Sunday, 9 September 2012

A Word on Attachment Parenting

Scary ideas to most modern, Western parents:
  • co-sleeping
  • babywearing
  • breastfeeding (especially beyond 6 months)
  • positive parenting
  • non-punitive, non-blaming gentle discipline
  • baby-led weaning
  • conscious conception
  • natural birth
Also known as Attachment Parenting.  To us, and many others, these practices are natural, intuitive, and normal!  To us it makes the most sense and we cannot understand why everyone else doesn't do it, but I can see from the outside how going against 200 years plus of male-directed baby rearing and all that entails could be uncomfortable.

We've come up against more than our fair share of resistance, misunderstanding and disapproval so far, and I'm sure there will be more to come.  In fact, we stumbled into the whole world of attachment or conscious parenting by accident really.  We had it all planned in the middle of my first pregnancy, where a cot would go in our bedroom, I'd try breastfeeding but if it didn't work formula was OK, what sort of routine the baby would have etc.  It's laughable now!

Then we read Three in a Bed: The Benefits of Sleeping with Your Baby.  Incredibly we have dear old Amazon to thank for our 'journey', as that book flashed up in my recommendations after I'd ordered a few natural childbirth books, and the concept intrigued me so I duly added it to my order.  What a revelation it was!  And yet, how it followed on from the choices and decisions we had already made surrounding the upcoming birth of our daughter.

That's how we see it I guess: AP is a natural extension of joyful and conscious pregnancy, and of natural childbirth (achieved joyously and comfortably through Hypnobirthing: The Breakthrough to Safer, Easier, More Comfortable Childbirth).  The decision to co-sleep was the first biggie, followed quickly by largely abandonning the planned pram for a lovely little collection of slings and baby carriers, and then the decision to breastfeed to term, and so much more.  And we love it!

For us, the whole journey to Attachment Parenting kind of snowballed I suppose, but in a good way!  Family and friends haven't always been as convinced about our 'funny ideas' and understandably some have felt challenged about their own parenting choices, but that's not where we're coming from.  All of these decisions suit us and our babies and our lifestyle.

I just wish Attachment Parenting were a bit more mainstream, and then the people I have met lately who covertly tell me that they do bits of it too, but didn't know it had a name, would feel more empowered by their choices, and more willing to say loud and proud that they reject cry it out, they will breastfeed their baby, they will hold them, they won't put their toddler on a naughty step, and they don't care what everyone else thinks.

Ironically, the recent quest to sensationalise and demonise Attachment Parenting practices, most famously with the ridiculous Time magazine cover, has brough it out into the open and made it more public.  As Oscar Wilde said, there's no such thing as bad publicity.  Maybe one day we'll be the norm again, as we once were centuries ago, and still are in 'non-developed' societies.  Hmm, who are the undeveloped ones, when our Western children are the unhappiest on Earth?  I'll let you decide.

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  1. I love this post, I am a Mummy who's not ashamed but embarrassed to say my son still sleep's in my bed, it's just he's 6, but I'm a single Mummy so it is just me and him, although I think I must start trying to get him into his own bed soon but not really soon.

    It's when my family and friend's say is he still in his own bed, and I lie and say yeah, he slept in the new bed I brought him once (brought because I thought it may help him get into his own bed) but he done it once and missed me too much, so he's been in my bed again ever since.

    All I remember my parents telling me is never ever put the baby in the bed with you, we've had 2 cot deaths in the family so that was there main reason, I never did when Spud was a new born baby but from about 7 months upwards he was in my bed most of the time (back then I was still with his father) and once he had fallen asleep Spud's father would put him back in his cot, but I would panic and have really restless nights with Spud not next to me.

    I never ever knew about attachment parenting, I didn't even clock onto your blog name until I read a post which then led me to email you, I never done the swing/carrier thing, Spud did have a buggy I am a real bad worrier and would think stupid things about these lol.

    I HATE telling Spud off, he is such a good child I very rarely have to tell him off but when I do it breaks my heart, I will ask him to put his DVD's back in the cases because they will become scratched like the others and 30 minutes later they are still out all over the place, so I say to him I asked you to do this a little while ago 'Spud' why are they still on the floor I am not happy about this and he pulls this little face which breaks me inside.

    I think from reading this post I have got some parts of an attachment parenting, I just cant believe there is so many people out there who does it (I Googled after emailing you lol).

    Jade xxx

    1. Keep doing what you're doing and what feels right, you're obviously doing a brilliant job!

  2. What I find strange is that it almost seems so controversial when it is so natural.

    Even with my 9 month old I get asked when I am going to stop feeding him, and when I reply, when he chooses to, they want to know why or just give me funny looks! Do you get that too?

    The same with baby led weaning- don't you mind not knowing how much he eats.,or oh its too messy ! I don't know whew everyone seems to make out its such a big deal- babies didn't always have formula or puree in the part, and don't in many parts of the world!

    Its a shame it is much derided, glad to see you are a proud attachment mummy! Have you joined the face book attachment parenting group ? X

    1. Oh yes, those looks are fun! I had my 2.5 year old latched on on a bench in the middle of Blackpool last week, there were quite a few of those looks! ;o)

      Just try to ignore them, although I knwo it's hard. As for baby-led weaning, well the whole point is to be relaxed about it, which encompasses not obsessing about how mcuh goes in etc. The question must have come from formula-feeders, as breastfeeders never knwo how much goesd in - and don't care! Baby will eat (milk or solids) as much as it needs, it's not up to us to dictate that!

      Welcome to the world of blogging BTW, have had a sneaky look at your blog and look forward to reading more.

  3. I don't get the controversy or the label. I think it's called parenting. It's bonkers that we look for consensus in this when it's so instinctive. I like to think of it as instinctive parenting - doing what your natural instincts tell you is the right thing to do.

    Just by the way - it was PT Barnum who said 'there's no such thing as bad publicity.' A moot point though - I am not sure Gerald Ratner would agree when he destroyed the multi million high street family business by saying at a conference 'we sell shit products.'

    1. Thank you for your comment. However, this post is no desire to seek a consensus, rather it is a further step in my quest to help all those parents who contact me online and in real life because they do some or all of this AP stuff, but get made to feel that they are somehow wrong or endangering their children.

      If you are strong enough to follow your parenting instincts, without any doubt whatsoever, and are entirely unaffected by negative comments from others, then that's brilliant. Unfortunately, the vast majority of parents in Western society do not feel like that, and this was the point I was making above.

      If people were indeed left alone to trust their instincts and parent as they thought right, then our world would be a much better place. But the multi-million pound parenting advice, formula 'milk' and nursery product manufacturing industries would be turned on their heads, so it is unlikely to happen. Not to mention the damage that centuries of child rearing thought and advice propagated by ill-informed, economy-oriented upper middle class males from the Industrial Revolution on has wrought.

      As for the bad publicity comment, I too have heard it attributed to the wonderful showman P.T. Barnum, indeed it featured in one of the shows I worked on many years ago. But, like much else associated with that great character, this attribution is not founded on fact. Rather, it is usually accepted by academics that the saying is a paraphrased version of Wilde's "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

      However, I agree that the infamous Gerry Ratner would perhaps not concur with the sentiment now!

  4. Great post. I find myself almost in tears. I would have LOVED a natural birth with both the girls, Pops got stuck (big head)and Beboo was induced due to my MS, also I had to have epidural with Beboo as I had to reduce the stress on my body so I didnt go blind lol.
    I also would have KILLED to carry on breastfeeding with Beboo, I had two days then had no choice but to stop due to meds, it broke my heart. We co-slept for a while but both girls eventually went into their own beds.
    I guess for someone like me, something that should be natural and lovely just was not possible.
    The girls are a credit too you x

    1. Oh darling, I'm so sorry. You are unfortunately evidence that even nature gets it dreadfully, dreadfully wrong sometimes. But even then your instincts were still strong and you wanted to follow natural parenting principles.

      I suppose what would happen in a tribe situation is that one or more members of your extended family or village would take over the breastfeeding etc, and it would just be normal.

      Your children have the greatest mother, who does everything she can for them and more, which is all anyone can ask for. And I have seen first-hand that you're doing the most important parts: being responsive and parenting gently. Keep up the good work AP mummy :o)

    2. Thank you, it is really unfair how some people do not get a choice. I guess AP was a natural way for us, in respect to the things I CAN do.
      I found stopping breastfeeding so hard. It got to me. I do not think BF at 3 years would be odd had I been able too, just normal.
      I envy all the mums with a choice.
      Kisses and hugs x

  5. Attachment Parenting is a term I came across via a tv programme. Seems maybe there is a need for more awareness, discussion and sharing regarding the various aspects of Attachment Parenting. I was aware of most, though not all of the aspects which you have listed above.

    Rachel Craig

  6. My children are now grown up but even then I knew I should go with what was best for my children. My son son cried when put down at all during the day for his first six weeks so I carried him around all day because that was obviously what he needed (cue mutterings of "you'll spoil him"), I carried on following his (and then my daughter's) lead as to what they needed and as a result ended up with very happy, balanced children.

    Hazel Rea - @beachrambler

  7. I was a young parent who loved and cared for my babies and didnt believe in letting the cry it out. I would let them cry for a few mins to see if they would self settle and when they didnt I would go and hold them croon rock shush and have raised great kids who arent spoiled or overly needy. Each to their own when parenting but I really dont think we should judge others parenting but be positive to other parents when it isnt an easy job. I got judged for being a young mum playing dress ups and housewife with my son and it really hurt when I was agood young mum with almost no support from family or friends my own age who had a baby


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