Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Attachment vs. Other Parenting Philosophies

Lately I've been reading through the message boards on a site called "Mothering dot commune" it is an attachment parenting/breastfeeding/ co-sleeping etc sort of site and I find the message boards quite interesting. if you want to check it out the URL is http://www.mothering.com/discussions/

While some of the parents who post there seem to be pretty reasonable and intelligent, I think this is a great place to find some very far out ideas about parenting. One common theme that I find there, that interests me, is that of attachment parenting.

I don't know that I am at all interested in finding some particular style of parenting and sticking to it. I doubt that there is ever a one size fits all; or even one style that fits my family in every aspect. I would say that there are many AP ideas that I like. First, I am a big fan of not implementing a cry it out (cio) policy. Honestly, I don't think I could handle letting Lily cry it out and I want her to know that she is not alone when she is distressed, whatever the problem might be. Attachment parenting is also against the CIO idea, so we agree there.

Eric and I have also found that co-sleeping is an arrangement that works really well for us. This is also a big AP thing, but that was not the impetus for us making this choice. The thing is that when Lily was born she sometimes would choke (on leftover amniotic fluid in her lungs they said) while she was sleeping. When this happened she could not breathe until we suctioned her out or turned her upside down and helped clear her airway. Needless to say, this scared the bejesus out of us. The first time it happened was when she was maybe 2 days old. It was the middle of the night and Lily was sleeping in the plastic hospital crib next to my hospital bed. Eric was sleeping on the couch they provide for partners. In the middle of the night I am woken up by the sound of Lily chocking and, having just had abdominal surgery, was unable to get to her quickly. I yelled for Eric to grab her, and he did, but it took longer than I was comfortable with.

After that I was way too worried to even consider having her sleep anywhere than with me. At that time there was zero risk of me rolling over on her (you can't roll over without waking up when you have an abdominal incision) and since then she still shares our bed. Now, though she has her own bed inside of ours. It has hard sides so that we couldn't roll over on her and still she is close enough that we can attend to her if she has a problem or wakes up. This is working well for us.

In all I think AP has some good ideas. I think it is a great thing to make sure that your child knows that you are there when they want or need you. I don't believe it is possible to "spoil" an infant and I believe that being held and cuddled with will help our child develop properly and feel like she is loved (not that she wouldn't otherwise).

The thing is that, as in all things, I see some people who take this too far. People who say they are breastfeeding 40 times a day (that must be hell on the mommy) and never put their baby down. Yeah, we hold Lily for the greater part of the day, and other than during tummy time we hold her whenever she's awake, but we put her down when she is napping and make sure that she has at least some alone playtime (not much at 3 weeks of course). I just wonder how, if you hold your baby ALL of the time, they will get the chance to learn to crawl and play independently. IMO babies and children need some time to play on their own, even if it is right beside you, so that they can develop their sense of independence on their own schedule. If you never give them a chance to walk/crawl away from you then how will they learn to explore their world?

I guess I will refer back to what I hope to achieve as a parent (something I think Eric and I completely agree on). I really hope that I/we are able to find a balance as parents and avoid getting too fanatical about anything. While I think I'll lean a bit closer to the AP ideals I think I hope we can maintain a flexible and laid back attitude about what we end up doing and figuring out what works best for Lily and for us.

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