For some years now I have belonged to an online community of moms. It started out as a way to find support when we were first trying to get pregnant and now, two children later, has continued into a motherhood support network. Recently, one of the ladies on there decided to start up a forum on Attachment Parenting. I thought this was a wonderful idea and quickly introduced myself and began posting there. It was very comforting to "chat" with other moms in the same mind frame as me. Moreover, it was really encouraging to see moms interested in beginning to practice Attachment Parenting principles. In a society that seems to expect "detachment" and the premature independence of our young ones, it was satisfying to see more moms jumping on board the less-ridden wagon.
Sadly, somehow our little forum did not escape the unavoidable mom-to-mom judgement battle. Soon enough there were posts popping up that criticized Attachment Parenting and even some individual moms' choices. There was some retaliation and well, it went on, back and forth. Most of the moms avoided the drama, me included. However, this little tiff got me thinking about how hypocritical it all was (I will explain why in a minute) and got me asking the question: "What does Attachment Parenting mean to me, to you?" The answer is very individual. Some may value certain things more than others and of course everyone has their own way of applying it to their lifestyle and family life. But, the beauty and the root of Attachment Parenting is that there is not one right way. In fact the words "right way" really shouldn't be used because there is no right way; there is just the way that feels right for you. Whatever you do to bond and form a strong attachment with your baby is what is right for you.
For me, Attachment Parenting is all about raising my children to encourage respect, honour, compassion, empathy, love and nurturance. In order to do so, I need to fill their little lives with all of the above. Most importantly, I need to model all of the above in my everyday actions, decisions and choices. You know how that little saying goes: "Practice what you preach." Raising attached children is all about what our children feel, see and learn from us. How we ingrain in them all of the above is very personal and individual, but the commonality between all Attachment Parents is the desire to believe, trust and follow our parenting instincts. In doing so, we do our best to make choices that will allow us to hold our little ones close while they need to be, in order to then be able to let them go when they are ready.
Therein lies the hypocrisy. Seeing the promotion of Attachment Parenting by some that could not themselves offer empathy, compassion and support, was heartbreaking because it fueled the skeptics' arguments further. For me, no matter what parenting choices other parents make, I do my best to not criticize. I may disagree with them, but I hold my tongue unless I'm asked for my opinion or advice. It's not always easy as sometimes the choices other parents make are hard to accept, but it's not my choice to make. I empathize with them and remind myself that they are doing their best, whatever that may be at the time. In my parenting choices and decisions I try to model a different way of doing things, if someone finds it useful, then great, if not, then that’s fine too. Sometimes I get asked to share more info and I happily do so. Most times, moms are relieved to hear that there is an actual parenting style for what they feel they should be doing. Once they realize this, the choices they had always wanted to make are now accepted and made, without any more fear!
In the spirit of passing along information and sharing the benefits and joys of Attachment Parenting, the Health Promoter in me became inspired to do something more. One night as I was finding it difficult to drift off to sleep, an idea came to me: to create an informal but informative workshop on Attachment Parenting. It took a few days for the idea to become real, but it did. Next, I had to plan the logistics of it all. From the moment the light bulb went off in my head, I knew it was going to take place at Nurtured and I hoped and prayed it would turn out that way. But of course April would agree, she is just as passionate about this as me! By a serendipitous coincidence another mom I knew was also interested in creating a support group for Attachment parents. So, we all came together to collaborate and start up an Attachment Parenting workshop series and support group.
Kudos to you if you have read my ramblings to the end!
What it boils down to is that it is my hope that this workshop and support group provide parents and parents-to-be with the information about Attachment Parenting so that they can then make their own right choices. I wish there had been something like this available to me when I was a new mom, so I hope it will be useful to those who need it. The workshop is planned for early July and the first support group meeting will take place soon after that.
I look forward to getting this show on the road!