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Dec 18 2013

Sleep Training Gets a Bad Rap

By at 2:13 pm

sleep

After reading Mayim Bialik’s recent article on why she disagrees with sleep training, I felt I had to write a response to show everyone the second side of the sleep-deprived coin.

I want to start out by saying that I think Mayim’s take on parenting is so refreshing and honest. She is so in tune with herself and what her needs are as a mother–which is the single most important aspect in parenting our children. I am not writing this response to “battle” anything she has written, or to contribute to the “Mommy Wars” that exists today. I just want every mother to feel true to herself…

Unfortunately, sleep training has a very negative connotation these days. It is often wrongly associated with leaving Baby to cry for endless hours alone, leaving him emotionally and physically traumatized. Although there are many methods out there, amongst them are also gentle, holistic ideas. Sleep training doesn’t always mean teaching your baby how to sleep. It also means teaching your baby when to sleep or how to become less irritable. There are so many factors included in the blanket of helping improve sleep habits that I could write a 20-page article alone just discussing that!

But don’t worry, I won’t bore you. I also won’t spend time addressing what sleep training is in more detail. I just want to share my thoughts on why it isn’t necessarily a disciplined, last-resort measure. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 19 2012

Why I Stopped Calling Myself an Attachment Parent

By at 1:07 pm

According to Dr. Sears, the person who originally coined the term attachment parenting in his popular books about child rearing, “attachment parenting is a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents.”

“Well, sign me up!” was my first thought when I read this eight years ago when my second daughter was just an itty-bitty thing. Who doesn’t want to bring out the best in their baby and themselves? There was no question! I had tried other parenting methods, but this one promised something far more important to me than a baby who can learn the alphabet by aged 2 or a baby who sleeps 10 straight hours a night. This method seemed to be promising me a baby who was not only happy, but who would have a life of healthy self-esteem and self-confidence–something I never had. I quickly recalled how painfully shy and awkward I was as a child, then I got online and ordered myself a sling. Read the rest of this entry →

May 18 2012

What I Don’t Get About Attachment Parenting

By at 1:13 pm
cloth diapers

Do I get bonus points for using cloth diapers?

I think I may be missing the point.

I’ve been reading up on attachment parenting and caught Dr. Sears on TV the other day. Besides the fact that “attachment mothering” seems a more apt description, most of what it describes seems fairly sensible, if, to my way of thinking, not absolutely necessary. Looking back, I guess I practiced most of this method without calling it AP, or even knowing of such a thing 20-plus years ago. This method of parenting infants fit my style and value system and I was home full-time. I did hold my babies when they seemed to need holding, tried to learn to understand their cries, breastfed, co-slept (it was so much easier for night feedings), and didn’t let my infants “cry it out at night.” Heck, I even used cloth diapers through 3 ½ kids! Read the rest of this entry →

May 16 2012

Dr. Sears Made Me Cry

By at 10:42 am

I yelled at my daughter this morning. She’s not even 2, and I yelled at her. More than once. Even as I was doing it, I knew that I shouldn’t be raising my voice, that I didn’t want to be responding to her that way. I knew that my yelling was not only ineffective, but it was hurtful, and not the way I want to parent my daughters.

And yet, I couldn’t help myself.

I have all sorts of excuses, reasons, whatever you want to call them.  My husband is traveling for work this week, and I’m stressed out by solo parenting and my own work demands. I’m getting over a cold. It’s raining. I was up three times in the middle of the night with her sister, before being awakened at 5 am for the morning. My new diet is stressing me out. I hadn’t had my coffee. She wasn’t behaving well, and I did ask nicely several times. Blah blah blah. Read the rest of this entry →

May 1 2012

Motherhood Vs. Feminism: Join the Debate with Mayim

By at 3:52 pm

motherhood vs. feminismThe New York Times “Room for Debate” section has tackled a topic near and dear to many of our readers’ hearts: Has women’s obsession with being the perfect mother destroyed feminism?

Among the featured debaters (along with Erica Jong and Bringing up Bebe author Pamela Druckerman) is Mayim Bialik, who argues that attachment parenting goes hand in hand with feminism.

What do you think? Can you be a feminist attachment parent? Read Mayim’s full debate here and then throw in your own two cents.

Feb 20 2012

What if You Want to Attach, But Can’t?

By at 2:56 pm

With Mayim’s book about attachment parenting coming out soon, I have been reflecting on my own mother’s experience. She has kindly agreed to let me write about her ordeal and I want to thank her for allowing me to share her story. (Please note that my interpretation of the events and the conclusions I have drawn are entirely my own). Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 5 2011

Attached to the Baby Nest

By at 1:12 pm

I’m fortunate in many ways, but one of the ways is that I happen to have terrific siblings. One of them was kind enough to have had her baby girl approximately 46 hours after I had mine. It was very thoughtful of her, as it means that I have a buddy with whom to go on the physical and emotional Slip and Slide of new motherhood.  I mean, sure, each of us has friends…but there’s just no one with whom you can discuss vaginal health with the same degree of intimacy as you can with a sister. Actually, she blogs about the state of her post-birth vagina to an unseen audience of hundreds if not more, but let’s move on.

I live in a place famed for its mall. It’s a coincidence: my family was here on these suburban streets long before the mall really wielded its fame and fortune.  It’s a fancypants mall where you can find, among other assorted goodies, baby clothes that cost more than I’d spend on an outfit for myself. But I speak of it not in terms of its Xanadu consumerist delights, but rather as a walking venue.

My sister and I decided that on the summer days that are hotter than hot, we’d go for a stroll in the mall with the wee ones. When you are three weeks out from having pushed out a kid, this is what is considered “rigorous exercise.” Yes, I’m aware of how pathetic it is to be lapped around the concourse by the speedy-looking 80 year old who applies makeup with a spatula, but that’s how things are at the moment. It’s a sorry state of affairs. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 28 2011

Mayim Bialik Not Done Defending Attachment Parenting

By at 10:41 am

Mayim Bialik with her two sons.

Jordana’s manifesto of the “normal” mom just trying to be happy sums up exactly what my point has been all along: our culture does not value parents being at home and we are not taught to see parenting the way our bodies tell us to as natural, normal, or fulfilling.

With all due respect, each of us do the best we can with the resources, support, and education available to us. Breastfeeding is the recognized best way to feed and nourish your baby. Wearing your baby, keeping them close to you, and cosleeping are things that facilitate breastfeeding. That’s just a fact. That’s why lactation consultants suggest it. Giving “an ounce or two” of formula historically and statistically leads to more formula, less demand at the breast, less milk being made, and eventual weaning. That’s why lactation consultants warn against it. That’s also a fact.

I don’t feel the need to combat every point Jordana makes. I mean, I do, but I choose not to.  It astounds me that mainstream “conventional” parents get to devalue the very things that got mammals here, while if I were to post the equivalent, I would be accused of being self-righteous and judgmental.

The majority parenting style clearly gets the upper hand here and cries “judgment” when someone nurses, holds, or spends “more” time with their babies than others. Not all things are the same. That doesn’t make one choice better than the other, but to insist that we equate all choices as equal is, frankly, silly.

I will stop here and let you wait for my book to come out in March. My goal is to place attachment parenting in an historical and neurobiological context while allowing for everyone to make choices that work for them after being educated about why many of us “espouse” attachment parenting.

I also hope that we can put our country’s parenting trends in their proper perspective: a capitalist country emphasizes work, productivity, and wealth. Countries that emphasize natural birth, paid maternity and paternity leave and a culture of helping women see being at home as a legitimate and fulfilling job have their priorities where I want mine. And I hope we can get there.

Jul 27 2011

French Feminist: Natural Mommies Have Gone too Far

By at 2:50 pm

Think the “mommy wars” are the exclusive domain of America’s over-educated, suburbanites? Think again.

This week’s New Yorker profiles Elisabeth Badinter, a Jewish feminist with strong opinions about epidural-rejecting, cloth-diaper-embracing lactivists — and she doesn’t hail from Berkeley or Montclair. Badinter is French, and resides in Paris.

Stateside, where the policies that could have the greatest impact on the lives of mothers and children — paid parental leave and affordable childcare, among them — seem too politically cumbersome to tackle, it’s easy to understand how pain meds and diapers and bottle-feeding would become maternal diversions. It’s harder to understand in France. There, many of the major feminist battles, as they pertain to motherhood (if not to government representation and skirt-chasing spouses) have been won: Eighty percent of Frenchwomen work fulltime, paid maternity leave is mandatory, and daycare is heavily subsidized.

Still, France is apparently not immune to the mundane skirmishes that pit mother against mother. And Badinter’s tough assessment of her country’s recent parental preoccupations has made her an alternately esteemed and reviled figure.

In her latest book, Le Conflit: La Femme et la Mère, slated to be released in the U.S. in January, the self-described “ideologue” takes aim at “motherhood fundamentalism” — a movement, she said, “dressed in the guise of a modern, moral cause that worships all things natural.” She sees it as regression cloaked in ecology or, worse, in biology. (Badinter, a mother of three grown children, made a name for herself three decades ago by rebutting the idea that women are born with maternal instincts.)

“These young women, they’re being told to use cloth diapers; paper diapers aren’t ‘natural,’” she told The New Yorker. “For me, the epidural was a victory over pain. But they say no, they want to feel what it is to be a woman. Their idea is that if you’re not suffering, you have failed the experience of maternity.”

The profile’s writer, Jane Kramer, rightfully points out Badinter’s economic interest in writing Le Conflit. Her father — a Russian Jewish immigrant to France, who flew reconnaissance missions on behalf of the French Resistance — went on to become the founder of the global advertising and communications firm Publicis. Badinter is now the controlling shareholder for Publicis; and the firm represents the manufacturers of Pampers diapers and Nestlé baby formula.

Whatever Badinter’s motivation, and she says it’s not Publicis’ bottom line, her thesis, on one hand, provides a welcome counterpoint to the messages that have bombarded this nine-months pregnant Park Slope resident. On the other hand, despite Badinter’s insistence that all she wants is for women to exercise their choice when it comes to giving birth or feeding their babies, she comes off sounding as doctrinaire as the Brooklyn stroller mommies who equate epidurals and bottle-feeding with parental failure.

The Nanny Wars

By at 11:50 am

"If I spent every second of my life wearing a newborn like an albatross, it would eventually be two of us who would be incontinent, drooling and crying." Photo Flickr/dontcallmeikke

I went to a breastfeeding group for new moms the other day. It was arguably a poor decision: after all, I’m an “old” rather than “new” mom, and I’m anything but a zealot when it comes to breastfeeding. I feel that people who attend such things are generally either first-time moms or people who are much more staunch advocates of breastfeeding than I am.

“What is most important more than anything else,” the lactation consultant told the small group, “is that you take care of YOU. If Mommy isn’t happy, no one is happy.”

Well, that was certainly an idea I could get behind. But when one mother voiced the apparently-controversial opinion that an ounce or two of formula here or there wasn’t going to hurt her baby, and even had the support of her pediatrician, the lactation consultant all but tsk-tsked.

“You know what you should do? You should WEAR your baby,” she told the mom. “Wear your baby–carry her around all the time, be with her all the time, nurse her all the time. That is what your baby needs.”

Um…what about the Mommy happy thing from a few minutes ago?

Because I know myself, and I know that if I spent every second of my life wearing a newborn like an albatross, it would eventually be two of us who would be incontinent, drooling and crying. Three, if we count the albatross.

So much of mothering these days is rooted in self-righteousness. “Well, I only fed my baby breastmilk.” “Well, I never let my baby watch television.” “Well, I always hold my child any time he cries.” The emphasis on the “I” in such sentences carries with it the implicit, if unstated, rebuke of “and if YOU don’t do this, you SUCK as a mother, and possibly as a person as well.”

When I read the Vogue profile of Sarah Jessica Parker quoting her as patting herself on the back that she didn’t have a live-in nanny, I thought, “Girlfriend? PLEASE.” [See Mayim Bialik's take on the same article here.]

“We don’t have any live-in help. We’re pretty hands-on parents. That’s something that’s important to both of us, and we don’t shirk it, because what’s the point in having a family if you’re not going to really participate in it, you know?” Parker said to her Vogue interviewer over breakfast in a West Village restaurant.

Now, I could be bitchy and point out that she could have had breakfast in her home if she wanted to always “really participate” in her family…but that would go completely against the point I want to make, which is that of COURSE she has help, because no woman who has her own career does it entirely on her own without help, whether from a live-in caregiver or a day care center or a relative or what have you. And none of that, by the way, means that the parent in question is in any way inadequate. Read the rest of this entry →

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