Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Shawn and I have unintentionally chosen a form of parenting called "Attachment Parenting". What I mean when I say unintentional is that Shawn and I didn't really put much thought into what "type" of parenting we would do. We both had similar values, morals, etc that we wanted to teach Gryffen when he got older, but in terms of actual parenting (discipline, schedules, etc) we had no idea what we were doing. It wasn't until Gryffen was about 5 weeks old that I found out we fell into the more "Attachment Parenting" area of parenting.
On Attachment Parenting International's website, these are their 8 principles of parenting:Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
Become emotionally and physically prepared for pregnancy and birth. Research available options for healthcare providers and birthing environments, and become informed about routine newborn care. Continuously educate yourself about developmental stages of childhood, setting realistic expectations and remaining flexible.Feed with Love and Respect
Breastfeeding is the optimal way to satisfy an infant's nutritional and emotional needs. "Bottle Nursing" adapts breastfeeding behaviors to bottle-feeding to help initiate a secure attachment. Follow the feeding cues for both infants and children, encouraging them to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Offer healthy food choices and model healthy eating behavior.Respond with Sensitivity
Build the foundation of trust and empathy beginning in infancy. Tune in to what your child is communicating to you, then respond consistently and appropriately. Babies cannot be expected to self-soothe, they need calm, loving, empathetic parents to help them learn to regulate their emotions. Respond sensitively to a child who is hurting or expressing strong emotion, and share in their joy.Use Nurturing Touch
Touch meets a baby's needs for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation, and movement. Skin-to-skin contact is especially effective, such as during breastfeeding, bathing, or massage. Carrying or baby wearing also meets this need while on the go. Hugs, snuggling, back rubs, massage, and physical play help meet this need in older children.Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
Babies and children have needs at night just as they do during the day; from hunger, loneliness, and fear, to feeling too hot or too cold. They rely on parents to soothe them and help them regulate their intense emotions. Sleep training techniques can have detrimental physiological and psychological effects. Safe co-sleeping has benefits to both babies and parents.Provide Consistent and Loving Care
Babies and young children have an intense need for the physical presence of a consistent, loving, responsive caregiver: ideally a parent. If it becomes necessary, choose an alternate caregiver who has formed a bond with the child and who cares for him in a way that strengthens the attachment relationship. Keep schedules flexible, and minimize stress and fear during short separations.Practice Positive Discipline
Positive discipline helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others. Discipline that is empathetic, loving, and respectful strengthens the connection between parent and child. Rather than reacting to behavior, discover the needs leading to the behavior. Communicate and craft solutions together while keeping everyone's dignity intact.Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
It is easier to be emotionally responsive when you feel in balance. Create a support network, set realistic goals, put people before things, and don't be afraid to say "no". Recognize individual needs within the family and meet them to the greatest extent possible without compromising your physical and emotional health. Be creative, have fun with parenting, and take time to care for yourself.
Now you don't need to be a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing mom to follow the attachment parenting lifestyle, but as it so happens this works really well for Gryffen and I :) He is still exclusively breastfed and I will be taking a more baby-led weaning approach (allowing him to wean on his own) when it comes time for him to stop. Gryffen, Shawn, and I all co-sleep in our family bed and we all love it! Shawn and I both love waking up to Gryffen and all 3 of us sleep much better. There are also countless benefits to co-sleeping that just makes it such an easy decision for us. You can read about those here: http://www.attachmentparenting.org/parentingtopics/babysleepstrategies.php I also "wear" Gryffen quite regularly, especially when we're out of the house grocery shopping, walking, etc instead of using a stroller. Even at home I'll put him in his baby wrap while I clean. Again, there are countless benefits to this as well! You can read about those here: http://www.attachmentparenting.org/parentingtopics/babywearing.php
A large part of attachment parenting (to me anyways) is following my baby's cues and always responding to him in a gentle way. Shawn and I have never let Gryffen "cry it out" unless we are in the car and there's just nothing we can do at that point. I've always responded to Gryffen's cries within a few seconds and pay attention to what he's telling me whether it be he's hungry, overtired, overstimulated, dirty diaper, etc. I've noticed that taking this approach with Gryffen rather than just leaving him to cry, makes him a much happier and calm baby.One of the biggest benefits to this is that Gryffen is always building his trust in me up. He knows that I'll be there to pick him up, nurse him, hold him, etc when he needs. Shawn and I have also chosen to not put Gryffen on any sort of "schedule". Thankfully, Gryffen has made one of his own that works really well and instead of putting him on a schedule that fits into our lives, we're fitting into his schedule :) We're paying close attention to his cues and we're also setting up a routine (especially at bedtime) so he knows what's coming.
All in all this approach to parenting as had enormous benefits for my family. Since the day Gryffen was born, Shawn and I have gotten a lot of different advice on how to go about raising Gryffen and while we've always appreciated the help, we know in our hearts that some of the things that were suggested just weren't the type of things we wanted to do or the type of parents we wanted to be. Gryffen is a very happy, healthy little boy and I believe that because of our gentle approach to parenting, he trusts Shawn and I in ways that might not have happened otherwise. We all sleep better, we have an easier time adjusting our own schedule to his, and all in all the three of us seem much happier :) Shawn and I know what works and doesn't work for our family, and attachment parenting is one of this things that not only works, but makes sense.
Do you follow this approach? What do you like or dislike about the attachment parenting philosophy?