Friday, August 10, 2012

Attachment and Natural Parenting

Being a hippie and a mother, I have been told several times that I must follow AP or Attachment Parenting to a tee. This may come as some surprise to you readers, but I don't like to think of myself as a follower of Attacthment Parenting. Though I follow some of their principles, I like to think of myself more as a Natural Parent because I think about how a human child would be raised in nature and try to replicate it to the best of my ability. I will share with you today the differences and similiarities between an Attachment Parent and myself.

Here are the eight principles of Attachment Parenting:

Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
This principle I followed. They ask that you research, research, research the best options of care for your child- breast vs. bottle, to circumcise vs not circumcise, you get the idea. I did do this to the extreme with Alan and not so much with Anna but that was really only because I already had all the knowledge from my other pregnancies. We also chose a midwife, which is what most AP parents will do.

Feed with Love and Respect
This principle is about breastfeeding, using baby led weaning techniques and continuing to feed your child healthy, organic foods as they mature. They also believe in the idea of feeding with love, in other words putting love into the foods they make for their children. We also follow these principles. I will ALWAYS primarily breast feed my children for the first year of their lives. I fully believe that children instinctively know what they are doing so I also support baby led wearning and baby led feeding. I will always make my meals with love and we fully support organic, local foods in our family.

Respond with Sensitivity
This principle is pretty much the idea of nuturing your child. Responding to their every cry, not letting them "Cry it out". Holding your infant the majority of the time and just truly enjoying them. We definitely follow this principle, but for different reasons then most parents do. Like I mentioned earlier, I think about human child in nature and relate that to my parenting. So in nature, an infant would be constantly with the mother. The mother would always be holding the infant and would always respond to the infant's cries, even if the infant was only fussy. So why don't we do that? In modern day society, independent baby holders are used too much. The infant goes from the bassinet to the car seat to the bouncy chair to the swing then back to the car seat. Not everyone does this of course, but AP Parents limit that to practically nothing. For example, even now while I type this, Anna is laying in my lap on my bed with me. She is always with me because I am her main source of food, comfort, security and protection.

Use Nuturing Touch
This principle is very similar to the above, but it more describes how to respond with sensitivity. With things like joint baths, skin to skin contact, baby wearing and breast feeding, nuturing touch soothes children and positively stimlates them. Once again, we follow this principle as well. I am huge on baby wearing and skin to skin contact, due to my Buddhist and energy based beliefs. I fully believe in the power of energy transfer from human to human and touch is where that happens. As mentioned above, I believe in primarily breast feeding and often will try to do so topless, to get the skin to skin contact as well.

Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
I fully agree with most of this principle and follow it with vigor. :) This is based on the idea of co-sleeping, bed sharing and family beds but also is the idea of being a night time parent. The human infant doesn't just shut off at night, it still has constant needs. This is the part I fully agree with lol and I have been known to stay up all night with Alan or Anna just because they need me. The only part I don't agree with is the bed sharing. As a family we co-sleep but we are strict about not bed sharing until after age two. Alan has been known to spend a night or two in bed with us but he can hold his own (in fact, he sometimes hurts me lol) but Anna still only sleeps in her bassinet next to my head. If she is on me, I am fully awake. :)

Provide Consistent and Loving Care
This principle is based on the idea of working your schedule around your newborn and child, not the other way around. It also is the idea of being consistently the main care taker of your child. Being a stay at home mother, I follow this principle. I stayed home with Alan until he was a year old and even when I went back to work, I found a job at a daycare so he could come with me to work. When I go back to work, the same will happen with Anna. The only other people who have ever watched our children for us is my parents or Lon's parents. We don't even allow our siblings to be the only baby sitter for our children. This goes back to the Respond with Sensitivity reason, where I relate it to always having an infant near the mother in nature. This is shown with almost all animals and there's a reason for it! :)

Practice Positive Discipline
Here is another principle that I agree with only part of it. Its the idea that we should only use positive reinforcement and distraction techniques to discipline our children. While I agree that this should be the main part of our discipline practice with our children, I do not think it should be the only practice. While I am not for spanking or child abuse at all, I do feel that children should see anger in their parents, if the situation truly calls for it. As your child grows older, they will test your boundaries more and more. What if you have a teenager who just stole from you? Will you use positive discipline in that situation? I would not. I would let my teenager see that I am angry with them and give them a consequence. Because as children grow up, they will need to have more consequence type punishments. If I child doesn't learn consequences from his parents, they will not be able to survive as an adult.

Strive for Balance in Life and Family
This is probably my favorite principle. Being a Buddhist, I am all about balancing your life. Parents need to remember these things when it comes to having a child: It will be hard, they will get scared, they are still learning, and the well known saying "this too shall pass". It also reminds parents to follow their heart and their insticts, an idea I fully support! Love people, not things. Live in the now! Breathe and above all, enjoy your life and your family. :)

My family follows most of those principles but there are also a few extra principles that qualify us more as a Natural Parent. Some of these principles are:

Natural Learning and Unschooling
My mother, a teacher for over twenty years, will hate me for this one lol. But we believe in letting the child learn on their own. These days, everyone is sooooo obsessed with teaching and testing children. They focus only on grades and test scores and not on the individual learner. Children need to learn to teach themselves so them become independent. I allow my son to do just about everything on his own, with me over his shoulder waiting for him to ask for help. If a child needs help, they will ask for it. So why not let them do it on their own and learn how to? Alan picks his own clothes, gets his own breakfast, turns on and off his tv at his leisure, gets his own snacks, uses the potty by himself, and so on so forth. I am always right there, waiting for him to ask me for help but he is such a smart, independent boy now because of it.

My mother is a wonderful teacher to her students. She cares about them individually and loves each and every one of them. She goes above and beyond for each of her students, even sometimes after they have already left her grade. That is how you know she is a great teacher. Any student who has my mother as a teacher is one of the luckiest children around! :) I love you mama!

Baby-Led Everything!
Remember earlier how I mentioned baby led weaning and feeding? Well this family believes in baby led everything! Basically, whatever my children want to do they get to. Now that sounds like they are a little spoiled but c'mon they are three years old and one month old! When Alan wants to wake up, he wakes up. Same goes at nighttime. When he is hungry, he gets to eat, even if its not a scheduled mealtime. In this household, there is no schedule! How do I get anything done, you ask? I have no idea honestly lol, I just do! But I have found that this is the best way for my children to grow, my house may not always be clean and I may always be late, but I have two awesome children who are in my life! :)

Joint Meditation and Yoga
Being Buddhist (how many times will I say that this post lol?), I practice meditation every day. My son does almost every day as well. He is a very curious boy and never seems to want to leave my side (funny how that works when he was raised never leaving my side lol) so if I am meditating or doing yoga and he comes up to explore, I invite him in. This started when he was about six weeks old and he would fuss when I would put him in his bassinet while I meditated or practicd yoga. I started laying him down next to me for tummy time while I did either of them. Now that he is almost three, he will sit quietly with me for a few moments with his eyes closed (and if you know my son, this is quite the feat for him!) or if I am practicing yoga, he will micmic my moves to the best of his ability. He even has a name for it lol, he calls it sqauring. :P

Natural Remedies vs Medications
We all practice this to the best of our ability in our family. I have not really taken any medication (except in specific situations) since high school and my children have never taken medication. We believe that alot of problems with the body have to do with either how much water is in your body or what your overall energy is. Sound crazy? Let me explain lol. :) Your body is made of seventy percent water right? Well, that water isn't just constant, that seventy percent is on average. In reality, that seventy percent is you at your best, fully hydrated. Its the goal you want. Most people feel awful or "sick" half the time because they don't have enough water in their body. So drink up! And the energy thing? I'm not talking about energy level, I'm talking positive and negative energies. I beleive that every person is made up of energies or auras and depending on your mood, your energy is positive (good to your body) or negative (harmful to your body). If you are stressed or angry or anxious, then your immune system goes down and you are more suseptible to getting sick or not feeling well. Just my crazy theories lol, but they work for our family! So in summary we believe if you don't feel good, drink a bottle of water and meditate for twenty minutes to balance yourself and clear your mind. Nine times out of ten, you will feel better! :)

Non-Materialism
I know one of the AP principles mentioned loving people, not things but this principle goes a little further for us. We believe in not having desire for any materials except things needed for survival. Every year we drive our families insane because we want nothing for gifts. For Alan's birthday, we always ask for donations to his college fund and ask for no presents. He gets enough toys from other places and has enough already. He always gets some toys anyways but that's not really the point. Same goes for our birthdays, we never can tell someone what we want. We can't help it, its because we don't hold desire to materials! Christmas is another one that drives our families crazy. We really get a kick out of that one, we are Buddhists who celebrate Christmas but we could care less if we get gifts! We celebrate it to share the love and happiness with our family.

Some people still say we are AP Parents but I disagree lol. We may follow almost all of their principles but its for different reasons then most and we have so many more morals! Maybe I am a little bit in denial lol. :P Think what you want then! Jk, I love you all!

What principles of AP do you follow? How do you parent?

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1 comment:

  1. I know that every child is looking for attachment and natural parenting that they need. I think that its important for parents to show how they care for their children. I think that its the best gift that a parent can give to their children.

    ReplyDelete