The Internal Struggle

by kayris on October 22, 2009

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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?

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kayris (29 Posts)


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

justine October 22, 2009 at 9:45 am

Kayris,
I have to deal with this internal struggle on an everyday basis! We live in an apartment building–with very thin walls– in what is known as one of the more “troubled” neighborhoods in our city. Our next door neighbors use CIO methods with their infant (he was a newborn when we moved in 6 months ago). Every morning we hear the little fellow wake up and cry for 20-30 minutes (it has been almost an hour on a few occasions) before his bottle is delivered to him. It is the same at naptime. Again at bedtime. And several times through the night. If CIO works so well, then why is he still crying after 6 months of this method?

It is heartbreaking for me to know that this little guy is going through this and that his parents have chosen (or have inherited, more than likely) this method of parenting. I have only seen this family once or twice in all of our time here and cannot butt in…besides what would I say? Nothing I say will convince them that they are not doing the right thing, I am sure. We come from totally different backgrounds and have very different values (crying isn’t the only noise we get to hear…we also get to hear their music, their TV shows, their parties, their fights, their visitors etc…)

I take some solace in knowing that the wall sends sound both ways and that they get to hear our gentle parenting words, our fun giggles, our respectful tones. We have a neighborhood watch meeting every month, and although they have not attended thus far, I always show up with my sling and my AP philosophies firmly in hand just in case I need to do some modeling or outright helping. All I can hope for is that someone asks about my well behaved children, my sling, my ease with parenting…and that I am given the opportunity to help where I am welcome to do so.

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Carolyn October 22, 2009 at 1:29 pm

What you are describing is a classic behavior change dilemma. You know the healthy behavior, and you want everyone to practice it. But what motivates people to change? The behavior change theories support he approach you describe – when people are not in the mindset that they need to change, then the best thing to do is let them know you are there when they are ready. You can’t force a mind to change, especially when that mind is happy where it is at! You can present your information, but it can’t come across as the “right” and “only” way. Just a different way. Expect the reaction to be defensive. That’s human nature.

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Kim Zemple October 22, 2009 at 8:15 pm

AP parenting may not be popular with the behaviorists way of parenting, but it is the best way. I know that meeting the needs of newborns builds healthy brain connections and this will infuence future behavior and feelings.

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Maria October 22, 2009 at 11:33 pm

If it were me, I would definitely want to say something. You can do this in a nonconfrontational manner by sharing information. I like to share research studies and positions from authoritative bodies. This way you can say, “Studies show that XYZ. I found this useful and I thought you might also.” That way you are getting your point across and it’s NOT you saying it, it’s some experts. So if people disagree, they are not disagreeing with you, they are disagreeing with experts. At the very least, other people who are reading the online forum will hear more than one viewpoint.

On the dangers of cry it out, here’s a great selection of studies:

http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/handout2.asp

And here’s a great website with references to several studies on the benefits of cosleeping:

http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/longterm.html

Maria

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Sarah October 23, 2009 at 6:42 am

I generally offer my opinion if there is a discussion at hand. I try not to sound judgemental, and i don’t engage in ‘arguments’ over it. I state my position, or whatever other information is relevant to the issue, and then let it go. This is especially true when posting on facebook in response friend’s questions. I give my answer without getting into refuting everyone else’s answers or arguing with them. It’s not about proving who’s a better parent, it’s about sharing information regarding the raising of our children. People will take the information and do what they will or can with it. :o)

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maegan October 23, 2009 at 10:16 am

I’ve read A LOT & I’m really enjoying “Becoming Attached:First Relationships & How They Affect Our Capacity to Love” by Robert Karen. I appreciate Dr. Sears & Pam Leo (for example), BUT, this book covers the history of groundbreaking psychological studies that prove that yes, children can be traumatized by this desensitizing “sleep training” and that yes, children NEED us to quickly & consistently comfort their cries in these early years or real damage can occur. It is our very important job as parents to show our children how to expect to be treated by others.

My son is 14 months and in learning to trust my instincts, I’m finding that I don’t need to explain myself to others (even family). I don’t think anything would be gained by this. Both sides would think they were correct & try to convince the other why they were right. It’s just too emotional of a topic. I prefer to continue down the path of educating myself and doing the very best I can for my son.

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