How do I explain AP to family? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 07-13-2002, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm currently about 6 months pregnant and last night my mother was asking me if she can come stay with me after the baby is born to help out. She has been very supportive of me and even told me that she doesn't have a lot of advice to give me because she knows a lot has changed since she had a baby. However, I realized from my conversation with her last night how little she knows of my parenting philosophy. She even said she doesn't know why I would bother with breastfeeding. When I explained why she was very understanding. But I really don't want to get into discussions about every little thing and explaining my view and research I've done on things such as co sleeping, baby slings, pacifiers blah blah blah. I also don't want to hurt her feelings and make her think I believe she was a bad mother. While she is being wonderful, I can tell she's a little sensitive about that issue. Anyway, is there some kind of pamphlet on attachment parenting or something that I could give to her so she understands better - withou me having to explain every point and sound like a know it all? Thanks so much.

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#2 of 15 Old 07-13-2002, 11:24 AM
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#3 of 15 Old 07-13-2002, 11:40 AM
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Boy do I know where you are coming from. I had to face the same situation with my mother. She was here visiting me (lives far away) a couple of months ago and I tried to get her to read some of my Dr. Sears book, and also Attachment Parenting by Katie Granju. She wasn't really into reading about it, and I don't think it helped much b/c she ended up telling my Dad later that she thought alot of my ideas were a bit kooky, though she nodded and smiled while I was trying to tell her about them.

I can tell you it is going to be hard. And I would strongly encourage you to put off your mother's postpartum visit for at least a week or two if you can. This is what I did, and hopefully I'll have gained some confidence by then to assert that "My way" is working well for us.

I also try to go out of my way to tell her how wonderful a job I think she did in raising me and my brother, what a great mom she was, and also not to be too harsh talking about CIO (which she did from day one) or BFing (which she couldn't do as we were adopted). I know that it is very easy for our mothers to take our way of doing things as a direct criticism of their way of raising us, so I always try to make her realise how great a mother I think she was (is!) to me!

I think the best strategy is to talk about it at minimum. Wait until the (inevitable) comments come out like "when is that baby going to be in a crib?"...and you can say "well, cosleeping is working very well for us so we're going to stick with it". and then be firm that the topic is not up for discussion (I've become good at changing the subject, lol).

I take great comfort in knowing that I have this board to come to in situations where I get frustrated, b/c so many women here experience what you are experiencing! Good luck!!

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#4 of 15 Old 07-13-2002, 11:55 AM
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I've found that when people ask questions, it's best to stick to the positives associated with your technique rather than the negatives of another technique. Understandably, people get defensive when you tell them why you don't use their method.

If she's the type that will take the type to read up on what you believe, I second either Natural Family Living or a Sears book. You could even send her links to a few articles on the Internet that deal with the basics of different aspects of AP, such as babywearing, cosleeping, breastfeeding, etc.

I'm only 10 weeks pregnant, but I'm already worrying because I know my mom doesn't agree with me. I don't think she'll say much about it, but my sister (who's an RN at a pediatric ward in a hospital) is due 2 days before me, and she's as non-AP as you can get. I'm sure that my mom will agree with her techniques more, but I'm trying to not let it bother me. There may be other parenting techniques that work for some people, but I'm sure that over time it will be obvious that this is the best way for me.
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#5 of 15 Old 07-13-2002, 12:00 PM
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Well I was gonna say you should give her a copy of Dr Sears' The Baby Book and ask her to look through it in prep for her visit. AP ideas coming from a white christian doctor I think helps people sometimes get past the whole "you are a weird hippie" thing. He makes it sound so sensible and NORMAL. Also you can blame it on someone else "my pediatriciam/midwife/statistics said..... whatever.

My MIL is very interested in whatever we do, she thinks we are a bit strange but I think she likes how attached we are. She is a ex-hippie from the 60's so it's not all a big surprise to her. MY own parents...well they TRY to understand I think. They think we are taking the hard route but they understand we are doing our best. When I talked to them about our homebirth plans, they were like "why don't you just go to a hospital like everyone else ? It is SO much easier ?" : I think they get it more now that they've seen us in action

I agree with Piglet68...can you put off the visit for a week or two till you get some wind under your mommy wings ? Have your babymoon ? The first week or two are a bit tough, getting used to BFing and each's nice to be a bit established before visitors come so you feel really confident.
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#6 of 15 Old 07-13-2002, 04:53 PM
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If you can get her to read a book I would definitely suggest "The Baby Book" by Dr. Sears.

The big "turning point" with my mother if you can call it that came with my second child. She was holding my couple month old ds while we were in the livingroom hanging out (just the two of us.) I said to her rather off handedly "Don't you feel like you got ripped off having children during a time when society was so afraid of spoiling children that babies spent so little time being held and few women breastfed? I'm so glad that we now know differently. I can't imagine a doctor telling me not to hold my child because I might spoil him." My mom burst into tears and began talking about how lucky I was to be able to hold him all the time without fear that he was going to turn into a spoiled brat, and to breastfeed, and to sleep with him. She then went on to tell me all the crazy advice she was given by her pediatrician at the time. She said that she desperately wanted to pick me up when I cried, but she was so afraid to go against the doctor's "expert advice." That was the first time that I realized that my mother didn't necessarily feel that I was subconsciously telling her that she was a bad mother by parenting so differently (which was the case at times) but I realized that she was jealous of all the wonderful time I was able to spend nurturing my children. So much of it was taboo when I was a child. She told me that she felt she was robbed of so many wonderful opportunities she could have had with her children because the pendulum had swing in the horrid direction of the spoiled child.

That was a major turning point for both of us. She now realizes that my parenting differently isn't because I think she did a bad job, but rather that we have so much more knowledge and information now than we did more than thirty years ago. We know that many of the things back then were wrong, but it was at no fault of our mothers. They simply parented with the information we had.

I wish I had had that discussion with her when my first ds was a baby.
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#7 of 15 Old 07-13-2002, 05:49 PM
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Give her The Baby Book and tell her there will be a test at the end. LOL

If she passes, she can stay with you, if not, it's AP 101 with her.
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#8 of 15 Old 07-13-2002, 06:59 PM
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IMHO The Baby Book would be an overwhelming choice for someone who doesn't have a child. I'd go with the Sears Attachment Parenting Book. Much much thinner and covers just the *weird* stuff we do and not also the bathing and feeding and illnesses.....
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#9 of 15 Old 07-13-2002, 11:40 PM
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We (in my immediate family) are very AP-minded and my mother just does not get it. Luckily for me she lives 350 miles away. Not so lucky for my sister (who is pregnat for the first time) that she lives within 20 minutes from my mom, who is already saying things like "it will be so great to have a grandchild in the same state" and "i cannot wait to get my hands on this baby" I know from experience that my mother will start to undermine my sister's confidence in her mothering ability from day one. My suggestion to her (which may work well for you FirstTimeMom) was to postpone the first visit until a few weeks after the baby's arrival. The line I used (and practiced before hand) was "we are really looking forward to spending the first 2 (3, 4 whatever) weeks together getting used to our new family. We would love to see you at X time." If that does not work, have a list of things mom can do that are non-baby related that would be a great help (meal prep, groceries, laundry, etc.) Explain that you need her to "mother the new mother". It mnay also help to have some "lines" ready as I think someone else suggested. "Our pediatrician/GP/nurse practitioner recommended ..."; "We (partner and I) have really thought about this, and this is how we have agreed to handle this"; "thanks, I never thought of that ( and never will!)". My sister has already had to resort to "I'm the mother here" unfortunately. Good luck !
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#10 of 15 Old 07-14-2002, 10:25 PM
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Although very supportive my family still thinks I am a bit strange with my child. The have said a few things like "so how long do you plan on breastfeeding?" and when my husband would wear my DS in the sling they would kind of give him strange looks. My mother is just waiting for the day for me to leave him with her long enough so she can take him to McDonalds and smother him in Disany Land. She pushed this book on me by Dr Spock when I was pregnant and reluctantly took it to shut her up. She said this gok got her through raising me and my sister. The funny thing is I have read it and little does she know how much more with the times he is now. When she questions me now I let her know that Dr Spock preaches the theory that cows milk is NOT the ideal food for little kids and tofu and soy products are so much better. I personally love the Dr Sears's books much better but at least I can quote from Dr Spock (someone she has learned to trust) and make her see that I am not the only one thinking these things. Boy is it hard though. My husbands mother (who is a nurse) actually told us that because we did not have our son cut at birth he had a greater chance of giving a girl cervial cancer when he has sex. My gosh it never ends.

Just hold on to your beliefs and what you feel is right and you will be doing what is best for your babe.

good luck

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#11 of 15 Old 07-14-2002, 10:52 PM
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I just wanted to second Beth's post -- I was born in the heyday of formula feeding and CIO and my mother hated it but didn't know what else she could do. I am truly blessed in that she is so soft-hearted that she has embraced all of our "weird" philosophies -- it seems clear to her that they are the best for the baby and he is SO happy and smiley it's obvious that they work.

But I think maybe in more antagonistic relationships that some jealousy might be at work as well -- that we're raising our babies in a time where we are more able to make educated decisions about how we want to do it. If AP theory is correct than it really "feels" wrong to raise kids in stricter ways and with something as intimate as mothering it might create some long-lasting psychological trauma for mom.
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#12 of 15 Old 07-15-2002, 01:19 PM
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Rockergirrl wrote:
My husbands mother (who is a nurse) actually told us that because we did not have our son cut at birth he had a greater chance of giving a girl cervial cancer when he has sex.
Right, so you should subject him to unnecessary surgery now just in case he turns out to be heterosexual? : I think the circumcision/cancer link is probably explained by some lurking variable, but even if it isn't, why base your decision on a minor increased risk to some hypothetical future person rather than on the risks and pleasures of your son? Good grief.

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#13 of 15 Old 07-16-2002, 01:24 PM
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I've been pretty lucky with my mom....she doesn't have much trust in doctors (due to my youngest brother having medical problems).
She really supports all of my discussions and helps me to understand mil's opinions (not too ap in the beginning)

We live 500 km away from our families, so as Evelyn's birth was getting closer, they were getting more excited....we told all of them that we wanted 4 weeks to bond with our family and to allow our first two "babies" (2 whippet dogs) to get use to the changes without having visitors.

Now mind you even my mom was a little upset by this, and will make small comments even now (11months later), but I know she understands and wanted to be there for me, not to take babe away etc....

When I was pregnant I started doing research online about breastfeeding...I knew I wanted too, but wasn't sure of all that it was only going to nurse for 6 months (now babe weans when ready!)...but the more I read on bf and ap the more it just sounded right...and any articles I found I printed off ready to hand to anyone who questioned me....(I have a binder full
Dr. Sears is amazing also....

I'm starting to ramble...sorry....:

I definately would give you and dh and db (dear babe) bonding time....
I also found that telling people (for me that included dh in the beginning) that it just feels natural may help and I also find myself telling people that it works for us...

I find now that I can take advice/comments as long as they are delivered nicely...and use the oppourtunity to educate...but let me say it took me a few months to get my confidence..

Holy this is can tell I was away for a few days....getting back on these boards gets me all exited for AP! Especially after time with the

Good luck to you!!

(edited...cause I can't type with the wrong hand while dd nurses...lolll)
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#14 of 15 Old 07-17-2002, 02:15 AM
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Tried to tell mom our ideas; she rolled her eyes.

Remember, they think it's a repudiation of their way when you don't do it their way. Which it is. It just is not a repudiation of them as human beings. Which they don't quite get.

Giving books also did no good. "I don't have to read this. I already raised my children." :

Okay. So you raised yours, let me raise mine.

Basically, though, a lot of her resistance was trying to (in her view) make life easier for me. She still tries to push water or solids on my babies before they're 6mo because she thinks it would take the "pressure" off me. Or to get us to set up a bedroom for the kids because it would make us ... I don't know, but something she sees as better for me.

Which I find interesting, occurring to me as I type this. Their concern is not for the babies, it's for the parents.


There you go. The definition of "the anti-AP" right there.

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#15 of 15 Old 07-17-2002, 11:55 AM
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For the most part I do not talk about the things we do that are ap. When we go places I take a stroller & use it to push the diaper bag & other assorted goodies while I carry the baby in a sling. If anyone asked, I would tell them that we family bed, but no one ever has. "Does she sleep through the night?" is pretty common--I just say yes. Nighttime parenting a breastfed, cosleeping baby is pretty easy and I interpret the question to mean "Is Mama getting the rest she needs?"

When I do need to explain ap I say "we believe in meeting our children's needs as they occur, so that they are able to move on to the next developmental level when they are ready." I have found that the more simply I present it, the better it is received.

I have also found that my relatives match the tone I set. It's not always easy for me, but I think it's really important to remain calm and gentle when (repeatedly) reminding Grandma that baby can't have Jello yet (or ever!) I rely very heavily on "Our doctor says..." in regards to foods or breastfeeding.

When my first daughter was small, there was much eyerolling and many knowing glances exchanged among my relatives. It really irked me, but I ignored it as best as I could. Now that my oldest is three and a total joy to be around (in contrast with my cousin's neglected kids), I have noticed my family adopting my techniques. Of course no one has ever said "Tessa, you are a good mom and we're sorry we doubted you," but that's fine. Actions speak louder than words.

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