As a way to reflect on our parenting over the past two years, I’ve decided to write a series of posts based on AttachmentParenting International’s 8Principles of Attachment Parenting. I did something similar last year when Kale turned one, except I used Dr.Sears’ 7 Baby B’s. You can read those posts here.
If you’re new to attachment parenting, I strongly recommend reading this quick introductionby API. Here is a quote from this introduction that I love and wanted to share:
“Attachment Parenting is not a one-size-fits-all recipe for raising children, therefore API recommends parents use their own judgment and intuition to create a parenting style that fosters attachment and works for their family. Some practices listed in The Eight Principles are inherently more attachment-promoting than others. The most ideal practices are listed first. Many API support groups start each meeting by saying "Take what works for your family and leave the rest." This sentiment also applies to The Eight Principles.”
Clearly we are past the “preparing” stage, but some of the points listed under “becoming a parent” have remained important principles for throughout the past two years.
Continuously educate yourself about developmental stages
I have to admit that I did a lot more of this when I was pregnant and during the first year of Kale’s life. During the first year it was definitely nice to have books that could tell me if Kale was on track and meeting different developmental milestones. At that point, Dr. Sear's was my author of choice.
However, during the last year, I haven’t had (1) the time or energy to spend reading and researching, and (2) my instincts have taken over – or I have more confidence in my instincts (maybe a little of both). My instincts tell me that Kale is thriving and that he’s exactly where he should be. Sometimes when Kale is having a fit because he can’t wear his snowsuit in the bathtub (for the record, this has never actually happened, but it’s a good example of some of the insane idea’s he gets), I find myself shrugging and saying “this is ok. This is normal. He’s 2.” I don’t need a “parenting expert” to tell me this. I still turn to books for advice or if my instincts tell me something might be up – but I pick those books wisely.
I also trust other “experts” in our lives – his teachers, his nana – the people that know him the best.
Set realistic expectations for both parents and children
Some of our struggles as parents during the first year were because we didn’t do this. We sometimes set expectations based on what other parents and other children were doing and what books and blogs and those damn "parenting experts" told us. I know that every parent, regardless of their parenting philosophies, feel as though they have a strong bond with their child. Of course, we do too, but I feel like it’s even stronger because attachment parenting has enabled us to become so in tune with our son. Once we got to know him, like really got to know him, as well as got to know ourselves as parents, we were able to set more realistic expectations and life has been easier and more rewarding as a result.
Become educated about educational options
For us, Montessori is a natural educational path that seems to blend nicely with the philosophies of attachment parenting. Both approaches allow children to take the lead and aim to foster independence. For us, the transition to child care was relatively easy and aside from a few bouts of separation anxiety, Kale has done really well at Montessori. I'm 99.9% sure that this is because there are so many consistencies between home and school and between attachment parenting and Montessori.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting about our experiences with the other AP principles:
- feed with love and respect
- respond with sensitivity
- use nurturing touch
- ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally
- provide consistent and loving care
- practice positive discipline
- strive for balance in your personal and family life
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