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Concerns about Attachment Parenting

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 
I just have some questions about it, forgive me if i havent quite gotten the jist of it right.

But, im on board for it all..its just im wondering how you find the balance between having a dependant child on the parent, but also a independant thinker.

I supposed im thinking of people i know who were supported unconditionally by their parents,especially moms and they're not the most independant people i know by any means. Im concerned my son will turn out the same way, i dont want him to have the mama's boy stigma attatched to him, we can be close...but theres a fine line between a healthy and unhealthy mother-child relationship.

Also, im wondering about the "just let him cry" arguement. My cousin was recently visting with her 5 1/2 month old son, now when she put him down to sleep, he would cry for about 5-10 minutes and then stop. Is that right? I mean is that the best thing for him to become independant? Im just not sure where the line gets drawn, it makes sense for me to be able to be there for everything he needs, its my responsibility, but i dont want a mama's boy.
post #2 of 68
Can a 5 1/2 month old feed himself?
How about change his own diaper?
Can he buy groceries, or cut firewood for the winter?

Of course not. A 5 1/2 month old baby is not the least bit independent in any area of his life.

Trust me, when they get a little older, they will find many, many ways to be independent. My older son is only a bit over 3, and he shows me new ways every day that he is growing in independence. I didn't need to leave him alone to cry to teach him how to think for himself. Humans naturally grow in independence as they get older and more capable.
post #3 of 68
First, I think attachment parenting is an approach for infants. Kids grow out of the baby-wearing and breastfeeding.
And putting kids down to sleep, letting them cry a few minutes? You will get lots of conflicting viewpoints on that. But I would assume most infants prefer to nurse themselves to sleep.
And I honestly don't think attachment parenting breeds "mama's boys". Considering how many whiny, clingy kids come from "mainstream" parenting. I think kids who are started off with AP as infants actually grow up to be more independent, and have healthier relationships with their parents, because they have that foundation of security.
post #4 of 68
I've struggled with this a lot, as I've come to be mostly AP by accident.
My best advice is that you can't go wrong with listening to your gut. My sister does a lot of mainstream parenting (CIO, spanking, etc.) and she's pretty honest about how it doesn't feel right sometimes, that she's overriding her instinct. On the other hand, I don't do these things as a rule, and there have been a couple of times when DS has been left to cry for a few minutes because the alternative was I was going to do something I would regret, or I could see that he needed to fuss for a minute in order to come to terms with something he didn't like (being in a carseat, for example). I think the dangers of any parenting philosophy is that it asks to you override your instinct in favor of dogma, and that hasn't helped me in the minute-to-minute decisions I face as a parent.

On another note, as the mother of a son, I often have people make snide comments about DS being a "Mama's Boy", and the only thing it ever shows me is how unrealistic the expectations are for independance. My son is 2 1/2, and they say this when he protests being left with strangers in a church nursery, for instance - a situation where I can't blame him for preferring to be while his parents. I think it definately helps to look at what your fears are about labels, and examine whether the labels are helpful or just manipulative. Human children are babies for a lot longer than we tend to think of them as.
post #5 of 68
In my experience (anecdotal, of course), doing the physical actions of breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, avoiding CIO, etc, do not cause inordinate dependance on a mother. It hasn't happened with me or my friends who follow many AP practices. My youngest didn't sleep through the night until close to 2 years old, though he might have if we did CIO. However, he is not anything near being a "mama's boy" in terms of over dependance and the like. Right now at 27 months, he rarely will give me the time of day. He's too busy keeping up with his brothers, flying his "spaceship" (my old wooden German recorder and "fighting monsters!".

I think especially in the first year, it is waaaaay too early to be basing care decisions on the possibility of being a "mama's boy" years into the future. Babies are built to be dependant. They are also built to start asserting independance in the toddler years, and *that* is when a dysfunctional relationship can turn out an overly dependant child. But IMO, it is relational dynamics that do that, rather than the physical actions of caring for a child that are part of AP.
post #6 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by averlee View Post
First, I think attachment parenting is an approach for infants. Kids grow out of the baby-wearing and breastfeeding.
And putting kids down to sleep, letting them cry a few minutes? You will get lots of conflicting viewpoints on that. But I would assume most infants prefer to nurse themselves to sleep.
And I honestly don't think attachment parenting breeds "mama's boys". Considering how many whiny, clingy kids come from "mainstream" parenting. I think kids who are started off with AP as infants actually grow up to be more independent, and have healthier relationships with their parents, because they have that foundation of security.
I could not have said it better myself!
post #7 of 68
I think that there is a fine line, and I think I lean a bit more towards 'mainstream' than some people here. We cloth diaper, breastfeed, have a bunch of chickens and a huge garden, strive to live in a sustainable fashion, babywear, cosleep and so on.. but.. my kids do watch tv occasionally, we're computer geeks, if dinner needs to be mac and cheese- so be it. As far as parenting, I don't believe in CIO as a general philosophy, but if (and it's happened) I need to grab a quick shower or use the washroom, and I put the child in his/her bed and they fall asleep after a minute or so of crying- I'm not about to wake them up to apologize, and I'm not going to worry too much about what harm may have been caused.

We don't hit as a punishment, but the idea of a punishment doesn't phase me- and DD has been forced to wash dishes or scrub the bathtub as a consequence for some crummy behavior on occasion- was it a logical consequence? Not always, but it works to give her a task to focus on. And she thinks twice before she makes a similar choice.


*shrug*

Sometimes people who practice AP find a happy middle ground, and they use an AP philosophy to help the child become independant and secure. Other times people become so attached to being the AP parent that they hinder their child's independence. I think that when you follow your child's cues you find a happy middle ground. I'd be wary of practicing any parenting philosophy completely 'by the book' because the only author of the book that works for your child, is your child himself- it's a work in progress.
post #8 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by confustication View Post

Sometimes people who practice AP find a happy middle ground, and they use an AP philosophy to help the child become independant and secure. Other times people become so attached to being the AP parent that they hinder their child's independence. I think that when you follow your child's cues you find a happy middle ground. I'd be wary of practicing any parenting philosophy completely 'by the book' because the only author of the book that works for your child, is your child himself- it's a work in progress.
Bolded mine.

I am new to this having a boy thing as I had DD first, but until they are more of a kid than a baby, I don't see much difference between the sexes. Babies are babies, whether they have a penis or not. Caring for your baby in the way that makes you feel whole should be the goal. Not attending to a babies cries or thinking they are manipulating the parent is not right, and it doesn't matter the sex of the child. The whole "little man" theory of raising a boy is just odd to me. Would you refer to a girl child as a little woman? Not usually.


Basically, I see clingy children (male or female) as constantly looking for approval. The typical "mama's boy" will do anything to please his mom, right? Well, if the child learns from an early age that their parents love them, respect them, and approve of them, then they won't constantly be seeking that approval in adolescence or adulthood. When kids don't get it as infants it may manifest itself as the "mama's boy" in males, but in females it is much scarier. They can become promiscuous or otherwise constantly searching for love. Not saying boys don't do this as well (cus I have seen it happen) but it is more obvious in women.
post #9 of 68
As a mother, I feel that it is my job to parent in a way that feels right to me, and helps my children grow into healthy adults. I often remind myself that I'm not raising children-- I'm raising somebody's spouse, somebody's parent. I need to help them become healthy adults. Many times, the behaviors most desired in adults are troublesome in children (independent thinking, strong sense of personal direction, perserverence...). Independence is something a child grows into of their own time. You don't have to distance youself (emotionally, physically, psychologically) from your baby in order to achieve it.

The term "mama's boy" is such a strange thing. Clearly it's derogatory, but what does it really mean? If it's not carried to an extreme, in which a relationship with one's mother eclipses all other relationships, I think "Mama's boys" make great men. When someone mentioned that one of my twins seemed to be a mama's boy, I simply responded "well, they do make the best husbands."
post #10 of 68
AP isn't about creating dependencies; it's about being responsive to your child's needs (and your needs!).

You don't have to babywear or BF forever, or nurse your baby to sleep. You just need to be open to following your DCs cues. My DD (now 4) is very independent, and has been since the beginning. DS (1) is much more attached, but I'd say that has to do with his personality rather than AP principles.

I think North Americans, and Americans especially, place too much importance on "independence" (and it's a eird notion of independence to boot). It's like a point of pride-and a competition-from day 1. (Everything from sleeping through the night to being a self-made-success).

I tend to follow the "it takes a village" approach, and I also recognize that the infant-young child stage goes by so quickly...so I am embracing the closeness to my little ones. I know that if I give them opportunities and love them unconditionally, they will find the confidence to do what they want and need to because they are secure in themselves. I have no doubts that the work I put in while they were babies (and continue to put in) will pay off!
post #11 of 68
We did intense AP the first year and got a ton of comments about 'always holding that baby' but DD is now very independent and exudes quiet confidence now that is often remarked upon 'she's so social, she loves people, has no fear' etc...

So I think there's something to be said for knowing momma's got your back.

Babies need to be held. They need to know someone will come when they cry. Particularly the first year. After the first year, AP gets a little murky for me b/c the baby is no longer a baby, but I do think AP is the way to go the first year. At least for as much as you can stand AP can definitely be demanding and I was sometimes frustrated with it, but I do think the results speak for themselves.

And one thing I would mention on more mainstream parenting choices, they often do not reflect the realities or needs of breastfeeding infants. Sleeping through the night really doesn't happen with breastfeeding. You can cry it out all you want with a breastfed baby, but if they are hungry they aren't going to sleep. And mainstream philosophies often push early nightweaning which I don't think is appropriate.

V
post #12 of 68
Here are some great articles from mothering that might shed some more light on what AP means and the scientifically proven effects of practicing this style of parenting.
http://www.mothering.com/science-att...cal-roots-love

Quote:
Attunement, in the simplest terms, means following baby's cues. Babies have their own spontaneous expressions of themselves. When you pay attention to these expressions you communicate that you understand what they are doing, feeling, and even thinking.24 This assists brain development and creates a foundation for the negotiation of all social interactions.
http://www.mothering.com/science-mot...mothers-wisdom

http://www.mothering.com/parenting/a...-everyday-life

Quote:
Contrary to popular misconception, it is by our nuturing of our children and meeting their needs that they grow into strong, compassionate, and independent people.
post #13 of 68
My kids are in middle childhood now and I see the benefits very clearly.

Children can be independent only when they are firmly rooted in attachment. Kids are free to be who they truly are only when they don't have to worry about attachment. Attachment is a primal need. If attachment needs aren't satisfied, the child will expend all their energy on monitoring attachment. Our society pushes independence far too soon.

The best example, really, is our ds. Ds is a cautious, sensitive introvert. He's prone to anxiety as well (it's genetic in our case). When he was a preschooler, he was very uncomfortable away from his parents. He did go to daycare 3x a week, but it took a long time transitioning. He was in a loving, caring place with the same teachers for 4+ years. He took a year to warm up to the teachers. He wouldn't talk to people outside the family. I think some of our neighbors thought something was wrong with him because they never heard him talk. We would go places and he would watch from the sidelines, clutching our sides. I would despair of his ever joining in.

Fast forward to 1st grade at our local public school. (He went to K at his daycare because we thought he needed another year in a familiar environment.) Ds hopped on the school bus without a look back. He was nervous, no question, but he was determined to do this himself. I wanted to go meet him at the other end, but nope, he wanted to do this himself. He's now a quiet leader a lot of the time in school. He still doesn't talk much to people outside the family, but he's a creative, independent thinker. 2 years ago, he wouldn't go over to the neighbor's house across the street to ask if they could play. This year, he'll happily ride his bike 2+ blocks to see if his friend can play.

All of this makes me much more confident in our not pushing him to be independent too soon. When he was ready, he did it on his own.

It's not always been easy - there is a delicate dance between pushing gently to see if a child is ready and throwing them in too soon. Sometimes we did push too hard.

Ds will never be an extrovert. He'll always be cautious. He'll sometimes be prone to anxiety. But he also feels very comfortable telling us what's on his mind. As he grows and matures, he's willing to take on more risks and more independent thought. He's developing into a thoughtful, interesting child.
post #14 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrsboyko View Post
Bolded mine.

I am new to this having a boy thing as I had DD first, but until they are more of a kid than a baby, I don't see much difference between the sexes. Babies are babies, whether they have a penis or not. Caring for your baby in the way that makes you feel whole should be the goal. Not attending to a babies cries or thinking they are manipulating the parent is not right, and it doesn't matter the sex of the child. The whole "little man" theory of raising a boy is just odd to me. Would you refer to a girl child as a little woman? Not usually.

Basically, I see clingy children (male or female) as constantly looking for approval. The typical "mama's boy" will do anything to please his mom, right? Well, if the child learns from an early age that their parents love them, respect them, and approve of them, then they won't constantly be seeking that approval in adolescence or adulthood. When kids don't get it as infants it may manifest itself as the "mama's boy" in males, but in females it is much scarier. They can become promiscuous or otherwise constantly searching for love. Not saying boys don't do this as well (cus I have seen it happen) but it is more obvious in women.
I agree so much with the bolded part. It makes me absolutely LIVID when people act like my two year old should act like a little man. He is every bit as much of a baby as a little girl is. He is two and has a right to cry and be scared and want his mama.
post #15 of 68
You can respond to your children and do all the AP "stuff" while providing a safe environment where they can learn to do things on their own.
post #16 of 68
When you note the difference between a toddler who is soothed to sleep at the breast and a toddler who was left to cry himself to sleep in a plastic crib as an infant, you will feel confident in the AP lifestyle!
post #17 of 68
I didn't intend to be an AP parent when I had my now three year old son. Common sense told me breastmilk was best, so I nursed. I couldn't stand the thought of putting him in another room all alone at night, so he slept in the room with us. Listening to him cry for me in the dark at night made me want to vomit, so crying it out was not an option.

I am an overprotective, sometimes unreasonably hovering mama bear and my son has turned out to be one of the most independent kids I've ever seen in my life. He falls down and scrapes his knee and shoves me away if I try to comfort him. He moved into his own bed in his own room at two years old. He doesn't mind being away from me, in fact he spends every Friday night with my parents. Sometimes I wish he was a mama's boy, just for a couple of years or so, but no such luck. Just my two cents worth!
post #18 of 68
Take what you want and leave the rest.

Some of it absolutely did not work with my kids and it would have been damaging to pretend it did.

But unfortunately, there's really no discussing specifics without violating the UA.
post #19 of 68
I kind of think your concerns are unrelated to AP. A baby's cry signals it's "needs," not it's wants. I think the biggest concept that has guided my AP thinking versus mainstream techniques is the idea that babies manipulate their parents. Completely get rid of that idea...attend to your baby when it needs you...and take care of yourself. Allow your child opportunities to be independent when you see it happening...my daughter makes it very clear when she wants to do something by herself. I don't fight it - i make sure she is safe and then let her do her thing. I see non-ap parents trying to "control" their kids...and that to me leads to more clinginess than anything.
post #20 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carter'sMummy View Post
Also, im wondering about the "just let him cry" arguement. My cousin was recently visting with her 5 1/2 month old son, now when she put him down to sleep, he would cry for about 5-10 minutes and then stop. Is that right? I mean is that the best thing for him to become independant?
People have already addressed this, but I find the inclusion of "5 1/2 month old" and "independent" in the same concept totally bizarre. A baby is dependent. They just are. They can't walk or talk or feed themselves. All they can do for themselves is let the people around them know they need something. The closest they can be to independent is when they're crying or otherwise letting someone know what they need, because they have no other way to get those needs met!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrsboyko View Post
The whole "little man" theory of raising a boy is just odd to me. Would you refer to a girl child as a little woman? Not usually.
Somewhat OT, but I do use the expression "little man" and it has nothing to do with thinking ds2 shouldn't cry, should be tough, or whatever. I don't subscribe to the "little man theory" of raising boys, but I do call him "little man". I don't call either of my daughters "little woman", because that phrase carries a very negative connotation for me (outside of Louisa May Alcott, I've only ever heard it used to talk in a dismissive fashion about a man's wife).

Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
Take what you want and leave the rest.

Some of it absolutely did not work with my kids and it would have been damaging to pretend it did.

But unfortunately, there's really no discussing specifics without violating the UA.
All of this.
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