Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Attachment Parenting - The ABC's

Well, I've mentioned attachment parenting (AP) quite a few times and you may have noticed that I've got a few links to sites here on my blog. But in updating my profile I've realized that I've never really discussed attachment parenting in much depth. So, I've decided to write a little ditty today about what attachment parenting looks like in my family. I've decided to do an ABC format as I thought this would make for a fun writing exercise. So since my ankle is sprained and my parents took Boo for me, what better way to spend my time?


This is going to have more of a personal focus, so I won't be quoting research and such. That's easily accessed by a google search.I'm also not going to waste my writing defending my choices. Maybe in another post. So, this post will probably be best received by those who practice AP or are really interested in the ideas of AP, not those who would like to debate. If you know you're not AP and not interested in AP, this post might just piss you off. That's not the intent of course. But I've noticed that sometimes we as moms get defensive and pissy when our ways are different from someone else's. So, this post isn't meant to be an attack on those who choose a different way. But as I've already said, this will be well-received by those who practice AP or are really interested in learning more about AP. I am also not trying to imply that everything I've listed is part of core AP theory/philosophy. This is what it looks like in our home.

A - Attachment - my days are spent letting Boo know that his relationship with mama is secure. One example is that I'm his attachment object. A lot of times this might be a blanket, a pacifier, a stuffed animal, etc...Right now, it's mama. Boo has no special relationship with any other object. He goes to mama for comfort. And I'm more than happy to provide this.

B - Breastfeeding - I continue to nurse as this promotes a close relationship. There is something about holding Boo physically close in this way that is very bonding.

C - Cosleeping - Sleeping at night is very cramped and squished as we all pile into a full-size bed...and I wouldn't have it any other way. I get to turn over and see a sweet little Boo all cuddled up next to mama and sometimes cuddled next to dadda.

D - Demanding - Boo is allowed to demand my attention. When he wants to be held in the middle of my fixing supper, cleaning, etc...I put him in a wrap on my back and we're good to go.

E - Effort - I have to choose every day to put forth the effort in maintaining AP principles. Sometimes it's easier to use a harsh "No" than redirect my child. I can do that while sitting on the couch. Redirection usually involves my getting up. Bummer. But,it is worth the effort.There's no doubt in my mind.

F - Feeding on demand - Boo knows the sign for milk and lets me know when he's hungry or thirsty. He's very adamant about it and makes sure that mama notices his sign!

G - Gentle - Discipline is gentle. Boo has recently discovered the sadness of leaving the swing behind at the park. Redirection/songs/tickling are all gentle methods that work. Last time we were at the park, the grass was a great distraction. He thought pulling it out was sooo fun!

H - Happy - Boo is a very happy child and I think part of that is definitely his nature, but I think having his needs met and feeling secure also have something to do with that.

I - Immunity - Boo is allowed to build up his own immunity, rather than being subject to the onslaught of childhood vaccinations.

J - Juice - I'm pretty anti-juice. Boo gets water besides breastmilk. He occasionally gets whole milk if I'm not around for some reason (date night, mom's night out, etc...). I look for natural ways to feed my child and that means trying to keep processed sugar out of his diet as much as possible.

K - Kindness -Boo is very kind. He gave me a hug yesterday when I was crying. In the same way I try to be empathic to his feelings by acknowledging his feelings and that they're valid. Ex - "You're so sad (mad,happy,frustrated,etc...)."

L - Listening - I try very hard to respond to Boo as quickly as possible. And when I can't get to him right away I often say, "Yes mommy hears you" or "Mommy's coming" so that he at least knows I'm listening to him.

M - Maternal Instincts - Do I believe everyone has them? No. I think sometimes people who grow up in extreme dysfunction do not. However, I think most moms do. And these instincts involve listening to the heart instead of to the "experts." My maternal instinct tells me to get Boo when he cries for me. Boo has never had to "cry it out."

N - Nice - Boo is very nice and likes to pet my head and say "nice". This is how he's been redirected from pulling hair. He still lapses into pulling hair sometimes, but is getting much better at being "nice".

O - Open-mind - Since I'm choosing to raise Boo in a way that is different from how I was raised, it's important to keep an open mind as I explore alternatives.

P - Parenting to sleep - Boo is allowed to cuddle and nurse to sleep (gasp). Some nights we're in bed when this happens. On weekends it's not too uncommon for T and I to be watching a movie together with Boo nursing to sleep on my lap.

Q - Quack - Boo's favorite animal says quack. Getting to know Boo's likes/dislikes and favorites is so much fun.

R - Reading and Research - I'm constantly reading and researching parenting topics. As AP is different from how I was raised and different from how most do things, I'm constantly trying to learn and this does take a fair bit of effort on my part.

R - Respect - I felt there had to be a second "R" for this. At the heart of AP is respect for the child. One way this is done in our home is the way that Boo is fed. He gets a little bit of everything we're eating (and he has since he was six months old) and gets to try what he wants and leave what he doesn't. I don't try to shovel in something he doesn't like. I respect his choice to eat what he likes. I continue to expose him to a variety of healthy choices. Baby-led weaning has helped with this.

S - Silly Comments - This may not be a positive aspect, but I feel that it's a reality. I feel that I must bite my tongue often. I'm subject to comments about "he's getting too big" for the wrap and "it's probably about time to move him to the crib" and other such silly comments.

T - Touch - Boo is very affectionate and likes to be cuddled and held. I hold him when he wants to be held and put him down when he's all done being held.

U - Understanding - Boo is communicating all the time. Even tears of rage communicate something. I tell Boo "You're mad about (fill in the blank)." when he's mad so that at least he knows his feelings are understood.

V - Villify - Often I feel villified due to some of my choices. I'm "endangering" my child by letting him sleep with me. He's not going to learn to comfort himself because I don't let him cry it out. He's never going to be independent because I coddle him...and the list could go on and on. If anything, AP has helped me to have a thicker skin when it comes to insensitive comments of others.

W - Wrap - I have a woven wrap that I made for $16.50 by buying some clearance fabric at the craft shop. I love babywearing and I love my wrap. Boo has been in it while I've been cooking, mowing the lawn, walking downtown, you name it. He likes to sleep there too!

X - Xtra - Yes, I know I spelled it wrong, but come on, it's "X" for crying out loud! I feel like I must go the extra mile in being present with my child, actively engaging all the time. I'm not saying I succeed at this all the time, but it is the goal.

Y - Yahoo - This helps me keep my sanity. Likeminded yahoo groups.

Z - Zebra - We saw a zebra while we were at the zoo. Enjoying fun activities together helps to promote those feelings of love and attachment.

Whew - "Q" was pretty tough! Anyways, I think I did sneak in a few defensive remarks. Oops! I tried to keep them at a minimum though. I enjoyed creating this list of ABC's. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

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