Own the road you travel

OwntheRoadMediumPostAfter giving birth to my first son, I made choices and decisions based on my instincts and the purest love I’d ever known. I wasn’t following another’s footsteps. I wasn’t asking for advice. I wasn’t questioning my abilities or my commitment to this miraculous gift of life and love. I wasn’t afraid.

I experienced love in a way I’d never experienced before. I trusted that love to provide what I needed in order to raise this precious, tiny, human being. I became a mother.

Soon after becoming a mother, others expressed — either to my face or behind my back — what they believed I was doing wrong in terms of parenting and/or otherwise. I was often told I wasn’t doing things the “right way.” I was whispered about, talked about, and judged. Through that, I became stronger and more grounded on the path I chose and continue to choose, as a mother of 2 boys — in spite of the skeptics and the doubters.

I aim to stay connected to my higher purpose. I am always in search of what exactly that is, but being a mother is a big part of it. This I know, and I am doing my very best — with pure intentions, patience, acceptance, and love in my heart.

Many people thought I was crazy for not enrolling our boys in school and choosing the path of traveling. They didn’t understand. What wasn’t what they saw as “normal” made them uncomfortable. I see that now.

The world became their school and education is in front of and around them every day — with ancient history, new cultures, languages, art, architecture, nature, different ways of life, and so much more. I may not know what the future holds — who does? — but I will always do what is best for my children based on who they are and what they need at each juncture in their lives.

I believe traveling is one of the best ways to open the mind to curiosity: To expand beyond what we know to be possible, every time and then we rent a pickup from Flex Fleet and go outside to explore and visit new places, we will not learn everything about the world while traveling, but we will be exposed to new ways of life and things we never knew existed. I believe this is one of the most important decisions and choices we made in our decision to travel around the world: To expose our boys to the reality that the world we live in is not the only world there is.

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone believes they know best. Many can’t help expressing their doubts and fears. I learned to accept this and not to take their stuff on as my own and not to doubt myself. I continue persevering through and beyond it, and I am deeply grateful each day as I enjoy and witness the miracles of these precious human beings thriving before me.

My boys are strong, independent little souls. They have beautiful, uninhibited, expressive spirits. They are centered and free. They live on this solid foundation built upon the stability that comes from being loved, no matter where they are: An adaptability that expands from the excitement of a new place to play, explore, and sleep in after various modes of transportation to get there…the open-mindedness that develops when you witness all walks of life and truly understand and embrace that we are all different, yet the same.

My kids are not perfect, nor am I. I do not live a perfect life. We struggle and suffer and face challenges just like everyone else. I don’t claim to have everything figured out. I simply choose to have a positive outlook and a lot of gratitude for each day I am given. I choose love.

As I type this right now, I question whether I should just let all of this go and not express my feelings about this matter. Maybe I should do what Abraham Lincoln used to do — write this letter, let it sit on my desk for a day and file it away, never to be sent.

I decided to share this, because I want to encourage you to LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE. I want to encourage you not to let others put their self doubt, their unfulfilled dreams, their negative attitudes, fear, or insecurities on you. I want to encourage you to be strong and brave enough to recognize them as such and define and walk your own path and truly own it.

I am happy to know that home exists within myself and with the ones I love. I am happy to be away from the microscopes, the expected norms of society and the self-appointed, parental- and “life”-control officers. I am happy to be free in a world where togetherness and intimacy are not only accepted but encouraged. I am happy to raise my boys with the beliefs and values I choose, rather than the ones others impose upon them or society dictates. I am happy they love and respect nature and are participants in other cultures and societies beyond the comfortable bubble we popped.

I am happy to make mistakes and learn from them. I am happy we are all growing and enriching our lives each day. I am happy we are in this together, through the good and the bad.

My boys will be healthy, contributing parts of the society they choose to live in. This is what matters.

As for those of you who can relate to my feelings, my wish is for this to serve as a reminder that the life you are living is yours. You have been given what and who you see in the mirror, and your choices are yours. Ask yourself if you are running away from something or chasing your dreams? Choose based on what you feel and believe in the deepest part of your heart.

I am not here to justify why I believe this journey is amazing — or why I do anything for that matter — although this piece seems to be doing exactly that. I am sharing this with you, because I hope you don’t feel the need to justify or defend yourself against these types of people in your own lives: People who refuse to look in the mirror and would rather look out the window and tell others how to live.

Today is a gift. Today is yours.

Own the Road You Travel,

❤ Sandy

Own the Road You Travel

Boys Waterfall BLW

.When it comes time for traveling, the proper kids’ luggage for traveling makes parent’s jobs tons easier and therefore the trip more fun for the youngsters . That’s because if the youngsters like their Fake Louis Vuitton Bags they’ll be more likely to hold them, which suggests you do not need to keep track of it for them. Since everyone is keeping track of their own bags, it makes even the foremost arduous holiday traveling much easier, and with tons less hassle and stress, that in and of itself makes the trip tons more memorable and fun. You can also check here for memorable travel reviews.

Mom and pop will probably have space in their bags for baby clothes and in fact , the ever present diaper bag, but small kids need their own piece of bags for his or her clothes, toys, toothbrushes and other stuff they’ll need while traveling. once they grow old and need to ride within the car for long trips to go to relatives during the vacations , they’ll need a place to place their favorite toys and books. kids luggage for traveling satisfies all of your kids’ travel needs and keeps them happy and peaceful during what are often a stressful time of year.

If you’re in need of bags for your kids to travel this Christmas, you ought to consider totes, messenger bags, lunch bags and backpacks of varied designs, colors and sizes. If you are not organized, holiday travel are often particularly stressful. With all the good shapes and sizes of kids’ luggage, being more organized may be a snap since great luggage makes it easy to pack smarter and more efficiently. With luggage styles like pilot cases, backpacks and duffel bags, every child within the family will surely find something he or she likes.

A Tip for Your Kids’ Luggage

Since this is often their luggage, meaning they’ll respect it and lookout of it better which suggests it’ll last an extended time. a method to offer them more ownership of their luggage, having it personalized with their name for an additional special touch which pays off in supplying you with more value for your dollar since they’ll treat it better. Not only do kids feel more “grown-up” with their own luggage, but personalized bags are easier to seek out within the luggage areas of airports. having the ability to seek out your luggage faster and easier in an airport makes your holiday traveling tons more enjoyable and stress-free.

When traveling anytime, but especially during the vacations , your older kids will want to pack and carry their own luggage and personalized totes, duffel bags, backpacks and pilot cases will make that tons easier. Kids’ luggage comes altogether shapes and sizes and can help make your holiday travel experience far more pleasant this year!

Attachment Parenting International (API) as a whole and are not necessarily connected to API’s Eight Principles of Parenting.

 

Attachment, a Surprising Love Story

I called my friend, Javaughn in a panic on my way home from work (I started a part-time job as a teacher recently).  “I have a post due for APtly Said tomorrow and I have not written anything. What should I write about?”

Then she began talking about her own experience with co-sleeping and how it has made a positive impact on her family’s nighttime parenting routine. Javaughn Renee’s beautiful essay (she is such a gifted writer and artist) illustrates that Attachment Parenting can be adapted to meet individual families’ needs. Take what you like and leave the rest. There is not a checklist, only a core belief that connection and love works to build stronger relationships with children and their parents.

Without further ado — here is Javaughn Renee. She has three beautiful adopted daughters and a multi-racial family.

***

I let off a ‘holier than thou,’ sigh when I got off the phone with a tired friend  practicing Attachment Parenting principles.

“That’s crazy, “ I judged, and promptly placed my three year old in her crib and shut the door.  Two years and two more adopted children later, I hear myself saying, “…hold on Meg, I have to put the girls to bed, I’ll call you back.”

This time, “put to bed,” means co-sleep.  Co-sleeping became a solution to predictable, yet unpreventable, nighttime screaming matches. I got the idea not from a parent but from the last of a stream of behavior and adoption experts and my own desire to be a peaceful parent.

I never wanted screaming matches, sarcasm, or baths of tears to be part of my parental script. I wanted organic babies, who ate organic food and breastmilk, while I decorated their rooms with leaves, pinecones and non-violent paraphernalia. What I was blessed with, was three super strong-willed, attention-seeking, trauma survivors. These include a five-year-old who will eat a shoe if she believes it is made of sugar, a three-year-old who will sacrifice her body to concrete before she uses her words and a 15-year-old who will silently suffer an ingrown toenail for two weeks but cry buckets if she does not receive an Easter egg with the same amount of candy as her younger siblings.

And me? My locks evolved into a very chicken like hair-do, my natural deodorant left me smelling like an ape and instead of counting my (three) blessings, I fell asleep nightly wondering what did I do wrong.  Then I heard about oxytocin, the miracle hormone for my badass kids. A hormone their pre-adoption circumstances deprived them of and a substance I was not nurturing.  Though, I discovered, I could.

“When they [children with difficult behaviors] receive attuned and attentive care, children can begin to have a healthy oxytocin response and engage in healthy social and emotional relationships,” says author B. Byron Post.

The book applies what I recognized as (some) Attachment Parenting principles to adoptive parents who’ve turned into screaming zealots. Although, the book does not spell out API principles, Post’s (and others’) parental paradigm suggests that love, not fear will reduce stress and help children and parents regulate their emotions and behaviors.

So, “to hell with it,” I thought. “I’ll try  this love, thing. ” Every other expert trick or response was out and sleeping with my kids was in.

It was weird. Then it worked. So far, we’ve generally had months of nighttime peace. Even nights of, even-though-we’re-mad-we’re-still-sleeping-here kind of peace. Soon after, I was homeschooling the Sugarmonster and we became oddly calmer and happily closer. We snuggle for stories and even for discipline. Our three-year-old is trying to talk up a storm and we read devotionals and give kisses to our teen rugby player.

I can’t lie to the readers of this site and have you all believe I never resort to consequences or power struggles– because it happens. Yet, API and other new parenting paradigms will remain a part of my skill set as a parent.    All three of my children have to play catch up when it comes to love, nurture, and bonding, and Attachment Parenting will now play a part.

Javaughn Renee is a 43 year old writer and artist currently living in South Bend, Indiana but missing sunny California.  She is a nature loving, yoga teaching, parent, striving to live simply and with love.
In 2010, she completed a Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts. Her research focuses on images of African Americans and nature and their effects on stereotypes. She has written for regional and national publications and blogs for other unique families at Mezclados.wordpress.com.   Javaughn continues to write, practice yoga and parent while watching her daughters grow to be sensitive and strong.

How Extended Co-Sleeping Happens

Extended co-sleeping seems to be one of those things most parents don’t really plan on. When I hear talk of co-sleeping, it’s usually about babies. But there is a large contingent of parents who co-sleep indefinitely with their children. It makes life so much easier. Research shows that extended co-sleeping is more common than many might suspect.

It’s funny. I never thought much about co-sleeping in terms of baby vs toddler vs preschooler. When Annika was an infant, I just assumed she would have moved to her own bed by now (age 4.5). I had no idea how it was going to happen, but in my head, it did.

Unfortunately, when it comes to parenting, it’s rarely that simple.

I tried to move Annika into her own bed off and on. Once around 4 months, we attempted to move her back into her crib, in my bedroom. She’d just stiffen up and scream bloody murder every time I tried to lay her down.

Again, around 8 months, I tried side-carring the crib against my bed. It worked. For one night. She slept for a heavenly six hours alone, and I stretched out luxuriously in my own bed inches away from her.

The second night, she was on to me, and refused to stay sleeping in the crib, waking after only about an hour and refusing to go back down without me close enough to touch.

The early events were traumatic enough on both of us that I gave up and realized I’d be sleeping with my babe for a while.

Around age 2, I made up a bed for her and pushed it up against my bed. She slept in twice sometime around age 2 or 3. At this point I don’t really remember when it happened. Because it hasn’t happened since.

Her dad (my ex) wishes I would harder at getting her in her own bed. As much as I’d like to sleep alone again, I don’t see any way to get her into her own bed. I’ve tried just about everything. We’ve had so many issues surrounding sleep, what with constant night wakings, all-night nursing marathons, night weaning, napping on me, nightmares, potty training, and missing me during overnights with dad.

And finally, finally, (knock on wood) we are finally at a place where we both get good enough sleep. I am finally able to put her to sleep in my bed, and get up for a few me-hours in the evening without screams of terror every 45 minutes.

I am not getting awoken throughout the night for feedings or linen changes. After four years of constant wakings at night, I’m sleeping very regularly now. Sure, with a gangly, long-legged 4.5 year old pushing up against me all night and using me as a body pillow. But still, it’s the best sleep I’ve had since I was pregnant. I thought that was bad. Boy was I wrong.

She has her own room, with her own bed. She’s even attempted to sleep in there a couple of times. But overall, she’s just not ready.

So, I’ll wait her out. And that’s how it happens.

Almost аnуоnе we knоw ѕnоrеѕ. This hаѕ been a wоrld-wіdе рrоblеm аnd mоrе аnd more snorers аrе seeking fоr thе реrfесt stop snoring remedy. But аrе they аll ѕаfе for uѕе? Iѕ thеrе a ѕnоrіng rеmеdу thаt one ѕhоuld bе аvоіdіng? Lеt us fіrѕt fіnd out the саuѕеѕ аnd some of thе ѕnоrіng rеmеdіеѕ аvаіlаblе аnd find out whісh оnеѕ аrе tо bе аvоіdеd. Snoring affects a реrѕоn’ѕ ԛuаlіtу and ԛuаntіtу оf sleeping аnd because оf this іt wіll lеаd tо fаtіguе, іrrіtаbіlіtу аѕ wеll аѕ hеаlth рrоblеmѕ.

Idеntіfуіng the саuѕе of ѕnоrіng
People ѕnоrе for dіffеrеnt rеаѕоnѕ аnd fіt іn dіffеrеnt саtеgоrіеѕ. Some mау hаvе еxtrеmе ѕnоrіng problems whіlе оthеrѕ mау have оnlу lighter соnсеrnѕ. Gеttіng tо thе bottom оf it wіll hеlр us dеtеrmіnе the рrореr аррrоасh.

Gеnеrаllу, ѕnоrіng іѕ caused bу too much tissue іn the thrоаt аnd nаѕаl аrеа, оr blосkаgе оf аіrwауѕ whісh саuѕе vibration аnd рrоduсеѕ ѕnоrе ѕоundѕ. Thе роѕіtіоn of the tongue mау аlѕо bе thе саuѕе of ѕnоrіng. Try to evaluate thе rеаѕоnѕ why уоu ѕnоrе and whеn оr hоw оftеn you ѕnоrе will аіd іn dіrесtlу аddrеѕѕіng whеthеr thе саuѕе саn be ѕеlf-соntrоllеd or nоt. Fortunately, nо mаttеr what саuѕеѕ thе snoring thеrе аrе countless аррrоасhеѕ for ѕtорріng ѕnоrіng thеѕе dауѕ.

Hеrе’ѕ a list оf the vаrіоuѕ ѕnоrіng рrоblеmѕ:
• Agе may bе a саuѕе оf snoring duе tо the narrowing аnd dесrеаѕіng оf thе throat.
• Snoring саn bе hеrеdіtаrу or duе tо bоdу tуре. Mеn most lіkеlу are prone tо ѕnоrіng because thеу hаvе a nаrrоwеr thrоаt, enlarge аdеnоіdѕ, сlеft palate, and thе likes.
• A person mау hаvе nаѕаl аnd sinus problems. Air passageways thаt аrе blосkеd bесаuѕе оf mucus or еxсеѕѕ tissue will result to breathing dіffісultу whісh іn turn wіll lеаd tо ѕnоrіng.
• Bеіng оvеrwеіght іѕ аnоthеr cause of ѕnоrіng duе tо fatty tissues аnd рооr muscle tоnе.
• Exсеѕѕіvе іntаkе оf аlсоhоl, smoking іnсrеаѕеѕ thе change ѕnоrіng.
• Slееріng postures, like laying flat оn the back, саuѕеѕ thе thrоаt tо relax thеrеfоrе blocking thе аіr раѕѕаgе which again саuѕеѕ ѕnоrіng.

Tо ѕum it uр, ѕnоrіng іѕ саuѕеd bу thе nаrrоwіng оf аіr раѕѕаgе іn уоur nоѕе аnd thrоаt оr duе to thе tongue position.

Thеrе are vаrіоuѕ rеmеdіеѕ tо ѕtор ѕnоrіng thеѕе days. Bе patient in fіndіng оut whісh оnеѕ аrе gооd fоr уоu and which ones ѕhоuld bе аvоіdеd.

Stаrt ѕоlvіng thе рrоblеm thе nаturаl wау bу changing sleeping habits. Sleep with thе proper posture, use ріllоwѕ, ѕlеер sideways tо lеt аіr flоw frееlу. If thе ѕnоrіng рrоblеm саrrіеѕ оn try сhаngіng еаtіng hаbіtѕ and lose wеіght if nесеѕѕаrу. It wіll not juѕt іmрrоvе your рhуѕіԛuе but іt will аlѕо give you gооd health.

Clеаr a stuffy nose, use decongestants оr nаѕаl ѕtrірѕ tо аllоw аіr раѕѕаgе. Smоkіng mау also саuѕе ѕnоrіng due tо іrrіtаtіng thе membrane іn thе nоѕе аnd throat thuѕ releasing a ѕnоrіng ѕоund.

If ѕnоrіng cannot be cured naturally, іt іѕ better to ѕtаrt lооkіng for a stop ѕnоrіng dеvісе. Thеrе аrе dеvісеѕ readily аvаіlаblе іn ѕtоrеѕ right nоw ѕuсh as nasal strips, nasal vаlvе dіlаtоrѕ, CPAP, dеntаl аррlіаnсеѕ, ѕtор ѕnоrіng ѕрrауѕ, аnd mаnу mоrе.

However, if snoring still dоеѕ not ѕtор thаt means the lаѕt option wоuld be ѕurgеrу. And this is the one stop snoring rеmеdу thаt you ѕhоuld avoid іf possible. At аll tіmеѕ dеаl with snoring рrоblеmѕ bу uѕіng a nаturаl approach, еxеrсіѕе оr dеvісе.

What About Bob?

I don’t know how Bob got the name.  Something about Bob wanting to break up with Ben, my son. I said it in jest and it just took. During the times I didn’t want to breastfeed, somewhere between a meltdown and bad day, I would say to myself or maybe even out loud, “Ben — Bob wants to break-up with you.”   Some days  I will be honest, I hated breastfeeding.  I wanted to slip out the back Jack, make a new plan, Stan…”  but I continued breastfeeding because I finally got to a place where I trusted my instinct and my choices.  I knew that Ben would decide when it was time to end breastfeeding.  I dropped the worry.  I dropped the internal criticism.  I just followed my heart.

Photo by Megan Oteri

I had a hard time with breastfeeding at first.  It was awful. Nipple scabs. Bloody nipples.  Pain.  PAIN. And more pain. I remember being determined to make it work, but it was awful.  Those first weeks of breastfeeding were some form of torture.  When my son latched on, it was so painful.  I felt like my nipples were rocks with the sensitivity of an ocean full of neurotransmitters right to my breasts and nipples.

We got through it.  I called La Leche League. I called friends. I called my mom.  But I felt like a failure. Nobody had told me it would be this hard.  Nobody mentioned my nipples would have scabs and bleed.  My husband came home with four different bags of candy on a particularly hard day. In his hands, he held two bags of  candy, creams, Soothies (gel like cooling pads you place over your nipples) — and kindness that can not be measured.  He was also draped in some sort of patience suit — he had to have been because I was not at my best those early weeks of breastfeeding.  He hugged me. He kissed me.  He knew this was something he could not empathize with, but he did offer sympathy.  I devoured the bags of candy.  Then I put on the cream and placed the Soothies over my breasts.  I had a sense of relief for about fifteen minutes, until the next time my son wanted to breastfeed.

My son and me.

I did it all wrong.  I had no clue what I was doing.  I had never heard of Attachment Parenting.  The lactation consultant that the hospital sent over to do a check-in at the home made a ten minute stop at my house.  I stumbled to the door and managed to say hello. She gave me a hand held breast pump, quickly explained how to use it and sat with me on the couch for five minutes watching me breastfeed.  I was desperate for information.

“Is this the right position?” I asked impatiently.

“Yes,” she offered.

“Are you sure?”   I was so desperate — so clueless.  So hormonal.  OK — I was crazy.  I hadn’t slept in a week.  As they say in the South, I was a hot mess!

“Is this the easiest way to breastfeed?” I asked, hoping to dig an answer out of her.

“Yes,” she offered again, this time checking something off on her clipboard.

“Can you please show me an easier way to breastfeed? I feel like I am doing it wrong.”

“You’re doing it right.”

She showed me the football hold, telling me this may be easier for me.  As my son fumbled in my arms, I felt foreign in my own body.  I felt clumsy, unsure, and awful.

Why does it feel like I am doing it wrong? Why does it hurt so much? I wanted to ask.

She left my house. I wanted to scream at her, “Get back over here. We’re not done here. In fact we have not even started. Cancel all your appointments — you are mine for the afternoon.”  But I said goodbye and she went on to the next home, the next mom, who was probably just as afraid and insecure as I was.

I called La Leache League immediately after she left and was hysterical, gasping into the phone.  I think I thought they too were the enemy and asked them a slue of questions, ending each one with, “You guys probably think I am doing it wrong.”

For some reason they were the enemy. My own breasts were the enemy. The nipples scabs were the shrapnel wounds.  My own son, the heavy artillery.

My son, Ben

So, what did work? How did we get to a happy healthy breastfeeding relationship?  I worked at it.  I suffered through the pain.  I called my friend, Debra — who nursed all her children until they were three. She sat with me while I nursed.   She watched me.  She assured me I was doing it right.  I finally allowed myself to believe her.  She was very honest. She told me it would hurt until Ben and I got used to each other.  She said it took time.  It was something new for the both of us.  He was learning how to breastfeed, just as much as I was learning to breastfeed.

I went to a local nursing mothers support group.  We sat in a circle with our newborn babies — staring at each other and our babies.  I broke the ice by saying, “My boobs feel like they are going to explode.”  Then we all exchanged stories, fears, laughter, tears.  A good friend of mine who was in my Lamaze class suggested I switch my nursing pillow. I ditched the one I was using and took her suggestion.

During the first few weeks, I used to set the alarm for every three hours, then take my Moses Basket filled with pillows, blankets,  my safety pin (to remind me where I had nursed last), and the notebook where I wrote down every detail of how long my son nursed for. The basket held my pillows, the Boppy, and the nipple cream; it held my insecurity.  I would slather on the cream, turn on the light to the living room, and arrange my pillows so I could start nursing.  It was three AM might I add. And I insisted on turning on the living room light. I was so rigid.  I was unable to let myself flow in this breastfeeding relationship. It had to be by the book, but I had no book to follow.  I should have read more. I should have practiced.  I should have…I should have…kept ringing in my ears. I had never heard of Attachment Parenting.  I was determined to do it by the book. I even called a friend to ask her about using a pacifier.  “I don’t want him to get nipple confusion.” We had an awkward conversation, filled with frantic questions, but answers seemed so far away.  I felt alone and lost.

My friend, Debra, who came over and supported me with her smiles, tender looks, and approving nods, just said simply, “Why don’t you nurse him in your bed?  Let’s try it. It is much easier lying down.”

I said, “No way, he is NOT coming into our bed. I might roll over him and crush him.”

She just smiled.  I knew she knew something I didn’t.  I was so determined to use the football hold and the across my chest hold.

Organically, Ben found his way into our bed and we co-slept as a family.  I did not roll over him; I did not crush him. In fact, my husband commented on how protective I was of him when we slept, with my arm arching over him like a rainbow.

Photo by Megan Oteri

The truth is, I had to go back to work when my son was four months old; I was exhausted waking up in the middle of the night. I stopped setting my alarm every three hours and learned to trust the fact he would cry when he needed to be fed.  He did.  We figured it out.  Along the way, I learned to trust my own instincts. I became the gardener in our organic garden of mother and son.

Photo by Megan Oteri

We learned together and found our way.

I told my friend, Debra,  that there was no way my son would reference my breast by name. There was no way.

She told me a funny story about her three year old having a temper tantrum over wanting Ninny. Her daughter was eating spaghetti by the handful in her high chair.  Messy red clumps of sauce on the floor, on the chair, on her hair.  Her daughter called out, “Ninny, Ninny, Ninny. I want Ninny.”

Well, now that my son is two and half, he often would ask for the breast by name. In this case, “Bob.”  He would say, “Bob inside.  Can I have milk inside Bob?”  Bob became his comfort,  his nurturer, his friend.  We decided that we would stop breastfeeding when Ben was ready.   Ben has recently stopped.  He sometimes lays his head on my breast, smiling and patting Bob.

 

 

Observations in Attachment Parenting in Bangladesh – Guest Post by Annie Urban

Around the world, parents love their babies. They do what they think is best to keep them safe, to nurture them, and to help them grow into exceptional human beings. In many Western countries, attachment parenting is being celebrated as a positive choice that parents can make, while in may traditional cultures it is what they’ve been practicing all along.

In September, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Bangladesh with Save the Children Canada to visit their health and nutrition and education programs. While the main goal of the trip was to understand the needs of children in those countries and have the opportunity to observe the positive results that Save the Children’s programs are having, I found it fascinating to be able to observe similarities and differences in parenting styles and choices.

Although I didn’t have the opportunity to spend enough time with families there to get an in-depth understanding of their parenting styles, there were some observations I was able to make as it relates to some of the principles of attachment parenting.

Prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenting: A lot of remote communities in Bangladesh haven’t had access to health workers or authoritative health information to help women in the community to prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenting. Women have given birth at home, on dirt floors, without a trained birth assistant present. Through Save the Children Canada’s programs, communities are able to found birth centres that act as a central point to care for midwives to care for mothers throughout their pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. The health workers there visit mothers at home during their pregnancies to check in on them and educate them. These communities have also established community action groups and engaged community volunteers to help identify health problems that mothers and babies are facing and to find ways to address those through education and care in their communities.

Feed with love and respect: According to the WHO Global Data Bank on Infant and Young Child Feeding, 98% of babies in Bangladesh are breastfed and the average age of weaning is 33 months. Dig even deeper and you’ll see that 95% of one year olds are still being breastfed as are 91% of two year olds. I was incredibly impressed with these statistics. The idea of a mother being unable to breastfeed is foreign to them because it is so rare that significant breastfeeding problems occur. Breastfeeding is a part of their culture and formula is something that is unnecessary and unaffordable for most. Breastfeeding on cue is the norm in Bangladesh and if anything mothers there need to be taught about the importance of introducing solids at the right time instead of relying on just breast milk to meet the baby’s nutritional needs for too long.

Use Nurturing Touch: One of the ways that women around the world keep their babies close to them is through babywearing. Many traditional cultures have types of wraps or carriers that they use and a lot of those have been adapted and adopted in Western cultures. I was curious to see how the moms carried their babies in Bangladesh and was surprised to find out that they don’t use carriers at all. It isn’t that they were using strollers (they weren’t) or that the babies weren’t being held (they were). But whenever I saw babies they were being carried on a mom’s hip or sitting on a mom’s lap. When I asked why no carriers, I was told that it just isn’t part of their culture and that there are always enough hands around (grandmothers, aunts, friends, etc.) that when the mother needs to put the baby down to do something, someone else can hold the baby. That made a lot of sense to me within a home or community environment, but I have to admit I was tired just watching some of these moms walk along long paths or roads with a large baby on their hip supported by their arm.

Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally: Cribs? What cribs? In all of the homes that we visited in Bangladesh, it was a given that the mom would sleep with the baby. In fact, most homes had only one or two rooms and the whole family slept together in one bed. Educational materials around breastfeeding always picture the mom lying in bed with the baby to nurse at night.

Provide Consistent and Loving Care:  In most families and in the Bangladeshi culture, it seems as though consistent and loving care is the norm. Babies are kept close and as they get older, they are given more independence and responsibility, but families remain very close with everyone living in one small space and often working together in the family business. Unfortunately, for some families, that isn’t the reality. If they cannot afford to feed all of their children, they may send some of them away to work as servants (child domestic workers) in another family’s home, often far away. Those children may be sent away as young as six years old, will have no regular contact with their families back in their village, and are often mistreated and abused by the families they are working for.

Overall, from what I saw in Bangladesh, the principles of attachment parenting are very much a part of their culture. They are very community-minded and the village steps in to help raise children in a nurturing environment, helping them to overcome some of the challenges to attachment parenting that are created by the isolation of the nuclear family in Western cultures. The challenges they face are due to the dire economic circumstances that sometimes prevent them from being able to parent in the way that they would like, creating a lot of heartbreak for families and having dire consequences for children.

The good news though is that the work that non-profit organizations like Save the Children are doing in Bangladesh is having exceptional results. The programs are designed in a way that fits with the local culture and that is sustainable, so that communities can take control of their own health, education and destiny.

For more information

Save the Children Canada

Getting Results for Maternal and Child Health in Bangladesh Through Community Empowerment.

More on breastfeeding in Bangladesh

More on child domestic workers 

Save the Children Canada’s health and nutrition programs for mothers and children

 

Annie has been blogging about the art and science of parenting on the PhD in Parenting Blog since May 2008. She is a social, political and consumer advocate on issues of importance to parents, women and children. She uses her blog as a platform to create awareness and to advocate for change, calling out the government, corporations, media and sometimes other bloggers for positions, policies and actions that threaten the rights and well-being of parents and their children

Examples

When I was in college, way back in the day, I stumbled across a teacher who was getting into this ‘new style’ of parenting. I was the only parent in the entire class besides the teacher, even so, by the end of her second class, the majority of the students were like me and totally interested in this ‘natural parenting’.  Our first big assignment was to do a short study of a parent and then make a comparison of their parenting to natural parenting. I chose one of my older sisters as my subject, the fact that she lived around the corner and that my niece would play with my 5-month-old for two hours had no bearing on my choice…really.

Donna was in her late 20s, married and had two children, a daughter and a son, a little over five years apart. Her daughter was Little Miss Happy Pants, always eager to help (and play with babies) and her son was an impish explorer (read: cute troublemaker-he once walked past mama on the phone, smiling as he pulled a loaded-with-dark-paint paintbrush along the newly white wall). She took care of several kids during the day for extra money. We didn’t have the best example of parenting growing up, something that greatly affected all of us, but especially Donna. Our two older sisters were good moms, but Donna just had this connection to kids. This soft-spoken empathy that we all seemed to lack. Where we would nod in a rushed agreement and then move along with a child showing us a prized possession, Donna would get down to their level, ask questions and really listen to their response. In her eyes, children really were people, too.

I wish I could remember all of my observations from that day…find the paper I wrote. Thankfully, I can easily recall most of my conclusions. In class, we had watched segments of an ABC show, ‘The Home Show‘, with a doctor who was talking about this little practiced parenting style, Dr. Jay Gordon. We read articles from a ‘extreme’ parenting magazine called ‘Mothering‘ and listened to our teacher talk about parenting in other parts of the world. In the couple of weeks we had to work on our papers, I started to realize that this stuff wasn’t so foreign to me after all. I saw it in practice nearly everyday, in my sister. I slowly realized that it was pretty obvious what I had personally lived, with my parents, wasn’t ‘right’. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like home should feel. I wanted more for my son and my future kids. I evolved, over time and certainly never to what I thought was ideal. But messy house be dammed, all eight kids knew to their very soul that they could crawl up on mama, anytime, anywhere and be home.

Donna and SeannYears later, Donna’s life changed drastically. She was divorced, had hard times and luckily, ended up marrying her true love. They tried so hard for a baby of their own. She desperately wanted a child with her husband, so much so that she asked me if I would be a surrogate. Soon after asking, she got pregnant with her miracle baby and she couldn’t have been happier.  Oh, how she loved that baby boy!  They went through some tragic times, the demons of her childhood just wouldn’t leave her. She had rough times with her older kids and just her life in general. But that little boy…I would hear family members say things…”Can you believe he still crawls in bed with her and sleeps? He’s 10-years-old!” I would just smile and nod cause my own little ones and teens would ‘still’ crawl into bed with me!

Our parents died, we all moved apart and Donna made her own world with her husband and son, nearly isolating herself from everyone. When we came together for her funeral a few weeks ago, everyone was stunned at the quiet strength of her ‘baby boy’, 17-year-old Seann. He lost his best friend, the person he could confide in, trust and crawl into bed with if things got tough…for him or her. I sat on the ground outside of Burger King with him at 2:00 AM the night before the service and told him the story of why I was ‘just like’ his mom. How I didn’t realize just how important it was to pick up a crying baby, to kneel down and listen, to nurture and respect and to let the people you love more than anything in the world crawl into bed with you. We have all cried a lot since then, about a woman who gave so much of herself while suffering so badly. I was blessed to have thanked her many times, the last time just minutes before we had to let her go. Blessed to tell her that people do learn from your example. In our case, solely because of her, eight lives attached to a mom who almost didn’t know better. Thank you, Donna.

Do You Have a Baby Sleep Problem?

We have all had questions about baby sleep habits at some point. Is this normal? Is this healthy? Should my baby be doing what her baby is doing? Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and seven other parenting books, shares her expertise on what “sleep problem” really means. 

Do You Have a Baby Sleep Problem?

by Elizabeth Pantley

I’m sure it’s happened to you. Once, twice, or more likely, a hundred times. You’re introducing someone to your new baby and inevitablly they have to ask, “Is he sleeping through the night?”

How on earth do you answer this question? If you say yes, you’re given a pat on the back and bestowed a smile that says, “Congratulations, you’ve done it right.” But if you are honest, and say no, you open the door to a barrage of unwanted advice, which most certainly includes step-by-step instructions on how to put your baby in a crib and let him cry until he falls asleep, so that you can win the My Baby Sleeps Through the Night Award.

If your baby is not sleeping through the night, you may eventually get the feeling that something is definitely wrong. Some of this onslaught of advice starts seeping into your psyche and poking you with the feeling that you do, indeed a problem, and you should definitely fix it.

If you find yourself in this place, the first and most important question to correctly answer is this: Do I truly have a problem? I would suggest getting a monitor to track your baby’s sleep, definitely  check out Baby Monitor Town. They’re the best bet for reviews on the best baby monitors, baby strollers, etc.

Let’s first identify what is NOT a baby sleep problem:

~ WHERE your baby sleeps.
Crib, cradle, swing, sling, or your bed. As long as the situation is safe for your baby, there are no absolute rules about where a baby must sleep.

~ HOW often baby wakes up.
Actually, all human beings wake up between their sleep cycles. We wake up as many as six times every night, as we shift through the stages of sleep. Babies do this too – but they have shorter sleep cycles, and more cycles than adults do. So, in reality – it’s impossible for your baby to sleep all night without waking up!

~ WHAT relatives, neighbors, or anyone else thinks.
Unless the person lives in your home and is involved in your baby’s daily care, their opinions about parenting are just that – their opinions.

None of these issues identify sleep problems . . . IF . . . (and this is a very big IF) mommy, daddy & Baby are all happy and sleeping well. If everyone in your home is happy and getting enough sleep, then the only problem is the stream of unwanted advice. And if that’s the case, it’s time to memorize this response: “Thank you for sharing your ideas. We have this one covered.” And if the other person continues to press their beliefs on you, then it’s fine to let them know, “Thanks for caring. But we’re fine. This may not be the right way for you, but it’s the right way for me.”

Now, let’s identify what really IS a sleep problem that needs to be fixed.

~ BABY is not sleeping well.
For the first two years of life children need 13 to 16 hours of sleep every day, including one to four daily naps. Adequate sleep is a biological necessity to stabilize mood and support the miraculous growth and development that occurs in early life.

~ The adults in the house are suffering, sleep deprived, or miserable.
Being a parent – raising a human being – is the most important job of your life. If your lack of sleep is affecting your ability to be present for your baby, or robbing you of the joy of this special time in your life, it’s imperative that you find a solution.

~ What used to work is no longer working.
You may have been perfectly happy to nurse your newborn every hour or two all night long. You may have relished that precious time like no other. But when you’re baby is still needing all-night attention and you’re busy planning his first birthday party – you may be desperate for change. And change may be necessary for the good of your entire family.

So, to summarize, be sure you aren’t creating problems in your own mind based on what someone else believes is your problem. Address only those issues that are important to your baby’s health, or your family’s happiness, an option like the Kids shark toy pillow can make life easier giving things to play with to the baby so he can get tired. That said, if you are struggling, it is perfectly okay to put together a plan to change your baby’s sleep habits. It’s hard to be a great parent if your nighttime baby care rituals are not working for you. Just know that you never have to leave your baby to cry to sleep – there are a wide variety of gentle, thoughtful ideas that you can use to lovingly and respectfully make those changes.

You know your baby better than anyone else in the world. Trust your instincts, and follow your heart. And enjoy every day of this magical, priceless time in your life.

 

Elizabeth Pantley is mother of four and the author of the now-classic baby sleep book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution online baby gift baskets, as well as the series of seven other No-Cry Solution parenting books on topics such as discipline, separation anxiety and potty training. Visit her at nocrysolution.com.

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