spectrum. What's an acceptable risk to take now to avoid a significantly bigger risk later? You don't teach kids how to swim by waiting until they are 18 and than just throw them in the deep end of the pool. Good questions to ask yourselves
- What's the risk here? Is there any real danger for serious damage to persons or property?
- What do I want my kid to learn in this situation? What experience do I want the kid to have so that learning occurs (HINT: saying "no" doesn't work for learning, it's rarely about what you say, it's what you do or the behavior you model)
- How do I want my kid to behave in this situation in three years from now? What learning steps need to happen so that he/she can get there and what do I need to do to make sure the learning happens.
In this particular example: crawling and falling off stuff in the process is good learning. Very unlikely to hurt or even get a bump. Very helpful in dealing with stairs later: Our kids used to lie on a futon and occasionally fell off on the carpet. That's how they learned what an "edge" is and they learned by trial and error that the best way to negotiate this is to shuffle down butt first. When they started walking and encountered stairs or steps going down they all showed the same behavior: stop, turn around, and shuffle down butt first. In contrasts a friend's kid walked straight on, fell down the steps and ended up with an arm in a cast.