*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv…so there’s that. And again, the whole deleting comments like the Chinese government is still happening people*
Thanks everyone for stopping by for another week of Preparing for a Little One. I think the whole idea behind this series and link up is pretty fun. I would have thought it was so fun to have been able to read something like this when I was pregnant. Now that I’m a mom of three, with three very different experiences I’m so excited to be able to share what I’ve experienced and learned.
This weeks topic is Baby Wise vs. Attachment Parenting. Before i even start I must tell you that I don’t practice either one fully and the thoughts and ideas that go along with each of these can vary so much. If you don’t know much about either one the internet is full of helpful information. The gist of it basically is the Baby Wise philosophy, and other similiar ones like Tracy Hogg’s E.A.S.Y. book, build off a more structured idea. Schedules and things like that. Attachment parenting is a bit more baby and child led, positive and peaceful environments, and things like baby wearing, co-sleeping and baby led feeding are concepts you will hear a lot when discussing attachment parenting. We do a very mixed bag and its sort of our own style of parenting. We base our parenting on a general philosophy and I think with each kid you have to find what works for them. What works for one might not work for another. I firmly believe that if you go into something with too rigid of an idea it doesn’t work out well. Parenting books aren’t something that I usually advocate for, especially ones that highlight one specific style of doing something. The reason being is that I have found that those are the exception and not the rule. When parents read books like that and find that its not working for them they think they’re the one with the problem. They believe that they are supposed to fit into some mold and that’s just not how it works. Now that I have three kids I can tell you that each one has been very different. Operating off a specific set of values that we want to instill in our children, we tailor that to each of our children’s specific needs.
I did a lot of baby-wearing when they are little, we do not co-sleep and I breastfed to varying degrees, the most with my youngest. I struggled with breastfeeding, especially with my first baby, so Brian was almost exclusively formula fed. Phillip is almost 100% a breastfed baby, having self-weaned himself (much to my great and utter sadness) before he was one. I did Babywear them all, Ami the most and for the longest. My two boys didn’t love it, which was kind of a bummer for me, especially with Phillip because he’s my last baby. We chose not to co-sleep because we don’t see the benefit compared to not co-sleeping. I did bring them to bed with me during the last feeding before getting up during the day. When Phillip was born I believe that I had this subconscious thing take hold of me. I knew in my heart this was it so I adopted a lot of practices that I hadn’t with my other two, co-sleeping being one of them. We had a very difficult time getting him sleep anywhere but with us in bed. I realized how easy this would be if I didn’t have two other kids, but it was very difficult to keep up the feeding on demand, co-sleeping and baby wearing. It is more than just a parenting style, it is a lifestyle and one that takes a lot of commitment, and both parents need to be fully invested in it.
While I appreciate certain aspects, as well as the end goal of attachment parenting, there are some parts that bother me. Mostly what bothers me are the attitudes that I have encountered. And granted, it could be just the people that I have come across. My biggest problem is the idea that putting my child on a schedule, teaching them to self-soothe and not sleeping with them will somehow rob them of an attachment to me and that their bond won’t develop properly, or that letting my child cry at all is killing off brain cells (yes I’ve been told that, and no I’m not even joking a little bit).
This type of experience is outlined perfectly in a statement I read on Dr. Sears’ website when talking about what Attachment Parenting is: Attachment parenting teaches you how to be discerning of advice, especially those rigid and extreme parenting styles that teach you to watch a clock or a schedule instead of your baby; you know, the cry-it-out crowd. This “convenience” parenting is a short-term gain, but a long-term loss, and is not a wise investment. These more restrained styles of parenting create a distance between you and your baby and keep you from becoming an expert in your child.
That type of thinking is frankly very offensive. That the way I parent is for my “convenience.” This whole paragraph bothers me on so many levels I wouldn’t even know where to begin. The very thought that I’m somehow damaging my children and that I couldn’t possibly be attached and bonded with them is ludicrous.
I guess the point I’m trying to say is that balance is key. In our home we strive to achieve balance in all we do, especially with our children. We want to have a home filled with love, honesty and patience. We want our children to be on a schedule, but not live by it. The ability to be flexible and ebb and flow with the needs of each one of our children, and our life in general is just as valuable. We have a very close bond with our children and in my personal opinion taking anything to the extreme can be damaging. Personally for us, this is what has worked and I haven’t seen a negative outcome yet. There are struggles with both types of parenting styles. Finding a schedule, keeping it, getting in a feeding rhythm and helping them discern their night from day. I have several friends that practice aspects of attachment parenting, several of while who have eventually had struggles, like when to stop co-sleeping, how to get a child to sleep in their own room, a spouse who grows weary and wants time with their mate in their bed, breastfeeding on demand multiple children, because a second one has come and the older one still wants to. Each comes with their own difficulties and hurdles to jump. I know the decision that I’ve come to and what I would appreciate the most is some respect for my parenting decisions. Like I said, I find it extremely offensive and troublesome when the bond with my child is called into question. Parenting isn’t for the weak! Find people who are like-minded with you and share in your triumphs and struggles and grow together. Parenting is a journey and develops over time. No is perfect right out of the gate, and I firmly believe you can’t go into it with hard and fast rules for many things you want to do. I think that only leads to frustration.
I know I didn’t get specific about some aspects of my parenting style. But I am always here and willing to talk via email. To offer advice, suggestions, elaborate on my experiences and just be a listening ear for you. This is such a huge topic I feel like I could have go on forever and ever!