i just got to thinking about this. I will confess that I am not an ap mom. We co sleep sometimes when we are needed, don't use a sling, try to keep tv to a minimum, keep toys simple to preserve creativity, sometimes buy organic, did not ebf, Iam a sahm, so i am there all the time for whenever he needs me.
before I go any further, I want to say that I love it here at mothering.com and you all have really opened my eyes to a lot of things, but I still don't think I am ap.
I remember seeing a thing on 20 20 a while ago that had a thing on ap, and it made it seem like the kids were in slings/carried or held 24/7, the parents were against strollers, and I've heard on these forums negative comments about carrier car seats. Do you have to always be in physical contact with your kids, don't some children need space? What I have figured out from these boards is that mainstream parenting is frowned on for a whole host of reasons, mainly parents ignoring their kids, propping the bottle, stuffing pacifiers in their mouths to shut them up, etc. I also am not happy with most of the parenting I see, but I guess I am right down the middle, I'm a little out there for mainstream parents, but not quite ap enough for the LLL crowd.
So, what does AP mean to you?
If there's a parenting style or philosophy I associate most with, it's AP, but I prefer not to label my parenting at all. I just say I parent lovingly, with soul, with attention, by instinct, and with respect.
I find that identifying too strongly with a set of beliefs--any set of beliefs--leads to a very rigid mindset. I first started talking to other AP moms because I couldn't stand the closemindedness that I saw in "mainstream" mothers and on mainstream boards, but I'm sad to say I sometimes see the same closemindedness in AP moms--they're just on the other end of the spectrum.
For example, unlike some AP mothers, I don't see anything intrinsically evil
in bottles, pacifiers, strollers, etc.--it's how a parent uses those things that determines how attached she is, in my opinion. I do NOT identify with a mother who plugs her child's mouth with a binky every time the baby makes a sound, or transfers the babe from carseat to stroller to bouncy seat to crib with very little holding time. I simply don't believe any baby would thrive best that way. But I do think that every family has to decide what's best for them, and there's no "right" way. (Except for breastfeeding--I'm pretty inflexible on that!)
Personally--I co-sleep, breastfeed, use a sling and
a Bjorn, use a pacifier sparingly, pump occasionally and let my husband feed the babe while I go to swim or out with a friend, pick up and nurse on demand, delay vaxes, use natural organic products, and do NOT carry all the time, I let baby have her space, but lots of cuddling too.
My I'm going on and on... good question though!
This is why I don't like labels. I think everyone defines things differently anyway. To me, I try to be a loving caring parent, who tries to see life from my child's perspective. I treat her as gently and lovingly as I can.
We cosleep now, but when dd was about 8 mo or so, she slept on her own for about a year. She wanted her own space, and when she bewgan to talk, she would ask to go in her own bed. Sorry, but hey I loved my kid then too, and knew her intimately. I was respecting her choice. When she started wanting to come to bed with us, we welcomed her with open arms, and at 4, almost 5, she is still there, cosleeping with us. Sorry, but I think calling cribs cages is harsh, its only a cage if its used that way.
Right on Serena! I agree with you completely. Everything you wrote was so well put, the only thing I want to add is that most parents love their children very much, and are doing the best they can. One example is the "binky" issue. We don't use one for our daughter, but I know some people that feel that it is a comforting device that makes their baby content. These people love their baby, and want her/him to be comfortable and content and happy. There are so many things that influence the way a parent raises their children. Our daughter is breastfed (and will be until she self-weans) co-sleeps, and is worn in a sling for a good part of the day. She wears cloth diapers, she doesn't have a binky, and she won't take a bottle, so I am never far from her for long. I didn't plan the bottle thing this way, it is just how it has evolved, and since BF is for such a short amount of a child's life, it's fine with me. I am a SAHM, and my Bella is the light of my life (her Daddy's too). I know I make mistakes every day, but I love my dd, and I am doing the best that I can for her.
We made up our own name for our parenting style...we are instinctive parents. We believe that everyone has instincts that tell them what to do for their baby and we just listen to ours and try not to worry about what everyone else is doing. I have gotten a little wrapped up in the AP thing lately, but I can't really label us like that. We co-sleep, cloth diaper, use a sling for our dd now, but never used it when she was tiny...just carried her alot,
breastfed, but weaned 'cause of bad advice...:mad: But she has a binky and we use a stroller occasionally.
But if I were to call us APers I would define it as respecting your baby as a real person with viable needs and meeting those needs to the best of your ability. Being very sensitive to the little things your baby tells you from day one and not ignoring the little language they use. Trying as best you can to relate too and get to know your baby...Love your baby.
I agree with so much of what everyone says. For me, without worrying about what exactly constitutes Attachment Parenting, I can tell you what it means to me: It's all about attachment. Being physically, emotionally and psychologically close to my baby. Being there wholly. Not pushing your children towards independence, but keeping them close for as long as they want. For me, everything else comes from that.
I just had to add a note that Serena is right about strollers and bottles and such not being evil in and of themselves. I worked part-time (25%) when my second ds was three months old mainly due to the fact that my husband was desperate to be a SAHD! I pumped and he had to use a bottle of course, which felt foreign to us at first as our first ds never ever used a bottle. But, we felt the trade-off was worth it--our son still had a parent with him and my dh could parent just as well as I could. This also meant that ds2 started using a pacifier sometimes as the milk could not be as immediate as the breast. I struggled with this for awhile but in the end decided that the parenting style was still there and was not going to change just because my dh had to selectively use a pacifier. Also, we live in a snowy, cold area and choose not to use our car except on rare occasions--so believe me, we would not survive without our sturdy twin stroller with snow nad rain covers for our two sons! We are outside every single day of the year! Sure we have used slings, our baby bjorn, and backpacks extensively, but now that they are 28 months and 4 years, personally I think it is more important that thye get an outdoor life with us (our stroller is an all-terrain Emmaljunga model!), that they learn that we do not have to rely on a car for daily life, that walking as a family is a good thing, and that a little--or a lot-- of snow is not going to stop us. So, I agree that AP is a valuable term for a general parenting style and even a lifestyle, but it should not be made dogmatic.
I really like the idea of intentional parenting!
I have read a lot of the AP web sites, not to mention the Natural Parenting and Instinctive Parenting sites. There are so many different definitions and list, do's and don't do's, that it is hard to fit into any one's catagory of what makes you AP. We use the term natural or instinctive when asked how we parent. I agree with the post above that "instinct" is really what it is all about and we all differ in our instincts. I did not find out about these parenting styles until my dd was 6 mos, but had already been bf on demand, co-sleeping, no CIO for anything, no solids. Some of the additional things I started to do after reading about AP was waiting to start soilds, using a sling, and changing my attitude on wants vs needs. Some of the things we do that might not be considered main stream AP are disposable diapers, use of pacifier for a few months, stroller, and junk food (ice cream & choc. candy). We have also recently been learning about TCS & NCP. Talk about adding more confusion! But, these have help us become even more in-tune with our dd and to me, has improved our relationship with her. I educate myself with as much info as I can in an ongoing approach to improve my parenting skills. The internet has supplied us with so much information, some good and some bad. That's where I think your instinct takes over, when the bad advice doesn't quite feel right in practice.
I agree with you so much, BellaMomma & Discovermomma! Bellamomma, I noticed you are from KC...me too! I do think that *most* parents are doing the best they know how to do out of love for their children. Dh & I do things that aren't stricktly AP with our 4 mo. old but our parenting style is pretty close. We do use disposables & I am not physically able to breastfeed (reduction surgery when I was in high school...didn't understand all the consequences). I did try to bf with my first (now 17 years old) and it didn't work. We aren't against pacifiers but dd just doesn't like them. I also work, but went from a 60 hr work week as an Asst. Principal to a 40 hr work week with lots of vacations as a teacher when we decided to try to have a baby. If we were able to financially do it I would stay home(I've been investigating home based businesses). Whenever we are home, dd is interacting with us. Sleeping in our arms, on our chests, playing with us on the floor, being held, in a sling or Bjorn, etc. Not much time spent in crib or swing. I agree with the Dr. Sears book also. He's excellent! I read everything I can by him. He also has a good web site with excellent info on discipline, sleep, illnesses, etc.www.askdrsears.com
Hi there! In answer to your question "what does AP mean to you" I think it's great that you are even asking that question. Just the fact that you QUESTION at all says to me that you are more in tune with your children than most. No one is "perfectly" AP all the time anyway; we all exist on a continuum that changes from day to day.
AP to me means specifically three things (sharing sleep & physical contact/breastfeeding/responding to cues appropriately) and a general attitude that children are young people (not possessions) and are deserving of respect.
I think that sharing sleep in some manner (usually close together while the baby is young - same bed or same room) increases the feeling of being safe for young children. I feel pysical contact (slinging or carrying or showing affection) is important because babies are very physical and learn by doing - therefore being held & hugged teaches them they matter. There are also studies done that show brain neurons connect if babies are held - they connect via motion, ie being rocked, held, slung etc. Plus, little ones are easier to sling than carry in plastic buckets!
Breastfeeding is important for a BILLION reasons - health, immunity, comfort, sensual contact, eye contact, mother *has* to pay attention to baby and slow down etc.
Responding to cues appropriately simply means that the mother knows her baby best. She pays attention to him, knows what delights him, knows what upsets him, knows what challenges him, his likes & dislikes. She teaches and stretches, she doesn't punish and bully, name call or belittle. All those things to me (and many more) contribute to the knowledge that children are human beings who deserve the respect and consideration I'd give naturally to any adult. They just know less than adults, and need to learn more. That's the only difference.
So many people disrespect their kids - calling them derogatory names, using violence against them, punishing them by withholding love & affection etc - that makes me ill. No wonder adults are so messed up - how were they treated as children? It's a messy cycle that can be broken by love. I think AP is a very loving way to raise children *as if they matter*. Because they do! So I guess that's MY definition of AP - treating children with respect.
Before dh and I had children we knew we would bf, and have the baby sleep with us for a while, carry her as much as possible. I then saw Dr. Sears books and new that was how I wanted to parent. Those of you that said "parenting by instinct", that was what we were doing before we new the term AP. After another (then) close friend had a baby I realized how different our parenting styles were. She didn't co-sleep, bf, or carry him alot. I felt so sorry for him propped up with a bottle.
I know that everyone parents differently and AP for us is just a general term for our type of parenting. To us it just seemed natural. We feel that paying attention to the childs needs are first and ours are second. They are only young onece and don't need to be pushed into independance. We bf ds(dd weaned her self after ds was born, co-sleep and carry them as much as possible, one in the sling or baby trekker(better than the bjorn, if you haven't tried it) and the other walking or in the back pack. However we do use a paci, and do use our stroller when I am out by myself or going somewhere for all day, cloth diaper, . I think you do what you can with what works for your family.
I dont' even know myself to be an AP mom.. I do suppose I'm closer to being an AP mom than anything else... but I'm borderline in many ways. Serena described me pretty well, with the exception that I haven't yet left Malia with DH 9she's only 5 months).
I think my pareting style is more about following my own natural instincts... trying not to follow any one idea or practice, but to do what feels right in most everything. I always feel good about how I handle a situation if I follow my gut. I also notice if I'm "trying" to do something inparticular I'm more likely to get frustrated or upset if it doesn't go as planned, just part of my personality. So, I just kinda follow her lead, and do what works... and I suppose that makes me AP
I learned the term "AP" from reading Dr. Sears, and if I am not mistaken, he never claims that there is a rigid definition of what it means to be AP. While Dr. Sears advocates breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, healthy foods and gentle discipline, he also makes a point that all of these things are WAYS parents can develop a close and loving relationship with their child, not inflexible rules.
It is a little sad and even frightening that some people who call themselves "AP", though thankfully a small percentage, use the term to exclude others. Does it make me an "unattached parent" because my baby did not sleep with me? Or that I used a stroller? Or that my baby took naps in a bouncy seat? I think that what makes me - and my child - "attached" is that I have always been attuned to her needs. I breastfed her for 15 months. I take baths with her, sing to her, play with her, read to her, have conversations with her in the car. It really offends me to hear things like "a crib is a cage." I do wish people could share their methods without making backhanded insults. I think that way of thinking is no different than a "mainstream" parent thinking one of us is a freak for breasfeeding a 3 year old.
I learned the term AP from my "dear friend" peacemama. I instantly thought that, oh well since I don't BF I can't be AP. However I was wrong. I so agree with Serena. I parent from my soul. I was unable to BF but I try to do the best things for my kids. The both sleep with us, I hold them all day long for as long as they want to be held, I also bath with them, read to them and my whole entire house is child centered, they are my life. My son is in preschool and I cried more on the first day then he did. They are both so secure and attached to myself and my dh that they are now able to go out, explore and be themselves always knowing that we are here for them. Unfortunately peacemama is right, with labels come criticism, I think as long as we do are best to give them all that we can them we are all AP! I say Horray for all of us!
I can't lable myself as an AP mom, just as much as I can't lable myself as a typlical Christian Woman.
Here I am... breastfeeding, pumping (so dh can bottle feed), seperate sleeping (I would love to co-sleep but ds won't have it. What good is co-sleeping if ds doesn't sleep?), sparing use of pacifier (car and sleep time), WAHM, no spanking or degrading, sling and stroller using, semi vegi mom, semi organic shopper, and mom who desires to be tiddy.
What can I say, I am not perfect, but I do love my ds dearly and want to love and dote on him with all my heart. He has my attention and my love.
I assume I fit in... if I don't too bad. Kind of my feeling at church too. They have to make room for me because I am apart of the church even if I don't look like them (
I have been thinking more about this and think it is interesting that the need for a label can be so strong sometimes...or maybe it is really the need to understand how others are interpreting that label.
I like what madison wrote about AP being treating your child with respect--isn't that the bottom line really?? It's a bit funny TripkeHughes that you say you cannot lable yourself an AP mom when I would probably have done so for you. But I can understand your desire to NOT have a label just as others seem to need that label. I remember once when a friend was expecting his first baby. I was all excited about loaning my Dr. Sears book to him and was telling him about this great thing called attachment parenting and how it "worked" and then he looked at me oddly and said, "isn't all that normal parenting?" SO there you go. He would have happily followed the same guidelines as that book without ever calling it AP.
I like to think of AP as being OPEN--open to your child's needs however they develop. TripkeHughes menitoned that her child doesn't want to co-sleep. I wouldn't say that she then is not AP because of that. I would probably instead say it was AP to have even been open to the possibility of co-sleeping. Forcing your child to co-sleep just because it is "AP norm" would be as bad as forcing your child to sleep in a crib just because it is the American norm. My boys sleep mostly in their own beds now, too, because they love them. But the minute they want to be with us, they know our bed is theirs. We are open to that possibility, whether it is for one night or every night.
TripkeHughes, you apologize for not being perfect but you shouldn't. You sound like a pretty conscientious and loving mom to me!
amsvenek- I was thinking the same thing. I don't do a lot of the things most people on this board do, and I was wondering if I fit in here, as most of the time I think, oh, I don't do that, what if I am caught
: So I was trying to figure out what it means exactly, and it is much simpler than I thought. Don't all parents want to do right by their kids at all times anyway? I know it doesn't always happen that way, but I kept thinking, I don't use a sling, ds usually sleeps in his own bed, and I use pampers, if anyone finds out, I will be kicked out of the commune.
Ps thinking of going to cloth (maybe)
i had the same question.
so thank you "Jtsmom" for asking it.
I think I am the opposite of most, except that my family is #1 to me.
Attachment Parenting implies that you want to be attached to your child. That I am 10000% for and if that is what it is, then I am too. Even though I don't do many of the things listed.
I like to think of us as attached.
A bottle feeding mom gets just as much eye contact with baby. My baby isn't facing my breast, he is on his back looking into my eyes.
so, anyway, i wanted to say that.
im not saying breastfeeding isn't eye contact. because it is great contact eye and skin, but
I am just saying that bottle feeding is also.
I consider my son, husband and myself to be firmly attatched to one another. I am lucky enough to have had the support to have pulled through some rough spots, however.
My pregnancy was one long nightmare and i was having too many problems to even consider a homebirth. Placenta previa, pre-eclampsia, pneumonia,a weight gain of 65 pounds on a 5 foot one, 110 lb. body, resulting sciatica, premature labor and completely debilitating heartburn all pretty much kept me off my feet the whole time. To make matters worse, I was having in-law problems and my beloved grandfather was slowly dying in Texas, where my mom had to watch him die without me by her side to hold her hand. Thank god my husband is such an angel and was so deeply supportive.
I managed to carry my son to term and delivered after 32 hrs. of labor with every medical intervention imaginable, a mean nurse whom I kept telling dh was a labornazi, and the fact of my grandfather finally dying that very same day that my son was born.
He suffered some minor complications as I kept refusing a c-sect and he swallowed meconium. They took him to NICU for the night and I was given a sleeping pill. When he came back I was told he was given formula to hydrate him, but thankfully the hospital was really pro-BF and my nurse was really good at getting me started. Oh, that little baby! I can't believe he is already 2.5! I also had Dr. Sears son, Robert, slated to be my pediatrician and he is so, so, supportive. He has been a voice of reason and humor many a time. My AP inspiration neighbor also sent the areas best lactation consultant to see me and Jackson as a gift.
We wnt home and breastfed, used the sling, coslept(well, Iput him in a Moses basket on the bed with us as I had a fear of squishing him.) I had a lot of trouble with engorgement and he had trouble getting milk out of my giant beach balls and with us both in tears one night, dh gave him a bottle.
In the meantime he had developed colic and boy was he sad! He cried nonstop every day from 7 til 7. It was hard. I went on an elimination diet to see if it was allergies and against his dr's wishes, followed some really really bad advice and gave ds hypoallergenic formula for a week while pumping to maintain my milk supply.
None of this helped. He just cried for four months, and thank god he preferred breast to bottle and I was able to resume nursing.
As angry as he was, he gained a pound a week for the first ten weeks and thus weighed nearly 19 lbs at ten weeks old! So i used the sling as MAP, but also used a stroller for long walks w ds's consent.
To me, AP is love. It is putting your children before yourself, and giving them every oppurtunity you can to discover who they are. It is providing them a peaceful environment. We never did get around to using cloth diapers by the way. I use them for dusting. Next baby for sure though, as disposables are really awful.
DS is very secure and happy. He asks to spend the night w my mom all the time even though I sleep w him alot and he is still BF. He is so compassionate and affectionate, two traits I think society really needs more of. My biggest hurdle is learning gentle discipline, as I never saw it in action before ds. I am doing better and slipup and yell so seldom now, and am very happy about that.
Great question! I agree with so many of you have said here.
For me, when I was pregnant I knew that I wanted to nurse my ds and had never read any of the Seares books or Mothering Magazine. It wasn't until after he was born that I found a term for the type of parenting we were doing. I loved "The Baby Book" and was overjoyed to learn that there were "others" like me who parent by responding to our babies cues, using a sling, bf & nursing on demand, having a family bed and having a natural birth and using gentle discipline.
Then I began reading "Mothering" magazine and have learned even more. AP for me, isn't about cloth diapers, buying or eating organic or alternative medicine. Its about being attached and connected to our children by responding to their emotional and physical needs. Even though we do incorporate alternative medicine, didn't circ, used cloth diapers and practiced EBF, I don't think that if you do use a pacifier or use vaccinations that you are not AP. Attachment Parenting empowers me and my child. I feel as though we have such a strong bond~physically and emotionally to one another. AP is about respect and love.
This si by far the most inspirational thread I have ever seen. Everyone is being so kind and open-minded and so generous in sharing their stories. I really needed to read this today. Thank you all.