Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Militant Attached Parents

I've ranged from inflexible to passive to militant in my parenting beliefs, just as I've felt in my parenting at times! However, to clarify, there are no "rules" for making oneself an attached parent. You don't "have" to breastfeed. You don't have to co-sleep. You don't have a bunch of "must dos" like in some parenting styles that are from books or lectures (ie, Babywise that forces parents to potentially starve their newborn babies, etc).

How unmilitant is attachment parenting?

1) Prepare for the birth of the child - this doesn't mean you need to have a lotus birth, or even an unmedicated birth. It just means you've prepared yourself through pregnancy. Have had nutritious food and relaxed enough so that you know your options and are comfortable with your decisions. You can head to birth circle meetings to prepare, take classes to learn to trust your body to help you get to the point where you are prepared. Birth is natural and in the west we've been trained to believe that we can't do it! But, guess what... we can. You can. But if you don't get to that point of confidence, it is not the end of the world! Just do what YOU can!

2) Feed with love and respect - there are attached parents who bottlefeed. In fact, the tenets of attacthment parenting are probably MORE important for working moms who may bottle feed. It helps prepare the extra bond that occurs through breastfeeding that maybe parents who are away during the day may need that extra time together. It doesn't mean you must breastfeed, but it does mean knowing what is going into your baby's very delicate digestive tract and holding baby during feedings... do not prop the bottle! It is a choking hazard!

3) Respond with Sensitivity - this doesn't mean you can't feel angry or upset. Your feelings are your own. Detach yourself from the behavior and react with sensitivity to the age and development of your child. Infants are unable to help themselves and toddlers and preschoolers do not have impulse control. Recognizing these facts will put me back into a good frame of mind when I'm a bit scattered or stress.

4) Use Nurturing Touch - This doesn't mean you can never ever put your baby down or that you can't use strollers (my close friends know I was pretty militant about not using strollers for young babies who can't sit up yet... but that's me!), but it does mean recognzing how important touch is and that how you pick up your child matters. grabbing a wrist to move her out of the way, rather than asking permission and moving around. For an infant, holding with love and not using a swing 24x7

5) Ensure Safe Sleep - physically and emotionally - this doesn't mean you have to bedshare. For an infant, they really should be in your room. You can use a bassinet, a side car, a crib even, but they should be near you. They should feel secure and you should respond to them with love. Not ignore their cries - babies get lonely!

6) Provide consistent loving care - This doesn't mean you can't have a date night to reconnect with your significant other. Newborns can come along. They sleep a lot anyway! Toddlers may enjoy play time with a like-minded family so you can go rollerblading or to a movie. This doesn't mean you need to have a defined schedule down to the minute, but if it helps you get through your day, go ahead, but be flexible and feed your baby on demand!

7) Practice Positive Discipline - this doesn't mean we don't have a trick up our sleeves for emergencies. It doesn't mean we don't have times when we're out of energy. But it recognizes that rewards and punishments do not work long-term. Kids learn to do for the reward or to avoid rather than through intrinsic motivation and/or reasoning.

8) Strive for Balance - This means what you think it does. It often is last in lists, but it is still important. You need to keep sane - so if you need to get a pedicure, then do so! If you need a date night once a month after your little one can be left alone and your milk supply is okay... then head out!

Keep your parenting in perspective and remember the goal of this style of parenting is to have well-adjusted, independent thinkers.

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