Give parental instinct a chance

I read an article recently entitled ‘Attachment parenting: the best way to raise a child – or maternal masochism?’ - (Hadley Freeman, the Guardian 30/8/16). This article has a  critical focus on attachment parenting, (attachment theory relates in short, to how a baby will attach to an adult carer – usually the mother/parents/grandparents- for security, food, care and love) and describing it as the new fashionable approach in the West towards baby rearing. It was very interesting, describing how mothers and baby’s spend a lot of time together, with the mothers breastfeeding for longer than average. It described, how some mothers were breast feeding 2 and 3 year old toddlers on demand (citing 15 minute feeding intervals at one interview); doing away with sleep routines and embracing co-sleeping to the point that one parent has to move out of the bedroom to rest. It pointed out how we have moved from the strict routines of 30 years ago and how closely knit these groups are. How this approach which saw itself as the way to go today; followed the needs of the child at the expense of the family and did not take into consideration the different styles that other people choose, and were critical of routines and bottle feeding. How some other mothers found themselves feeling guilty when faced with the strong opinions of this attachment parenting approach, as they chose bottle feeding and return to work.

Indeed I was reminded of my time with the La Leche League - the support groups for women who wanted to breast feed - some three decades ago with my first child. In the 80s when home births and breast feeding was considered the domain of hippies (though I never met one, I admired their stepping outside societies norms, with henna in their hair, natural dyes in loose fitting clothes and unprocessed vegetarian food). So for me and I guess a few others the La Leche league was our nearest approximation, or just a support for breast feeding. We were comfortable enough to wear loose clothes, not to bother wearing makeup, breast feed in company and eat healthy food, we also had morning tea and cakes (though homemade of course). We had a share of women breastfeeding mixed aged toddlers, and one women I remember feeding a 3 year old, an 18 month old and another on the way. Some people join groups to participate in their chosen part of an alternative way, for the support not otherwise there in society or just for the company.  Others make it a career (it happens in every quarter – why the surprise? Let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water).

The situation was then and is now, that we are often quite unsure of our role as new parents, and so we gravitate towards and explore what appears to meet our needs best, which in my view is an intelligent thing to do. We don’t have to stay or to participate in every aspect of what is on offer, just like other areas in life. Personally I read about and explored many approaches to child rearing over the years. Devoted my sitting room to a low shelfed children’s area, explored alternatives such as John Holt, LeBoyer, Montessori, A.S Neill and what the developmental psychologists like Spock, had to say back then. Taking from each what was possible/suited or worked for me and my family. Perhaps the best approach to exploring parenting is to look at different methods, experiment with what actually works for your particular needs and make it your own.

Fads and popularity of methods will change as many things have over the years; information is flooding in from all quarters; multimedia is full of advice and everything is in sound bite size, not always giving a comprehensive picture. People are being bombarded with different ideas and approaches to parenting, so that this abundance of choice can actually become a problem rather than the lack of it. Change is part of nature and a necessary part of the growth and development process, in today’s world we have the freedom to embrace it, but should not let it dominate us and stand back a little to trust our parental instincts.

What does not change however is the attachment with our babies, they need to know their mother or another significant person will care sensitively for all their needs. This for me is the most important area for parents to consider seriously; our babies are ‘literally’ depending on us for their lives. Our love for them and confidence in our chosen approach is what is best for our baby and our family and that is what is important, as for the rest…….

Don't Worry, Be Happy.