Tuesday, January 8, 2008

An Attachment Parenting Debate

There's a friendly but passionate debate currently going on among Catholic parents on attachment parenting (AP). Many Catholics believe that AP is the best way to parent their children since it strongly upholds the dignity of a person. I definitely lean toward AP. I've read many of Dr. Sears' books. I delivered both my babies naturally under the care of certified nurse midwives. I have a subscription to Mothering Magazine. Madeline usually ends up sleeping with Dave and me (she starts out in her big-girl bed, but she usually pays us a visit in the middle of the night). I "wear" Rachel Marie for a good chunk of the day, and I am very pro-breastfeeding and nurse on demand. That said, I am, at times, disheartened by some proponents of attachment parenting who seem to serve up more guilt than solutions for tired mommies who are just trying to love their children the best way they can. I have a whole blog addressing this topic and referring to the aforementioned debate. You can find it here. If you decide not to mosey on over to this blog entry, I do want to highlight a few points:

First, if you're not familiar with AP, please check out Attachment Parenting International, namely the 8 principles of attachment parenting. This gives you a good idea of what the philosophy encompasses.

Second, most loving moms embrace at least a few of these principles even if they have never heard the term "attachment parenting." Don't many moms respond to their baby's cries as quickly as possible? Don't most moms cuddle with them and give them ample skin-to-skin contact? Don't a lot of parents at least occasionally slumber with their little ones?

Third, as I mention in my other blog that more thoroughly addresses this topic, a wise, wise mom pointed out to me that AP isn't so much about following a set of rules, but it's about being so in tune to your child that you anticipate their needs and meet them accordingly. (Thank you, Jessie!) Of course, nursing, nighttime parenting, baby-wearing, etc. can help us become more attuned to our children and can help them feel closer to us and develop greater empathy. However, these parenting strategies are not the only ways to fortify a loving bond. Likewise, we can do everything "right" and still raise a child who might face problems in adulthood (I have an older brother who is now an amazing man, but he struggled with a drug addiction for many years. My mom used to think he was sick because of something she did. It wasn't until she quit beating herself up and handed him over to God that he finally started the recover. We are not completely in control of our children's destinies and we should never feel too guilty for their flaws - or take too much credit for their strengths.)

Moreover, when we become parents of multiple children, we cannot be everything to everyone. Rachel Marie has had to learn to occasionally wait for the milk diner to open, if, for example, I have to help her big sister go to the potty. Thus, I probably don't meet her needs with the same kind of immediacy that I answered Madeline's cries when she was a baby. But that's okay. She's still thriving and she's an extremely happy, laid-back baby.

Finally, what we all need to do as moms is to support one another in our vocations. Mothering is a tough, tough job and we're our own worst critics. The last thing we need is other moms putting us down or accusing us of not loving our children enough (in so many words). So let's lift one another up. Let's share our opinions and wisdom without being judgmental or sanctimonious. And let's all know that at the end of the day - whether we practice AP or not - we all have children we love and we're trying to raise them the best we know how.


*Jess* said...

I am so laughing at the "wise" part! I don't know about that, but I do know that you are a wonderful example of an Attached Parent :)

Michelle said...

Very nice.