Tuesday, September 8, 2009

To attach, or NOT to attach? That is the question.

I'm going to get in trouble for this. I should just stop typing right now, but I can't help myself. I was reading a facebook note from a new father, gushing about his new baby and his and his wife's parenting style. He felt compelled to share it with the world because of how many people comment on what a content, happy child they have. The whole note focused on Attachment Parenting (AP), coined by Dr. William Sears, a popular pediatrician and author.

AP is a parenting method with the objective of intentional bonding with your baby by using traditional methods, i.e., breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, sole mothering, and responding to your baby's cues for comfort (crying). Sears claims this makes for a happier baby because of the intense mother/baby relationship.

I don't have a problem with AP practices, in fact, I practice every one of them to one extent or another. I think AP intentions are good, especially in this culture where you're made to believe that a baby needs so much STUFF to be a successful infant. Dr. Sears wants mothers to stop putting their little boogers in baby containers and to get them where they really want to be--their arms.

I agree there's most a problem today with high-tech, distant mothers whose bond with their infant is inadequate, and as a result Dr. Sears implemented common-sense, instinctual practices and commercialized them. Here's where I think AP gets it wrong; the claims of a happy-go-lucky bambino as a result of the security he gets from his in-tune, attentive mother.

My argument is this: What if you can never put your baby down? Whether you call it AP or not, the mother of a high needs baby wears her baby not because a study claims it's better, she does it because he screams if she puts him down. She brings the baby to bed with her because, let's face it, if she didn't she would get any sleep. She breastfeeds on demand because he won't take a pacifier and it's the only trick you, the haggard mother, has left to get your baby to stop crying.

The above-described scenario is what Attachment Parenting looks like with the two infants I've cared for, and no one is going around telling me what happy, content doodle-bops I have. So, does that mean I'm practicing AP incorrectly? Does that mean that AP doesn't work? Would a fellow AP mother be convinced I was practicing AP incorrectly because of my less than placid peanut?

Maybe I'm just jealous at the romance and butterflies of a low-maintenance baby. Or, maybe I'm just a little irritated that we live in a day and age where common sense is turning into a scientific parenting method that generations before was called, "Take care of and love your baby."

I don't have any answers, and I'll admit that there are many times that as hard as I try, me, the primary (nearly sole) caretaker of my infants, has no idea what to do to make them happy. A book telling me to hold them more and nurse on demand certainly wouldn't help since that's what I'm already doing!. My conclusion is this: babies are a lot of work, some are A LOT of work, but day by day they become a little less of a baby. I'm convinced that a loving mom and dad will yield a happy CHILD, regardless of the temperament that first year.

So, I'm boycotting the term "Attachment Parenting." I think it sounds silly to say that you "Attachment Parent" anyway. I'm going to coin a new name, it's called, "Yeah I'm a mom."

Take that!


Sarah said...

You go girl!! I feel the same way and have also had two little ones that sound a lot like yours!!

Fuzzy said...

Perfectly said!

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Commmon sense MAKES sense most of the time!
Yo' Mama

Monica said...

So true, Mal! I love reading your refreshing perspective! :)

Anonymous said...

...and YOU are a very good mom!!!

Mom S.