I always knew what type of mother I would eventually like to become one day - until I had my son. My views immediately changed. There is no hard and fast rule on parenting. It is one of the hardest things to do yet one of the easiest things to have an opinion on. Just like many mothers out there, I have found that I am an Attachment Parent (AP) and I am very proud.
I’d like to consider myself a pretty level-headed individual. I rarely get upset easily or lose my cool over petty or relatively unimportant things. However, I’ve changed quite a fair bit after having my son. Motherhood has made me protective of myself, my choices and my family. Standing up for myself and speaking up for myself a little more than I usually would have, sometimes a little more than I would like to!
With that being said, mothers like me are always on the receiving end of unwanted advice that unintentionally, or even sometimes intentionally, angers us. And we would like that to stop, because we are okay with attachment parenting. What we’re not okay with are comments that serve zero purpose and are just there to criticise the parenting style we choose to follow and adopt.
I do at the same time think, if anything, motherhood has made me stronger and more resilient to constant judgement and scrutiny. I’ve always wondered, why is it that people - either family members or even complete strangers - think it is okay to share their opinion on what is best for someone else's baby. Ladies, remember, no one knows your child better than you and never let anybody undermine you as a mother, whatever your preferred parenting style is.
I am very protective of the decisions both my husband and I have made with regard to our son. Many mums like me are constantly told that co-bathing, extended and/or on-demand breastfeeding, co-sleeping and picking up your baby every time he or she cries etc is not good for him or her. So as a mother and as an attachment parent, I would like to give those people a piece of my mind. A big, huge piece of it actually...
11 things never to say to an attachment parent:
“Your baby is going to grow up to be spoilt”
I am responding to my baby’s non-verbal cues the only way I know how to. He has no other way to let me know what he wants or needs other than his cries, and if I don’t then who will? With that, he knows that he can trust me and his needs will be met. Babies need constant love, care and attention. There is absolutely no such thing as spoiling a baby. Fruits spoil, vegetables spoil, foods spoil. Babies, they don’t spoil.
“Still breastfeeding your baby?”
Yes, I still am. No it's none of your business. I will breastfeed him for as long as he and I want to share that bond for. Plus, I could sit you down and tell you all the benefits of it and what a good thing I am doing for my son.
“Wearing your baby will make him walk at a later age”
All babies are different. With that being said, all mothers are different. What works for one baby might not be appropriate for another. If your baby walked at 8 months or 18 months, good on you. Stop shaming mothers please!
“They will grow to be very dependent on you”
While you’re predicting the future could you also let me know if I will win the lottery please? My son will not grow up to be dependent on me. If anything at all, I am teaching him how to be independent by responding to his cues and teaching him that being curious and adventurous is perfectly okay. More than okay.
“You can’t be so protective of him, you have to let go because that would make him strong”
Now, while you raised your children to be the men and women they are today, I am raising mine. I will be protective of my son for a very long time to come; he is my child, that is what mothers do. I am not comfortable being away from my child. I will take my time to allow myself to one day change that but for now this is what we are doing and I am very glad!
“Co-sleeping is dangerous”
In my opinion, it is nothing but bliss. Being next to my child while he sleeps gives him that extra reassurance that he needs at night. My nine month old sleeps with my husband and I and we couldn’t be happier. It is actually going really well for us thank you.
“Your baby does not drink from a bottle?”
No he does not and I most definitely do not see that as an issue at all. My child directly latches to nurse himself to sleep, when he is hungry or when he just needs some comfort. And that has been going perfectly well for us. Plus, it saves us the effort of sterilizing bottles, pumping etc etc. And we’re happy!
“Why don’t you let your child cry it out?”
Would you like if someone left you to cry without asking you how you are? Why is it so hard to understand that these are babies we are talking about, they’re small, they’re so new to this world. I can’t sit and watch my baby cry, no way. They’re our babies, pick them up, cuddle them, kiss them. That is not in any way spoiling your child, you’re showing them how much you love and care for them. They’re this tiny for a very short time before they grow up to angsty teenagers who yell “leave me alone mum!” I want to enjoy it while I can.
“What about your needs….Stop putting yourself last”
I have spent some quality time for myself too. Attachment parenting made me realize that my son feeds off my energy and how I act and feel, has a direct impact on how my son acts and feels. So, I made it a priority to take care of myself first, frequently and without apology.
“Your child is the boss of you now…..”
My child will sleep when he wants, my child will eat when he wants. I am not going to force him to sleep when he isn’t tired just because it suits my routine. Neither am I going to feed him when it is convenient for me. I let him ‘call the shots’ and made a schedule that revolved around what his body naturally decided he needed. I’m OK with that. Yes my child is my little boss, but I am still the parent.
“Attachment parenting is rather selfish…”
How so? I choose to share my bed with my son who sleeps in the most weird positions. I wake up to his tiny feet almost nearly in my mouth some mornings. Most mornings to him latched on to my breast. I give up my 20 minute long hot showers for 5 minutes luke warm showers. How is that selfish? My breast are bruised and cracked. I have been through mastitis and blocked ducts but still choose to stick to it. There is nothing selfish about AP.
New mothers, mothers-to-be, mothers of older children: parent your child the way you want to without any apology. Never let another person ever make you feel undermined as a mother. Never allow someone to make you feel any less of a mother than you are to your child. Always remember, you know your child best and what works for the both of you. Do not let anyone interfere with that.
To all mothers: you are doing a great job at being the most beautiful mother your child could ever have! Attachment parenting gave me the confidence to be what I feel is a better mother to my son, and I am proud of my parenting choices. Whatever your choices might be, embrace it and be proud of it.
Sanam Gill blogs at www.heytheremomma.wordpress.com