Thursday, January 12, 2012

Attachment Parenting-Part 2/4 (myths vs truths)

There is plenty on the internet you can look up about what Attachment Parenting is, but not so much about what it is not. So I thought I would dispel some myths and misconceptions.

The co sleeping stigma- I have no doubt this is a big reason why AP is looked down on by some Christians. I have to say, it is such a personal choice. It has been shown to be very good for babies to be close to their mothers- it regulates their breathing and sleep cycles. We should be mindful to realize what are opinions and simply a western way of thinking vs. the facts. In most other countries babies sleep with their parents,in America we really have a push towards independence of children, in all aspects. I really do not feel that God cares where a baby or child sleeps, some people want to stay away from it because it is a habit they do not wish to continue, that is your choice as a parent, no one else.Let me say though, that the idea of meaning to start as you want to go on- while sounding great in theory and having some very good points, we should remember that all young babies know is being held 24/7, rocked almost constantly, and being fed non stop- you are not getting them used to that- they were born with that, all you are doing is weaning them off of that the first year, i personally choose to do that gradually. Many feel that it is important for children to learn to sleep on their own because they will be doing it for awhile, however there will come a time when they  will probably get married and will need to learn how to sleep with someone else, so if your really thinking about their whole future in this area- you can look at it both ways.
A note on safety- look up safety guidelines if you choose to co sleep ,when done correctly it may reduce risk of SIDS - not increase. More babies die in cribs each year than in their parents bed- never let a baby sleep with you if you or your partner have drank alcohol, have taken sleep aids,do drugs,smoke or are obese (parent roll overs usually happen with one of these factors). Beware of government( and state) funded propaganda-be a balanced researcher. I once heard of a mom saving her babies life because she "had a feeling" (her baby was laying in a bassinet close to her bed) the baby had stopped breathing and it was saved, there are many stories about mothers helping babies like this through their co sleeping arrangement.The AAP has just recently changed their recommendations for sleeping arrangements to encouraging parents to keep their baby in their room for a year (but on a separate surface)- for increased safety of the child- I think as the research continues to come in they will eventually accept it as the same as crib sleeping, safe as long as the correct safety measures are in place. I personally believe that the reason that pacifier use and placing infants on the back has been shown to reduce SIDS is primarily because both mean lighter sleep (less sleep for parents and babies) and there is a possibility that deep sleep is not the best for baby- risk wise, although all of us parents really want it. Also the risk of suffocation if much less. Look at the research on both sides and make your decision best off of what you see.
Example of Propaganda:
Adds meant to show parents how dangerous co sleeping is due to the county's high death rate of babies in parents beds. However they may have missed their mark a bit ( in my opinion). Safe parents do not let their child sleep on pillows in highly cushioned beds with big comforters. Maybe that is as dangerous as a knife in bed, but not the way many of us co sleep.

Every baby and family is different. I personally, don't want my 2 1/2 yr old sleeping with me (he now sleeps best in his own room,SIDS is no longer a concern, sleeping in his own room gets him good sleep), but I don't care what other people do! I think the reason some Christians are so against it, is because of the misguided idea that it means you have a child centered home, that your marriage is not a priority- I respectfully disagree. I am not going to lie that the trap is not so easy to fall into- having a child centered home is probably one of the things that is so hard to stay away from when you have real small ones. Let me tell you though, when my husband joins in, and picks the baby up in the middle of the night and cuddles him, like he did last night, and when he feels attached to that baby and overwhelms him with love- that helps our relationship- that makes me say " wow, my husband loves our family and cares about helping me out"

At the risk of sounding like a broken Leman record ..." Children are an extension of their mother"- and it is so true. Love on your kids, and your wife will love on you. Also, co sleeping absolutely does NOT have to affect physical intimacy in a marriage.All I will say is- where there is a will- there is a way, and if you have a husband- there is always a will, it's how God made them.Yes, i hear you chuckling! As an example... the Duggars keep their babies in their room until about 18 months (co sleeping, defined as keeping baby close while sleeping) they also have young visitors through the night, I think we all know their intimacy is not lacking-19 kids& counting! If you choose to have your baby in bed/room it should be a joint decision/ husband supported.

On this subject of the Child centered home. I hear this warning often it almost always hits a nerve with me because sometimes it comes across (to me) as, children are second class citizens,they are too be seen and not heard. I am sure that is not what is meant,but it can come across that way if you hear it enough! To clarify this, that is not what Jesus says at all, they are a gift to be enjoyed, they are a blessing given. Your life is going to change when you have kids-they WILL inconvenience you, your priorities are going to change. Your marriage is going to change- but it can all change for the better! 

Children and Parents are equal in Gods sight, we just have different roles- you are to be in authority over children.You are to put your marriage before your kids which as my friend put it so well she said, "not having a child centered home to me means that if you have a date night with your husband and your child is crying, you tell them its ok hunny, you will be alright but mommy and daddy need to spend time together", you don't let that stop you from going out (I would reschedule for bad sickness of course). That is balance to me. Not having a child centered home also does not mean that it is to be a marriage centered home (like so many think) it is to be a Christ centered home! Marriage comes before the kids wants and desires but God comes before the marriage, making your marriage an idol is not going to make it what it should be. Put God first, and the marriage (between two believers) should come together much better,easier,faster than if you try to piece it all together yourself.

But won't  Attachment Parenting teach children they are the center of the universe? no, not if it is done correctly. If anything it teaches them to think about other people, to share and be compassionate, to think about others feelings and be considerate. Today I was changing my baby's diaper and he was upset. My toddler came over, got down close to the baby and said "I talk to levi, its ok baby!" and now as I am in the other room he is saying " he wants his mommy, I cant hold levi- I too little". I made a belt for my 2 yr old because his Sunday pants kept falling down, he did not want to wear a belt the one day. Since he had never had a belt before, and it would not be the end of the world if he did not wear it, instead of forcing it on him and saying too bad your wearing it because I say, I replied with" well I would like to you wear it since I made it for you, it makes mommy sad you do not want to since I put hard work into it, but you may choose." The reply?  ' I want to wear it, not make mommy sad, want to make mommy happy!" Kids want to please their parents but if they do not think its achievable they can stop trying to hard. You don't just give them whatever they want.You are understanding, but you are not permissive. I do not spend my day entertaining my kids generally speaking, I will however get them involved in something and continue on what needs to be done- you will be interrupted if you have toddlers- that is just the way they are but you can teach them to wait a little.You teach by example.You are compassionate yourself. There is a difference between being compassionate to your children and letting them walk all over you! You dont let them back talk you, you dont let them say no in a defiant tone without a consequence.

I try not to pick my baby up when hes screaming in his highchair, but I understand that he wants to get down. So instead of leaving him scream to figure out that I dont like it, to which they usually just exhaust themselves to stop crying, I choose to say" no levi, that is not the right way to ask" and I will show him how to sign - up, please or all done(at this point he has already stopped crying, may sign as he learns them- and I pick him up). Does it teach him that screaming gets attention because I turn around when he does it? I guess you can look at it that way, but Iv found if I at least teach him the right response, he can know what is expected instead of not knowing what to do to be picked up. There is a lot of changing that goes on between a baby and a toddler when it comes to their brain, yes they are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for- but we should not expect that they can put things together just as fast and easy as an adult can. In my opinion toddlers can be much more manipulative than babies, they make more connections and if you give them too much they will keep pushing it.

This mother is a sign language teacher, all babies do not sign this many signs at a year-but the more you sign with your baby, the more they will learn. The other night I was surprised my 9 1/2 month old was throwing his mesh feeder on the floor, yet he still seemed hungry, since I was attentive, I noticed he then held his hand out and was signing milk. That was his way of saying, no more apple, I would like milk please- and he was thirsty.

I would never claim that my way is the only way to do it correctly- it is not, this just the way that works best for me to teach my children  the way I feel God wants me to. To be compassionate and caring, by learning the lesson myself. The power of Christ in me, is what is helping me to balance, have self control of my tongue and body language ( in the way I speak to my kids), I am learning to respond to my children instead of reacting in anger/frustration. It is an ongoing lesson when you have a toddler. Self control does NOT come naturally for many people. I would generally explain my approach(and what I aim for) as soft spoken, but firm( yes it is possible with Gods help).

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