Natural process of weaning

I really believe in child led weaning when it comes to extended breastfeeding however I personally would not like to nurse past 3-years of age. I know that many women do with great success and that’s wonderful and I fully support that. I just know my limitations and 3 years of age is about the age for me.

Our children have both been bigger for their age so I’m used to the looks outside of home when I’m nursing a 2-year old that looks like a 4-year old and I just smile. I’m forever grateful for our pediatrician Dr. William Sears for opening my eyes and educating me about extended breastfeeding and child-led weaning. It has been especially helpful at times when friends and relatives wonder why I’m still nursing and how long will I continue. It’s not always easy to stand your ground especially as a  first time mom so it’s important to have the knowledge to deal with criticism etc because you sure need that so that you don’t start to doubt yourself because of all the “advice” that is being given to you by mainstream parents and friends.

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AP while on vacation

We have just returned from a holiday which lasted 4 weeks. We have been to 4 countries, visited our extended families, went to the beach and stayed at 7 different places.
I was a bit anxious that it would be too much for our 20 month old daughter but she handled it very well.
We don’t need many things to keep our baby secure and content, even in unfamiliar places. Attachment parenting allows us to travel lightly. We never need to carry a travel cot or think about where our baby will sleep. We don’t need to take a stroller with us, our baby carrier does the job, all we need to worry about is having insurance, luckily, now a days you can even find travel insurance for seniors, which is great because we travel with our parents most of the time.

During the first 2 weeks, we were in Belgium visiting my sister. While we were there, we decided to go to Paris for a day trip. One morning we took the train from Brussels and within one hour we were there.

We visited all those well known places and around six o’clock we headed to the Eiffel Tower. We would just have a look and leave. We were already tired and hungry and we were reckoning that there would be a long queue of people who wanted to go up. However there wasn’t and suddenly we decided to go up and see what it is all about. So our visit took longer than we anticipated. Poor Daphne was very hungry and wanted to breastfeed. She was in the carrier, so most people didn’t notice it but a few women smiled at us. Who would have thought that I’d breastfeed her at the top of the Eiffel Tower?  Well, it was a lovely moment that I’ll never forget.

Isil writes about attachment parenting and vegan cooking at Veggie Way.

Mom to Mom: An interview with Jan Hunt

An interview by Wendy Cook. You can read more from Wendy at Mother Rising.

Many of you know that I read Jan Hunt’s book The Natural Child: Parenting From the Heart when I was pregnant with Satch and it changed my life. The child in me felt validated and it helped me trust my gut and feel supported about the way I wanted to mother my son. As some of you know, it’s one of several books that I give as baby shower / blessingway gifts. I believe that it has the power to change the world, one family at a time.

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Jan about motherhood; unschooling and her upcoming book for 2009. It is with great joy that I introduce, Jan Hunt.

1. In what ways has becoming a mother changed you?

It changed me in every way. It helped me realize that children are human beings and no different from adults in the ways that really matter. They are no different emotionally and react the same way we do to good or bad treatment; they are doing the best they can.

I learned a lot from my son – he’s been my teacher. Here’s an example that I’m not proud of. One day when Jason was a baby, he threw a spoon down on the floor and I reacted with an automatic response by gently tapping his hand. He gave me a look that I’ve never forgotten, even 27 years later. He gave me a perplexed look, as though to say, “Why would you do such a thing… how could you hurt me?” And right at that moment, I just grew, like the Grinch… my heart grew 100 times bigger. Because up until that point I didn’t totally get it, and from that point on I got it. And any other time when I strayed off the path of respectful parenting, he would give me a look of confusion or bewilderment. He knew from the beginning – like all babies – what he deserved and what I should be doing.
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Shouldn’t We Invest More Thought In Our Parenting Than Planning Our Next Vacation?

The decisions we make for our daughter today may affect her for a lifetime in more ways than one, which, in my opinion, makes them some of the most important and far-reaching we will ever be faced with. And yet, it seems that many people are willing to put more time into researching vacation destinations or what car to buy than into questions like what to feed their children (and why) or whether or not to vaccinate them, and if so how (selectively? delayed? or according to the standard schedule?).

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A Guiding Presence

My daughter is four and very angry at me.

She doesn’t know that watching too much television is not good for her, in so many ways. She doesn’t know how much better it is physically, mentally, and emotionally, for her to play outside instead. She just knows that she wants to watch Dora, and that her mommy won’t let her.

My daughter and I usually communicate well with each other. I usually don’t yell, and I never hit or spank her. Time outs and banishment to bedrooms don’t work in this house. Instead, we normally use feeling words and try to talk to each other about how we feel and come up with a compromise. However, once in a while, like today, we come up short in communication.

My daughter doesn’t want to talk. She wants to yell and cry and turn her back to me. She doesn’t want to be hugged or touched or cuddled. She just wants to be angry. This leaves me with two choices: I can threaten, yell, or punish her in some other way until she starts to “behave,” or I can use this as an opportunity to guide her.

I know that when I am angry, I get overwhelmed. It’s hard for me to stay calm, it’s hard for me to think about anything but whatever I am angry about. From my experience with anger, I know that yelling or punishing her at this time isn’t going to help; it wouldn’t work with me, so why would it work for her? It would make things worse. And so, I choose the other option.

She’s laying on the couch, crying, her back to me. I sit next to her. I don’t touch her, or hug her, or try to talk to her…I just sit quietly, letting her anger run its course. I know she can feel my presence beside her, keeping her company while she tries to sort through the powerful and overwhelming emotions that have taken over her body.

Time passes, and her crying starts to slow. Soon, she sits up and starts wiping the tears from her face. She looks at me and then climbs on my lap. I wrap my arms around her and kiss her forehead.

“Feel better?” I ask. She nods. “Want to go outside now?” She nods again, grinning, and jumps off my lap to find her shoes.

No, my daughter doesn’t know about the studies that show the harmful effects television can have on her. She doesn’t know that she is building memories of nature and animals and plants that she will look back on fondly. But, she does know that I am always there for her, no matter what. That my presence will always be in her life, ready to guide her whenever she needs it. That is one of my gifts to her.

Guest post by Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mother

Compassion and Attachment Parenting

After having my own children — now 7 and 2 years old — and watching them interact with other children in different situations, I’m convinced that compassion is learned by modeling the behavior.

Attachment Parenting (AP) is an excellent way to teach your children about compassion and what it means to consider other people around you and how your actions affect others around you.

When a parent is concerned about the child’s feelings and expresses it to the child, the child will learn that is the right way to communicate and consider other people and their feelings. When children learn first hand that their feelings matter because their parents care, they are more likely to model that behavior outside of home such as at school or playgrounds.

The other side of a compassionate, loving home is the authoritarian home, where the parents are in charge and the child’s feelings or opinions are not considered. This is a form of bullying actually when an adult, who is bigger and older, uses his or her power on a child who can’t defend himself and has to obey to avoid serious consequences.

The child who constantly gets bullied by his parents or siblings is more likely to be bullied or become a bully himself outside of home and show little or no compassion for others around him.

I’ve actually seen this type of behavior in action when a child who comes from an authoritarian home hurts another child and has little or no remorse and will only say “sorry” to the hurt child because his parents are demanding him to say it.

Deep inside, the child is just repeating the behavior and words he has learned at home and doesn’t really care if someone gets hurt, because why would he since nobody around him cares about his feelings?

It’s very sad, but this type of behavior is very common in today’s households. Bullying at school is a very common occurrence these days, and I’m certain that most of these situations could be avoided if children were treated with more respect and shown compassion at home by siblings and parents.

Children who learn compassionate behavior by nature at an Attachment Parenting home also have less sibling rivalry, because they care for their brothers and sisters who care for them in the same compassionate and loving matter. My heart goes out to those children who don’t get the model at home and get to experience what is like to live in a family where all members love and respect each other and are compassionate.

I hope that the AP children around the world can be role models at school and teach other children compassion and what it is like to be a caring individual, and hopefully that will have a lasting impact on some children who might have never experienced it.

Reija – Attachment Mothering

Am I practicing Attachment Parenting?

This is a question that I have struggled with a lot in the four-and-a-half years, since I had my first son, Ryan, and discovered there was a parenting approach that lined up with my parenting views.  I questioned that if I didn’t practice all elements of Attachment Parenting (AP), could I really call myself an “attached parent?”

The long range vision in place for Attachment Parenting is:

To raise children who will become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection.  It eliminates violence as a means for raising children, and ultimately helps to prevent violence in society as a whole.

Some of my fellow AP parents used to joke that AP stands for “always perfect.” It seemed like I was not the only one who struggled with incorporating all Attachment Parenting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting all the time.

But as I have continued down this journey of Attachment Parenting, I have realized that AP certainly does not mean always perfect.  It does mean trying the best you can, with the circumstances you have, at any given moment.

No one is a perfect parent, and if that is the standard that we inadvertently hold ourselves and others to, we will feel like we have failed, sooner or later. I believe API’s Eight Principles of Parenting are wonderful guides, but in no way are a set of rules and regulations that parents must incorporate at all times, less they be considered non-AP parents.

One example is discipline and whether or not time-out is a “proper” discipline technique for AP parents.

Editor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) advocates the use of “time-in” versus punitive “time-out.” A time-in modifies the traditional time-out in that it gives tantrumming children a break to calm down and self-regulate before other positive discipline techniques are used, rather than using isolation as a form of punishment as in the traditional time-out.

Every parent is entitled to their thoughts on the matter, and no two parents will agree on every topic. I respect that parents have a right to not use time-outs for their family. But I find it troubling and worrisome as an AP parent that some of the thoughts seem to suggest that parents who do use time-out, are being judged.

According to API:

Positive discipline helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others. Discipline that is empathetic, loving, and respectful strengthens the connection between parent and child. Rather that reacting to behavior, discover the needs leading to the behavior. Communicate and craft solutions together while keeping everyone’s dignity intact.

I object to that time-out is like spanking. Time-out is a nonviolent method, unlike spanking. I also disagree with the idea that a parent who uses time-out is teaching their children to fear them. Most AP parents use time-out as a loving and respectful discipline method, in line with API’s discipline principle. How can another parent know for sure what is happening in a household, and how certain children respond to different methods of discipline?

Ultimately, though, who are we to judge another parent?

Not every technique works for every child, and even what works today, may not work tomorrow. As parents, especially AP parents, we are always trying to fine-tune our discipline and striving to do what works best for our child while incorporating respect and gentleness in our parenting.

Our goal of practicing AP is to raise children in a nonviolent atmosphere and to ensure they will have capacity for empathy and connection. If a parent feels a nonviolent discipline method, like time-out, is the best way to achieve that goal for their child, who are we to question and judge that decision? Surely we can and should trust that parents know their children and what they may or may not respond to the best.

I feel we are treading in dangerous water when we make general statements and hold dogmatic ideas that AP parents always do, or don’t do X. When this happens, it can unintentionally cause parents to question and doubt their methods, and wonder if they really are practicing AP. If they question and doubt this enough, they can be come discouraged and give up altogether, feeling like they just can’t measure up to the “ideal.”

I think a much more productive approach would be to find out why the parent has chosen to impart a certain method, and instead of judging, listen. Perhaps the child responds best to that method, or is a high-needs, or special needs child. Perhaps we can share what we have found to work in a similar situation. That could open up ideas for the parent that maybe they had not thought of before.

By doing this, we are supporting our fellow AP parents, and really, as AP parents we all face discouragement from others in our circles who are not AP parents. The reason we joined AP was for support, not for judgment. By supporting each other, even if we don’t always agree with another parent’s decision, we strengthen our foundation, and help each other in our goals of raising empathetic and connected children- even if we take different paths to get there.

Heather blogs about life with her two boys, pregnancy and birth issues, natural living, current events, and of course attachment parenting at A Mama’s Blog.

Getting Dad into the Game

I often hear new moms tell me they are pumping so that dad can give the new baby a bottle. Over and over I hear that they want dad to feel involved and feeding an infant a bottle is just the way to do it.

As the mother of four, this seems redundant to me. My motto is always to prioritize and simplify. If you are nursing your baby, feeding the baby is not a task that needs doing by someone else. You pretty much have that one covered… and you can accomplish it while ostensibly sitting down and thumbing through a magazine or checking your e-mail. In my world, that means nursing is a baby duty I am happy to do! To let someone else feed the baby actually means more work for me, not less, as I have to figure out a time to pump when the two-year old does not tug at the machinery and what the heck do you do with a crabby newborn while you use both hands to juggle the pump anyways? Such a production!

So then, where does that leave dad? And older siblings? And grandparents? And everyone else who wants a piece of that delicious baby-care pie? Fear not, new babies are nothing if not, how can I put this graciously, full ’o needs. Even when mama is taking care of 100% of the feeding needs, baby still needs changing, bathing, dressing and holding. There are still plenty of baby-care duties that can be delegated and provide those special moments for bonding… tasks that actually need doing.

Send dad off on a walk with a well-fed, drowsy baby in a soft baby carrier and put your feet up and enjoy 20 minutes to yourself. Dad gets to bond with the new baby, dad feels competent because babies are generally content nestled in a soft carrier. Win- win! Let older siblings be in charge of choosing the outfit for the day, or singing to the baby during diaper changes. Grandparents can bathe and cuddle the new baby. There is never a shortage of baby care duties. And, hey, if someone really, really still wants to feed the baby, no worries, in 6 to 8 months, baby will happily accept cheerios, banana and avocado from just about anyone.

Breastfeeding can be intense the first few months. The nursing relationship between mama and nursling can seem exclusive. How have you included other members of your family in baby bonding time outside of the nursing relationship?

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