Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Attachment Parenting? Just Me Being Mom.

Before I had my baby, I hadn't ever heard about Attachment Parenting. Apparently, calling it this is a "new thing" these days. I prepared very well for the arrival of my little one. I read lots of books and articles but mostly learned about infant care. I chose to leave most of my actual parenting method to instinct. My instinct told me to nurse my baby on demand, pick her up when she cries, and basically love her with every fiber of my being. I've recently discovered that I have been Attachment Parenting all along and hadn't even realized it.

For me, this is the easiest thing you can possibly do. I guess from what I am reading, this style is not for everyone (maybe because our society lacks patience and compassion?), but it works awesome for us. I actually find that following my instinct as a mother, makes parenting pretty simple. Baby cries, you figure out why, and soothe your baby. If all else fails, breastfeeding fixes everything. It is like magic! Nourishment, hydration, comfort, soothing, bonding, cuddling, love, all in one. Personally, I can't fathom the so called "cry it out" method, if you even want to call that a method, it's arguably child abuse. I say that because scientifically when babies cry their blood pressure rises and they get very stressed out. Then a baby will actually lose hope and withdraw if he or she cries for too long and doesn't get help. That is just sad. Do you really want to instill a lack of hope in your child this early? Also, statistically you are not able to spoil a baby until about 1.5 years old. However, what mother doesn't want to spoil their child with love? Babies are only this age for such a short period of time and all they want is you; you are their everything. So go ahead and pick up your baby for crying out loud (no pun intended)! Your instinct is telling you to. Did you know that a baby's cry is designed to make mom and dad feel unsettled and anxious? It is human survival in order for a baby to be cared for. In fact, a human baby's development is the longest of all mammals. Think about it, babies take a long time to build up the strength to do things like hold up their head and neck, crawl, and walk. Scientifically, human babies should be cared for this way since they are built for it. However, on a purely emotional level, I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with my baby. I don't want to see or hear her cry because I want her to be happy and to feel safe and loved. It is my instinct to care for my baby in a way that makes this time about her. Again, such a short time.

Other cultures have been Attachment Parenting since forever. Why is our society so rigid and strict? Why so much hate on AP from all these Joan-Crawford-types?

Maybe it is just the way that I was raised. But if that is the case, it is more of a motivation to be a loving mother because then your child might grow up to be a loving parent. Around the holidays, my father was sitting with us and talking with us about babies. Basically preparing us for our adventure. He told me and my husband, "Babies mostly sleep the first few weeks or so. Then, they have a crying phase. But you discover that, that is the most beautiful sound in the world, because far too soon you are sitting on your child's couch, in their home, and they are having a baby of their own. They are starting their family." This brought tears to all of our eyes. It also put a lot of things in perspective for me. This time is so precious and brief. Cherish the time with your family. Most days I'm exhausted and running on fumes, however I'm always smiling. I am a happy and blessed momma. How can you not smile to see the face of your baby? If your baby is crying, be grateful that your baby needs you and begin to soothe your baby quickly and lovingly. That little sound is your superhero siren calling. You are truly the entire world to your child. You come to the rescue. In your child's eyes, you are the most wonderful and important person ever. I think Attachment Parenting, or parenting by instinct, keeps it that way. I think in your child's eyes you will always be a hero, because you are not perfect but you try to be. And as long as you try your best, that is perfection.

Mayim Bialik - a voice of Attachment Parenting and author of Beyond the Sling, puts it perfectly, AP is an "umbrella term" its not an all or nothing parenting method.

Love Mayim Bialik! What a rock-star. What she says here just sums it up and is short and sweet but super powerful. I myself personally, can totally relate to her method. People do need to understand that parenting methods are flexible and different for everyone. Everyone does what works best for them and for their lifestyle. I just so happen to be a very go-with-the-flow type of person, so an instinctual parenting method works awesome. I have so much love to give and often think I was born a mother. One of my mother-in-law's, Marilyn, said something that really touched my heart and made my day recently. We were sitting there as I was breastfeeding and we were chatting about babies and motherhood and she said, "You were made for this. For breastfeeding, for motherhood. This is what you were built for and it suits you.". It is nice to find a place where I belong and motherhood just feels right. And for now, the Dirty Vegan is signing off. Sending big hugs and peek-a-boos your way!


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  2. My parents were very nurturing with me and my older siblings, however, they also tried teaching us to do things on our own very early in life. My parents are not American, (born and raised in Mexico, they became U.S. citizens in the '70s) but they raised us traditionally, (the Mexican way) including Mexican beliefs. My grandparents would make them work a lot with them when they were kids and they wanted to make sure that we would be able to take care of ourselves as we got older. I believe that my parents were somewhere in between attached parenting and "do-it-yourself" parenting.
    Their attached parenting side always seemed to consume them though, which caused all three of us (big brother, big sister, and I) to have our fare share of sneaking out during our teenage years. It's just that phase in life where you have to start learning about reality on your own rather than being hidden from it by attached parents. I know they never wanted anything bad to happen to us, but even they know that that's just a part of life and finding yourself.

    My boyfriends family on the other hand is very independent. Their mother loves them, but she never did attached parenting (she did breast feed though). She let them leave the bottle whenever they wanted, walk whenever they were ready, she never pressured them to do anything and just let them do their own thing. In a way that helped them explore many things very early in their youth that most children's parents would never allow (walking to school alone, taking the public bus, going out alone, making their own choices, etc.) Now that they're older they don't find the need to be rebellious or confused because their whole life was just about them finding themselves without much help. They all love their mother very much too and appreciate that she let them learn things on their own.

    So in a way I feel like attached parenting or not, the results can end up the same, or even opposite of what parents expect. My mother was extremely loving and nurturing, but I don't seem to have a connection with her where I can say I missed her when I moved out and I must go visit her often, because I don't. But I do love her dearly. My boyfriend is actually more attached to his mother who raised him the "do-it-yourself" way. It's almost as if the resulting relationships with our mothers crossed and ended up the opposite of what society might have thought it'd be like.

    I personally don't have children yet, but I know that I'd want to love and nurture them so much! However, I'll always have to remember that they will one day be on their own and I can't stop them from doing whatever they want. Even if they fail, at least they learn what to do and not do.
    Sorry for the really long comment by the way, I just think this is a good post and had to share a couple of things that I've noticed from totally opposite parenting methods. :)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Adi. That's kind of my theory also, the opposite thing. I have some friends from my old neighborhood who were raised very independent, allowed to do whatever they wanted, and they are now clingy as adults, living with their parent and they are in their 30's. My husband's parents allowed him to walk alone to school at a young age (a HUGE no no in my parent's household and something that will never happen in mine) and was allowed things that I was not at a young age and I see that he appreciates my parents's method and wished he had that concern when he was younger. My parents were a combination also. They had an old-school way about them as well. My parents were mostly attached when I was little, and eased up as I got older, and I always felt I had the confidence to do anything in life and be independent. I didn't really miss my parents when I moved out either. I love them, but I do feel extremely independent and I thank them for that. I'm thinking that being attached but not clingy is the way to go. Loving and being there but not overprotective at a certain age. Its probably not appropriate to be overprotective when my child is in her 20's (lets see how I do lol). I think the protectiveness is great when kids are small because that is when they really need to be protected the most. When they are adults, you are protecting their hearts as a confidant. I'm thinking people really appreciate attachment when they are little and freedom when they are older. This method seems to raise children into free thinkers and confident individuals. But I'm very flexible, I'm basically using my instincts and giving all the love that I have to give. Basically, I'm there completely and fully, as a mother, when she needs me. She cries, I'm there. She needs a cuddle, I'm there. But when she wants to be independent, I respect that too. It is kind of like a momma bear in the wild. Teaching and nurturing but also looking on as your baby learns to see the world for herself. AP is more about being there when your baby need you and not letting them cry-it-out and not forcing them to wean from things when they aren't ready to do so. I think everyone's way varies, but it should. People need to do what is right for them and their family. AP seems to be a good starting out point. My question is, what if someone doesn't have the motherly instinct and tries to AP? I read articles about moms who lost their minds trying to AP. Could it be that they just lack the motherly instinct necessary to parent by instinct? I wonder.

  3. I am a natural attachment parent too. I breastfed for 2+ years, we co-sleep, I wore him in a sling for until he was too heavy. It was all natural - giving my son the care and support he needed. Supporting his emotional needs too.
    Giving oneself a break is important too!! If mama doesn't fulfill her needs, she can't fill anyone else's very well either - and she gets angry.
    I'm expecting my second baby in November and plan to do the same, with small differences. I can't imagine letting my child "cry it out!" That's ridiculous.
    "I'll teach that baby a lesson, I'm going to ignore it until it stops depending on me so much." Really, I wouldn't even do that to someone else's kid.

    I'm so glad you're having a good time with your baby and enjoying all these precious moments. Congrats.

    1. Amen, sister!!! Congrats too on your second baby!