Monday, October 8, 2012

Parenting: attach it, detach it, DO IT!

I read an article this morning in which the author was rather high and mighty and incredibly judgmental.  She felt that somehow because her three year old daughter had slept through the night by 6 weeks old that she had figured it ALL out and that her parenting style was THE right one.  She was incredibly judgmental of what she termed the attachment parents she knows.  I read the article shaking my head.  I read the comments shaking my head even more vigorously.  I had so much just bursting out of me in response.

Let me start with this - we do a bit of attachment parenting.  I breastfeed my babies until they self wean when possible, I wear my babies in a sling at the super market (um hello, keeps me hands free to chase down the other ones!), our children sleep in our room until we think it's a good time to move them in with the older siblings.  I am by a lot of peoples' definitions an attachment parent. 

I do a bit of detachment parenting (I guess that's what people are calling it these days) in which I teach my kids to throw their own dirty diaper in the trash or hamper depending on diaper type as soon as humanly possible, my kids get out their own dishes at meal times, they put away their own laundry in their drawers again as soon as they are able, my husband and I go on dates without them.  I am by a good amount of peoples' definitions a detachment parent.

Now I will tell you what kind of parent I am, and what kind of parent I think YOU should be too.  Yes.  I'm going to tell you how to parent.  Are you ready for it?  Don't stop reading, I promise you'll like what I have to say here.

I am a parent who loves my children, learns their personality, meets their needs, and parents by instinct based on what seems to be working or not working for each individual child.

Sure we have house rules that all of the kids are expected to follow once they are old enough.  We discipline.  We give grace.  We totally screw up.  We love our children.


The one thing that struck me most while reading the previously mentioned article this morning is that the author has one child.  Ha.  One.  So basically she won the easy going first child lottery.  My sister won that lottery.  I did not.  My oldest was fussy, and clingy, and used me as a pacifier.  When I was pregnant with my second child at the same time as my sister was pregnant with her third she reminded me not to think that my second baby would be an easy baby.  I reminded her that my first baby hadn't been an easy baby and I was really sure it couldn't get worse.  Colton was totally winning the easy going baby lottery contest.  He was my best baby and is still my most easy going, easily adaptive child to this day at the age of 5.

Here's an example of why parenting intuitively for each child is so important.

Kayd - 8 mo and supplemented formula the whole time, continued with a bottle of milk before his daily nap and bedtime until about 22 months when he started refusing it on his own.
Colton - 11.5 mo, stopped cold turkey and went straight to sippy
Sawyer - 15 mo and going strong, made him stop because it hurt too much during my pregnancy with Sierra.
Sierra - 15ish mo and self weaned

Sierra - sleeping in a wrap while on a field trip to the fire station

Co-sleeping/sleeping in crib:
Kayd in crib at two weeks old - he and I kept waking each other up at night, I snore and I would wake at every little sound he made.  Slept through the night at about 6 weeks old - and by through the night I mean like 10 or 11pm until about 5 or 6am.
Colton - slept in the pack n play in our room until 8ish months then moved to the crib in Kayd's room.  Slept through the night by 3 weeks old, would wake around 5 or 6 and sleep with me a few more hours until about 8ish.
Sawyer - slept in a pack n play in our room until about 9 mo or so, moved to his own room, still waking several times a night, moved to his brothers' room at about 15 mo, slept through the night for about 6 mo and then started waking in the night again.  Goes periods of time without waking and then periods where he wakes and still comes to our room.
Sierra - slept in the pack n play in our room until just after her first birthday, moved in with her brothers and immediately began sleeping through the night in the crib.

my niece and Colton soundly sleeping in a local bookstore

I didn't intentionally do anything intrinsically different with each child but each of my four children is VERY different with different personalities.  Kayd was a super clingy baby but the minute he could crawl he became fiercely independent.  A sling would've been incredibly helpful with him as a baby.  Colton was snuggly and super easy going.  He could sleep in my arms or wrapped in a sling just as easily as he could be laid down awake and go to sleep on his own in a bed.  Sawyer was a mix of clingy and snuggly, slept well in his own bed for periods of time but just seems to need more snuggles and physical reassurance than the older two boys did/do.  When I began writing this post he walked up and demanded to be held for a minute.  It didn't stop him from walking at 7.5 months old or potty training himself just past his 2nd birthday.  Sierra, she is a creature unto herself that I could not even begin to put labels on.  Independent but still a toddler who needs her mama, she knows what she wants and doesn't want and goes at life accordingly.

So if you hear anything today hear this:  You are your child's parent.  God made it so.  Follow your God given instinct and parent each of your children in the way that works for that child.  Forget about labels like attachment and detachment parenting.  The RIGHT way to parent is the way YOU are doing it that works for YOU and your particular child.

No comments:

Post a Comment