Monday, May 28, 2012

Attachment parenting is about respect

I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival buttonWelcome to the I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival hosted by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama and Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.

This Carnival is dedicated to empowering ALL parents who practice and promote and peaceful, loving, attachment parenting philosophy. We have asked other parents to help us show the critics and the naysayers that attachment parenting is beautiful, uplifting, and unbelievably beneficial and NORMAL!

In addition to the Carnival, Joni from Tales of a Kitchen Witch and Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy are co-hosting a Linky Party. Please stop by either blog to share any of your posts on the topic.

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Post topics are wide and varied, and every one is worth a read.

I have to admit to some confusion when people bash attachment parenting, as in some of the public comments during the recent TIME magazine outcry. To me, being attached to my children means treating them with respect, and what is there to bash about that?

I breastfeed my babies because I can, because I choose to, and because it's what's best for my kids. (I put it that way, because some parents cannot or choose not to breastfeed, and that's what works for their families.) I respect my babies' needs for nutrition and comfort and respond as I am able. I continue to breastfeed as long as it's mutually desirable for us, because I respect my growing children's continued needs for feeding, health, and connection.

I respond to my babies when they cry, because I respect that crying is a signal of communication. Particularly as they grow, I can't always respond immediately or stop every pain or discomfort, but I can try to be there and work through it with them. This isn't being on my children's leash; it's acknowledging my role as one of the people they feel comfortable with to share their intense feelings.

I sleep near my children because we choose to, because it works for us as a family, and because my children sleep best with company. I fully understand this, since the same is true for me. I respect other people's right to arrange their family sleep the way they want, and I respect my children's needs to feel secure at night.

I carry my babies with me when I can, because I know that being less than a couple feet high means you can't see much otherwise. I also know that babies appreciate the motion and warmth of being cuddled in a familiar caregiver's arms, and I use baby carriers that allow me range of motion while respecting my baby's desires. It ends up being easier for me, because the baby is content, and I can still continue my day. As my kids grow older, I rely on hugs, roughhousing, back scratches, hair rubs, and eye contact to continue our physical connection, because we never outgrow our need for loving touch.

I practice gentle discipline because I consider it my responsibility as the more mature party to act my age and mediate any conflicts my children and I have with each other or other people. I believe that even though my children are young, they are still worthy of having their voices and emotions respected, and they need help in conveying what they need. I am not some magically patient saint (boy, howdy, I am not), but Sam and I try to foster a family environment where all our needs are taken into consideration, and where the adults don't win every argument just because we could if we wanted to. I'd rather have all of us feel heard and respected, and see my children grow up as the independent, creative thinkers they already are, rather than command instant obedience at the cost of their sense of self-worth and connection with their father and me. Because of how much that threatens the dominant paradigm, I understand why that's subversive in our culture and leads to accusations of being doormats raising spoiled kids, but … I just don't see it that way. Because I respect my kids, and I wouldn't want it any other way than to have all of us have a voice in this family.

I don't consider attachment parenting some sort of talisman against any suboptimal outcomes in life. My kids are still free to choose their own paths as they grow — and they might choose ones I wouldn't. That's the cost of allowing freedom, I suppose — though I'll also say I have examples from families I know whose children weren't raised with freedom who still chose unfortunate paths to travel down.

I also don't see attachment parenting as consigning myself to some sort of martyrdom. Most of what attachment parenting does is make life easier for me as a parent by telling me clearly what babies evolutionarily have come to expect as human primates, and what I can do to meet those needs while still finding balance for myself. It certainly helps that I attachment parent with a full-time co-parent — my supportive partner, Sam — and with other parents and parents-to-be in community alongside us. Attachment parenting, as with any parenting, works best in a village, and can be hard when attempted in isolation. That's not a mark against the parenting style, though, only a downside of the predominant culture, which doesn't match up closely with what children or parents need.

When people suggest that attachment parenting is a fad, or something to be taken or left, or too complicated, or too wishy-washy, or too "extreme," I ask: How can anyone argue against offering our children respect? In what universe could it ever be wrong to honor the needs of our most vulnerable family members and try to meet them in ways that work for our family? Keep in mind that this respect applies to us as parents as well: We respect ourselves, seeking balance, support, and compromise where necessary. And by respecting ourselves, our co-parents, and our children, we lead our children to respect us in turn. That respect then turns outwards, as we all navigate our relationships with others outside the family, and the basis for respectful interactions is already in place.

I also don't see attachment parenting as all that outside the cultural norms nowadays, in some ways at least. Sometimes people treat their children with respect and lots of connection but don't call their style of parenting attachment parenting because they don't cosleep, or because they didn't breastfeed past six months, or for whatever reason, and yet I would find plenty of common ground with their responsive parenting style. And on the flip side, some people who subscribe to some of the attachment parenting checklist still fall prey to the (previously much more) dominant thinking that children come into the world as uncivilized beasts, to be firmly molded into decent human beings. I feel like attachment parenting needs that basis of respect to be truly attached parenting.

In the end, I really don't see anything to argue against when it comes to attachment parenting. I'm an attachment parent. I respect my children, myself, my family, and those around us, and I am raising my children with a secure enough base to offer that same respect to themselves and others.

As the carnival says: I am Mom. Enough!

Thank you for visiting the I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival hosted by hosted by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama and Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants and check out previous posts at the linky party hosted by Joni from Tales of a Kitchen Witch and Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy:

  • Good Enough? — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy writes about how Good Enough is not Good Enough, if you use it as an excuse to stop trying.
  • The High Cost of High Expectations JeninCanada at Fat and Not Afraid shares what it's like to NOT feel 'mom enough' and wanting to always do better for herself and family.
  • TIME to Be You! — Becky at Old New Legacy encourages everyone to be true to themselves and live their core values.
  • I am mom and I have had ENOUGH — A mother had had ENOUGH of the mommy wars.
  • Motherhood vs. Feminism — Doula Julia at encourages feminists to embrace the real needs and cycles and strengths of women.
  • There Is No Universal Truth When It Comes To Parenting — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how parenting looks around the world and why there is no universal parenting philosophy.
  • Attachment Parenting Assumptions — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings argues that attachment parenting is not just for the affluent middle-classes, and that as parents we all need to stop worrying about our differences and start supporting each other.
  • Thoughts on Time Magazine, Supporting ALL Mamas, and Advocating for the Motherless — Time Magazine led That Mama Gretchen to think about her calling as a mother and how adoption will play an important role in growing her family.
  • Attachment Parenting: the Renewed Face of Feminism — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children embraces her inner feminist as she examines how the principles of attachment parenting support the equal treatment of all.
  • What a Mom Wants! — Clancy Harrison from Healthy Baby Beans writes about how women need to support each other in their different paths to get to the same destination.
  • Attachment Parenting: What One Family Wants You To Know — Jennifer, Kris, 4 year old Owen and 2 year old Sydney share the realities of attachment parenting, and how very different it looks than the media's portrayal.
  • We ALL Are Mom Enough — Amy W. of Amy Willa: Me, Mothering, and Making It All Work thinks that all mothers should walk together through parenthood and explores her feelings in prose.
  • A Typical Day Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares what a typical day with her attached family looks like...all in the hopes to shed light on what Attachment Parenting is, what it's not and that it's unique within each family!
  • The Proof is in the (organic, all-natural) Pudding — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World talks about how, contrary to what the critics say, the proof that attachment parenting works in visible in the children who are parented that way.
  • I am mom and I have had ENOUGH A mother had had ENOUGH of the mommy wars.
  • Time Magazine & Mommy Wars: Enough! What Really Matters? — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter encourages moms to stop fighting with each other, and start alongside each other.
  • Attachment parenting is about respect — Lauren at Hobo Mama breaks down what attachment parenting means to her to its simplest level.
  • I am an AP mom, regardless... — Jorje ponders how she has been an Attachment Parenting mom regardless of outside circumstances at Momma Jorje.
  • The first rule of Attachment Parenting is: You Do Not Talk about Attachment Parenting — Emily discusses, with tongue aqnd cheek, how tapping into our more primal selves actually brings us closer to who we are rather than who we think we should be.
  • Mom, I am. — Amy at Anktangle discusses how Attachment Parenting is a natural extension of who she is, and she explains the ways her parenting approach follows the "live and let live" philosophy, similar to her beliefs about many other areas of life.
  • I Breastfeed My Toddler for the Nutritional Benefits — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares why 'extended' breastfeeding is not extreme and how she is still nursing her toddler for the nutritional benefits.
  • I Am Dad Enough! — Attachment parenting does not only have to be about moms; their partners are just as important. In Code Name: Mama's family, Dionna's husband, Tom, is papa enough for lots of things.


Lena said...

Would love to translate this text to german get german people to know attachment parenting. Love it!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

"I'd rather have all of us feel heard and respected, and see my children grow up as the independent, creative thinkers they already are, rather than command instant obedience at the cost of their sense of self-worth and connection with their father and me."

I think this sentence sums up my entire respectful parenting philosophy.
Love this whole post - what a testament to why so many of us choose AP!

Momma Jorje said...

I have this scary thought in the back of my head of someone arguing that children don't deserve respect, they have to EARN it. <shudder>

Great post!

Lauren Wayne said...

@Lena: You're welcome to do so, Lena! I'd love to see it if you do. :)

Lauren Wayne said...

@Momma Jorje: Exactly. :-/ I've heard arguments like that, and I grew up thinking that was "right."

Farmer's Daughter said...

I absolutely agree with you! I don't see how anybody could argue against respecting our children as the people that they are.

cupcake mama said...

I love the way you worded this! Respect is a beautiful way to put it. I sometimes get confused when people mock attachment parenting as well . I am Native American and "attachment" parenting is our culture. I have "attachment" parented all my children without realizing that it had a name. With all the hype and blogs about it recently I realized, I am an "attachment" parent without even trying to be. It is how I was brought up to believe you parent. I am so happy that other cultures are connecting with it. Many cultures practiced this method actually for many centuries. I believe that modern American society is what changed it. My non-Native mother in law told me that when she gave birth to my husband in the 70's the doctors told her that breastfeeding was bad! I am hoping it sticks and becomes the norm in parenting once again!

Lena said...

Oh really? Okay, I will do my very best to translate this as beautifully as its written! :) And I will of course set a link to your original post here :)
Because I'm pregnant with my frist child at the moment, I can't write about my own experiences with attachment. So I'm very gratefull for this chance, thank you so much :)

Unknown said...

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my brother a year or so ago about nursing in public (particularly about statements against NIP), and he asked, "But how can you be against feeding babies!?" In that moment (like in this one) I thought to myself, "Well, when to put it that's pretty difficult to come up with a counter-argument that holds water."

Well said, Lauren, and thank you for being such a great example of respect lived out through your actions.

Unknown said...

You could have ended your post with "To me, being attached to my children means treating them with respect, and what is there to bash about that?" This pretty much sums AP right up!

I have always believed that the MAIN difference between AP and Mainstream parenting is the respect factor. Mainstream treats children like subservient underlings with not independence or free thinking ability. AP allows for respect and trust along with the opportunity to jiontly determine (between parent and child) how said child will thrive (or what he or she needs to thrive).

Thank you for putting a great face on AP in this post! And thank you for joining in on the Carnival!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! I love the way you explain the major concepts of attachment parenting. These are exactly the things I believe in and will implement when my first baby is born in 2 months. Now I know what the official name for my parenting philosophy is!

Anonymous said...

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Love this post. Respectful parenting, it's where it's at!

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