Friday, January 10, 2014

The dance of responsiveness

The dance of responsiveness == Hobo MamaI love the attachment parenting principle of responding with sensitivity, because I think that in itself can sum up attached parenting: witnessing your child's needs and meeting them with love.

One thing that's become important to me is realizing that there's no magic formula for responding with sensitivity: Our children's needs are different from another child's, and the needs change as they grow. It's a very in-the-moment process of checking back with your child and yourself to see if you're in tune right now.

When Mikko was born, Sam and I learned quickly that we needed to respond quickly, and often! As a high-needs baby, Mikko needed a lot of help regulating and soothing himself: babywearing, bouncing, walking, white noise, massage, lullabies, and lots and lots of time breastfeeding. We figured out we could put him down for small periods — but only if we kept up the motion: in a bouncy seat with our foot doing the jiggling, or in a baby hammock that rocked him to sleep.

As he grew, he continued his penchant for drama, but in new ways that we had to adapt to. He's been our snuggly and socially hesitant child, preferring to be with us and abhorring separations. It's been hard at times over the past six years not to wonder if we were doing something wrong in continuing to respond sensitively to his need to be close to us, particularly when others have questioned our choices.

When Alrik was born, we discovered a truth we'd guessed: that every baby is different. He's been much more easy-going and independent, confident to forge his own trail even in unfamiliar places. But, still, he knows he can circle back to his home base and that he'll receive the reassurance and reconnection he needs.

I love this dance of responding with sensitivity, because it keeps us so present in really knowing our children and seeing what they're asking of us right now. It lets us see, too, that needs change, and children grow, and in meeting their needs as they require right now, we're setting ourselves up for a continued strong attachment as we all develop together.

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Unknown said...

So very beautifully written, mama!!! Love this!

Being Barlow

Catch My Words said...

I'm with you. If a baby's only means of communication is to cry, and that crying is ignored, he will learn that he's not important.

Karen du Toit said...

Love "dance of responsiveness" when talking about parenting with sensitivity! This year I will try to recall (and do) this dance as much of possible! Thanks

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