Monday, 6 June 2011

Parenting Paths

I'm not big on labelling parenting styles. If you ask me (and I'm going to assume that you did, which is why you are reading this blog in the first place), many, many parents are doing the best they can with the resources they have available. I am one of those parents.

However, if you were to break down my parenting decisions in bullet point format, I suppose much of what I do and how I do it would fall under the umbrella of "attachment parenting". I don't even know exactly what that term means, or if it even applies to older children at all.

When my eldest was born, I didn't have a clue. I was 22 -- practically a baby myself, if the pictures are anything to go by -- and maybe read a book or a couple of websites about parenting. I knew I would do a couple of things:

1. I was going to breastfeed, because I was lazy and cheap (this still applies)
2. I was going to use cloth nappies (only because we had two washing machines at the time, and again, cheap)
3. I was going to be a stay at home mother for as long as possible
4. I would not feed my child junk food AT ALL FOR HER ENTIRE LIFE (yeah, that one really worked out well for us....)

Everything else was a learn-by-the-seat-of-my-pants process. I think back to those early days with my first newborn, and I wish I could take my 23 year old self aside and give her a few pointers. Things like, "if baby is crying when you put her in the buggy, try a sling instead." Or, "change the bedroom furniture around so you feel comfortable co-sleeping; it will work out better than you think."

I wish I could be there for my younger self when I had my second child, and went through a bout of depression as a result of the emergency c-section. I wish I could tell that young mother that she will end up with a home birth someday, and the bleakness and sadness she feels over not being awake for her son's birth will heal.

My fourth baby is one year old now. I feel like I am finally coming to grips with raising a baby. It's EASY now. Like, so easy that I could do it again many times over. I wish I could have a reboot of the past 8 years, but with all the confident baby knowledge I have right now.

But anyway. It doesn't work like that, and we all have to learn as we go along. I've learned that I am more comfortable with using a sling than a buggy, with co-sleeping than cots (at least during the first six months when baby can't roll/crawl!), with baby-led weaning than purees (seriously, it's way easier than spoon-feeding the child), with on-demand feeding than schedules (I can never keep track of when baby last had a feed. Never.), and with cloth rather than disposable nappies (especially now that we have a larger washing machine and a laundry room for storage).

I suppose that list makes me an attachment parent? I don't subscribe to a certain philosophy -- there are no basic tenets that I live by other than the ones my husband and I have deemed right for our own family. This is what we are comfortable doing.

Other families are bound to make different choices, for a variety of different reasons. If what I choose to do with my kids doesn't work for you, watch me as I stand over here completely NOT surprised! You do what works for you, I do what works for me, and look at how nicely our kids play together.

Parents are in the business of raising decent human beings. If the end goal is achieved, the path taken to reach it is completely irrelevent. Just ask my kids! I've done different things with each of them, and amazingly they are all healthy and happy. Life is good like that.

1 comment:

Tat said...

I've come to attachment parenting quite accidentally with no prior decision. It was the only way my babies would have it and I chose the path of least resistance. I've also known a family who went through sleep school and that was the best thing for them. Before no one was getting any sleep, baby was unhappy, mum was on the verge of depression. After that it all changed. Absolutely agree, there is no need to label and no one right way of doing things.