And sometimes the opposite is also true…

children playing

Image by Gakige via Flickr

“And sometimes the opposite is also true” as Suzuki Roshi used to say.

Yes, I think the research and recommendations of Dr Sally Ward seem sound and worth trying out but that doesn’t mean I think I should follow my daughter round and point at things and name them, all day. I just wanted to be clear about that. I think half an hour is quite enough, unless indeed the kid has a language delay or the like.

And I guess that is the beauty of a blog. I get to redress any issue I want and I always get the last word.

Meanwhile, I am navigating my way through this sea of parenting advice contradictions and finding that when I look up close they are not opposite but complementary. I still love Jean Liedloff’s admonitions to not become child-centered in our every day dealings to the point that the kids, who crave to learn by example, by seeing what we do, find they have no role-models but a bunch of people staring and making funny faces at them. Am I exagerating? Sure… but you get the point. Children learn best by copying what we do, at this age – they don’t reason, yet.

The old advice to leave playing kids to play is also a blessing. If your baby is okay, she is entertaining herself, then let her be. It is important for her to learn to amuse herself and to be allowed to follow her own interests, intuitions and curiosity.

Balance (yep, sorry if you wanted a sensationally biased blog, you came to the wrong place – today at least)… balance is the key, she says as she wavers on the tight rope, with half a world a-watchin’.


Things I have googled since having a baby

Baby Led Weaning

Image by moon_child via Flickr

Things I have had to look up on ‘the oracle’ (google) since having a child:

– what does green baby poo mean?

– what is a ‘lotus birth‘?

– how do attachment parented kids turn out?

– how do you do ‘elimination communication‘?

– what temperature fever should I worry about in my baby?

– what does ‘baby led weaning‘ entail?

– is baby hitting herself normal?

– what are the ‘symptoms’ of teething?

– is it normal for a baby to have an extremely sweaty head at night??

Kind of thought it was fun to share as it sheds light both on ‘normal’ (?!) motherly concern and some of the different phases my babe has been through. I have blogged about many of these themes before, of course, so you can find my reactions to them in previous posts :)

Attachment Parenting – does it deliver?

Namibie, une femme Himba et son enfant

Image via Wikipedia

I have often wondered what attachment parenting kids turn out like. I mean it is all very well saying this is what we should do – be loving, emotionally-available, responsive parents – but does it work?

I tend to forget, of course, that I myself was, effectively, ‘attachment parented’ even though my parents had never heard such a term. I slept in my parents’ room on adjoining futons until I was 5 and a half. I was breastfed until I was three (not two as I thought and said in an earlier post). I was ‘worn’ in a sling and then a carrier by both my mum and my dad. And overall the kind of parenting I received was responsive, respectful of my needs as a full human being (from birth) and compassionate. So, I guess I should know… but how I turned out is hardly representative in itself. So, what is the norm?

I have met a few older kids that have been brought up this way and the ones I met are super-articulate, intelligent, engaged and empathic. Then again it is good to remember that many of those attracted to attachment parenting as a philosophy are highly-educated, middle-class, relatively well off grown-ups. So how much of the outcome is down to just that – having smart parents, going to good schools, etc.

I went to the ‘guru’, Dr. Sears. He says based on his experience (i.e. empirically… for lack of a proper study). Attachment parented kids are:

1- Caring
2- Compassionate
3- Connected (capable of deep relationships)
4- Careful (less likely to take physical risks because they are well aware of their own capabilities and limitations)
5- Confident

That is nice to hear. It is certainly borne out from the few kids I have met that are ‘attached’ (ie strongly bonded) to their parents from birth. Dr Sears does warn about the dangers of going too far and becoming smothering, overly permissive or indulgent, not to mention just obsessed with their kids with their own lives revolving around that of their children. Yes, there are pitfalls… but then no parenting style is free of challenges and potential flash points.

I know I am really into this topic at the moment, so bear with me. I am processing it, somehow. Situating myself in relation to the philosophy I seem to have chosen. My heart led the way.

Let me quote this same online article:

“Besides these “C’s” for children, there is an important “C” for parents. The attachment parents developed confidence
sooner. They used the basic tools of attachment parenting, but felt confident and free enough to branch out into their own style until they found what worked for them, their baby, and their lifestyle. (…) These parents used themselves and their baby as the barometer of their parenting style, not the norms of the neighborhood. [emphasis mine]

I am not trying to ‘convert’ anybody to attachment parenting. I wouldn’t even presume that I could if I tried. I find people are drawn to that with which they resonate. I was already into what I thought of as natural parenting before I found out it was called ‘attachment parenting’ and when I read about it, it was just spelling out what I already felt. I am guessing all you mamas out there find the same: something feels right so you do that… but just in case somebody isn’t resonating with the options being presented to them, then finding out about this alternative might be just the echo your voice was seeking as a whole or part answer to a question in your soul.

Or it might just be about me finding out how to do things for me, for Anya, for our family. That is okay, too.

Fame at last!…

OMG somebody has blogged about my blog (here). How awesome is that?!… wait or is that a little bit like two guys in anoraks acknowledging each other’s trainspotting prowess?! I don’t know. All I know is that I am super-stoked and very touched that Sarah would chose to mention me in her fun and thought-provoking blog, Natural Mama. The name kind of says it all. Lily, her little bundle of joy was born at home in June this year. Since then Sarah has been following her heart and practicing gentle mothering, treating her baby with full respect, love and awe! For her (as for me) this includes many of the principles now lumped together and called ‘attachment parenting‘. Sarah takes counsel from her inner voice on this,  despite not always been surrounded by people who understand or support her approach to caring for her child. I know that feeling.

Finding ‘Natural Mama’ was like connecting with a sister soul in a world where so many make such different parenting choices. Hey, I honour everybody’s right to chose their own path… but sometimes it is nice to know I am not alone in mine!

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Bond with your baby, find yourself

I had an attachment parenting ‘aha moment’ today. Anya is teething again, second tooth. We woke up a lot last night, together, and she has been quite clingy or needy today… and yet I woke up feeling grateful for the opportunity to bond with her so deeply, to give her something (my time, energy, love and milk) when she needed it. I felt closer to her, proud of myself (for sticking with it rather than medicating her or putting her in a crib in another room for her to ‘cry it out’, which I understand may be necessary for some parents at some time, but I was able to do without yesterday). I also know that night-feeding has been linked to IQ (perhaps inconclusively but hey I am a momma-blogger not a PhD student writing her thesis). I think I read that it was correlated in ‘The Fussy Baby Book‘ by Doctor Sears. It kind of makes sense and tallies with two other known facts: 1) breastfeeding boosts IQ (this doesn’t mean everybody who breastfeeds is smart, it just means you’ll have a few more IQ points than your ‘starting score’ – whether it was higher or lower, according to your own genetic inheritance); 2) babies wake up more and need more attention and nurturing from you when they are going through developmental leaps (hmm… reference…I think I first saw that in the ‘Magical Child‘ by Joseph Chilton Price but many childcare experts mention this). And, boy, is she going through a developmental leap. Anya seems to be ‘growing’ on all fronts, learning how to move independently, understand communication, signal her needs (through sounds, gestures, etc.) and even developing a sense of humour! And, as I mentioned, she is teething, so there really is a lot going on for her right now. It seems only natural that she might need a little extra reassurance from mommy, no?

The shift that occurred in me, that I am trying to relate to you, is perhaps a subtle one. I already believed in attachment parenting but somehow it was all happening from the neck up for me, at least with regards to co-sleeping. Yesterday I felt it in my heart. It wasn’t just that this whole approach is a ‘good idea’ but that I really felt it in me. I felt myself surrendering to what is, no longer trying to escape to facebook, to blogging, to housework, to a job, to… in that moment, for that night, I was just a mommy with infinite time to be, with infinite energy for my little baby whom I love.

I didn’t focus on the negative or the lack – the tiredness, crankiness, lack of energy and creativity for other projects or time to travel or hang out with my friends. I just soaked in the bliss of being there for this little creature. I allowed our higher purposes to meld, if you like, or as K and I often say, we ‘shoaled’. You know, like fish who communicate wordlessly to find a shared pathway. We found the point at which my needs meet her needs, they touch. If there is only One (one Truth, one Consciousness, one Soul) there can be only one solution for both of us. I see that. What serves me, truly, must also serve those around me, the Planet, my daughter. Does that make sense? This is hard stuff to talk about, to put into words…

I think it also helps that my mom is here. I am less shattered than I usually am. I am more on top of things and less running to stay still. I have more energy to love… okay that is rubbish of course, the love is always there in the background but having that little bit of extra energy in the system (the household) allows me to really step out and see the big picture, gain perspective. For this I am truly grateful!

… And on this same note, here is an interesting article linking attachment parenting to the environment. I had not thought of it that way, particularly, but it is all connected. One Soul.

Continuum Concept – in practice

I came across this YouTube video the other day and thought it was really sweet and endearing, somehow. I like the simplicity and down-to-Earthness of the girl being interviewed. I also love her ‘day village’ concept. I realised I have one of those, a day village, shared with all the women who attend the parenting circles I frequent. Love them all!