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How Much Is Too Much Attachment? - Page 3

post #41 of 50

Wow I could have written this post. I am married to a man from India-- 16 years married now. We still deal with cultural parenting issues. I had to see that his way of love is different than mine. My in-laws are still in India and so I tolerate their actions that are based on love, knowing that they have only a small precious amount of time with their grandchildren. If you are having your in-laws babysitting, you may have to just accept those things in her when your child is in your care, as long as you can do what you want to do when you are in your own home.

 

* Edited to add that I just read more of the thread and see they are staying with you-- that is hard! But temporary.

 

When younger I also struggled with the spoon feeding thing. We also struggled to get my oldest out of our bed after cosleeping for awhile. I was pregnant with the second when I finally told him he needed to somehow transition her. I was having a hard pregnancy and needed her out of our bed-- she kicked very hard for one thing. He ended up sleeping on the floor next to her bed in her new room. (Which was fine with me-- had the whole bed to myself!!). I enjoyed the cosleeping but there was a point where it was not working for me and he used guilt to keep her in the bed longer.

 

And yes, the crying thing too. I remember when we were in India, dd was a year old. We stayed for 2.5 months. The bedroom was not childproofed fully and I was trying to get her to go to bed. When she started to get off the bed, I simply picked her up and laid her back down on the bed next to me and told her to go to sleep. We did this several times and she started to scream and cry in frustration. I felt okay with what I was doing-- it was way too late and she needed to settle down and sleep. Suddenly the door burst open and I had both in laws demanding that I give in to her, because it was not good for babies to cry at all--- would hurt their spirits. I told her I was setting limits and please do step out so I can parent her and get her to sleep. My oldest is very high strung and hard to settle, even at the age of 12. I had to set limits with her early on certain things, and as a result she is doing quite well. They always tell me know what a good mom I am to her. ;-)

The food issue-- very cultural. Food equals love in India. When dh speaks of his childhood, his eyes light up when he talks about the food. He had some of his best memories at the dinner table, and watching his mom cook in the kitchen. Hand-feeding babies in India is very cultural and loving and nurturing. It also was easy to do in a traditional household with grandma, mom, aunties all living close together. And, there was less mess to clean up and less food waste, as food is precious there with so much poverty. This was how it was explained to me by my in-laws.

 

I am trying to teach my kids to cook and find healthy snacks for themselves and make good choices. My 12 year old is being encouraged by me to pack her own lunch. Even when they ask to help cook he sends them off and insists on cooking for them. My 12 year old still gets her crusts cut off the sandwiches. But the worst is the guilt. They get full and push their plates away, or they simply don't care for something he cooked. He encourages them to finish their plates, and says "I worked so hard to make this for you. You don't like it? That makes me sad." I always have to counter this with "It's okay to listen to your body if you are full. Please try a little, if you don't like it make a peanut butter sandwich." 

It has been a huge battle also to let them have natural consequences. If they forget their homework I will not drive the homework to school. He grew up in a traditional Indian household where mom did everything for them. Or the household help did. His mom even choose his college major for him. I asked him if he liked that, and he said he did not know what he wanted to do and trusted his mom's judgement. I see in him a lifelong lack of confidence and I wonder if a lot of that had to do with his upbringing. When 12 year old clogged the toilet yet again, I taught her how to use the toilet plunger and he was appalled and very much against me doing that. I could give 10,000 examples. 

For him, love means doing everything for the kids. For me love means teaching them life skills and seeing them become more confident in themselves for it. At least there is love in our family.

 

Thankfully I am with them more than he is, and they enjoy cooking, cleaning, and doing things for themselves. But it's hard, and it's a constant battle that will probably not end until they tell him to lay off.


Edited by USAmma - 9/11/13 at 1:33pm
post #42 of 50

Having "dated" a man from India and learned much about the culture there and also, dealt with boundary issues with in-laws (who doesn't?) I can sympathize with you.  You may be disgusted with your in-laws culture and/or choices in how they raised their son... but try to remember that they must have done something right, else you wouldn't have married him, right?  Coming from the perspective of two in-laws who are not long for this world, in the end, though it makes your life challenging, all the stuff you're dealing with is "small potatoes" in light of the big picture of life.  Do you want your lasting memory of one another to be how you hated one another and loathed their presence?  Or you could remember how inspite of their quirks, you remained gracious and kind.  I tell you... being gracious and kind to your in-laws can go a long way in your relationship with your husband.  He will be able to look at you with more respect for your composure and handling of an unpleasant situation.  How can love refuse to grow in that kind of environment?  I probably don't have to tell you that in Indian culture, the elders are always treated with respect, even if the "elder" is just a year or two older.  It is probably hard for them to respect your opinion since you are so young.  And because interference is expected in Indian culture, they likely don't feel any remorse for their meddling ways.  They probably are convinced that they are just doing what good grandparents do.  Perhaps your husband can speak with them on your behalf in their native tongue.  They aren't going to see you with respect, most likely, until you "behave" with respect toward them and maybe even "fall in line" with their philosophy.  All the complaining about how they do things and clashing isn't going to get you anywhere in their eyes but more importantly, nor will it bring peace between you and your husband, as it would in any marriage, inter-cultural or not.  I would try to overlook and be gracious about as much as you can.  Problem solve with your husband privately and come up with boundaries for your in-laws that you are unwilling to compromise on.  Then try to have him communicate with them in a respectful and firm manner.  If you can narrow down the truly important things... like, would it really hurt your son to lay down with his grandma for a few minutes before falling asleep?  What a precious memory for everyone involved.  Or maybe there is something else that you feel you could compromise on.  Doesn't mean he still has to lay with his Grandma at 15....  I feel for you.... I really do!  Dealing with in-laws is just never easy and it has the potential to become a real thorn in the side of your marriage.  Thank goodness you have a supportive husband in all of this!

post #43 of 50
i have wondered for a while how people manage to AP when the second & third baby comes into the picture, b/c of how hard the time commitment might get. the other day a woman i ran into at the bookstore said how AP was fine and all, in theory, except she's on #5 so it's impractical. naturally, i judged her–silently but strongly; if her other children needed her, wasn't she being selfish by indulging some odd craving for another cute little baby instead of continuing to practice a parenting style she felt they deserved when they were teenier (and, what, cuter?)? not to mention, the world is certainly suffering no shortage of humans. not a huge problem in the states, granted, but still. i'm not saying i have a right to judge, i am just being honest here about my own inner dialogue, to set the stage for the thought process that follows.

so i thought, evolutionarily, how did we do it? were babies poorly adjusted? then it occurred to me! breastfeeding! it would have spaced out pregnancies farther than we often choose to do, if were breastfeeding for 3, 4, or 5 years, right? maybe not, but it would make sense that this would be a natural spacing out, and totally healthy (unlike the formula-feeding & birth control norms of so many families nowadays).

so with these sets of thoughts swirling in my head, i just kind of wonder if maybe, in the world outside of my own rigid preferences, and also outside of the mindsets of women who only choose AP when it's easy or convenient, there's some happy, healthy middle ground. i can tell you're nothing like the woman i described who rubbed me the wrong way, especially when you describe how heart-wrenching it feels for you to hear your son cry. i don't at all judge you for having figured out that sleeping sometimes takes a few brief moments of turmoil, and feeling assured of that even in the face of your MIL constantly second-guessing you. you are the momma, and you know your baby best.

but isn't it possible that your MIL adores her grandson FAR more than she cares about disagreeing with you (same as i'm sure you feel), and truly believes she is doing what is best? not saying that makes it okay, or that you ought to let her, just that maybe if, in the face of disagreeing with her, you can sense the loving place that motivates her behavior, you can feel less tension and stress in how you ultimately work it out? because the other thing to point out is that if she is at all inclined to be a little judgmental like me, she might be wondering if having your son sleep away from you at such a young age is really in the kid's best interest, or only being done to make your life easier. maybe she thinks there is a way to keep more attachment in that relationship but you're not trying, even if that's not true, because she can't fathom (even more so than an AP convert fails to fathom) how you can push away your teeny little son at such a tender young age? and to her, the crying at the edge of sleep is evidence?

i'm not saying this doesn't suck in its own unique way, if this is how it's playing out in her mind. just that it might change the dynamic or, at the very least, how you feel about it. b/c would you respect & appreciate more (outside the experience of it frustrating you) her trying to placate her daughter-in-law (if what you are doing she believes at her unshakable core to be NOT in her grandson's best interest) - or - trying to be the best grandmother she can be to her beloved grandson, because she truly loves and cares for him?

i hope i kind of explained these hypothetical brain landscapes in a way that was helpful. and please forgive me for what i know is judgmental in my own views. i should point out that it's easy to pass judgment on a description of a situation, and i feel that's all i'm really doing here since i don't know you. i usually am very good at seeing other people as the kind, awesome people they really are when i know and speak to them at more length, so i hope you know it is very unlikely that, despite my admissions, i would judge you personally!

that said, i don't envy your situation, and i sincerely hope you find little ways to make the long interlacing of your lives more peaceful & harmonious & conducive to the intensifying pregnancy!
post #44 of 50
Quote:

Originally Posted by research babe View Post

 

Do you want your lasting memory of one another to be how you hated one another and loathed their presence?  Or you could remember how inspite of their quirks, you remained gracious and kind.  I tell you... being gracious and kind to your in-laws can go a long way in your relationship with your husband.  He will be able to look at you with more respect for your composure and handling of an unpleasant situation.  How can love refuse to grow in that kind of environment? 

[...]

All the complaining about how they do things and clashing isn't going to get you anywhere in their eyes but more importantly, nor will it bring peace between you and your husband, as it would in any marriage, inter-cultural or not.

 

Maybe I missed something, but I haven't seen anything to indicate that the OP is being anything other than gracious and kind in her dealings with the in-laws. What she's doing is setting boundaries, and very appropriate ones based on all she's said.

 

It's a very common mistake to believe that there's something unkind about disagreeing with someone or refusing to do things their way, and it's far too common in our culture for people (usually female people) to be expected to give in and not make a fuss in the name of 'kindness'. Nope. Obviously the OP should be polite in how she speaks to her in-laws, but it is perfectly OK for her to set whatever boundaries she feels appropriate and to hold firm to those. As to whether she loathes her in-laws' presence and doesn't end up with good memories of them... well, if they keep acting the way they're acting that may indeed be how things end up, but it's not fair to paint this as being something that she's doing wrong. If they don't respect the way she believes in doing things and sulk when she won't go along with what they want, yes, they're probably going to leave her with bad memories and a bad impression of them. That's what happens when you treat people the way they're treating her.

 

OP, I don't know if this is any help, but there's a great advice blog I really love at captainawkward.com. She gives advice on lots of things, but there are several posts on there that deal with the problem of maintaining your boundaries in the face of difficult people (especially family members!) and it does seem to me to be something you'd probably find helpful and worth checking out. (The only thing to be aware of is that she does sometimes use pretty explicit language and also some of the posts on there talk about sex. I don't know whether either of those things would be a problem for you, but thought I'd better warn you just in case.)

 

Meanwhile, hugs to you. You sound like you're doing an amazing job. I know it's horribly difficult to stand to what you're doing in the face of such persistent, insidious disapproval, especially when you're still early on enough in your parenting journey that you still (if you're anything like me) have a lot of lurking inner doubts about whether you might in fact be Doing Something Wrong... You're not. You sound like you have excellent boundaries and parenting decisions with good, well-thought-out reasons for them. I know it's really difficult, but keep on staying calm about sticking to your guns. And come on here and vent whenever you need to.

 

BTW, their parenting style doesn't sound like 'extreme AP'. It sounds like permissive parenting. AP isn't supposed to be about doing more and more and more and more for your child in an infinite spiral, it's supposed to be about being responsive to your child's needs. Spoonfeeding a child who wants to feed himself, hovering over him when he needs to be alone to get to sleep, letting him have stuff that's bad for him, and not setting proper boundaries, are most emphatically NOT responding to his needs.

post #45 of 50

I understand what you're saying Good Enough Mom.  I do believe in setting boundaries, I absolutely do!  Perhaps that didn't come across clearly somehow.  What I was trying to get at in the statements you quoted was that given being raised in a different culture, these things are "normal" to her PIL.  It's true there is little that one can do to change someone else- so the best strategy is to flex and change where possible in ones self- as much as possible, to have a good attitude, spirit while working through the conflict together.  I did not mean that she should give up all her convictions (cultural or not) and just do whatever her PIL want no matter how much it violates her or her son.  I have some practice at trying to be gracious while harboring bitterness in my heart.  It may not be spoken but the energy can be felt by others.  The situation she is in is not easy, for sure.  Handling this well means hard heart work for a mom and trying to zoom out of the present focus on conflict and differences and seeing the bigger picture of your whole lives together.  I don't expect my opinion to be popular.  I'm glad you commented though so I could clarify some things that could cause misunderstanding.  Many blessings to the original poster as she seeks to work out these challenges and trials.

Lori ~

post #46 of 50
Quote:
 

2) I know leaving children to cry is the worst thing to mention on Mothering.  Sometimes I've found it has to be done in my house (will make no judgment on others) - maybe it's my own selfishness or temperament, but him crying alone for a few minutes is better to me (maybe just for me) than him crying in arms for an hour and me getting frustrated - by then I'm no longer the adoring mommy I want to be.  I wouldn't recommend leaving a young baby to cry, but I'm pretty sure your toddler can handle it.  Then again, I wouldn't leave my guy to cry with company in town - not fair to make them bear it, IMHO.  There, I said it.

 

At the moment, it seems to be a choice between 1. in-laws are distressed by their grandson being left to cry very briefly, and 2. OP has to spend huge amounts of her time trying to settle son without crying, and he faces potentially a lot more distress further down the line when the in-laws have left, he's forgotten how to get off to sleep without someone there for ages to settle him down, and has the extra difficulty of that to compound his transition to having a baby in the house. Honestly? I get that it's tough on the in-laws, but it sounds like it's going to be a LOT tougher on the OP and her son if she's stuck with this business of having to avoid any crying at all on his part because the ILs can't handle it, and it sounds a lot more unfair to me to expect her to put up with that.

 

Completely agree with you about some children needing a few minutes crying alone to get off to sleep, though. Yes, staying with children when they cry is better in most cases, but for some children that just plain doesn't work. That was my experience with my daughter - I spent SO much time trying to settle her to sleep while she cried, only to find that if I just left her alone she settled far quicker and with far less crying. Having me there didn't comfort her, it kept her awake and crying for longer. (BTW, interesting post about this at http://askmoxie.org/blog/2011/01/tension-decreasers.html, by a mother who's against CIO but then had exactly the same experience with her second child that I had with mine - that he needed a few minutes being left alone and crying to settle down - and came to realise that this really is just the way some kids are.)

post #47 of 50
i am not a momma yet, but occasionally i wonder if all the trouble trying to *get* babies to sleep is less a problem of them having trouble getting to sleep, and more a problem of trying to get them to follow our schedules (or assuming the schedule they followed in the past should still apply)? like sometimes i'm reading about these extended dramas around trying to *get* baby to sleep, but what would happen if, in those scenarios, baby was allowed to just hang out, awake, in the sling, being supported and comforted by the caretaker, so they don't feel alone in the midst of their tough emotions, and without an expectation of going to sleep? would this baby never sleep? or would it just get even more tired and eventually sleep when it's ready? i just keep thinking to myself, "meh, who cares if the baby sleeps *right now*? it'll sleep when it needs to, won't it?" ... but these things are just passing through my head without nearly enough context, so i don't pretend to know that my thoughts apply to this convo. also, i read this thread a while back, and didn't reread it just now, so it could possibly be co-mingling in my brain with a bunch of other threads... i'm not meaning to pass judgment, just trying to make sense out of the differences between the by-the-book principles of AP (& related books, like unconditional parenting & raising our children, raising ourselves) and the way that it plays out in people's everyday experiences. like, when are people truly unable to enact what these books say will give the best results (and for what reasons), versus, when are people getting undesirable results because their choices or expectations don't actually align with the parenting principles i am hoping will work for me when i become a momma soon. so please take my comments/questions in this way! =)
post #48 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by filamentary View Post

i am not a momma yet, but occasionally i wonder if all the trouble trying to *get* babies to sleep is less a problem of them having trouble getting to sleep, and more a problem of trying to get them to follow our schedules (or assuming the schedule they followed in the past should still apply)? like sometimes i'm reading about these extended dramas around trying to *get* baby to sleep, but what would happen if, in those scenarios, baby was allowed to just hang out, awake, in the sling, being supported and comforted by the caretaker, so they don't feel alone in the midst of their tough emotions, and without an expectation of going to sleep? would this baby never sleep? or would it just get even more tired and eventually sleep when it's ready? 

Some babies are great at sleeping, and some are not. My kid is 10 now, and he still sometimes has nights when he can't get to sleep--and it upsets him, and he complains about it. My impression that he was having trouble sleeping when he was an infant is confirmed now because he's had trouble getting to sleep as a child, when he can talk about it. Most nights he goes to sleep without a problem. I still remember him, five or six years ago, saying, "I'm having a somnia!" 

 

It's terrible that he has trouble going to sleep, but it's a million times easier now that he can talk about it and discuss what he needs. The thing about infants is, they aren't magical little animals who run on instinct. They're baby humans, who think and perceive in a way much closer to the ways adults do than you think they will. Like adults, they can actually stay awake longer than is healthy for them. 

 

The reason this is an issue is that babies who don't sleep enough, don't feel good the next day. My friend kept her toddler awake very late so that she could hang out with her cousins. The next night, I saw the little girl--she was shaking with fatigue! You don't want to see your child get that way. On other other hand, other children of my acquaintance (not mine, unfortunately!) could be kept out late with their parents, because they'd just go to sleep when they needed to sleep. You'd put a blanket on them, that was it. 

 

I think it's worthwhile to try to laissez-faire methods you describe and see what kind of person your child is. Remember, though, that you also need to sleep. Naps get much more important when you know that without one, your child won't sleep at night! 

post #49 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by filamentary View Post

i am not a momma yet, but occasionally i wonder if all the trouble trying to *get* babies to sleep is less a problem of them having trouble getting to sleep, and more a problem of trying to get them to follow our schedules (or assuming the schedule they followed in the past should still apply)? like sometimes i'm reading about these extended dramas around trying to *get* baby to sleep, but what would happen if, in those scenarios, baby was allowed to just hang out, awake, in the sling, being supported and comforted by the caretaker, so they don't feel alone in the midst of their tough emotions, and without an expectation of going to sleep?

By golly, I think you're onto something!  :-)  I spent a lot of time on coaxing my first born into a scheduled sleep because that's what I thought was suppose to do to be a good mom... it was mainly the influences I had at the time... and I think some kids DO respond to schedules if that fits their personality type... but by the 3rd born I ditched the schedule in favor of baby-wearing and co-sleeping and everyone was MUCH happier.  No more crying it out and pushing baby away for some strange ideal of independence.  I've enjoyed my children much more since switching parenting styles.  It fits me, it fits my kids.  I will say though that I do remember crying even as an older child when I got overly tired.  I was emotional and it really was what I needed- to just be able to cry and express how I felt and then I could fall asleep.  So while I can see what some parents are saying when they say they think there kids need to cry, it's certainly not my favorite way to handle meeting sleep needs and how much better would it be if they could sleep before they were beside themselves with exhaustion- there's a happy medium in there and that is the fine art of being a mother.

post #50 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by EliteGoddess View Post

What you're describing is not at all Attachment Parenting.  Check out API's website for what is.

 

Thank you - I was waiting for someone to point this out!
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