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When do we stop attachment parenting?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I stayed home with my extremely high-need DD for the last three years and I have no regrets about that but I am feeling that it's time for both of us to move on. DD is still nursing like a newborn and I've had enough. 

 

We had to put one of our dogs to sleep last week and I know DD is having a really hard time coping with the loss. She thinks we sent the dog away and she is very angry which I completely understand. I know she needs some time to adjust and cope so this is probably not the best time to bring on more changes but I am starting to feel that it's time to detach a little. I want stop co-sleeping. I want to stop breastfeeding. I want her to go to school full-time. I was considering homeschooling for awhile but I don't think I can take 24/7 mothering any longer. 

 

I know she is still a child but she isn't a baby anymore. I don't feel the same degree of responsibility or urgency to be by her side and protect her from everything. 

 

I used to feel too guilty and anxious about even the idea of leaving her with a sitter for a few hours. I do work a few hours a week while hubby watches her so my work has been the only break I've ever had from her but as I teach young ones, instead of dealing with DD, I get to deal with 20 of them which isn't really that much of a break. I am starting to feel really excited about the prospect of having her in a full-time preschool. I do have a transition plan (6 months of 3hr x 2 days, 6 months of 5 mornings a week, then one year of full-time preschool) but I'm surprised that I am feeling so eager to spend less time with her right now. I thought I'd want to keep her home with me for as long as possible. 

 

Is this just a phase I'm going through, a bad day, or sometimes, is it really time to move on?

post #2 of 16

It can be really exhausting to be EVERYTHING to one person.  It's totally understandable you want your needs to count, too.  I don't think I would bring on a ton of changes at once, but if you're ready to make some changes - prioritize, make a plan, tell her what's going to happen, and stick to it.  IMO, being wishy washy and giving in when they protest is just confusing for small children.  The rule is this, this is what we do.  Most people buck change, especially small children, but your needs count and you're just as important as she is.  It is ok to want some independence for yourself.
 

post #3 of 16

First of all, hugs. I know how draining it is, especially with a first when you don't see the ending to all of this.

Secondly, I agree with PP. If you're not happy with something, you can make some changes - bigger or smaller. It won't make you less of an attached parent.

 

To answer your question, I found that attachment parenting means responding to your child's needs, not keeping her attached to you all the time. I have an 8 y/o and our days of co-sleeping and breastfeeding are long gone. He goes to school full time. When he goes to a playdate, he doesn't need (or want) me to be there with him. He asks to stay home alone and wants his own key. His needs are now different.

 

My 3.5 y/o is still nursing, but only a couple of times a day. She's transitioning to sleeping alone these days, but still crawls in our bed in the middle of the night. I've been SAH with her until recently, when she started preschool.

 

Don't be so hard on yourself. It's understandable to want her to go to preschool.

post #4 of 16

I don't think that setting limits is ending attachment parenting.  Sometimes I set limits because I need them there for my sanity or my dd's safety and that hasn't made us grow apart.  There is a chapter in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding about nursing toddlers and about a mother's realization that nursing was the only thing she did with her child.  She talked about finding other things to do to bond together in addition to nursing.  My dd was close to two when I read this and I found it very helpful because I realized when I read it that I had fallen into the same trap.  I upped how often I held dd on my lap and read, how often I just sat and played legos, and our park outings and it helped my dd cut back a lot. 

 

I think it is very important to find a way to place limits on nursing without feeling guilty if your negative feelings about the nursing relationship don't end after a month or so.  Going through ups and downs is normal but several months of down isn't.  When my dd was three and a half I was completely ready to be done nursing, I had been ready for about nine months but felt guilty about it.  I repressed a lot of emotions but it was starting to really show in my interactions with her even though I thought it wasn't.  I viewed her in negative ways, I resented nursing to the point of feeling rage when she nursed, and I wanted to run away.  I had my tubes tied right before my dd turned three partly because I always wanted one and partly because I never wanted to have another nurse again (a feeling that never went away).

 

My family was gentle and then really persistent and honest about telling me nursing was the problem.  I read a book about nursing toddlers from La Leche League and found a weaning idea that worked for my dd.  I felt like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders and my feelings towards her changed immediately after she weaned.  It took several months to repair our relationship and I really wish I hadn't made myself continue doing something I despised doing for so long.

post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I don't think that setting limits is ending attachment parenting.  Sometimes I set limits because I need them there for my sanity or my dd's safety and that hasn't made us grow apart.  

 

This statement is right on.  Personally I will end attachment parenting when my child tells me to.  Well, maybe not...

 

Good luck.

post #6 of 16
You and your family just went through a crisis, a life changing event, your dog's death. I was overwhelmed when one of my dog's passed last year. Just clinging as I was dealing with my husband's overwhelming grief, beyond what I expected, caring for my toddler, and I never, to this day, have had a chance to grieve on my own.
It seems you are having thoughts on major decisions, and likely not at the best time for making decisions. In other words, I would just take it one day at a time right now. Find ways to deal with your dog's death, your child's needs and your own but perhaps without any major decisions right now.
I am very sorry for the loss of your dog, a family member. My thoughts are with you.
Edited by Asiago - 5/27/13 at 5:20pm
post #7 of 16

Your transition plan is very gradual, and I wonder if you might, after a few months trial, you might want to accelerate the process.  It's a thing to consider.  You sound eager to get out more.

 

Being everything to any person is hard.  That much love does not come cheap.  You do eventually get exhausted.  And three is a really hard age.  Honestly, the work of a three year-old is to separate herself from her parents and learn to exert her own opinions.  Most three year-olds do this by making their parents crazy.  One of the ways to cope with that is to cut parents a break by putting a few hours of preschool on the schedule.

post #8 of 16

Good advice, and I'd like to add a small piece in regards to homeschooling: don't write off something that is 2 or 3 years away, and because you are overwhelmed with motherhood.  You might still want to have her go to school, but changing the nursing relationship, finding your own time, establishing some sense of separate identities are your first steps.  She will be very different child when she turns school age.  Let that decision lie until you've reestablished a relationship that is healthier and happier for you.  

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

DP


Edited by nenegoose - 5/27/13 at 9:35pm
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

TP 


Edited by nenegoose - 5/27/13 at 9:36pm
post #11 of 16

I haven't fully weaned my daughter yet, but a few months ago I cut back from nursing "on demand" when I realized she nursed 13 times in 24 hours on a day I didn't tell her no once. (She was probably 19 months old at this time.) First I cut back to every 2 hours, then to 4 times a day, and then from there I dropped one nursing every couple of weeks or when it seemed time. Now we are down to once or twice a day and it is a lot easier for me to deal with. The cutting back was difficult. She begged and cried a lot, but after a couple of days she would accept that she wasn't going to be able to nurse every time she asked, and she didn't ask as often any more. I mean, I do favor giving your kids what they want/need when possible, but when it's driving you up the wall, something has to give. 

 

Asking her to sit on my lap for another activity didn't help us either. Doing more different stuff helped, and it helped that we started this as the weather got warmer. When she is busier and has more to do, she doesn't ask to nurse out of boredom. 

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful reply. I needed a perspective and I was definitely ready to ship DD off to a summer camp yesterday when I posted it but now, I feel I know what the real issues are at hand. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post

IMO, being wishy washy and giving in when they protest is just confusing for small children... but your needs count and you're just as important as she is.

 

You're absolutely right and we need to be firmer about our expectations with DD. I am ready to quit nursing cold turkey and get her to sleep on her own but at the same time, the thought of nursing her for the last time brings tears to my eyes and I think she can feel my ambivalence and takes full advantage of it. 

 

We were very much a baby- and then toddler-centered household and I am starting to feel that she is now old enough to know that there are other people in the universe including her parents and she can't go around expecting her needs to be met instantly every single time. It's definitely time to modify our approach; or else we'd have a very spoiled little girl.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightwish View Post
I found that attachment parenting means responding to your child's needs, not keeping her attached to you all the time. 

 

I think the hardest part of this for me is that DD is resisting my attempts to make her more independent. She tells me she doesn't want to go to a school if I cannot be there with her. She doesn't want to stop nursing. She doesn't want to have her own bed. She wants me to help her with self-care tasks that she is more than capable of doing herself like dressing herself or putting on her own shoes. It seems to me like she wants to stay a toddler for a little longer when developmentally speaking, she has clearly entered the childhood stage many months ago. In my head, AP meant child-led weaning, etc or at the very least a collaborative process but I am starting to feel that I need to make an executive decision and cut the apron strings as my friends would put it but at the same time, a big part of me is feeling that maybe DD is resisting the transition for her own reasons and I need to respect her wishes. I know I'm over-thinking this a bit but it's so hard to know what is really the right thing to do without losing my mind. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I upped how often I held dd on my lap and read, how often I just sat and played legos, and our park outings and it helped my dd cut back a lot. 

 

I wish this were true for my DD. If she is on my lap, she takes it as an opportunity to nurse and she is relentless. I'm starting to seriously suspect she has a nursing dependency problem. I know it sounds silly but her persistence is not "normal." A friend weaned her daughter a while ago and she was just as "addicted" as my DD and the way they described the weaning process was as horrific as someone going through a serious drug withdrawal (banging her head against the wall violently, screaming, biting, and all). 

 

I need to do more research into this whole weaning process because I am feeling ill-equipped to cope at the moment. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asiago View Post

I never, to this day, have had a chance to grieve on my own.

 

I hope you'll find your chance soon. We often think of being neglectful with our physical self but the same applies to our emotional well-being. I see how much DD's suffering from her loss and my husband is a huge emotional wreck too although he is doing his best to not fall apart in front of DD. Life has to go on and someone has do the chores and function and that role falls on me. 

 

Our dog was 17 and during his last few days, he had lost his mobility and was unable to drink or eat on his own so we did the right thing and I don't feel guilty about the decision but I am overwhelmed by the loss. We do need to focus on healing as a family first. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post

And three is a really hard age.  Honestly, the work of a three year-old is to separate herself from her parents and learn to exert her own opinions.  Most three year-olds do this by making their parents crazy.  One of the ways to cope with that is to cut parents a break by putting a few hours of preschool on the schedule.

 

I'm really relieved to hear that it wasn't just DD and our parenting skills or the lack there of. DD has been acting like she is 2 going on 13. I am suffering from separation anxiety but I think DD will be ready to have her own social life without me soon. Hubby tells me we cannot shelter her from everything forever but I still feel 3 is too young to be away from home for 20 hours a week but I definitely think a few hours of preschool each week at this point is a necessity for us even if I were to stay on campus initially as a classroom volunteer; both she and I need to start the physical detachment process. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post
 Let that decision lie until you've reestablished a relationship that is healthier and happier for you.  

 

I hope it gets better. DD and I haven't gotten along well since this "I want to do NOTHING" phase started a couple of week ago. I think she was reacting to our dog's rapid deterioration as she could see that he was not going to be with us for too long. 

 

I do want to homeschool if it remains financially feasible for us. I have my questions and doubts but I need to address them when it is time for her to enter kindergarten in two years. Even then, it doesn't need to be a permanent solution. I need to find a better balance in the family one way or the other. Right now, I'm too exhausted homeschool effectively or simply to take care of myself and I don't want DD to think that when she becomes a mother, she has to live the way I do. 

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by nenegoose View Post


 

I think the hardest part of this for me is that DD is resisting my attempts to make her more independent. She tells me she doesn't want to go to a school if I cannot be there with her. She doesn't want to stop nursing. She doesn't want to have her own bed. She wants me to help her with self-care tasks that she is more than capable of doing herself like dressing herself or putting on her own shoes. It seems to me like she wants to stay a toddler for a little longer when developmentally speaking, she has clearly entered the childhood stage many months ago. In my head, AP meant child-led weaning, etc or at the very least a collaborative process but I am starting to feel that I need to make an executive decision and cut the apron strings as my friends would put it but at the same time, a big part of me is feeling that maybe DD is resisting the transition for her own reasons and I need to respect her wishes. I know I'm over-thinking this a bit but it's so hard to know what is really the right thing to do without losing my mind. 

 

 

I wish this were true for my DD. If she is on my lap, she takes it as an opportunity to nurse and she is relentless. I'm starting to seriously suspect she has a nursing dependency problem. I know it sounds silly but her persistence is not "normal." A friend weaned her daughter a while ago and she was just as "addicted" as my DD and the way they described the weaning process was as horrific as someone going through a serious drug withdrawal (banging her head against the wall violently, screaming, biting, and all). 

 

I need to do more research into this whole weaning process because I am feeling ill-equipped to cope at the moment. 

 

I would caution you against weaning cold turkey, it might not go well. I tried once with ds around 3 and couldn't do it.

What I did with my dk was to cut them back to 3 nursing sessions a day (no night nursing). Now that she's almost 4, we'll drop another nursing session and will likely take another couple of months before we drop another one.

It's normal for her to resist weaning, it's the best way they can soothe themselves. And the fact that your friend went through the same thing when she weaned cold turkey should tell you that it IS normal.

My dd fell and hurt her knee the other day and she told me: Mom, I NEED to nurse because I got hurt.

 

You may make her even more clingy if you "cut the apron strings" in all aspects at once.

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by nenegoose View Post

You're absolutely right and we need to be firmer about our expectations with DD. I am ready to quit nursing cold turkey and get her to sleep on her own but at the same time, the thought of nursing her for the last time brings tears to my eyes and I think she can feel my ambivalence and takes full advantage of it. 

 

Your feelings are bittersweet, and in my experience, that's a big part of mothering. I felt this, am still feeling this, many times my children went through transitions, never to visit a particular phase again.  My eldest graduated high school 5 days ago! Talk about being teary!   It's kinda sad. It's sweet, too. Don't try to avoid these feelings.  Don't not do something that's developmentally appropriate simply to avoid sad, difficult feelings.

...

 

I wish this were true for my DD. If she is on my lap, she takes it as an opportunity to nurse and she is relentless. I'm starting to seriously suspect she has a nursing dependency problem. I know it sounds silly but her persistence is not "normal." A friend weaned her daughter a while ago and she was just as "addicted" as my DD and the way they described the weaning process was as horrific as someone going through a serious drug withdrawal (banging her head against the wall violently, screaming, biting, and all). 

 

Yes, you might be over thinking this.  Don't pathologize and label her behavior quite yet.  Who knows, if you had weaned her a year ago, she might now be having the same head-banging, screaming and biting fits with some other issue.  She sounds like an intense 3 year old. Sorry, not sure how reassuring that is! Lol! But not all difficult behavior is abnormal. It's *very* frustrating for you, no doubt. It's a bummer and I feel a lot of sympathy for you.   

...

 

I'm really relieved to hear that it wasn't just DD and our parenting skills or the lack there of. DD has been acting like she is 2 going on 13. I am suffering from separation anxiety but I think DD will be ready to have her own social life without me soon. Hubby tells me we cannot shelter her from everything forever but I still feel 3 is too young to be away from home for 20 hours a week but I definitely think a few hours of preschool each week at this point is a necessity for us even if I were to stay on campus initially as a classroom volunteer; both she and I need to start the physical detachment process. 

 

I found a parent participation preschool for my son and me.  It was a fantastic experience. Frankly, I learned a lot about the wide, wide range of normal for preschoolers, and ds had a few hours of fun 3 days a week.  You might take a look around for something like this. 

post #15 of 16

I just wanted to add another vote for taking your own needs into account doesn't mean the end of attachment parenting.  Everyone's needs in the family are important, and need to be balanced for a functioning, happy family.  A three year old can handle limits to breastfeeding, activities that don't involve mom, etc.....   You have given her such a strong foundation these last three years so she should feel very, very secure and loved and is ready for a gradual process to begin of doing things with others and leaning on you for constant attention/affection/stimulation/entertainment less and less.  And it's a gift to her!  Her relationships with others (friends, care providers, other family members, community, etc) will enrich her life and she's old enough.  Plus having opportunities to be bored and entertain herself without you rushing in before she has time to get creative and use her imagination is a good thing.

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

Our dog's passing seems to have brought out a lot of anger she was brewing inside for months. It was a time for me to step by and reassess my relationship and parenting choices with DD; threats work wonderfully with her so I've been resorting to it a bit much and I think it was starting to hurt our relationship. Everyone' feedback has really helped in making me realize that I need to make some positive changes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by erigeron View Post
When she is busier and has more to do, she doesn't ask to nurse out of boredom. 

 

This is very true. DD hasn't asked to nurse when we are out and about for over 18 months. When she is at home and wandering around without nothing to do, she wants to nurse forever just as I tend to snack out of boredom all day long if I'm not managing myself. We have a playroom with toys, games, and puzzles but I need to change the set up a little. She was on a train phase for the longest time but I think she is ready for open play and independent art projects. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightwish View Post
It's normal for her to resist weaning, it's the best way they can soothe themselves. And the fact that your friend went through the same thing when she weaned cold turkey should tell you that it IS normal.

My dd fell and hurt her knee the other day and she told me: Mom, I NEED to nurse because I got hurt.

 

You may make her even more clingy if you "cut the apron strings" in all aspects at once.

 

I can handle a couple of nursing sessions a day; what is driving me crazy is the constant asking/negotiation for it through the day when we are at home. I might need to sit down with her and explain to her that she can only nurse twice a day when she turns three and see how she responds. Structure might indeed work. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post
I found a parent participation preschool for my son and me.  It was a fantastic experience. Frankly, I learned a lot about the wide, wide range of normal for preschoolers, and ds had a few hours of fun 3 days a week.  You might take a look around for something like this. 

 

DD has out grown her toddler classes so she is ready for preschool. It was really hard to find a quality parent participation preschool in our area but I think we finally found one and are signed up for the summer. I'm really excited but so nervous at the same time; I know DD would do just fine but I hope I can get along with other parents. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serafina33 View Post

Her relationships with others (friends, care providers, other family members, community, etc) will enrich her life and she's old enough.  Plus having opportunities to be bored and entertain herself without you rushing in before she has time to get creative and use her imagination is a good thing.

 

Thank you for your kind words and I hope I have prepared her well enough to make a successful transition. I know at some point, I have to trust DD to be independent enough to be away from home but I wouldn't have minded that she home-schooled for the next 15 years until she became this little rebellious creature with a rather unpleasant attitude. I need to get over this latest development and make sure I'm doing what is best for her rather than sending her away to somehow "punish" her for growing up. 

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