I have been getting the impression more and more lately that people have been adopting the AP label because they believe that to do so they
1) have to be simply be “attached” to their child;
2) attend to their child’s “needs”¦
The problem is that the words “attachment parenting” automatically makes us assume that the opposite of AP is being “detached”which is simply not the case…
All children are attached to their parents and most parents do what they think is best for their children (I can’t say “all” because I watch the news and it is simply not true)…
Most parents, AP or NOT believe that they are responding to what they think are their baby’s needs… What it comes down to is what they think their child needs, if they are really listening to their child (or hearing what they want to hear) and also what they expect from their child….
What has been bothering me is that more and more people call themselves AP and don’t even agree that the Sears’s 7 B’s are Ideals and seem to only believe that there is only one important one which is “Balance” (therefore giving them the permission to forgo all of the rest in order to maintain balance even if it means CIO, sleeping in a different room, formula feeding, never wearing baby etc)
It is true that you do not have to do all of the 7 b’s to be a Attached Parent but they do remain the ideals and they should be considered and tried as much (and even more) then anything else, they should be the first step and be the natural stepâ€¦. (The 7 B’s for those who don’t know are these)
- Birth Bonding
- Bedding Close to Baby (family bed or different beds in the same room)
- Belief in the language of your baby’s cries
- Beware of Baby-Trainers
However, though the term “Attachment Parenting” started with Dr Sears, it has grown beyond that and has become a philosophy of its own.
This philosophy is to do what comes naturally and instinctively, and the 7 B’s (among others) are part of this instictive reaction, but to do so you must get rid of the expectations that society has put on our children.
We all know why and how these actions work and how they are important in building a relationship of trust and attachment…and there are people that struggle in trying to be AP and fail, and some that just can’t understand AP at all, so what is the difference… we does it work and make sense for some but not for others…?
By design children are Dependant for the first few years of their lives. There is no way around this, there is no denying it…
By Design, 99% of women CAN breastfeed, however, we have not had the experience of learning about breastfeeding from our surroundings because our culture has sexualized the breast and believe that nursing a child shouldn’ be seen. The natural age of a child weaning is between 2.5 and 7 years of age…. weaning a child is most often a result of what we believe is culturally acceptable (for the mom or the child) Sure, “extended” breastfeeding is’t for everyone but why it isn’t for everyone mostly comes from what we believe is culturally acceptable, what we have grown up knowing and is not what we have come to expect from a child after a certain age (3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years etc)…
By design, children most often rather be parented to sleep and sleep through the night when they are ready to do so and some may not be ready to be independent in sleep until much later then we would expect. Our culture however, seems to put the emphasis on teaching babies to self-soothe and see sleeping through the night at a young age as a goal. And even go so far as making it not only the goal but saying that the opposite is unhealthy for the child. If children were really designed to sleep through the night at such a young age then there wouldn’t be so much effort to train them to do so… or so much money made with books and baby-training techniques… When brought into bed with the parents, like we as a species have always done, both parent and child get more sleep, and the child learns by example how to fall asleep when waking at night… For some this happens earlier on… but for most it is much later and it is normal.
By design babies want to be held and want to be in our arms… Strollers have only been around since 1733 and even then they were only accessible to the richest of the population until the 1930’s and then only became popular to the general public in the 50’s… with another boom in the 70’s with the umbrella stroller… Before strollers, we held our babies, we did so with our arms or we used pieces of cloth to do so. In holding a baby and wearing them they learn to regulate their temperature, learn balance, cry less (proven to cry 50% less), have less or no Colic, are close enough that we can recognize and respond to their cues quickly, etc… in societies that never use strollers women learn how to wear babies when they themselves are children, they learn by example (like they learn breastfeeding, sewing, cooking etc). Most of the time when people say their children don’t like to be worn it is because they don’t know how to use the carrier and become stressed when trying which the child in turn reflects…. they often also try at bad times (when baby is already upset, tired or hungry) and often don’t start at birth…
All of this goes for saying… AP is a return to the roots of what parenting has always been… and a return to what comes naturally instead of what is culturally sanctioned… and there are many cultures that still have AP as the normal way of parenting…
If you really believe that a child should be sleeping through the night at a certain age, should not be held too much or should no longer be held much after a certain age, if you believe that breastfeeding shouldn’t be continued after a certain age, or that formula is just as good as breastfeeding, if you believe that some children just need to be trained to sleep, if you believe that their cries mean nothing at certain times of the day, if you don’t think that the simple need for comfort in the middle of the night is as important as a physical need after a certain month of age, if you believe that there are just some times that a baby really cries for no reason and that there are times that it is best to leave them alone when they do, If you don’t think you have the time to listen and to respond to your child’s every cue… then the parenting path named Attachment Parenting may simply not be for you, and will probably be more of a struggle then anything else. As much as you may want to work, and believe in the ideas and philosophy, it will not work for you easily if you don’t put aside these cultural expectations…
That doesn’t mean that you can’t use the tools that are often associated with Attachment Parenting (such as wearing, co-sleeping etc) and that they won’t work for you throughout stages of your parental life, but they won’t give you the results that you may expect…(and note I didn’t put breastfeeding in that because breastfeeding should always be done no matter what Parenting path you take)
However, If you are not only willing, but able, to let go of what society tells us is the “normal” and “healthy” way to parent, and truly listen to your child and give your child all of the benefits of the doubt, then not only will Attachment Parenting work but it will be far from the struggle and will become as easy and natural as breathing.
Of course, there are times that we are bombarded with messages or advice from others that are not AP, or we can’t help but fall back on the ideas that we have been fed all of our lives, and it is in these times that we need the support of other Attachment Parents and it is why it is important to be able to use the label of Attachment Parenting…