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Journey into Attachment Parenting

  • Those of you who know me may already be a bit familiar with my unique parenting style.  Some of you applaud it while others are convinced my offspring are sure to become tyrants. In truth, nobody knows if they are parenting properly until the work is done.  Tonight, as I slipped away from my sleeping little ones, I thought THIS is what I should blog about.  The peacefulness, the calm, the bond, and what brought me to a style of parenting that is known in the US as “attachment parenting.”

     

    I have always followed my heart where my kids are concerned, though my process and thoughts have become refined more over the years.  My oldest child had the benefit of a young and energetic mother, but I was also uneducated.  As such, I read a lot when he came along- everything from “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” through the Ferber books.  I would try the traditional American methods of baby care- routine, trying to make sure he fell asleep in his crib and not in my arms and all the other things “good parents” do, but they didn’t feel right and so, I would hold him until he fell asleep, bring him to bed with me when he was afraid of monsters and basically, just be there for him.  I would take him room to room with me, let him explore as he saw fit and let him be close when he needed it.  He was always content and never fussed as long as I didn’t practice what I had read in the books.

     

    Mostly, I parented my way in silence.  I didn’t tell others how I was parenting because, by American standards, it was wrong.  In the US, this is considered “spoiling” your children and it makes them grow up to be selfish and dependent on the parent. 

     

    When my oldest child was ten, we welcomed his baby sister into the world.  She did not have his peaceful ways about her… no, though I love my daughter dearly, she has always been a whirlwind of activity and emotion.  From the moment he was born, she demanded to be held at all hours.  The nurses in the hospital would take her out of my arms, swaddle her and put her in her basinet, watch as she squirmed and cried and tell me that I needed rest and I should let her be.  Naturally, I’d wait for the nurse to leave and snuggle my little one back in my arms and we’d drift peacefully to sleep together.  She did have some minor medical issues- torticollis (neck muscle and mobility issues due to her position in the womb), slight jaundice and a heart murmur, all which were expected to not cause her any issue and would fade over time.

     

    When I took her home, our around the clock snuggling continued, not so much because I enjoyed it at that point, but because she would scream and wail the most pitiful sobs anyone has ever heard if I put her down.  So, I held her.  I held her while I cooked, cleaned, did laundry and slept.  And I listened to her pitiful wails every time I had to shower or use the bathroom or complete a task that required both arms, but mostly, I just held her and I wondered what on earth could be causing her to be this way.  What was wrong with my baby?  Of course, the doctors would say it was my parenting style.  Friends and family would agree that I had brought this upon myself.  After a couple of sleepless, relentless months, I happened upon Dr. Sears’ website.  What I read changed my whole outlook.  My daughter wasn’t broken!  She wasn’t abnormal!  I was doing the right thing!  He referred to babies like her as “high needs babies.”  Where American society sees the desire to be held as a want, attachment parenting sees it as a need.  It is not only emotionally healthy, but is also physically healthy, to tend to a child’s need to be close.  The more I read, I was astounded… study after study was showing the benefits of peaceful parenting and attachment parenting, what I believed in my heart to be right the whole time, was now verified by scientists and doctors.  Not only that, but “attachment parenting” is practiced throughout the world.  In many places, the idea of putting a baby to sleep alone in a room and left to cry is unfathomable.  And, who hasn’t seen a picture of a woman in Africa or Asia with her baby wrapped to her as she worked?  Somehow, though, it took Dr. Sears’ website to show me that I didn’t need to hide my parenting views.

     

    Once I ditched the notion that all children should have the same temperament and needs, our lives got a whole lot easier.  I bought a baby wrap and kept my daughter with me everywhere and still had my hands free.  I set up my bed so it was safe to have her there and made some other minor changes so that having her with me all the time was no longer difficult- it was easy and second nature.

     

    What I didn’t know during all the madness was that the continual holding I was doing is referred to as “kangaroo care.”  Some of the benefits are: it helps regulate baby’s heartbeat and temperature, it reduces fussiness, it regulates breathing and it improves oxygen saturation.  What I learned later still, after changing cardiologists a year after my daughter was born, was that my daughter didn’t just have a murmur.  Her heart was actually malformed and, during that entire time, I was supposed to be monitoring her for signs of heart failure. 

    I’ve spent considerable time letting go of my anger at the first doctor who never felt it was important to tell me that my daughter’s heart might stop one day… that one day, I might find her blue and lifeless in her bed.  I spoke with the office later and it seems, the first doctor never caught what the second one did.  I do, however find amazement in the fact that my daughter KNEW what she needed.   All those times she cried, all those times she demanded to be held, she needed the closeness of my body to help her regulate her own.  It may not have been a conscious awareness, but if I had denied those cries, if I had practiced “good” traditional American parenting, I do not believe my daughter would be here today.

     

    And so, this is why I am firmly grounded in my parenting beliefs.  I whole-heartedly believe that attachment parenting is responsible for the behaviors of my children, the unique bond we share, and for sparing not only my sanity, but also, my daughter’s life.  Tonight, as I watched my two youngest ones sleep, it brought tears to my eyes.   Attachment parenting is right and very, very beautiful.

     

     

     

    (For the record, none of these images depict either myself or my children, they just seemd to fit the blog.)

     

Comments

9 comments

  • Just Asking
    Just Asking
    Thank you for reading my novel.  :) You make a good point, Wey.  I would love to see a blog on how other countries successfully handle medicine.  *hint, hint*  ;)
    January 20, 2014

  • Just Asking
    Just Asking
    Thank you Karen.  Right back at ya! I actually re-read "What to Expect..." when I was pregnant with my second and it wasn't until then that I realized how biased and full of misinformation it is.  :/  I wish it wasn't so popular.
    January 20, 2014

  • soossie
    soossie
    JA, I really did enjoy reading your. Rey interesting blog. It is strange how we should trust other peoples opinion, when we know in our heart what we should do. In my country, mothers used to (in most parts still do) have their babies wrapped around them while doing the house job. Babies grow well with love and self confidence at the same time. We feed our kids to take care of the physically, and make them see our love by having them close to us, to feed their spirits by it. Well done for a good job in being a mother. God bless you for your kids sake and bless your kids for your sake.
    January 20, 2014

  • Just Asking
    Just Asking
    Thank you. :)   Perhaps I will ask a q about parenting traditions around the world.  I'd love to hear more on how other cultures view it and what behaviors they have.
    January 20, 2014

  • Marguerite, the Beloved
    Marguerite, the Beloved
    Hi, Just Asking! I just stopped by to read your blog. It is very informative! One of my friends really loves this method of parenting. She firmly believes in it. It works great as she lives in the city and never loses her kids. She has two. Thanks! Good job!
    January 21, 2014

  • Just Asking
    Just Asking
    Thank you Marguerite.  :)
    January 21, 2014

  • BlueNinja321
    BlueNinja321
    Wonderful blog JA! Very informative. :-)
    January 21, 2014

  • Just Asking
    Just Asking
    Thank you BN. :)
    January 21, 2014

  • Just Asking
    Just Asking
    Haha.  Thanks for your honesty as well, Now.  Anybody who says they breezed through parenting is probably fibbing or didn't parent.  ;)
    February 2, 2014