Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Glimpse into Eco-Babyz #2: Attachment Parenting


I didn't know the actual term attachment parenting existed until baby E was a few months old. When I read about it for the first time, perhaps in a Mothering magazine, a mom blog, or some forum, I realized I've already been practicing it all along. I believe that a mother's intuition is never wrong. To me it just always made sense to follow my baby's cues, meet my baby's needs, making everyone happy because the baby is happy. Word of warning, you will may find this offensive and if you wish - you can stop reading now if you're anti attachment parenting.

I find it ironic that those that tell me to Ferberize my baby are the same parents that tell me "They're cute and cuddly now, but just wait until the teenage years, what a nightmare!" Time and time again I find direct correlation between a 'detached' style of parenting and troubled teenagers. Our society preaches toddler independence and then the parents reap the rewards in adolescence. Most parents I come across that have practiced attachment parenting don't dread their babies growing into teenagers, they actually enjoy that phase of their life!

Attachment parenting to me does not mean I will spoil my child. I don't consider putting the needs of my baby above my own as 'spoiling', that's called love in my book. We still have boundaries, we teach right and wrong, but our emphasis is on our relationship, not material things. In my opinion, the cry it out method and similar practices only teach the baby that he/she can't trust you, putting a permanent dent in your relationship. It trains them to rely on themselves earlier than they are designed to handle. Besides, have you wondered what happens physically and emotionally to a baby who is left to cry it out? The negative impact is quite profound.

Parents want babies to sleep through the night and in their own room, then they keep wishing they were little again. People buy obscene amounts of plastic babysitters (play centers, jumpers, etc.) when all our babies really need for proper development is us. If you think differently then you should dig up the controversial experiments on orphans who failed to thrive and died without human contact. Our society feeds us this parenting style and we often blindly accept it. When I got my free Parenting magazine I was shocked at all the articles that go against my intuition as a mother (not to mention the amount of advertising). I knew this wasn't the route I wanted to go. Thankfully my husband agreed. We continue in our beliefs since baby E's birth on a chilly January evening, with her happily breastfeeding and not leaving my side for a moment. If a mother's touch can bring a baby pronounced dead back to life, then imagine what the babies being carted off to the nursery after birth are missing out on! I think we're doing our babies a huge disservice by distancing ourselves from them before they even have a chance to grow up.

In addition to my own experience, I have my mother as an example. My older sister and I are six years apart. She was very much a loved and wanted child, but when she was a toddler my mother left her for one year to be raised by her own mother so that she could pursue a diploma. I on the other hand have never left my mothers side because I was sick for most of my childhood. Needless to say, my sister's adolescence was not exactly trouble free and I'm the witness. There were other contributing factors, but my mom still thinks that this was her major mistake. I was never a problem as a teenager and I can personally attribute it largely due to my close relationship with my mother.

I can feel our choices paying off already when we get compliments on what a happy, free-spirited, and fearless baby our daughter is. I have many friends who are mothers and their parenting style might not align with mine, but that doesn't keep us from being great friends. Every now and then they ask "How come she's always so happy?" Then I let them in on our secrets...

6 comments:

  1. It is always best to go by your mother's intuition. I sometimes am in shock when I read the articles in the "normal" parenting magazines. It it leaves you with that sick gut feeling, it is NOT right for your home. Try reading Kiwi magazine or Mothering. Both my favs!

    Thank you for stopping by the other day. I am sorry to hear about your worry about your husbands involvement with schooling. I found that my husband is not as involved with my daughter as he is with the boys. I am trying hard to involve him by buying her shirts with things that he is interested in, or buying her a pink truck to play with. KWIM. It gets him in the mind set that they can have things in common and not everything is fru fru pink tutus. oh and Praise him praise him. Those are working from me, and have helped a lot since someone told me that. Hope it helps!!

    Melissa

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  2. Helpful blog, bookmarked the website with hopes to read more!

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  3. I really like your blog just stumbled upon it today, and believe I have read all your post I can find. So nice to see a look into another mothers day with a toddler.

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  4. I love your thoughts on attachment parenting. I couldn't agree more! My little E is also a carefree, mellow baby and, although this may be due to his temperment, I can't help but think it also has to do with him feeling safe and secure with us, his parents.

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  5. I tried to post a comment earlier and couldn't remember my google password. So, I will try to recap what I was saying earlier. While I totally and utterly agree with a lot of the things you said, I would just like to point out that many, many parents don't have the luxury of spending this much time with their infants. I was fortunate enough to have an employer who let me telecommute, i.e. work from home, for the first 18 mths of our daughter's life; however, that is an exception. Most moms who cannot afford to stop working have to return to work after 2 or 3 mths at the most. I was born and raised in Germany (have been here for 11 years now), and a German friend of mine, who had her son a months before I had my daughter, is just now, after two years, returning to work. German parents are give two years of "parenting time" - either mom or dad can take it, or they can divide it - during which time their employer has to hold their job for them, and they are being paid a certain percentage of their regular salary (I am not sure how much, but I seem to remember that it is more than 60%). While I am sure that the reasons for this are more practical than humanitarian (Germany has a rapidly aging population), I would like to believe that at least part of it is motivated by the believe that parents are the best caretakers of their own children. I am sorry if I went off on a tangent, but I just felt that it needed to be said that many parents would probably love to be more attached to their children but simply can't afford to.

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  6. In reply to schnecke...
    Yes, of course that's the case, some parents truly can't afford to have one parent stay home. Actually - we can't either, if you saw our finances you would understand. I really SHOULD be working according to American standards. But it is a choice. I just believe many parents don't want to give up dinners out, iPods, latest electronic gadgets, clothes shopping, having two cars, cable TV, buying prepared meals instead of making everything from scratch, their coffee and Dunkin or Starbucks. Do you see what I'm getting at? We've learned to live without ALL those things I mentioned, thus I can stay home. We decided what is more important. It is possible to live on a very small single income and have one parent stay home. I agree they have it easier in Europe!

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