did i tell you all a little while back that my very talented photographer friend decided to use me and the kids as an example of attachment parenting for the focus of her final (mixed media) project for her degree? she came to our house a lot in march taking photographs of us as we went through our days. she asked me questions and she did a lot of recording of my answers. then she transcribed it all and she asked me to look at it. now i can tweak anything i want and we are going to rerecord it with pauses between sentences and such so that she can more easily put the audio portions into the final piece.
i thought it couldn’t hurt to share my thoughts here as long as i am working on them. any of the rest of you want to answer these as well?
how did your fascination with AP start? (<— fascination is what she calls it in her question but each time i read that it makes me giggle.)
before i even had the first baby i was in graduate school for my counseling degree and that is where i first learned about attachment theories. i had one friend in grad school who had just had their first child and it was from him that i first heard the term “attachment parenting.” he also introduced me to dr. sears and his collection of books. that is how i first knew ap existed. then when i got pregnant i wanted to have a natural birth and it seemed like a lot of the natural birthing sources also had ap information. i was already into using more holistic remedies to take care of myself and i found that a lot of the books on natural parenting, using homeopathy and herbal remedies for kids, were written by people who were also practicing attachment parenting. they would include sections on the family, baby wearing, and those kinds of things.
once he was born it wouldn’t really have mattered what i had read because if i listened to my natural instincts i was ap. i should say, i was glad i had read what i had because it gave me more confidence to listen to my instincts and that what i wanted to do was an ok way to parent even though no one else i knew in real life was doing it. the first few days i got to be with him (he was in nicu for a few days) i had no desire at all to put him down. then when he started to wake up more his temperament just made me even more committed to ap. he really wanted and needed to be held all the time so that is what we did. he wouldn’t sleep on his own so we coslept. he wanted to nurse all the time so we nursed all the time. i felt like it made sense to meet his needs and trust that the process of doing that would create a nice stable way for him to develop. he would feel secure.
i had some problems with our nursing relationship in the beginning and i found kellymom though that. i asked some questions on the forums there and got helpful answers and then the boards were also ap so i got support around ap stuff there too. that was very helpful because i didn’t feel like i had a lot of support in my real life relationships.
i am a researchaholic. so i found books to read, and websites, and blogs, and i read and read and read and i figured out my theory of what i wanted to be doing. i am also pretty stubborn so once i decided this was the best way for our family to do things i wasn’t going to change my mind. instead i had to convince everyone else that it was the best way to do things.
what are the most important aspects of AP from your perspective?
i think the basic most important thing to me is that my children’s relationship with me (with both parents but i am talking about myself as the mom here) be secure. i believe that a strong, unconditionally loving, securely attached relationship is the most important thing in any child’s life. it is the one thing most important for a person to grow and develop into a healthy, happy, secure adult. my goal is always to have my children experience their relationship with me in that way (secure, unconditionally loving, etc) and if i feel like we are getting off track in some way i always try to return to that. (getting off track can be behavior, tantrums, not sleeping well, acting out, and so on.) i definitely do not experience a perfectly loving time with my children all day every day but when i feel like things are getting off kilter i return to my faith in the importance of relationship, connection, attachment.
then there are the little pieces of ap, the practices associated with ap that people sometimes think are what ap is. i personally think these things are just signs of ways that you are trying to meet your child’s needs and create and maintain this loving secure relationship. the pieces i am thinking of are cosleeping, night time parenting, babywearing, nursing or extended nursing, not sleep training, gentle discipline, things like that.
all of these pieces have been important to me because i think they are ways to meet my children’s needs. i have shared a bed with them when they wanted me to feel safe and secure sleeping. i have nursed, rocked, and laid with them until they fall asleep because i believe that it is healthy for them to have me with them while they fall asleep until they are old enough that they feel safe and secure going to sleep on their own. i have done a lot of baby wearing because i believe it helps a child to feel happy and loved to be with their mama (or other care provider) all the time. they get to be right with me for kisses on the head, to see what our life is, to watch what i am doing and be interacting with me while i am also living our life. with my first born the baby wearing was so much for him – he needed to be in physical contact with me all the time. otherwise he would be so upset. for my second born it was also a way for her to be involved in everything i was doing with the bean and around the house while also being able to nap, nurse, and just be held by me – in my cloth arms. i want myself, my husband, or another loving adult to be available to my children twenty four hours a day every day. i know that is intense but i believe that is the most natural and healthy way to do things and i think it is my responsibility to figure out how to make that possible. what do i need for myself to make it so that i can handle parenting young children all day every day? who do i need help from? how do my husband and i stay connected and in love while we are in such an intense phase of parenting? these are the challenges that i continue to try to learn and grow with – to figure out.
i decided early on that i was not going to worry about how soon my children would be more independent. i believe that given a secure base, a loving attached relationship to a parent, all children will develop and become independent in their own time. i never wanted to force them to be independent sooner in ways that were scary or harmful to them psychologically. that is a huge reason why i practice ap.
what did you take/learn from reading about the waldorf approach?
when i became interested in waldorf i was really attracted to the holistic approach to the development of children, the stress of the importance of connection with the natural world, and the sense that they were taking things slow. i continue to be deeply inspired by the idea of being somewhat protective of my children’s childhood. i feel like in this day and age kids are encouraged to grow up faster and faster. i don’t want that for my children. i want them to play and develop their imagination and dig in the dirt and believe in magic.
i like how waldorf teaches that my children can be learning everything they need through just being at home with me and helping me with our daily work. they do not need to have gym class, dance class, music class, and a play date each week. they are learning about life and about them selves mainly through imaginative play which can happen right in our backyard. they also can be entertained by helping me run the house. they can help me cook dinner, they can help me clean the house, they can wash the windows and knead bread. it sounds a little overly romantic when i say it all in a row like that but honestly i have tried to incorporate this belief and lifestyle more and more and it see how it works. it truly works. right now the bean is in preschool two mornings a week for a few hours and that the only thing that is on their schedule each week. that feels like plenty to me. i am not trying to say that taking a class with your child is going to kill them. i just know that if i chose to do a gym class or something that is for me not for them. it is for me to get out and be social with the other mom’s. all my kids need is to help me fold the laundry, run around in the yard, dig in the sand, take a bath and go to bed. that is a full life for them.
one other major thing i took away from some waldorf reading is the idea that children are existing in a place where their imagination is so much more alive than an adults. i used to sometimes feel like my job as their mom was to get involved in all their games. somewhere i read this very helpful idea that i actually cannot really play they way they can. their imagination is so much richer and i am in the adult world. i can help them set up a game, i can play a side role in the game, i can be their when they need me in the play but i can also be folding laundry (notice a theme here…), or cooking dinner, or sweeping the kitchen floor.
i don’t say, “no i won’t play with you.” i say, “oh you want to play fireman? wonderful! i will be the fireman who is staying in the station to answer any emergency calls that come in. i am here in the station sweeping the floor and listening to be sure i don’t miss a call. the other firemen are going out on a mission…” and with that he will take off to play out what the fireman mission is. this was a huge change in perspective for me.
i could go on and on about other waldorf things i like and try to bring to our life even though i do not consider us to be a waldorf home. i’ll end there to save us all from my ramblings.
how does it benefit/affect your children, why do you think it’s good to be raised this way?
like any parent i want my children to be the happiest and healthiest (physically and psychologically) that they can be. my reading, research, and my intuition, instinct and heart guide me to practice attachment parenting as the best way to do this. i think and hope that this will benefit them in countless ways throughout their lives. at the very least, i think it is a very peaceful and loving way for us to be with each other in the present moment.