So I’ve been rambling on in a few posts about parenting, what parenting means to me and the term ‘attachment parenting’ keeps popping up.
What exactly is attachment parenting?
Well here’s what it means to me.
Before I had my daughter I didn’t really give much thought on parenting styles, I just figured you parented. You know, make sure baby is fed, safe, don’t drop it on it’s head, the obvious stuff. I have since learnt however that there is a whole wealth of ‘parenting styles’. Are you a Authoritarian Parent, or do you like schedules like Eat, Activity, Sleep, You (EASY) or Gina Ford (do I mean her?) and of course the famous Dr Spock (alas not the Vulcan, that’d be cool though).
I was signing up to a mummy website and it asked me what parenting style I did and I had to look up half of them!
So I learnt that there was a whole industry based on parenting styles and I began to wonder if I was doing something wrong because I wasn’t, as far as I was aware, doing a certain style, I was just making sure I didn’t drop the baby.
Then because I was a new mum and having a Unicorn Firecraker baby who just didn’t do anything like the parenting books said she would I began to panic. Maybe the reason why my little one fed so much, had trouble relaxing into sleep and only would sleep on me or her dad was because I wasn’t doing any of these parenting styles. Cue crazy mama music!
The thing was though I read about these styles and whilst I don’t think there is anything wrong with them (for the most part), I’m sure they suit lots of people, for me and the very rough idea of how I wanted to parent, they didn’t fit.
Slowly though I came across attachment parenting and it felt right, it made me relax, I felt for the first time in months that I wasn’t a complete screw up.
So what is AP?
Well Attachment Parenting International lists eight principles for AP, they are:
- Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
- Feed with Love and Respect
- Respond with Sensitivity
- Use Nurturing Touch
- Ensure Safe Sleep Physically and Emotionally
- Provide Consistent and Loving Care
- Practice Positive Discipline
- Strive for Balance in your Personal and Family Life
All sounds lovely doesn’t it? I think on just looking at this list you’d say that most parenting styles are aiming for this but look into it a bit deeper and you will see that there are subtle differences.
For example, number 4, many AP parents swear by baby wearing. I always aimed to do it, we had a rocky start and my baby wearing became me constantly holding my daughter. She didn’t like a sling, so wearing became more carrying, but she had constant contact via me, dad or her Grammy. I swear for the first month she was only on the floor when she was having her nappy changed. Some parenting styles focus much more on independence, the child not been handled too much etc.
For me number 5 is the one that is the most different in parenting styles. Ensure Safe Sleep Physically and Emotionally. It’s that last word which is the thing that makes this different.
Every parent and I assume parenting style focuses on providing a safe physical sleep environment but emotionally that’s where they all begin to differ.
If you’ve read any of my other posts I do not support Cry It Out. I’m going to go ahead and say it, I believe it is wrong. I do not think it is respectful to the child.
Let the fire storm begin…..
Does this mean that you can only do AP if you co-sleep, hell no! I am a reluctant co-sleeper (I think for another post). But what it does mean is that you do what needs to be done to get your child to relax into sleep in a calm way that does not involve leaving them to cry and making them feel abandoned. Yes this can and will be exhausting (trust me living it) but it will pass (that’s what I’m told) and for me personally I cannot stand the thought of letting my sweet little girl cry simply because she wants to be held, needs to be rocked or bounced to sleep.
I do not believe that I am setting her up for bad habits, I believe I’m actually setting her up for good ones. I believe that she will eventually learn to self settle when her brain is mature enough to do so and she will be calm enough to do it and not feel scared.
For me AP is about responding to my little ones needs. She feeds when she wants, I do whatever it takes to help her relax into sleep, I wear her (I can now!) and most of all I do not believe that I am spoiling her by responding positively to her needs. Equally I do not believe she has me ‘wrapped around her finger’ because she sleeps in our bed and we don’t let her cry when she wakes at night. Actually her brain isn’t even mature enough to have the ability to manipulate, but this is what people think, this is what people have said to me, my husband.
If I was to try and summarise AP in one sentence it would be:
Parenting that is respectful and unique to your child.
Every child is different and therefore how you parent will be different. I guess that’s the beauty with AP.
I wonder what other people think? Perhaps I’m just loopy?