Thursday, May 17, 2012

Attachment Parenting. Or as the rest of us refer to it... parenting.

Really, how could I avoid writing a blog about Attachment Parenting?  It's all the rage.  It's everywhere.  Mayim Bialik is breastfeeding her 3 year old on the subway, and telling the rest of us not to teach our kids to say please and thank you.  And of course, there is the now infamous Time magazine cover, with what appears to be some supermodel supermom breastfeeding her grade-schooler.

Mom enough?  Not really sure what that means.


A conversation with my sister made me realize it was time to look into it a little.  Our conversation went something like this:

Me:  This Time magazine thing is pretty stupid.  I mean, we only think it's weird because we have a cultural aversion to seeing a toddler breastfeed.  The  global, average age to wean a child, is like, 3 years old.
Sister:  What they do in sub-Saharan Africa can't really be our litmus, can it?
Me:  Who said anything about sub-Saharan Africa?  That's a global average.
Sister:  What do they do in Sweden?  I'll get behind whatever they do in Sweden.
Me:   What?

This lead to a search of what the average weaning age is in Sweden, which we still don't have the answer to.  Not even sure what that whole Sweden thing is about- but that's neither here nor there.  The search somehow brought us to attachmentparenting.org, where they list the eight principles of Attachment Parenting.  Right on!  I love quizzes.  It's the best part of Cosmo.  I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper, and got ready to score myself.

Attachment Parenting International's Eight Steps of Attachment Parenting

1.  Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
Become emotionally and physically prepared for pregnancy and birth. Research available options for healthcare providers and birthing environments, and become informed about routine newborn care. 
Note to self;  all of the women on I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, are not Attachment Parenting.  I took prenatal vitamins and had a baby shower.  Woot!  Woot!  One point for me!

2.  Feed with love and respect.
Breastfeeding is the optimal way to satisfy an infant's nutritional and emotional needs. "Bottle Nursing" adapts breastfeeding behaviors to bottle-feeding to help initiate a secure attachment. Follow the feeding cues for both infants and children, encouraging them to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. 
Shoot.  I generally like to feed my child while chanting, Eat it, Asshole!  Minus one point.  Plus a half a point for breastfeeding for eight months.

3.  Respond with sensitivity. 
Build the foundation of trust and empathy beginning in infancy.  Babies cannot be expected to self-soothe, they need calm, loving, empathetic parents to help them learn to regulate their emotions. Respond sensitively to a child who is hurting or expressing strong emotion, and share in their joy. 
So when another toddler in the park hits him with a ball, I shouldn't shout, take one for the team, Sissy!  Minus one point.

4.  Use nurturing touch.
Touch meets a baby's needs for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation, and movement. Skin-to-skin contact is especially effective, such as during breastfeeding, bathing, or massage.  Hugs, snuggling, back rubs, massage, and physical play help meet this need in older children.
I'm supposed to be giving my child massages?  No one told me that.  Why does he get a massage?  He doesn't carry me around all day, and do all the housework one-handed.  Not fair.  Minus one point.


5.  Ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally.
Babies and children have needs at night just as they do during the day; from hunger, loneliness, and fear, to feeling too hot or too cold. They rely on parents to soothe them and help them regulate their intense emotions. Sleep training techniques can have detrimental physiological and psychological effects. Safe co-sleeping has benefits to both babies and parents.
I put him in long sleeve pajamas, set him in his crib with his co-sleeping partner (a.k.a. teddy bear), and dance around the apartment yelling, Freedom!  And then I have sex with my husband in our baby-free bed.  Minus one point.


6.  Provide consistent and loving care.
Babies and young children have an intense need for the physical presence of a consistent, loving, responsive caregiver: ideally a parent. If it becomes necessary, choose an alternate caregiver who has formed a bond with the child and who cares for him in a way that strengthens the attachment relationship. 
Hahahahaha!  We're broke, and can't afford outside caregivers!  Massive pointage here!  In yo face!

7.   Practice positive discipline.
Positive discipline helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others. Discipline that is empathetic, loving, and respectful strengthens the connection between parent and child. Rather than reacting to behavior, discover the needs leading to the behavior. Communicate and craft solutions together while keeping everyone's dignity intact.
 Ahh.  Finally I understand where the no please and thank you thing comes from.  Rather than reacting to behavior, discover the needs leading to the behavior.  OK,  so when Lucien wants to play with a power cord,  and I tell him no, and then he hits me in the head with a truck out of frustration- I should just realize that he has some innate need to play with electricity?  Maybe he's the real-live version of Powder.  Then we can craft a solution together to deal with his behavior.  I'm pretty sure his solution will be pulling on the power cord repeatedly, and hitting me in the head with a truck if I get in the way.  I'm going to craft some solution that will keep us both happy here, because obviously keeping his dignity in tact is more important than keeping him alive.   Except, I usually opt for keeping him alive- so minus one point.

8.  Strive for balance in personal and family life.
It is easier to be emotionally responsive when you feel in balance. Create a support network, set realistic goals, put people before things, and don't be afraid to say "no". Recognize individual needs within the family and meet them to the greatest extent possible without compromising your physical and emotional health. Be creative, have fun with parenting, and take time to care for yourself.
Plus one point for knowing how to say No.  Plus one point for support network (coffee maker and bottle of wine).   Minus six points for all the rest of that shit.

Oooh.  Epic fail.  Only, not really- because for the love of God, all parents do this stuff.  Or we all try to do this stuff anyway.  It seems to me, that Attachment Parenting is the new Gluten-free.  Lots of people practice it, but only a few feel the need to preach about it at every possible opportunity.

In conclusion, we're all doing our best.  And the global average for breastfeeding is three, so can everyone get over that stupid  Time cover, already?  Oh, also- if anyone thinks of some gimmick that I could execute, that would drive hundreds of thousands of hits to my little blog- will you let me know?  I'm so down for that.

20 comments:

  1. Oh god, the whole thing is so exhausting. We're on a day-by-day basis, in that if he makes it through the day, we're feeling pretty good about ourselves. He still has all his extremities and we do feed him every day, so bonus points for us. I am glad you wrote this - normal people need to speak up. We're not all a bunch of yappy fundamentalist parenting-book weirdos, but the loud ones make it seem like we might be.

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  2. This is a most excellent blog post.

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  3. So true! Those are just the basics of all parenting, why do they feel the need to give it special name?

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  4. This whole thing was awesome. I have read and heard a lot about Attachment Parenting (just yesterday alone I was with a mom's group and this preachy woman went on and on...) and I have come to the same conclusion; a parent does what he/she can out of love for his/her children. Shouldn't that be the only thing that matters?

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  5. A doctor once told me that less then 1% of the population is truly Gluten Free , I found that amusing as it seems every other freaking person I come across seems t claim to be .. as they refer to it "GF" I realize that has little to do with this article , but the last hilarious comment about "AP"(that is what all the cool kids are going to start referring to it as now) Being the new Gluten Free made me remember what that Doctor told me and of course the whole article made me belly laugh !

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  6. Love this! Hilarious- best thing I've read about the whole AP ridiculous debate. As a child psychologist and a mom, one of the things that is so misleading about attachment parenting is the name. It is only called attachment parenting because of the theory it was based upon. It is not called this because it is the only form of parenting which allows parents to develop a secure attachment relationship with their children. There are numerous ways to develop a secure attachment relationship with our kids. I explore more of this myth here for anyone who is interested:
    http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/04/15/what-does-the-mommy-psychologist-have-to-say-about-attachment-parenting/

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  7. I feel sorry for your children to have a mother like you.

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    1. Ever heard of a sense of humor? You should get one. They're nice.

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    2. I feel sorry for anyone who is so massively insecure they have to post nasty things anonymously on a blog post that could just as easily have been ignored.

      Me, I'm thrilled for you, Maria, that you made the brave choice to put your kiddo to bed in his own bed instead of yours. My 14-month-old would snuggle all night every night if I let him but my ability to have a sex life and nearly-normal sleep habits make me a much better mommy - and it makes my hubby a better partner and a more fun daddy. If that makes us selfish, well, that's just tough luck for the kiddo. I'll save up for his therapy if I ever I trip over a big bag of money.

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    3. Emily- LOVE you. I was kinda kidding about most of that stuff in the blog ( I thought that was obvious- but apparently not considering the hate mail) but not the sleep situation. Lucien has his own bed, for sure! We would never sleep through the night if he didn't!

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  8. I think you can subscribe to any kind of parenting fad- as long as you don't judge the mothers that aren't!

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  9. I'm not convinced all parenting fads are created equal. Mind you, parents used to be taught that they should not pick up their crying children or soothe them because that would reinforce their whining behavior (this was changed by pediatrician Benjamin Spock, if I understand correctly).

    Of course, in the digital age, such a photo will never disappear from the Interwebs, and I guess that's why so many people view this woman's decision -- which will follow that cover-page child forever -- as so profoundly selfish, so disturbingly self-aggrandizing in the name and facade of liberation.

    I'm a dad. As such, I wouldn't make some circus show out of my kid just to push a cause and stroke my own humongous ego.

    Whether you think it's OK to breastfeed school-age children or not, I don't understand why some parents really are not mad about this.

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    1. Yeah. She should start a flex account for that kid's therapy.

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  10. I like to go with, "Suck it up, Buttercup!" when someone gets hit with a ball. But that's just my personal preference ;)

    Also, I'm glad your boy has a mother like you-- a mother who isn't going to go absolutely batshit crazy because she's spent her whole life focused on her child. A mother who will let her child learn how to be independent so that he's not embarrassed when he gets to college and has to pay someone to do his laundry...

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  11. I love your answer to #7! Haha! Yeah, because you can "communicate and craft solutions together" with an 18 month old. And I'm just totally confused and dumbfounded that AP doesn't believe in teaching 'please' and 'thank you'... is that for real? So I'm a bad parent for teaching my child manners? What a joke...

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    1. He is so cute! Are you guys trying for number 2 yet?

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    2. Not yet... maybe in another month or 2. You?

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  12. Maria,

    I LOVE your take on this. I'd tweet it out, but everyone's so sick of hearing about it...lol. And you already have that nasty anonymous troll up there. Sheesh.

    I am all about the wine, non co-sleeping, feeding my baby formula, and cry it out. so sue me. Maybe I should be in jail?

    So glad I found you through Fadra!
    ;-)
    p.s. following you on Twitter now too. I am @ErinMargolin. I might also like to stalk , i mean, er, follow you on Facebook?

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    1. Ha! The Facebook link is at the top of the blog!

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  13. Hilarious!!

    Can't see why people didn't realize you said all of this tongue in cheek!

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