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…
As a general rule, I think that labels can be a bad thing in and of themselves because of the differing interperetations of what those labels mean. There have been wars over peoples definition of Christian, for example. And there have been flame wars (as you are well aware) over the definition of such things as AP or Unschooling. As a rule, I tend not to describe myself as either of those things though by your definition above I would be an attachment parent. Instead I discuss the actual things I do (as you’ve done above). Then there’s no argument.
That said, I do find a use for the labels online – finding sites like this is a lot easier if you search on “Attachment Parenting” for example than searching in google for “+nursing +cosleeping +”dr. sears” -“cry it out” +sling -stroller” and so forth.
Of course IRL I don’t go around saying that I am an Attachment Parent… I will talk about the individual subjects as they come up…
However, online, I think it is very important to be able to find likeminded people to get advice from (knowing that their responses will be in ine with the philosophy) which is where the label makes it almost necessary.
The board that I Co-Host is no longer a place that I can go for such advice because the label is just thrown around in a way that I just can’t agree with…. and the posters that have been there for years have been pushed out because there are aspects (such as CIO and Spanking) that they just can’t deal with and when they speak up they are jumped on….
I am just in the process of waiting from a reply from the community at the moment and then I will resigning…. I guess this post here is a bit of what I will be writing to explain my resignation..
Hey paxye! I’m not a parent but am considering all these issues for the future and so I’m trying to read your blog but I don’t know what CIO means! Please help! There are sooo many acronyms!!! thanks
CIO means (Cry-it-Out) It is a form of sleep training that means leaving your child in their crib Cry themself to sleep… It’s goal is to make them be able to self-soothe and sleep through the night before they are ready to do so… They don’t really learn to “self-soothe” with CIO… they really learn that even if they cry no one cares enough to come and eventually just give up trying to communicate what they need….
There are various forms of CIO (extinction, Ferber, attended etc)… all are Harmful…
Here is a list for Future reference… 😉
I hope I’m not one to say I’m AP but not qualify 😉
Before my son was born I was fascinated w/AP. Everything just sounded so right and natural. But I was very clear to not label myself as “AP.” I prefer to stay away from labels b/c it could turn into a set of rules which can contradict some of the aspects of AP. I didn’t want to run to my list and say “OK if I am going to be AP what should I do here?” I definitely used it as guidlines and found I tended to naturally parent that way anyway. With that said I’ve either since been labeled AP or have had to label myself as AP in certain situations as you have mentioned above (Ie on my blog). It’s does make communicating and finding similar mom’s much easier! Generally I try to stick w/the specific pieces IRL (co-sleeping, baby wearing, etc).
But sometimes I can’t help but wonder if something I’m doing would get me banned from the AP community. Generally I prefer to wear my baby but there are times when my back/body is hurting and I prefer to take the stroller. I also know that Julian doesn’t want to be worn for extended periods these days like if I went to a mall. He seems to feel restricted. Plus I’ve been having a hard time getting him positioned properly. Or maybe my body is just tired. I also have been a pretty big mental reck from sleep deprivation so I was trying the “no-cry sleep solution” but wouldn’t that be concidered sleep training since I’m encouraging him do sleep longer and better on his own? I do co-sleep (and nurse him to sleep) but still, it’s unhealthy for ME to not be getting enough sleep even though I know he will sleep longer when he’s developmentally ready to do so.
Of course any of the “non-ap” things I do I would never do if J seemed to be bothered by them. No matter how sleep deprived I am I would never let his cries go unattended to. I hated driving in a car w/him when he would cry the entire time b/c I felt like it was a form of CIO. It made me sick even though stopping the car and comforting him wouldn’t help once we started driving again.
I’ve been struggling w/a few friendships lately b/c we all are fairly new moms. I didn’t realize how different I am than some of my friends. One thinks it’s perfectly fine to supplement w/formula b/c she’s “tired” and getting ready to wean her daughter at 4 months! The same one thinks co-sleeping is wrong, sleep training is OK, etc. It infuriates me but she’s my friend so I just keep my mouth shut and worry about ourselves. But what am I supposed to do, end a friendship just b/c we parent completely different although it has eliminated any disire I have to hang out w/her. Which leaves me a little isolated. I had no idea she would parent the way she is. Sorry not asking for advice just something I’m having a hard time dealing w/when others think AP = codependent children.
Just want to respond to a few things in your post….
Babywearing… Even though I believe that kids are born to be worn, there are times that strollers are very handy and are completely OK to use as long as the child is happy using it also…. The problem that I have is this trend of using these “travel systems” ALL of the time with the goal of never “disturbing” (therefore never handling) the child…
It pains me to hear a child crying in a stroller and the parent simply ignores those cries and doesn’t even pick the child up..
There is a study that I saw a few months ago that appawled me… (I really need to find it again) that shows that in the US babies are held on average about 2-3 hours a day (including feeding)… the rest of the time the are in baby seats, strollers, pack-plays, cribs, bouncy chair. excercausers, swings etc… This is what is unacceptable… babies need touch….
It is not the occasional use of these contraptions that is not AP, it is the reliance on them to replace the parent and the comfort that a parent brings….
Sleep… this is a sore issue for me…. What I can say about Sleep-training is that personally I don’t agree with it… However, I know that there are some sleep training methods out there that are considered AP (such as NCSS)…. I found out recently that I have been doing the “Pantly Pull Off Method” since ds#1 was born… it is something that came naturally because my ds would always start pulling off when he was falling asleep and it was painful… If he cried I gave him back the breast right away however…
That being said… honestly, I have never read the book…
Do I agree with Sleep-training…. no not really but even then it can depend…
I think it depends on the reaction of the child…
If a child is crying because they want to be nursed, and they would stop crying if you nurse them, and you are denying that request in order to teach them to fall asleep by themselves, then it would not be AP in my mind…
However, if a child wakes up at night (who usually nurses) and can be soothed back to sleep by just patting their back and shushing, and the child accepts this… then it is a form of sleep training that fits into AP very well…. KWIM…
Parenting can be very hard at times and there are times that we really do need a bit more sleep… Maybe your DH can give you the “day off” to get some sleep and just bring Julian in to nurse etc…. sometimes even sleeping in once in a while can do wonders…. Also… just keep in miond that it ill end one day and you will eventually get more sleep… and I bet in a few years, you will be complaining that he won’t wake up in the morning 😉
As for Friends.. well that was a hard one for me… I did grow apart from many of my friends that have become parents… there are just some things that seperate us too much… it was hard and sad but there are just somethings that I can’t deal with anymore and it just was bringing more stressthen I wanted in a friendship…. It also made it a bit easier that we moved… and with the move I have become a lot more selective… I rathr have fewer friends and have great conversations then more friends and feeling like I can’t speak my mind….
The problem I’ve had with using the AP label is that my parenting practices encompass AP, but go beyond the basic 7 practices. I worry about using the label, because I know that many people, online at least, find my style extreme, and I don’t want to give AP a bad representation for those who might apply it in a milder way. The balance thing, I’ve always kind of shrugged off, because like you said, babies are dependent for the first several years. I don’t think it’s fair to expect them to meet our need for balance. I give myself fully to my babies knowing that in future years, their dependency will lesson so that I might meet more of my own needs. Meeting their needs to the true best of my ability is one of my needs right now.