Since it was a holiday here in Canada, I was home to (un?)fortunately to catch some day time TV. Anderson Cooper’s talk show had guests speaking about attachment parenting. He spoke with the mother that was recently featured on the Time magazine cover breastfeeding her toddler and interviewed Mayim Bialik about her attachment parenting book. True to his journalistic nature, Anderson also interviewed a doctor that argued that attachment parenting is severely detrimental to children.
While I may not be a hard-core practitioner of attachment parenting, I simply do not believe that attachment parenting would screw up my child forever. Nor do I believe that any parent trying to raise a well-rounded healthy child would be a detriment to their child. I find it almost insulting that someone would imply that. I cannot even imagine what my ancestors must have felt like when paternalistic people and organizations were sweeping in to better “parent” their children and take them to residential school. I was upset just listening to this guy spout off how a parenting style would lead to a scarred child.
Aboriginal people have been breastfeeding and carrying their babies in cradleboards, moss bags, and amautiit for thousands of years. Co-sleeping was the norm. I’m willing to bet that these children all grew up to be healthy, functional members of society before someone stepped in to tell them that their parenting methods were wrong. Attachment parenting is not a new thing. It has been around for thousands of years – and not only in humans but also our animal relations.
I’m pretty sure that my child is going to be quite well adjusted despite breastfeeding for 14 months (which I would have continued if he didn’t self-wean). I’m pretty sure that he will not become a tax evader because I carried him in a baby carrier when I shopped or did chores around the house. I’m pretty sure that he will not become a copycat Dexter because I lay with him every night until he falls asleep.
I try very hard not to criticize other parenting styles. Why is it so hard for others to do the same? Does it really affect your life if your neighbour breastfeeds her 4 year old? If your niece sleeps between your brother and his partner? If your co-worker sleep trains her child? Bottle feeds? If a celebrity pre-chews food for her son?
Sure, you may think it is weird to bring a baby to scenic caves. Aboriginal kids pretty much go everywhere parents do and their parents are still minding their children’s safety. You may think it is weird that I still plan to lay with my child until he falls asleep after having a second child. I will just take the baby in my son’s room with me, breastfeed and try to soothe her to sleep at the same time. Sure, you may think it is weird that I allow my child to do some things that you deem to be inappropriate like help out in the kitchen. Just because he is a toddler doesn’t mean that he has to stay clean and cannot learn age appropriate skills. You may think it is weird that I do not force my child to eat everything we put before him. We allow him to make choices before we make the meal and if he doesn’t eat it then we try again at the next meal.
It’s not a crime to model behaviour rather than impose it. It’s not a crime to allow a child some choice. It’s not a crime to provide gentle guidance and not be afraid to allow them mistakes. Why judge me for it? I’m happy if you do your own research and make the choice that is best for you and your family.
Thankfully Fuzz has relatively the same parenting style as myself. Co-parenting would be much more difficult if were not on the same wavelength. In fact, we were able to celebrate a milestone this evening due to our shared parenting style. Our newly turned 2-year-old son had his first pee on the potty! We have never forced the potty training or even talked about it at great length. We keep his potty in our bathroom and we bring him in the bathroom with us when we went in. We would provide a play-by-play of our actions (without being too descriptive, of course. That’s just gross – haha!) Usually, he would just come in and sit on his potty with his pants on, we would give him toilet paper to pretend, he would close and flush and then he would use the potty as a stool to wash his hands. He eventually progressed to sitting down with his diaper off. Tonight he surprised us by going into the bathroom, wanting his pants down, sitting on the potty and peeing! He then followed his routine by closing, flushing and washing his hands – all with his cheering parents on the sidelines.
If that is not a testament to our parenting style, then I don’t know what is!