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Where's the line between AP and "smothering"? *see note added 02/02 - Page 2

post #21 of 63
"We're doing AP" always makes me think of Maggie Gyllenhaal's character in Away We Go.

It seems pretty easy for some AP adherents to become smothery/helicopter parents. People who are terribly concerned about what kind of cracker the child might temporarily be exposed to at someone else's house. Or, their toddler hates their car seat, so they just stay home all the time, because ever letting your child cry is awful. Or dad isn't really allowed to parent his own baby, because he would inevitably get everything wrong.

But I don't know if that's AP Gone Wrong, or just that those people were kinda helicoptery anyway, and AP is just what they seized upon..?

I do think it can be pretty easy for people to get lost in being extremely child-centered. Unfortunately I think (online) communities of AP-minded types can be really supportive of a mom martyring herself for the cause, whether it's a sleeping situation that isn't working for anyone, or a child who's twiddling the other nipple while nursing... you can always find somebody who will tell you this is such a short time in their lives, etc etc. And in turn I think that can lead to some helicopter-style parenting choices, where instead of people parenting in a family-centered way, where everyone's needs and abilities are taken into account, it becomes all about trying to make sure the baby never cries.

So I can actually see how someone who is maybe a little bit nervous about being a relatively new parent to begin with could really latch on to some AP dogma and conclude "I must never let my baby be alone!" instead of thinking "Hey, the plan here is that I let my child explore, and remain a safe home base." or whatever.

I think you've raised an interesting topic. I think about this stuff, too.
post #22 of 63
I don't know....I guess it's possible but I think too often AP is considered smothering anyways. Heck, when some people found out DD was nursing past one year I was accused of smothering her.

AP for me means paying attention to your child's needs and attempting to meet them. I do this for DH, I expect this done for me. It's part of being in a family.

Smothering OTOH for me means oppressing the child for emotional reasons. It's a byproduct of an unhealthy mother. And I say that in a gentle way. Perhaps depression, experiencing a loss, lack of support etc can cause this behavior. I saw this with my FIL who had a sibling death...it can influence all aspects of parenting.
post #23 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by lalemma View Post
"We're doing AP" always makes me think of Maggie Gyllenhaal's character in Away We Go.

It seems pretty easy for some AP adherents to become smothery/helicopter parents. People who are terribly concerned about what kind of cracker the child might temporarily be exposed to at someone else's house. Or, their toddler hates their car seat, so they just stay home all the time, because ever letting your child cry is awful. Or dad isn't really allowed to parent his own baby, because he would inevitably get everything wrong.
Yeah, I agree with this. I have a family member who is one of the most smothering helicopter parents I've ever seen. She follows her 4 yos around with rice cereal spoon-feeding it to them while they play, won't potty train them in spite of their apparent interest, hates, hates, hates to let them cry at all costs, etc. BUT, she claims to be a big follower of Babywise. She's always talking about how important it is to get them on that schedule, and how they're such a laid-back family, and that crying is good for their lungs. I don't know if she just has that little self-awareness, or she talks the talk because it's more acceptable, or what. Anyway, it's not just AP.
post #24 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by lalemma View Post
"We're doing AP" always makes me think of Maggie Gyllenhaal's character in Away We Go.

It seems pretty easy for some AP adherents to become smothery/helicopter parents. People who are terribly concerned about what kind of cracker the child might temporarily be exposed to at someone else's house. Or, their toddler hates their car seat, so they just stay home all the time, because ever letting your child cry is awful. Or dad isn't really allowed to parent his own baby, because he would inevitably get everything wrong.

But I don't know if that's AP Gone Wrong, or just that those people were kinda helicoptery anyway, and AP is just what they seized upon..?

I do think it can be pretty easy for people to get lost in being extremely child-centered. Unfortunately I think (online) communities of AP-minded types can be really supportive of a mom martyring herself for the cause, whether it's a sleeping situation that isn't working for anyone, or a child who's twiddling the other nipple while nursing... you can always find somebody who will tell you this is such a short time in their lives, etc etc. And in turn I think that can lead to some helicopter-style parenting choices, where instead of people parenting in a family-centered way, where everyone's needs and abilities are taken into account, it becomes all about trying to make sure the baby never cries.

So I can actually see how someone who is maybe a little bit nervous about being a relatively new parent to begin with could really latch on to some AP dogma and conclude "I must never let my baby be alone!" instead of thinking "Hey, the plan here is that I let my child explore, and remain a safe home base." or whatever.

I think you've raised an interesting topic. I think about this stuff, too.

yes, yes, yes and yes.

For me, AP is a label I was unsure about for a long time. Actually, I guess I am still unsure about it. I remember when my favorite mom-friend and I had just had our babies (just over a year ago, we gave birth 3 weeks apart)- we used to talk about how strange it was that moms divided themselves into clubs and sat on opposite sides of an invisible line, attaching parenting styles to themselves and using those methods to define what type of moms they were. Are we AP? We would ask... and the best we could do was determine that my friend was "more AP" than I am, and I am "more AP" than most people... I guess to me, AP is supposed to be helping babies and children become independent by ensuring that they know you are always there for them to meet the needs they have to the best of your ability. But I don't think I like the term.... It feels like a fashion statement. Those conversations my friend and I had, they remind me of teenagers sitting around and asking each other- are we punk rock? You might be more punk than I am, but I am more punk than those guys over there...

Sorry if that got a little off topic. Yes, I think it is easy for smothery types to latch on to this particular label. But I also know people who don't adhere to AP parenting methods at all, but still claim that label because they like the way it sounds.

It is late and I am pretty sure I am rambling only semi-coherently.
post #25 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post
I am trying to picture what smotering a 12-month-old looks like, and I'm having trouble. More details would work.
I've seen what I'd call smothering of a 12-month-old. In general, for me it means holding/slinging a baby/toddler who's trying repeatedly to get down from mom. I've also seen moms who offer the breast every time their child makes a whimper, even when the child doesn't seem to be indicating any desire to nurse.
post #26 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by mata View Post
Smothering to me means a dependency is created.
I was going to say the same - smothering is creating a dependency, AP is recognizing that certain dependencies exist at certain times and meeting those needs.

But if it is her first kid, I would definitely cut her some slack. The stuff you described isn't too terrible, and hopefully from her observance of other moms she will learn to strike a balance.

I do think there is an "AP gone wrong" that even the best of us might exhibit from time to time. Unfortunately it's these incidents that the mainstream seems to latch on to as an example of what AP is.
post #27 of 63
I guess I think it's pretty impossible for Attachment Parenting to "go wrong" and turn into smothering.

Maybe I have the wrong idea of what AP IS, but hubby and I basically step back from ds and let him "discover' pretty much everything for himself. We cosleep, breastfeed, etc... but I bet those things are not what's meant by "smothering" a 12 month old...nor do they seem like things that could turn into bad things. What I mean is, we are ALWAYS available to ds, but we do not push our presence or preferences on him. If he wants to play in the dirt and chase pigeons...that's cool...if he wants to eat off my plate one day and off his own table another....that's also fine. I don't PUSH him to do anything. Isn't this AP? Where can the 'smothering' come in then?
post #28 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bena View Post
My feelings exactly.

This post comes from the fact that I've noticed some of these exact behaviors with my friend, and it makes me uncomfortable...(for ex:she spoonfeeds him, claiming he won't eat by himself, but I've seen him play with a spoon and bring it to his mouth; another time, we went to a playgroup and she held on to him though he was wiggling to get to a toy; and last week, at my house, I gave him a stacking tower and she sat on the floor next to him and "showed" him how to use it)
yeah strange she calls this AP because it has nothing to do with being an attached parent, but probably more a control freak. Does she not want the mess involved with self feeding? Cause it is messy sometimes. Playing with toys the "right" way seems on the other end of the spectrum from meeting your child's needs. A babe needs to figure stuff out, explore.
post #29 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by spicyrock View Post
they remind me of teenagers sitting around and asking each other- are we punk rock? You might be more punk than I am, but I am more punk than those guys over there...
LOL!

And - yes. That is so totally right on.
post #30 of 63
It sounds like the mom is nervous and/or insecure.
Nothing to do with AP, in my opinion.
post #31 of 63
A great read on the topic is Becoming attached: First relationships and how they shape our capacity to love, by Robert Karen. Another is Parenting from the inside out by Daniel Siegel.
post #32 of 63
I fall into the camp of thinking that none of the behaviors you describe are alarming, in and of themselves. Can I see why they might raise an eyebrow? Sure. But I can also see how in the context of [some info you may not be aware of] the mom may be doing what her child needs in the moment. I think sometimes it's easy to jump to criticizing other moms, whatever their parenting style, out of concern for the child. I know I'm guilty of that. I also know that DH's family probably has some crazy ideas about me (like I'm uber-restrictive with sugar, for example) when really they just don't live at our house and don't get the big picture of why we do certain things the way that we do them.
post #33 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by folkgirl View Post
I fall into the camp of thinking that none of the behaviors you describe are alarming, in and of themselves. Can I see why they might raise an eyebrow? Sure. But I can also see how in the context of [some info you may not be aware of] the mom may be doing what her child needs in the moment.
With my ds, I was so tuned into him and understood him so well, most people were completely clueless that I was responding to him. I'm sure a ton of people thought I did what I did for my own reasons, not as a response to him.

I know my MIL felt she needed to tell me that I could put down the baby while he slept. Yeeeah... I could put down any baby but mine that fell asleep in my arms. I have the knack but ds didn't have the knack of staying asleep without physical contact. No, I didn't leave him with his father. I didn't have dh do equal diaper duty. It wasn't about me being a control freak. It was about meeting ds's needs. I followed around my ds at age 4 and fed him at times. I realized when he was 3 that there was a whole lot more things he would eat if I spoon fed him. No, he wouldn't do it himself even though he could bring a spoon to his mouth.

I know people thought I was an indulgent parent because I didn't try to correct his behavior when I sensed he was tired if he wasn't harming or damaging anything. Most people couldn't even tell he was tired (he's the sort that revs up rather than winds down).

With regards to the stacking toy, a lot of people think it's a good idea to show young children how to do things. Sounds rather Montessori of her.
post #34 of 63
Hmm. Well the 12-month-old might have made an unholy mess when self-feeding, and maybe she didn't feel like handling the aftermath. I don't think it's smothering to spoon feed a 12-month-old. And "showing him how" could be "playing with him." I don't think it's smothering to play with a 12-month-old. I don't know why she held him at the playgroup. Maybe she saw a kid with green snot dripping out of his nose. Who knows. Anyway, based on those three things, I would not be uncomfortable. The last one is the only one that even seems potentially like smothering to me.
post #35 of 63
The difference between AP and smothering, to me, is that AP creates a sense of well being, love, confidence, a strong bond between parents and child, and essentially independence. Smothering creates the opposite, especially frustration in the child.
post #36 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tashakittie View Post
The difference between AP and smothering, to me, is that AP creates a sense of well being, love, confidence, a strong bond between parents and child, and essentially independence. Smothering creates the opposite, especially frustration in the child.
Succinctly put. The hard part is determining which parenting behaviors encourage the former and discourage the latter.

Of course I have my own ideas on this.
post #37 of 63
Those things can easily be misinterpreted.
My similar age baby will play with and mouth a spoon, but that's a whole other step from actually filling it and eating with it. Self-feeding with his hands is incredibly messy. He throws food. I let him do it at home, but I won't always let him do it out at someone else's house.
As for the toy thing, aren't you supposed to play with babies? Sure, I spend a lot of time ignoring him while he plays by himself, but when I sit down and start playing with one of his toys to initiate a game, I thought that was a good thing? Don't babies like being shown things? When I sit down to play with him I show him how banging on a pot will make a cool noise, then he does that for awhile, or I show him how a ball bounces, or how blocks stack.... What's wrong with it? It seems very similar to me to telling him the words for things, which is supposedly good.
post #38 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by chfriend View Post
A 12 month old is a baby. A mother responding to a baby or a little kid has no relationship whatsoever to not allowing a high school aged person to grow up.

My older dd didn't even walk at 12 months. Me carrying her in the sling in a hip carry hasn't seemed to impede her progress as a 9 year old.
I agree. But, for the sake of argument, what if your child hadn't wanted to be worn? DD1, for instance, frequently hated it, and wanted down, and wanted me to hurry up about it! I've seen people (not just moms, but mostly) smother even children that young.

OP: I think it's hard to draw lines and say "this behaviour is AP, and that behaviour is smothering". Overall, I think the poster who said AP is about meeting the child's needs, while smothering is about the parent's needs, probably defined it about as well as it can be defined.
post #39 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by spicyrock View Post
For me, AP is a label I was unsure about for a long time. Actually, I guess I am still unsure about it.
I'm not a big fan of labels like this, in general. I use "Attachment Parenting" as shorthand. If I happen to be discussing this with someone, "AP" is a quick way to describe where I'm generally coming from. But, honestly - I mostly parented in an AP way with ds1, who was born in 1993, and with dd1, who was born in 2003. I never heard the term "Attachment Parenting" until I came here in March, 2005 - four months before ds2 was born. What matters is what you're doing and why you're doing it, not what you call it.
post #40 of 63
I would say smothering, regardless of AP or not, is not allowing your child to develop in healthy, age-appropriate way. that can vary from child to child.

examples are hard to give because kids are ready for different things at different ages. My child will happily and independently "fold" his own laundry and put it away, but he won't go to sleep without me laying next to him. Some people would say I'm rushing him to grow up because he puts away his own laundry, others would say I'm smothering him because I still rock him to sleep many nights. But that seems to be what HE needs at this time. In a few days or weeks that may change. If i was forcing him to lay in my lap and be rocked to sleep when he wanted to lay down, just because I have baby blues or miss nursing or something, that would be smothering. But if he is expressing a NEED for that emotional connection, I don't think it's somthering to provide for it if it's reasonable.

OTOH, I can't STAND people who follow their kids around trying to protect them from every minor bump, scrape and fall. To me that's smothering because it sends a message to the child that they can't handle this without direct, constant intervention from a parent.
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