Screentime can be family time

Candice GarrisonThe issue of screentime is one that has come up in my group, API of Knoxville, from time to time. We have splits on the issue among parents who attend the group and even within our leadership team: There are Attachment Parenting (AP) families that don’t believe in limiting access to technology like cellphones, tablets with many apps from spybubble, computers, video games and television. And there are AP parents who don’t believe in allowing any screentime. And in-between, there are AP parents with all kinds of limits and approaches to technology use.

When it does come up in the discussion, I try to play the middle and remind members that screentime doesn’t have to equate to sedentary children “vegging out” in front of said screen. It can be a way for a family to spend time together and engage actively with one another about what is on the screen. This is when screens become tools of connection and education. Screentime can also be a great time to get in lots of nurturing touch through cuddles with our little ones.

I think the most important part of technology use is finding balance — and not falling into the trap of using screens as a distraction when our little ones are seeking, or in need of, connection.

There can be an alarming amount of labeling by members of what is and isn’t AP and who is and isn’t “AP enough,” and I feel like my most important role as an API Leader when these hot-topic issues come up is reminding everyone that it’s all about finding the balance of what works best for our individual families while maintaining an active, involved attachment to our children regardless of what personal decisions we make.

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.

When Relatives Criticize, Transitioning to Stay-at Home Parent, and More at The Attached Family

It’s finally here! This October, in celebration of Attachment Parenting Month 2012, The Attached Family online magazine is focusing on the importance of parent-to-parent support. No matter who we are, where we live, or where we are on our parenting journey, each of us longs to connect with like-minded others:

Who’s Your Support?

Get the inside details on what exactly goes on inside an API Support Group:

The plethora of parenting books and online resources available today are a wonderful resource to parents, but even with the best of Internet discussion forums and teleseminars, there is nothing like in-person parenting support offered by a group of like-minded parents in your community. We all seek out a strong support community: Some of us may find a family or two nearby to share a regular playdate; others may bounce parenting questions off one trusted friend; for many parents, an API Support Group offers what we’re looking for–a group of parents who share the same goals and the same struggles in a society that’s not always friendly toward Attachment Parenting choices.

When Relatives Criticize

American parenting educator and author Naomi Aldort gives sound advice to parents whose relatives disagree with their childrearing choices:

One of the main reasons we find it so hard to inspire respect from relatives and friends is because we seek their agreement. When my children were young, my father used to interrupt every one of my attempts to explain our parenting philosophy; he would say, “That’s rubbish” followed by, “Let me tell you how it works.” He never heard what I had to say. With time, I learned to generate his respect by honoring who he is while keeping my own vision unharmed. I realized that my desire to explain got in the way of granting my father his own thoughts. He needed to be heard and to have his point of view appreciated. My fear that if I showed interest in his ideas I will have to follow them was unfounded, not because he did not wish that I would, but because it was up to me to be the parent of my children.

Don’t Believe Everything in the News

American psychologist Ralph S. Welsh shares why parents need to take media-hyped parenting reports with a grain of salt:

I was horrified to discover the [2010] media attention given to the findings of Prof. Marjorie Gunnoe’s small, twice-rejected-by-peer-reviewed-journals, study on the positive value of spanking children. It gives an extremely bad message to many desperate parents of troubled kids who are stumbling around trying to find the best methods of discipline in dealing with them. Moreover, there is a mountain of data flatly refuting her claims that can be found in thousands of carefully planned and executed studies on the relationship between spanking and later aggressive behavior. Why the media would spotlight this shabby piece of research is beyond me.

Transitioning Home

API interviews Catherine Myers, director of the Family & Home Network:

Many new parents or parents-to-be would like to stay at home with their children but find the transition from a professional career to a stay-at-home lifestyle to be a bit bumpy. I certainly did. I was used to fast-paced days as an investigative news journalist and often nights and weekends as an assistant managing editor. I wanted to stay home after my first baby was born, but I had quite the learning curve as my life slowed to the pace of caring for a baby. I wouldn’t have traded any of those amazing moments of watching my children grow, but it would’ve made for a smoother first few years if I had been more prepared for how life changes with a new baby, especially if you’re a newly minted stay-at-home parent.

Parenting for a Sustainable World: Cultivating a Reverance for Life

API cofounder and author Lysa Parker discusses how Attachment Parenting and conscientious living come full circle:

It wasn’t until I became a parent that I truly understood the deep connection between early childhood experiences and how they affect our relationship to the earth and all living things. In my work with children, I found that many kids seem to have a natural affinity to nature, but this affinity must be nurtured, or it gets buried like so many other gifts.

Enough with the ‘mom enough’ stuff…Can we just talk?

There’s little more demoralizing than being told what we’re doing is wrong, or that there’s a better way, or worse – that we’re in some way harming or damaging our children. We take it very personally, especially when the criticism centers around our parenting.

That’s why the TIME cover and tagline, “Are You Mom Enough” exploded over the media as it did. Their job was to get attention and ultimately sell copies. Unfortunately, to do so, they resorted to playing on mothers’ emotions and spotlighting the negative, competitive vibe around a conversation that should be supportive, encouraging and helpful.

pathways magazine fall 2012The Fall 2012 issue of Pathways magazine features the cover mom herself, Jamie Lynne Grumet, sharing her thoughts and clearing the air about the TIME cover photo and the media storm surrounding it all. Grumet tells Pathways, “I think the hate that comes from some mothers is from defensiveness and that they believe what we are saying is that what they do is less or they are hurting their child, which is totally untrue. There are so many ways to parent.”

It’s not just TIME. It happens all too often. Some parenting practice is framed as an us vs. them, a red team against the blue team, a this-way-wins-over-that-way or this-group-is-better-than-that-group issue. Then we, as parents, end up divided.

Sadly, when this is the arena we’re given, we’re left with little choice. We either risk getting into a debate, or we stay hush-hush about how we parent. Parenting becomes one of those off-limits topics, like religion and politics. We don’t want to offend anyone, fuel the mommy wars, or create guilt. As a result, we miss out on conversations that inform us, ease our fears and give us new ideas or perspectives.

It’s a shame, because we want to reach out, to get support. To give support. Instead, we miss out on the kinds of discussions that benefit our children.

We can’t control what the big media outlets will do. All we can do is try to create an environment for healthy conversation within our own circles. When you find yourself discussing parenting, here are some things to keep in mind to keep it friendly and supportive:

Remember, the AP principles are adaptable. For example, “feed with love and respect” applies to parents who breastfeed as well as parents who bottle-nurse. “Respond with sensitivity” is about as non-specific as it gets and applies to all kinds of interactions. Each of the principles is written very broadly and can be adapted to every family situation.

We never know the whole story. So we can’t possibly judge without all of the details.

We all make mistakes and are doing our best. We all want what is best for our kids and we’re working with what we’ve got. Nobody can be faulted for that.

Change the subject if you must. Some people just want to be right. And that’s okay. When the conversation takes a turn toward competitiveness and winning or losing, and that uncomfortable feeling sets in, it may be time to move to another topic.

Respond with sensitivity (sound familiar?). Always assume the other person’s feelings are easily hurt. This is advice my husband and I were given right before we got married, and it applies well here. If you assume the other person is sensitive, you won’t say anything wrong.

Want to open up a discussion with other parents who share your goals? API Support Groups provide a nice, level playing field that encourages helpful discussion and avoids judgment and competition. Find a support group in your area.

Also, coming soon: Jamie Lynne Grumet and her family will be featured in the next issue of The Attached Family!

Dr. Sears Comments on TIME Magazine’s Attachment Parenting Cover Article

Guest blogger Dr. Bill Sears shares his thoughts on the much talked about TIME Magazine Attachment Parenting Article, “The Man Who Remade Motherhood.”

Hello parents!  The cover was risky but a brilliant hook by Time Magazine to attract readers, and they achieved their goal.  The writer, Kate Pickert, herself a new mother and one of Time’s most diligent writers, sincerely wanted to increase awareness of the Sears’ family contribution to parenting and family health.  She lived with our family for two days, followed me in the office, and spent hours with me on the phone in an attempt to be factual.  While the cover photo is not what I or even cover-mom Jamie would have chosen, it accomplished the magazine’s purpose.  And, as some attachment dads observed, finally a magazine displays a woman’s breast for the real purpose for which they were designed – to nurture a child, not to sell cars and beer.  Cover-mom Jamie is a super-nice person and highly-educated in anthropology, nutrition and theology.  I enjoyed the several hours I spent with her family and her kids shined with the social effects of attachment parenting.

Even though I’m used to being misunderstood and misquoted, as is attachment parenting (AP), I had a few concerns.  AP is not extreme.  It’s very natural and instinctual.  It’s the oldest parenting style in the world.  Nor is breastfeeding three years extreme, at least throughout the world.  The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends for optimal health children be breastfed for at least two years and sometimes recommends three years.

Another misconception was AP is difficult for the mother who works outside the home.  It’s just the opposite.  Women are the greatest multi-taskers in the world.  AP, modified to the parents’ work schedule, helps busy parents reconnect with their child, which actually makes working and parenting easier.  It’s attachment moms that forged the long overdue workplace-friendly breastfeeding-pumping stations and laws which respect and value the ability of a working mother to continue part-time breastfeeding.

Regarding the science criticism, it’s impossible to scientifically prove by a placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized study (the gold standard in science) that AP works better than a more distant style of parenting.  You would have to take a thousand mothers who practice AP and another thousand who don’t, and see how their kids turn out.  What parent would sign up for such a study?   Yet there is one long-term effect that science does agree on: The more securely-attached an infant is, the more securely independent the child becomes.

I’m disappointed the article did not pay more attention to the bottom-line of attachment parenting: how AP children turn out – and that’s where this style of parenting really shines.  In my 40 years of studying the long-term effects of what parents do to help their children turn out well, AP kids generally are more: empathetic and compassionate, relate better to people, are easier to discipline, and are just nicer to be around.  When I walk into an exam room in my office, an AP baby, like a little sunflower, naturally turns toward my face and lights up.  I’ve yet to see an AP child be a school bully.  On the contrary, they are the ones who try to comfort a hurting child.

Attachment parenting is not an all-or-nothing, extreme, or indulgent style of parenting.  I advise moms and dads that the seven Baby B’s (birth bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, bedding close to baby, belief in baby’s cries, beware of baby trainers, and balance) are starter tools (remember, tools not rules) to help parents and infants get to know each other better.  And families can modify these tools to fit their individual family situation.

Over my years of mentoring attachment parents, the main two words of feedback I have heard is empowering and validating.  My “helper’s high” file is filled with thank you letters such as: “Thank you, Dr. Bill, for validating what my heart and gut tell me is right.”  “Thank you, Dr. Bill, for empowering us new parents with your personal experience to help us enjoy our children more.”

As an investment banker dad once told me: “AP is one of the best long-term investments you can make in giving your child a greater chance of growing up happier, healthier, and smarter.”  Aren’t those the three main qualities we all want for our children?

Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding

The Momosphere is all atwitter over Time Magazine’s cover story: “Are You Mom Enough?” From its “shocking” cover photo to its provocative title, it’s obvious Time was shooting for “mommy war” controversy (something I work hard to stay away from).

If I shy away from controversy, why would I ever agree to the possibility of being on the cover of Time? Because I want to normalize breastfeeding past infancy. Extended does not equal extreme.

People have said that my son (and moreso Jaime’s son, who is on the cover) will be upset or embarrassed someday by this article. But that is the attitude we are trying to change – we do not want the sight of an older nursling to cause a stir ten years from now. By agreeing to be a part of this photo shoot, we wanted to create opportunities for conversation and education about how normal and natural it is to nurture our little ones by nursing past infancy. We want our children to never bat an eye at the sight of a mother breastfeeding past infancy.

So how can one photo stir up such controversy and negativity? And why would any mother choose to nurse for longer than a year?

The Decision to Breastfeed – For Three Months or Three Years – Is Culturally Influenced

Western culture tends to focus on the sexual aspect of the female breast much more than on its biological role of breastfeeding, despite the fact that we are mammals. The word “mammal” is derived from mammary glands. Mammary glands are those amazing parts of our breasts, the primary purpose of which is to feed our young. So while we often hear about nursing moms being asked to leave or cover up, you rarely hear about petitions to have Victoria Secret ads removed from evening television or city billboards. Go figure, eh?

In addition to our culture’s fascination with breasts as sexual objects, breastfeeding is also “modified by a wide variety of [cultural] beliefs, not only about infant health and nutrition, but also about the nature of human infancy and the proper relationships between mother and child, and between mother and father1.”

That must explain many of the objections I’ve read whenever there is an article about nursing past infancy. There are vague complaints about it being “too sexual.” That it encourages children to be overly dependent on mothers. That it is somehow at odds with a child’s development (ever heard the one about children old enough to “ask” should not be nursing?).

Nursing older children, however, is not a new thing. Not only is there evidence that mothers have nursed past toddlerhood throughout human history (and have been recommended to by physicians!), but cultures around the world continue to nurse to three years or beyond today2. If nursing past infancy were a harmful practice, the human race would not have flourished so.

And so while the “median age of weaning throughout the world is between ages three and five[,]” here in North America we are weaning our children when they are far younger.

Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy Benefits Children and Mothers

The biologically normal benefits of breastfeeding do not magically disappear once a baby turns a year old. Breastmilk still provides nutrition that is far superior to cow milk. It contains an abundance of antibodies. “In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process3.”
Think about it like this:

Suppose you have an oil well in your back yard. Like all oil wells, its yield is highest in the first year. You get a check for $100,000 dollars. Great! So now do you cap the well? The next year you get a check for only $10,000. Do you cap the well? The next year you get a check for $1,000. Do you cap the well? The next year you get a check for $100. Do you cap the well? [The] point [is], the well will *always* yield a benefit. . .

Breastfeeding works something like that. Its nutritional and immunological importance wanes over time. But there’s never, never a time when it’s not a good food or a good source of antinfectives. And, of course, this analogy doesn’t address the emotional value, the place breastfeeding has in the mother-child relationship4.

For the record, the American Academy of Family Physicians has said: “As recommended by the WHO, breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement. It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years.

So this idea of a mother breastfeeding her three or four year old as unnatural? It’s incorrect.

Breastfeeding can continue to be a normal, healthy part of your relationship with your child into toddlerhood and beyond. It has been one reason that my son counts my embrace as the most secure, loving place he knows. (He told me!)

Did you breastfeed past infancy? Why or why not?

References, and for more information

1. Jen Davis, <a href=”http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbsepoct07p196.html”>Breastfeeding Beyond a Year: exploring benefits, cultural influences, and more</a> quoting Dettwyler, K.A. “A Time to Wean” in Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter, 1995.

2. For more on these studies, check out Breastfeeding Beyond a Year and the studies cited therein (along with the reference to physicians recommending extended breastfeeding), A Natural Age of Weaning by Kathryn Dettwyler, Natural Weaning by Norma Jane Bumgarner, and ChildInfo.org.

3. Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet (citing Goldman AS. et al., Immunologic Components in Human Milk During Weaning, Acta Paediatr Scand. 1983 Jan;72(1):133-4; Goldman, A., Goldblum R.M., Garza C., Immunologic Components in Human Milk During the Second Year of Lactation, Acta Paediatr Scand 1983 May;72(3):461-2; Hamosh M, Dewey, Garza C, et al: Nutrition During Lactation. Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 1991, pp. 133-140)] The longer you breastfeed, the less risk you have of developing breast cancer, endometrial cancer, or ovarian cancer.[6. See Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet and citations therein, and 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child and citations therein.

4. Nursing Past a Year at The Compleat Mother

TIME Magazine Shows Attachment Parenting is Going Mainstream, Not Extreme

When we, Attachment Parenting International, learned that TIME Magazine decided to take on attachment parenting in its May 21, 2012 issue, we had to ask, “TIME, are you news magazine enough?”

Beyond the incendiary attempt to pit mothers against each other asking, “Are you mom enough?,” and a strategic cover contrived to sell copies, what did TIME actually say about attachment parenting?

In case you don’t get very far past the cover, here is what TIME happened to acknowledge to the world about attachment parenting:

Dr. William Sears, with Martha Sears, deserve recognition for changing the course of parenting and giving parents The Baby Book 20 years ago. Dr. Sears is noted by TIME as “The Man Who Remade Motherhood” and author of many parenting books, including The Baby Book: “First published in 1992, The Baby Bookis now in print in 18 languages, with more than 1.5 million copies sold.”

Attachment parenting is changing how we parent: “Chances are also good that, consciously or not, you’ve practiced some derivative of attachment parenting or been influenced by its message that mothers and babies evolved to be close to each other.”

“Fans and critics of attachment parenting can agree on two things: there has been a sea change in American childrearing over the past 20 years, and no one has been a more enthusiastic cheerleader for it than Sears.”

“So many of the ideas of attachment parenting are in the culture even if you don’t believe in Dr. Sears per se,” says Pamela Druckerman , author of Bringing Up Bébé.

“[Attachment parenting] is a new common sense.”
(TIME, The Man Who Remade Motherhood, Kate Pickert)

Nurturing touch fosters security: “…it’s hard to argue with his overall message that babies who are cuddled feel secure.”

Breastfeeding promotes bonding: “He surely deserves credit for promoting breastfeeding and the idea that the bond between mother and baby is critical.”

Consistent and loving care is key: “The difference between children without consistent relationships with parents (or parental figures of any kind) and well-parented children who are fed formula (instead of breastmilk) and put in bouncy seats (instead of slings) is huge. The former, science says, are headed for developmental and emotional problems.”

Fathers are not incidental to attachment parenting:
“Much of Sears’ instruction for fathers revolves around the supportive role they can play for their wives.” “Sears also encourages “attachment fathering,” pointing out that dads can wear their babies just as well as mothers.”

Many AP moms work outside the home: “[Sears] says about 60% of mothers with children in his pediatric practice work outside their homes, and indeed, some career mothers are drawn to an attachment parenting model that helps them get close to their babies when they finally come home from work.”
(TIME, The Man Who Remade Motherhood, Kate Pickert)

Breastfeeding beyond infancy is … natural: “In 2008, the American Academy of Family Physicians did its part to try to destigmatize nursing toddlers and older children, applauding the WHO guidelines even as it acknowledged that extended breastfeeding “is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement.” The group added: It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. Family physicians should be knowledgeable regarding the ongoing benefits to the child of extended breastfeeding, including continued immune protection, better social adjustment and having a sustainable food source in times of emergency. The longer women breastfeed, the greater the decrease in their risk of breast cancer. There is no evidence that extended breastfeeding is harmful to mother or child.”
(TIME, Extended Breast-Feeding: Is It More Common than We Think?, Bonnie Rochman)

Weaning happens naturally: “So I rarely had to contend with strangers’ stares because the older my kids got, the less they nursed. That’s the normal progression of things – it’s how weaning is ideally supposed to work.”
(TIME, Extended Breast-Feeding: Is It More Common than We Think?, Bonnie Rochman)

Attachment parenting advocates societal change to accommodate family wellbeing: “More power to all of us. Let’s not blame our breasts for the other societal issues – like unequal pay, lack of daycare and having to protect our babies from toxins – that are holding us back.”
(TIME, Why Breast-Feeding Isn’t the Bugaboo, Dominique Browning)

Greater acceptance of nursing, including in public, helps families meet their babies’ needs: The world wonders what the discussion is: “But much of the world doesn’t share America’s uneasiness. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breast-feeding up to a child’s second birthday ‘or beyond.’ Most U.S. mothers don’t even meet the recommendation made by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Surgeon General that they skip infant formula and breast-feed exclusively for a mere six months.”
(TIME, Extended Breast-Feeding: Is It More Common than We Think?, Bonnie Rochman)

Parenting with intention may be healing and address unresolved needs: “Our parenting preferences matter deeply to us – they boost our self-esteem, or perhaps soothe and heal us from having been parented in a way that didn’t meet our needs.”
(TIME, “Parents Do What’s Right for Them,” Judith Warner)

There is value in being responsive to infant cries. We know responding will not spoil an infant. So if the research on “cry it out” is not conclusive, no need to support ignoring cries and the parent urge to respond, in lieu of building trust and a stronger relationship, and relying on support if needed. After finding in his research the science behind Dr. Sears’ work lacking, Jeffrey Kluger does acknowledge: “None of this means that Sears’ larger philosophy of attachment parenting is fatally flawed – as his millions of believers and their happy, well-adjusted babies would surely attest.”
(TIME, The Science Behind Dr. Sears: Does it Stand Up?, Jeffrey Kluger)

Attachment Parenting holds up to scrutiny: “[Mothers] research; they seek out best practices; they join a group, form a committee and agitate for their version of feeding/disciplining/sleeping. If you don’t believe me, just visit a breast-feeding support group with former litigators, marketing executives and investment bankers.”
(TIME, How Feminism Begat Intensive Mothering, Belinda Luscombe)

Parents are actively advancing the field of parenting; the sciences of development and attachment are affirming their parenting instincts: “We’ve educated women to forge a new path. Why did we think they’d treat raising children any differently?”
(TIME, How Feminism Begat Intensive Mothering, Belinda Luscombe)

Balance and support are essential to parenting: “Sears tells mothers, “Do the best you can with the resources you have”; he tells husbands to book massages for their wives and shoo them out of the house so they can get a break from parenting.”
(TIME, The Man Who Remade Motherhood, Kate Pickert)


This TIME magazine issue does have parents reading between the lines, pleased to discover the attachment parenting name to what they’ve been practicing.

We certainly don’t expect Attachment Parenting International promotional material from TIME magazine, so the work remains to shift culture to responsive and compassionate parenting, and to make clarifications as needed:

Attachment parenting is motivated by a desire to raise well adjusted, strong, independent children, as parents meet the trust and other emotional needs of the child from the very start and it’s not the case that: “…it’s more about parental devotion and sacrifice than about raising self-sufficient kids.”
(TIME, The Man Who Remade Motherhood, Kate Pickert)

The essence of attachment parenting is loving care that features a reciprocal, relational approach that goes deeper than this simple formula: “The three basic tenets are breast-feeding (sometimes into toddlerhood), co-sleeping (inviting babies into the parental bed or pulling a bassinet alongside it) and “baby wearing,” in which infants are literally attached to their mothers via slings.”
(TIME, The Man Who Remade Motherhood, Kate Pickert)

“Attachment parenting is in many ways the practical application of my father’s theory,” writes Sir Richard Bowlby Bt., who “lectures to promote a much broader understanding of his father’s work [Dr. John Bowlby] on attachment theory,” in his endorsement of API co-founders’, Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker, book Attached at the Heart: Eight Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children, just to begin addressing the criticism that “The science on attachment is also easily misunderstood and misused. The father of attachment theory is John Bowlby, a British psychoanalyst who in the mid – 20th century studied orphans and children abandoned by their mothers.”
(TIME, The Man Who Remade Motherhood, Kate Pickert)

There is nothing that prohibits a parent who works from incorporating the heart of relationship with attachment parenting. Perhaps they may elect to breastfeed or bottlenurse; babywear; or cosleep safely (not necessarily in the adult bed) to get more sleep; and at least nurture their child without spanking or shaming; and respond with sensitivity most of the time. Many find attachment parenting makes parenting and working more compatible, not “impossibly demanding” as Judith Warner perceives: “That’s why William Sears, for all his insistence on flexibility and admonitions to ‘do the best you can with the resources you have,’ strikes so many of us as impossibly demanding for any woman who wants or simply needs to keep out-of-home work a viable part of her life.”
(TIME, “Parents Do What’s Right for Them,” Judith Warner)

Yes, the AP crowd is on average pretty well educated, but it isn’t affluence that determines their choices — many continue to make financial sacrifices based on what science (and their own hearts) say is best for their children.“The affluent, slightly older and well educated moms who are most likely perusing parenting books like those written by William Sears have already tasted financial independence, self-sufficiency and freedom of movement.”
(TIME, “Parents Do What’s Right for Them,” Judith Warner)

We welcome TIME Magazine giving attachment parenting a public platform for discussion. For many years we have been witnessing a silent transition of the mainstream culture to attachment parenting–not extremism, as parents experience the benefits of parenting compassionately and become more confident in trusting their instincts.

TIME, the blame for mother guilt does not lie with attachment parenting or with any other type of parenting philosophy or culture — the complexity and balancing act of motherhood, encompassing mommy guilt or even typical healthy doubt as we navigate our way, existed before attachment parenting resurfaced. In fact, while TIME perpetuates the idea of an epidemic of immobilizing mommy guilt, moms of every stripe are in no uncertain terms countering, “Yes, we are mom enough.” AP brings balance and self-acceptance to mothers, embracing our imperfections and even recognizing how the repairs we make with our children strengthen and grow the attachment relationship. Now, we must move past the misconceptions and myths some of the conversation is dominated by and collectively think of the future we are raising.

Attachment parenting has a pedigree that goes to the beginning of history, rooted in a theory that has 60 years of formal research behind it, and 20 years of reclaiming our parenting instincts from disproven constructs of baby training and ignoring infant cries. If examined without bias and preconceptions, TIME may well one day report on attachment parenting as a “new” scientific discovery. The front cover and title would hail attachment parenting as the next life-changing advancement in society that benefits children, mothers, fathers, families, and society; but it’s enough for now.

Attachment Parenting International
www.attachmentparenting.org

Mother: I was desperate for that title

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”

-Debra Ginsberg

Mother.

I was desperate for that title.  I went through years of infertility. I was diagnosed with a uterus septum several years ago; I had several operations and procedures to diagnose it, as well as, fix it.  My husband and I ditched fertility treatments (fertility drugs and two failed IUIs) and opted to have acupuncture.  That did the trick; I was pregnant two years later, with my son. He was born, May 13.  Now, his birthday falls this year on Mother’s Day.

pastedGraphic.pdf
Photo by Sara Turner

Now, I am a mother.  And with this title, comes the work, the love, the magic, and the chaos.

Right now, he is watching Sesame Street so I can write this.  Well, now his bare chested toddler torso is up against my right shoulder and I am begging him to press play again. So much of motherhood is a series of meltdowns that fury inside me, silently, and sometimes not-so-silent, while outside my own body, my toddler’s hands are everywhere, and my body doesn’t seem to belong to me, with cries for “Ba Ba” (his name for my breasts) and toddler somersaults across my chest and legs, crying “Mama Mama.”

Nothing quiets, UNTIL I STOP everything I am doing and throw up the white flag.  I give in to his needs. I am not going to lie – this cheeses me off sometimes.  I JUST WANT TO FINISH THIS ONE ARTICLE – THIS ONE THING. But that’s the thing – motherhood surrenders, not in defeat, but in victory – for it is in these surrenders, my toddler rises higher, smarter, more loved, more nurtured.

But darn, I just got a knee to the shoulder and his little persistent hands keep trying to turn off my computer.  So, I compromise.  I stop.  And we read his favorite book for the zillionth time, Llama Llama Red Pajama.

The veil of motherhood only gets lifted for a few: my husband, my closest friends, and sometimes, it just does not. I cloak myself in the finest silk and finest expectations of motherhood, and sit idly, feeling ugly underneath that beautiful white silk – feeling dark, angry, forgotten and I stir.  Oh, do I stir.

The comfort of kisses and hearing “Mama,” from my toddler, are like waves of rainbows.  But the surrender flag must go up to see these rainbows, for I am blind to them if I do not.  Magic is a funny thing – it comes and goes and sometimes there are droughts for days – no rainbows – no flag.

I managed to get through the first year breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and no TV.

pastedGraphic_1.pdf
Photo by R. Oteri

The second year, well, that was a different story.  We still co-sleep, but it seems to be something our queen mattress has outgrown.  And we are still breastfeeding. But motherhood is not a cut and dry thing.

I really have no idea what I am doing.  Really, I don’t.  I just have a swollen compass I call my heart which leads me in the direction of my instincts and those instincts some refer to as Attachment Parenting.

Attachment Parenting has taken a beating with the recent Time magazine cover.  I have so many feelings about that cover, but mostly the feelings have dissipated and now I am left with the one feeling that is constant in my life: motherhood.  My choice is to be the best mother I can and to accept that some of my own expectations of what motherhood should be, simply are not realistic.  This flag of surrender, some might refer to as common sense.

Like Spiderman’s uncle said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  I am responsible to raise this little human being to the best of my ability.  But babies and children don’t come with manuals.  They do though, come into the world wanting to be loved and nurtured.  That is manual enough for me.

I have no manual though and do I ever wish there was one. I do not reference parenting blogs, nor do I reference parenting books.  Most of the time, I am frantic, unshowered, and bored out of my mind, waiting for something to happen. And it often does: a luminescent crayon streak on the clear plastic blender, a load of folded clothes haphazardly sprayed all over the not-so-clean living room, the dog’s water bowl tipped over onto something that JUST SHOULD NOT GET WET, and a plethora of other things.

I’m not sure if I am doing it wrong, or just being honest.  Motherhood is hard. So many slices of myself get deli-sliced-thin and result in a big ole’ hoagie of letting go, sacrifice, doubt, and insecurity.  The condiments hold me in place: friendship, love, and support, and the way my boy loves me.

Each mother has their own journey. And I just wish we would stop clothes-lining each other and let each other parent.  The Mommy Wars have got to stop.  We love our children.  We really do and to each his or her own.

Most moms are doing the best they can.  The judgment is excruciating. Painful.  Ugly.  But my theory of where the mommy wars and the judgement stems from is the Grand Canyon of doubt and insecurity you get when you have children.  This great responsibility leaves one feeling powerless.  And that is the truth (as I see it).

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”
― Debra Ginsberg

There are so many things out of my control, so I hold tight to what I can control – how I choose to parent my child.  And nobody is going to get their claws on that, for it is wrapped in the impenetrable magic spider web of the love I have for my child. This intricate web is wrapped in the intensity of motherhood.

pastedGraphic_2.pdf
Photo by Megan Oteri

My mother did the best she could and I am doing the best I can (and some days I totally stink at motherhood, but I keep going, keep trying, and keep evolving).  I have some more tools in my tote these days, with supportive mothers, and a computer to reach out on days I feel isolated and alone.  Just to know I am not alone on this journey, gives me some sense of peace.  I also have a friend who lives in the same town as me, who I can go to, and lift the perfect mommy veil, showing her my warts and scars motherhood brings.

She tells me, “Yeah, I get it.” That’s all I need to hear.

In the distance, I see the magic rainbow – and the beauty of it doesn’t make me feel better – it’s the realization that I can’t see the rainbow all the time that makes me feel better, because it’s raining – the hard hail storm pellets of motherhood.

The beauty, the heart wrenching worry, the deli-thin slices lost to the big ole’ hoagie of motherhood, another bite, another part of myself, as I knew it, gone.

But the rainbow comes out, as my toddler makes ambulance siren pitch sounds right in my ear, and talking toddler gibberish.  I see it.  I can smell it (or is that me who smells who has not showered or brushed my teeth this morning). I taste it.  I touch it.  I feel it (his toddler arms are wrapped around my neck as I write this).  This is the texture of motherhood – smooth, rough, splintered, cool, hot, layered in the mosaic of mother’s love.

pastedGraphic_4.pdf
Photo by Sara Turner

Happy Mother’s Day.

Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.

© 2008-2022 Attachment Parenting International All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright