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Disclaimer: Since many people have a hard time identifying sarcasm, irony, and the likes through text, please be advised that I do practice AP, I do not identify with the AP Crowd, and I am being quite sarcastic below.  But I am better than you.  Just kidding… the whole point of this post is actually the opposite of that.  I am not better than you, but I did benefit greatly from those who wanted to help me be better than a previous version of me.  

So this happened today.

This isn’t the first time one of my favorite mommy bloggers backed off her stance of whatever it was because she realized the internet is actually a large network of real people she didn’t actually want to offend.  I understand that.  In this world, there are people who just naturally get along.  Other people like them.  They don’t like conflict.

Natural parenting attracts a lot of conflict.  I’ll tell you why: in the same manner the Church is known for not representing literal Christian values, the AP crowd is known for their own sort of hypocrisy and hyperbole.  There happen to be seven Baby B’s of Attachment Parenting.  You probably know of breastfeeding, birthing naturally, babywearing, and maybe a few more.  I bet you didn’t know “Balance” is in fact one of the backbone principles of these popular parenting guidelines.  Yeah, if I read one more blog about not “forcing” a child to say “thank you” to strangers who compliment or help them, I might forget it myself.  Here is where I simply mention that I believe “Balance” includes a healthy understanding of basic social interactions, even though they might make a child uncomfortable, among other things.  And back to the topic at hand.

So the Church of AP is a bunch of in-group bullies, and that’s obviously an exaggeration, but bear with me.  You, you disposable-diapering, formula-feeding, non-co-sleeping, epidural-getting, time-out-using old hags, you are the outgroup.  Ahem, we are the outgroup.  (I’m not owning up to all of those, but I’ll admit to falling short of my Sears ideals.)  And I understand that there has been a lot of bullying because honestly, the folks who are reading up on Attachment Parenting are the folks who probably hate their own parents for screwing them up and needed to find a road map to anywhere that wasn’t where their own parents ended up.  Maybe they need to feel better about themselves because mom was kind of mean, and that might mean bullying (which is not okay- it’s just kind of obvious to put together).

That’s almost what happened to me.  I ate the stuff up.  At 20 years old, I’d already come up with a birth plan and a few weekly meal plans for toddlers and picked out a great preschool… maybe it wasn’t that intense, but maybe it was.  AP was my Bible.  The families I nannied for were my preachers.  I’d found my calling in life, and I was great at this caring-for-kids-in-the-superior-way stuff.  I could have been a total jerk, but then I had the ultimate humbling experience: children.

But I didn’t care that AP was supposed to be superior to other people’s ways.  I cared that it was often the best for the children.  I cared that breastfeeding, and my support of breastfeeding mothers, could mean fewer illnesses for those children.  I cared that getting on their level and listening to them helped them learn to value their voices and emotions.  I cared that wearing an infant would help her feel emotionally secure when she was off playing by herself.  I was, and am, so grateful for the information that doctors, psychologists, and mommy bloggers put out there for me to devour. Truly, I was never into searching out formula feeding moms and “educating” them- just really stuck to hanging out with people who saw things kind of the way I did.  That’s what people do in general, anyway.

I can’t imagine being apologetic for believing in what I believe or apologizing for the facts that helped form my beliefs.

“It made me realize that telling people to not let facts hurt them, was like expecting the rainfall to never touch a single body.” – Two Degrees of Suburbia

But you’re not giving the facts to just people.  You’re giving the facts to parents.  We shouldn’t be so concerned about hurting people’s feelings when we can educate large numbers of people.  We can change a person’s journey on a destructive path by simply linking a few articles on Facebook.  That’s worth a few defensive reactions, in my opinion.

And you know what?  When you believe something, don’t be chicken and say it isn’t worth believing in because a few of your friends don’t like it.

For instance: I have a couple of really wonderful hard core Christian friends.  But I’ll tell them to their faces that gay rights are important, I don’t see any logical way to continue to deny them, and I’ll back that up with facts.  Christians love their Jesus!  I have loved Jesus.  They might get their feelings hurt in that conversation, but it’s right.  I love those ladies, but the issue of civil rights is bigger than avoiding an uncomfortable conversation with a couple of really great friends.  In any case, they’ll still be my friends at the end of the day, because I think we all realize that differing opinions don’t mean you should cut someone out of your life.

Loving and advocating for children and families should be bigger than avoiding uncomfortable conversations with a couple of really great friends.

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Attachment Parenting Myths

There are the ones that get repeated and responded to all the time (“I would go crazy being at my child’s beck and call”) and the ones that are addressed less often and are thus more persistent (“Tummy time is the only way my baby will learn to hold her head up”)- but all of them annoy the mess out of me.  Allow me a moment to respond to these statements that I dare not open my mouth to answer in real time, for fear of venom spewing from my throat.

Attachment Parenting is all about spoiling babies.  Okay, number one: Attachment Parenting places a strong emphasis on family *balance*.  Attachment Parenting is the healthiest thing for me, for my marriage, and for my baby.  By the way, as an AP mom, I know I have the responsibility to communicate to my child that she needs to be aware of others’ needs as well as her own.  At nearly two years old, she is extremely empathetic and understands that sometimes mommy really needs to pee, but will come back and cuddle with her on the couch as soon as possible.  She understands that I will do everything I can to help her have a good day and feel understood.  She also understands that sometimes I am very tired and at those times she plays on her own.  Not something you expected from a baby who was breastfed, worn/carried *constantly* when she was an infant, slept attached to mommy, and was always responded to with love?

Attachment Parenting creates little people who are over-dependent upon parents.  Look, by the time Gwenna was mobile, she was so sick of being strapped to me in a baby wearing apparatus that she barely looked back as she left a trail of dust behind her turbo crawling self.  It may not be that sentiment exactly that was operating in her baby head, but it’s difficult to explain to many people that if babies are extremely sure mommy will be there when they want to come back, they are more likely to explore with enthusiasm.

Breastfeeding is kind of gross.  You mean to tell me that you choose not to do something that gives your baby much higher odds of just surviving the first few months, as well as gives her immunity, a better chance to have a high-functioning mental capacity, and lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels- just because you can’t get over the idea of boobs being sexual?  Okay… I’m not touching that.  I’m also a little offended.

My parents used tough love and I turned out fine.  Elie Wiesel was tortured by Nazis, and he turned out “fine”- but you wouldn’t starve your child, hopefully.  This is a mega statement, but I feel comfortable making it: people are not “fine”.  Our society is plagued by mental and emotional disorders and trauma, violence, murder, rape, and the list goes on and on.  Everyone should be aware of the power of parents- we can raise loving, empathetic, free-thinking individuals, or we can continue the trend of “unidentified” issues with members of our society.  The answer is love, lots of it, and AP fully promotes love.

Babywearing must really put babies behind- how do they ever learn to walk?  I love this one.  Gwenna lived in the Moby wrap for the first few months.  We did tummy time maybe 3 times total, and she hated it.  All babies do.  They struggle, they can’t control their body in the way they want, and they can’t do anything about it.  I didn’t want to communicate to Gwenna through leaving her on the floor upset that I didn’t care about what she was telling me- that she was uncomfortable and it wasn’t working.  So I stopped putting her on her tummy.  Now here is the best part: Gwenna was sitting up by the end of three months, crawling by the end of 5 months, and walking by the end of 9 months.  Being in the Moby wrap upright and looking around (as opposed to spending a lot of time in the car seat, in her bed, on a play mat, in a swing) really strengthened her core muscles.  On top of that, she really loved being snuggled up to me for walks, naps, chores, shopping… and I credit the fact that she is so affectionate now to how we used to always hold her snuggled up to us.

The Cuddle IV

Most days, I’d add a disclaimer to make sure I’m not unintentionally offending anyone, but today, I’m just going to ask you to use logic.  If you’ve ever suggested breastfeeding is gross, I mean to offend you.  If you didn’t breastfeed because you couldn’t produce milk due to thyroid issues or something, notice that I didn’t mention anything about you and therefore do not mean to offend you.  And so forth.

Feel free to leave questions/comments and I’ll address them in the next post, when I will definitely be in a better mood.