As a fairly new mom, I have experienced my fair share of opinions and advice, both solicited and unsolicited. Ultimately though, at the end of the day it was just us and the baby. All the ideas and advice were just that, ideas and advice and we had to make quick and heartfelt decision on our own in the moment. Past the overwhelming amounts of advice, what it finally came down to was our gut instinct and our love for the beautiful little being we had created. Thankfully, my husband and I were a great team and, for the most part, on the same page.
I have often tried to figure out what “category” I fit into as a parent and keep realizing I don’t completely fit in any of them. In some ways, I am traditional, and in some ways I am an attachment parent. I could never claim to be only one, it would not be honest, it would not be true.
Traditional Parenting has always been about raising a child to become a functional adult who can contribute positively to their family and ultimately, society. It is a philosophy that feels that all a child really needs is healthy food, clean water, reliable shelter, quality education, access to medical attention and of course love from their family.”
My goal most certainly is to raise my daughter to be a strong, independent, contributing member of society; but, I feel that love and respect should never be afterthoughts and unfortunately that is sometimes the case in extreme traditional parenting. I am all for rules and boundaries, I believe they are healthy and create an environment of safety and security. I also believe, that a child’s personality, desires, and feelings should always be considered in any parenting decision. Love and understanding should always be first and foremost when setting rules.
An AP parent is defined by how she interacts with her child. Does she make a long-term commitment to spending as much time with her children as she possibly can? Does she include her children in every appropriate aspect of her life? Are her children an integral part of her life, rather than an inconvenience that must be quickly taught to comply? Does she respect the individuality, feelings, and thoughts of her children? Is she in tune with her children’s needs and does she seek to meet those needs as a primary priority? Does she interact with her children in such a way that an ever-deepening bond is developed, rather than polarizing the respective positions of power between her and the children? Does she seek to be an emotional coach or is she a policeman?
I completely agree with the above concept of parenting. To continue though, my husband and I used Sleep Training techniques which included letting our daughter cry at times, never for long periods of time and always with our continued presences – but this of course would not fall into the AP category.
I am sharing all this to say, that we need less categories and more open dialogue. When we categorize ourselves, we limit ourselves. When categorize others, we cut off the ability for open dialogue. I believe that at the heart of every good parent, is to love their child to fullest and give them the best life possible. How this translates though, is very individual, very personal, and should never be judged.
I was raised very traditionally, so these philosophies were not new to me. AP philosophies on the other hand were new to me. I now have such a deep appreciation for the things I have learned from my own research, instinct, and from other parents who practice AP. As one of my AP friends told me once, parenting can be very healing and I couldn’t agree more. I am learning how to be in the moment, to connect with my daughter, to let go of things that don’t matter, to hear what she is really saying …
Categories aside, I believe that there is something we should all strive for, and that is to gently parent our children. No matter what your particular philosophy is, you can apply and provide guidelines of gentleness. Overall, your connection with your child should be at the forefront of your mind because a loving connection is vital.
“Your heart connected to your child’s heart is the goal. College isn’t the goal. Getting the dishes done isn’t the goal. Keeping spaghetti on the high chair isn’t even the goal!You have to make a choice; is love and connection your goal or control and distance? Love has the power to sort through what you would normally not want to deal with. Keeping your love “turned on,” whether in conflict or in harmony, will help to sustain your connection.”
I believe that we should always be learning and to do so, we have to keep an open mind and an open heart. Although I do not agree with every detail of traditional parenting or attachment parenting, I have friends on both sides of the spectrum and I have learned from both. It’s not always easy to agree to disagree but what better example of peace, tolerance, and understanding can we be for our children then when we ourselves embrace others whether we agree with them or not? Let’s find the common ground we have in loving our children and wanting the best for them.