When attachment parenting doesn't work

Attachment parenting has attracted alot of interest of late and I think it’s great that this style of parenting is getting more coverage in the mainstream media. With Jarvis I accidently fell into a style of parenting that was more attachment than not.

We did alot of baby wearing, we co-slept, I breastfed until 15 months and did so on demand and his weaning was mostly baby led. I didn’t set out to follow this path, but it was the style that worked to soothe my fussy little guy and mostly worked for me too. There were times I did find the demands of the attachment style completely exhausting and by 15 months I was well and truly ready to get a bit of space back. So an attachment parenting fundamentalist I was not, although I admire those who are as they are made of more self-sacrificing stuff than I.

Ultimately I was happy with my decision to trust my gut and follow this path, as my little guy has grown into a confident and independent toddler. So for baby number two, I had planned to do things much the same.

But the thing is, Hugo has had other ideas. As I have watched my baby and learnt from him it became pretty obvious from a very early age that he wasn’t as keen on this attachment style as his brother. Early attempts at co-sleeping resulted in little sleep for either of us, his time at the breast is merely for sustance with no lingering for comfort and by about eight weeks I could tell he wanted to feed in the quiet of his room and be popped into his cot for sleep.

He seemed to object to continual breastfeeding before bed and started to fuss when he was held too long. I decided to listen to what my gut was telling me and when I did he soon slept for at least 8 hours straight. The Ergo was still used but more for practical than soothing reasons as I had to keep up with my toddler boy, and for mostly my own convenience Hugo was still fed to sleep most of the time.

But last week I noticed he started to fuss at being fed around the time of his next sleep, so I decided to try zipping him in his ergo cocoon and putting him into his cot and after a bit of babbling he was asleep. And this continues to be his preference.

This difference between my two boys has got me thinking about parenting styles and labels and how ultimately whichever style is your preference, your baby may have other ideas. The key skills I’ve learnt from parenting both my boys is to be flexible, observant and intuitive and to let my style change in response to their changing needs. I guess if I wanted to give that a label (and I really don’t) I’d call it intuitive parenting.

And while being intuitive relies on parenting knowledge gleaned from books and the ever-expanding body of internet knowledge, it merely informs possible responses to try instead of dictating an approach.

We are all parenting a child, not implementing a theory – so perhaps instead of debating the pros and cons of different parenting styles, we are better served by sharing information that supports building our own parenting intuition to best meet our own babies needs.

What do you think? Do you adhere to a particular parenting style or have made up your own as you’ve gone along? I’d love to hear your experience.

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9 thoughts on “When attachment parenting doesn't work

  1. Sweetie you have nailed it!! Intuitive parenting – I love it!! As you know you and I have had the same experience for both our boys. #1 I also ended up being an attachment parenter without even releasing it had a label and #2 well he is just a super chilled guy who like Hugo is just not interested in this type of parenting.

    This blog should be published in parenting magazines australia wide; I think it will help a lot of parents breathe a sigh of relief. There isn’t “one” way to parent your children; they are all unique and most importantly just follow your instinct!

    LOVE the new look of the blog – very impressive!!

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    • Thanks Mel! Sometimes, particularly for new mums, our instinct can be drowned out by all the ‘parenting advice’ noise, which can be as much about fashion as it is about usefulness. I think it sometimes needs to be reiterated that our instinct is there, it’s strong and we should trust it over anything else. xxx

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  2. I think you are perfect! Finding out what works best for all of you 🙂
    Our fourth baby boy never liked to be held, and would only sleep while in his cot!

    Yet our last was so fussy, and would only sleep in my arms. Which meant I had very little time to myself. So wished I had thought to buy a baby sling with him, and go for long walks. Cause maybe then he would have got more sleep, and I would have got fit 🙂

    I think each child is different, and whatever works is whatever suits each family.

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    • I wouldn’t say perfect Lisa, I haven’t written my post about how I have recently morphed into a ‘schreeching’ mother (oh dear!). Jarvis loved to sleep in my arms too and lucky he was my first so I could stay pinned to the couch. You are so right that they are all such individuals. xx

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  3. Both my boys have been pretty-well attached kids – co-sleeping, big fan of a whole range of slings/carriers, b/fed both for well beyond the 2 year mark. As with you, I wasn’t following a theory… I was following my heart and what felt right for me and my children.

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  4. That’s so lovely Heather. And props to you for breast feeding past two. We’re never far wrong when we follow our heart. xxx

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  5. Absolutely perfect. I found my 2 babies were and are different in how they want to be parented. You just have to go with the flow and let your heart and your babies tell you what they need. Thanks so much for this post! 🙂

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