Although I consider myself an AP mom, I had never heard the term before my children were born, and for a long time, I didn’t know that the techniques I employed as a mother were considered Attachment Parenting.
A lot of the principles of AP came to me naturally: I breastfed both kids, practiced infant massage, and wore my babies in slings and carriers. I knew from the very beginning that cutting my work hours and staying home as much as possible was the right choice for my family. And I knew that I never wanted to spank my children.
Other principles came about when facing challenges as a parent. When my son was having some sleeping difficulties, so many people told me to just let him cry it out and he’d be sleeping like an angel within a week. But it didn’t feel right to me. I started to look into other, more gentle ways of sleep training, and that led to part time co-sleeping, and my discovery of the “AP Way.”
In general, although I know the Mommy Wars do exist in some form, I’ve had very little strife in my own life when it comes to parenting choices. This may because I tend to gravitate towards people with the same sort of philosophy, or it could be because people are less likely to be nasty and judgmental to your face (as opposed to the Internet, where anything goes), but most discussions about breastfeeding, co-sleeping, staying home or not spanking have been respectful. I love to talk about AP and how well it works for us, especially when friends mention their children’s sleeping issues.
But just recently, I have found myself in a position where those around me, so to speak, are not on the same page. It’s an online mom’s forum, and there are all kinds of moms there: religious moms, atheist moms, single moms and married moms. There are moms of different races, different backgrounds, and different beliefs. Sometimes it gets nasty, sometimes there is finger pointing, sometimes there is name calling, and there is definitely judgment.
When I read a post by someone who not only practices but heartily recommends something that goes against everything I believe in, I found myself struggling internally. Is it possible to ignore it? Is it advisable to ignore it? Where should an AP mom’s desire to spread the news end?
In the end, I usually end up doing nothing, while inside my head I’m screaming, “No! You can’t spoil a 6 week old baby, don’t let her lie there and cry!”
One part of the reason I bite my tongue is because after years of being online and being a member of various groups, I’ve realized that there is no point in arguing with a nameless, faceless person on the Internet who isn’t inclined to change her mind. The other part is because I actually work for that particular website, and it’s my job to be nice.
For now, my personal rule is to only really bring up the nitty gritty of Attachment Parenting and the principles if someone specifically asks for help. Then I share what we do, how it works for us. I also include references for books, websites, and of course, API Speaks. I figure if someone is asking, she really wants to know, and that way I can avoid being the target of the name calling, judgment and finger pointing, while still spreading the word.
How about you? As an AP parent, how do you balance being a representative of the AP philosophy without overstepping bounds and making enemies?