Friday, November 14, 2008

The big attachment parenting question...Won't AP spoil my baby?

Many new parents find attachment parenting to be a fitting philosophy for raising their baby, but when you about 7 to 12 weeks in and you're dead tired and the baby wants you every waking ( and sometimes the sleeping ) moment of the day, you start to honestly wonder if you're doing the right thing. Add to that a "well meaning" mother in law telling you you're going to spoil the baby if you keep carrying them and sleeping with them, and you can really start to waver on a decision you and your spouse were very firm and united on.

The short answer is.... No, your not spoiling your baby :) keep it up, and feel secure in knowing your doing the right thing.

The longer answer follows.....

Attachment parenting is one of the oldest ways of caring for babies, and your following your instincts, but it sounds as if outside influences have you second guessing yourself right now. holding and nurturing and breastfeeding your baby is the way parents for eons have taken care of babies, until childcare advisors and so called experts came onto the scene and led parents to follow books instead of their babies. Because of that we live in a society of people raising children in a "convenience parenting" way.. that is to train the baby to do what the parents need to remain the most convenient and non life changing to the parents life habits. They do that through emotional neglect, touch deprivation, and fake senses of security with machinery and gadgets. A multi billion dollar industry.

As Dr. Sears says, and I like to use as a way to explain to new attachment parents...Picture your family on a deserted island and you've just birthed your baby. There are no books, expert advisors, or mother in-laws around to shower you with child baby- tending advice. The baby B's of attachment parenting would come naturally to you as they have other cultures who have centuries more child-rearing experience and tradition than all of us have.

You may worry that being nurturing and responsive to your baby's needs might spoil your baby and set you up for being manipulated. This is why it is stressed that AP is responding appropriately to your baby's needs. That means knowing when to say "yes" and when to say "no." to your baby from situation to situation. Sometimes in our want to give children everything they need, it's easy for us as parents to give our children everything they want, and with that there is a big difference. But a baby at 7 weeks old is hardly manipulating you, he's just asking for what he needs to feel warm, full, dry and safe.

I always maintain that attachment parenting is a game of balance. As you and your baby grow together, you will develop the right balance between attentive, but not indulgent. An example would be that you don't need to respond to the cries of a seven-month-old baby as quickly as you would a seven-week-old baby, so you're not even at that point yet.

As your baby grows, you become an expert at reading his cries, so you can gradually delay your response. You'll know what is the "I'm bored, come entertain me now!" cry and the "There's a diaper pin stuck in my hip" cry.

Don't think that AP means that the baby pulls mommy's string and she jumps. Because of the mutual sensitivity that develops between attached parents and their attached children, parents' response time can gradually lengthen as mother enables the older baby to discover that he does not need instant gratification. Yes, you give a lot of yourself in those early months, as you are doing right now, but you get back a lot more in return in the months to come.

As an AP mom, you DO need to take breaks so you don't get touched out and begin feeling smothered by the baby's needs and everyone else's needs around you. This is why shared parenting by the father and other trusted caregivers and older responsible siblings is important.

Contrary to popular mainstream beliefs, attachment parenting is not spoiling a child. A lot of new AP parents ask, "Won't holding our baby a lot, responding to cries, nursing our baby on cue, and even sleeping with our baby create an overly dependent manipulative child?"

The answer is simply, no. In fact, both experience and research have shown the exact opposite. Attachment fosters independence. When a young child has gone through infancy and toddler hood having had all their physical and emotional needs met, they feel safe and secure, and that generally gives them the courage they need to do new things on their own knowing you are there to catch them when they fall, literally and figuratively. With that safety harness for them, you will find that as he grows older the length of the string that connects you both, will get longer and longer even though it remains tied tight around both of your waists.

Think of attachment parenting as having an emotional umbilical cord still attached that gets longer as the baby gets older. With AP families, the umbilical cord usually always remains attached, even into teenage years, but you learn when to leave it slack or when to use it to pull your child closer to receive the support and care they need at any age. And, unlike apron strings, that society always refers to needing to be cut... emotional AP umbilical cords shouldn't ever be cut, that's when you know you've lost your connection to your child.

That's what I'd say if you asked me anyway...

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