Friday, June 10, 2011

Attachment Parenting

This blog brought to you by the letters ‘A’ and ‘P’, and the number ‘4’.

Shelly asked me days ago if I’d like to write a guest blog on attachment parenting. I said sure and daily have promised to sit down and write it. And now, finally, I am sitting down and have nothing I NEED to do. Except restart the load of cloth diapers in the dryer, but meh…. I am sitting down and relaxing for the first time in days it seems like.

You see, I am a mother of 4 wonderful children who are incredibly demanding of my time now that school is out. One of which is a 5 week old baby who refuses to believe she can be happy with life anywhere other than my arms or a sling. Which is fine with me, there’s a very real chance she is my last baby, so I’m soaking up the cuddle time before she starts telling me I am the meanest mommy ever and rolls her eyes when I ask for a hug. Ha.

“Why don’t you let her cry for a bit? It’s good for her lungs.” “You’re spoiling her.” “If you don’t make her learn to soothe herself you’re setting yourself up for a very needy bigger kid.” These are some things I hear when people ask how we’re doing and I respond with the truth. “She’s a very good baby. As long as she’s being held.” Such silly things people believe about babies. I believe we need to nurture our children in all areas of life if we want them to grow up to be productive members of society.

In order to raise compassionate human beings, we must treat them with compassion. This means no violent parenting. No spanking, no yelling, no belittling, age and “crime” appropriate punishments, etc. It means meeting ALL of their needs so that they feel safe, secure, loved, wanted, and respected. This is why I practice attachment parenting. Because these are the kind of little people I want to raise.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally fall off the AP wagon from time to time. When it’s 8pm and I’ve had a baby nursing for the past 3 hours, my 6yr old daughter has asked me 20 times to read the same book and has asked the same question eleven billion times in a row (all in the same breath, of course), my 8yr old has spilled yet another glass of whatever he’s drinking all over my (clean) tablecloth and floor, and my 10yr old is whining about how unfair it is that he can’t have a cell phone. (As if.) These are the moments when I ask myself “WHY DO I DO THIS?” My mother likely would have shooed me off and told me to find something to do with an irritated tone to her voice and annoyed expression on her face. And sometimes I do, but I try not to.

My biggest downfall is yelling. Yelling is engrained in my DNA, I’m pretty sure. It seems to be the only way one side of my family can communicate. I catch myself saying in my head “I sound like my mother”. I’m sure I don’t need to emphasize how we often feel when we realize we’re mimicking a less than desirable parenting trait passed down from our parents. I struggle with it daily. However it’s a battle I’m determined to win.

Despite my super hero cape being frayed and faded, I know that my beliefs are the right choice for our family when people tell me what loving, well behaved, respectful, well mannered kids I have. Except, it seems, at monthly La Leche League meetings. I don’t know what it is about LLL meetings, but my kids seem to feel that’s their time to act like hooligans. I like to think it’s a test of my conviction to not yell at them and basically act a fool myself because they aren’t listening. Now I’d better go dry those diapers and get to bed. Morning comes fast and nobody makes a bowl of cereal quite like Mom.

Jessica Tebben
DONA doula-in-training

1 comment:

mom to 4 said...

Love this post! I get the same comments when i talk about co sleeping or baby wearing. Ive had people tell meit never hurt a baby to cry a little, its good for them.
I just cant understand that! I dont think it ever hurt anyone to get all the love and nurturing they need either :)

I had to hold my last baby my entire maternity leave otherwise she would scream bloody murder. Although i felt helpless and like i needed to get more done in a day than just sit and hold a baby i really did enjoy it. They are only that small once and before i know if she will want nothing to do with mom im sure.
Thanks for sharing and admitting your struggles as well. I know i mess up daily but hope my children see how much i love them :)