I wrote this a while ago but it seems perfectly timed with the last week’s TIME Magazine’s cover and the ensuing discussion on attachment parenting.
You have probably heard about all different parenting methods, styles and philosophies. Attachment parenting, tiger parenting, helicopter parenting, hothouse parenting, French-style parenting, to name just a few. Some parents actually take pride in following one of those philosophies and it works for them. That’s cool. Others-like me- do whatever works for them at any given moment. I don’t really have a parenting philosophy.
I read a lot about parenting techniques when I was pregnant with Klara and decided that I was going to be the best attachment parent ever. I was going to breastfeed (on demand, of course), and baby-wear, and never, ever let them cry. And, of course, I was going to cook for her, and never introduce any mash, and would do it the BWL way instead. And then Klara was born.
Breastfeeding went perfectly well. We both enjoyed it, and it was extremely convenient. I breastfed her until she weaned herself off at 14 months. It was a good moment because I was ready to stop as well. Baby-wearing? Not so much. I had bought a sling AND a baby carrier. I was really serious about baby-wearing. I stopped using the sling after a few attempts. I looked at all those other mothers with their babies cuddled to their chests with envy. They looked so happy, and peaceful. Me? I looked as if I had no idea what I was doing. The carrier proved a much better solution for me. For me, but not for Klara, who was much happier in her stroller where she could move her hands and feet. See, my little independent girl preferred to move on her own than being worn. Instead of cuddling into my chest, she would try to jump out of the carrier. So I stopped wearing her, and my spine thanked me for that.
As far as crying goes, we usually react to her crying. We have learned that Klara usually cries when something is wrong. But sometimes there is no way to tend to her immediately, and then she has to cry a little bit. The same goes for Julia, but it’s hard when they’re both crying at the same time, and I’m at home alone with them. We have also found that usually there is a reason for Klara’s temper tantrums. Sometimes she’s tired and sometimes she’s hungry, and sometimes she just had enough. And sometimes she has a tantrum because she is not allowed to do something. Giving a hug helps, so does giving food, and getting her to sleep.
Since we’re talking about sleep, I hadn’t thought of co-sleeping even once. I love my bed, and I love my sleep, and I love my sleep in my bed during the night. But Klara stayed in our room till she was 2 years old, and Julia still sleeps next to us in her baby cot. We occasionally let Klara into our bed when there is no other way to console her when she wakes up in the night and cries. At some point she returns to her own bed in her own room. She has the choice to go back to her bed which she does at some point.
The books I read all told me how great it is to bond with your baby by breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and baby-wearing. Some even tell you that mothers who bottle-feed and do not babywear and do not co-sleep might have the feeling that they’re not bonding properly. They are even told that when they don’t want to do all this things, then something must be wrong with them. This is not true.
I have found that there are so many ways to bond with a baby-or a child. I think the older Klara gets, the more possibilities I have to bond with her: through reading books, and drawing, and talking about her day. I even think that I have more bonding opportunities now than when I was breastfeeding and trying to baby wear.
So, basically, this whole post is to tell you three things: first, even if you have a certain philosophy in mind for your baby, it might or it might not work. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t work? Fine as well. Secondly, different families practice different ways to parent their children. What works for me may or may not work for you. What works for you, may or may not work for me. And that’s fine. After all, no two families are alike. Also, children change overtime. Their needs change, their way of expression changes. And with that, our attitudes change as well. All this reflects back on our parenting techniques.
I actually enjoy reading about the various parenting philosophies. It’s great to have a choice. However, if you want to give my style of parenting a name, call it “whatever-works parenting”. I think most of us parents are experts in that.
Which reminds me that now, that I do have a philosophy, I should have a book to go with it.