This is a continuation in a series from my previous entry on Attachment Parenting.
Confidence is Key
I never sat outside the door of my baby’s room crying while he cried himself to sleep. When I hear mothers talk about how painful the cry it out method was for them, I can’t help but think, “That’s because it goes against our natural instincts!” To a mother, instinct is everything, and if we’re taught by society to do things that run counter to that instinct, how can we ever feel confident as parents? When we lack confident as parents, our children pick up on that instability and this can cause huge problems in the home when they get older. Either they pick up on this lack of confidence and pit parent against parent, or they lack discipline all together because we as parents chose a form of parenting techniques we weren’t completely confident in and therefore we never quite followed through on any threat.
When we see teenagers running the show in a home, I fully believe it is due to a lack of confidence in the parents. The parents are afraid to show tough love to their wild teens for fear that their child will run away or stop loving them if they get tough with them. Again, with Attachment Parenting or Natural Parenting, I believe that a bond is created between child and parent that cannot be broken even in the rebellious teen years, and that attached parents feel confident that when they set their teens straight, they will not turn away from them.
Parents today are so scared of losing their children as friends, but they forget that we are first and foremost their parents. You can’t be the model example for your 14 year old AND be her BFF. But I believe that Attachment Parenting teaches that our bond with our children (built on trust and respect) is stronger than a BFF friendship. It allows for a richer relationship in which our children feel they can trust us and confide in us as their parents instead of us engaging in reckless behavior (or allowing them to engage in such behaviors) as their friends.
Attached Parents are known in this area to kind of pick and choose what they feel is best for their family. Some parents will use time out, some will use distraction and redirection. One important thing in AP is that we avoid punishments which cause harm to the child, cause them to fear us, overuse our power as parents, or manipulate the child.
Our child is what Dr. Sears calls “high-need,” meaning he is very high energy and has always required a lot of time and effort in raising him. I feel comforted that Dr. Sears also explains that these children tend to be particularly bright and compassionate individuals, but they do require extra effort in their raising. Because of this, explanation and redirection do not work with him.
However, in our home, time out works. We don’t use it to humiliate our son or to scare him. He isn’t stuck in a corner alone in a room, but rather placed at the bottom of our stairs in the kitchen. We give him one clear warning before we put him in time out, explaining the consequences if he does not stop whatever he is doing. Usually that is enough for him. He’ll quickly apologize and run to play. However, if he does not stop, we walk him to the step and sit him down on it. We then address him at his level with eye contact and explain that because he did not stop ____, he’ll have to sit on the step for 2 minutes. We then stay in his immediately line of vision (near enough where he can see us), because it’s important that he understand that time out is separation from the activity he was doing, not separation from the family. After the two minutes, we gently get down on his level and make eye contact and restate why he had to sit there, and ask for an apology. After he apologizes, we hug and kiss and tickle and the entire moment is erased.
Natural parenting is all about going with your gut instincts and choosing techniques that work with your individual child. What discipline technique you choose for your home doesn’t matter as much as how well you know what works for your individual child. I realize that our next child may not be as high-energy as LB (Lord help me if they are), and that time out may not work with him or her. In this case, we’ll adjust.
In Attachment Parenting, from the moment your child is welcomed into your home (either through birth or adoption), you start studying them. You want to get to know your child just like you worked hard to get to know your spouse when you first met. For anyone who has been in love, you know what’s its like in those early days to want to know every little thing about that person! It’s such an exciting time. The same goes for your relationship with your new child! You learn their different cries, their sleep and eating patterns, their favorite nursing (or bottle feeding) position, their favorite sleep positions, and the best technique for burping them. By learning your child, you are instilling a deep relationship that I believe will aid you greatly when the day comes for you to discipline your toddler.
Some Natural Parents choose holistic methods of medical care, meaning they rely more on old fashioned home remedies or herbal remedies rather than medicines and doctor visits. Some choose not to circumcise their little boys. Some choose to delay vaccines or skip them altogether. Some of these practices didn’t feel right to me, so I picked and chose what I feel in my heart is right.
Holistic Medicine and Home Remedies
Our pediatrician chooses holistic remedies above medicine when it comes to typical childhood ailments. If our son wakes up croupy, he’s more likely to recommend we sit in the bathroom with a steamy shower running than he is to inject a steroid shot or prescribe us a cough medicine. (As a side note, we’ve found per doctor’s recommendation that one of the best remedies for a croupy cough is a quick drive around the neighborhood at night with the windows rolled down. That cool night air does wonders for their little bronchial tubes.) He’s more likely to recommend rest and lots of fluids for a cold instead of insisting we come in to see him. This kind of relaxed medicine makes me comfortable and simply reminds me of my pediatrician that I had growing up. For me, choosing this kind of healthcare for my kids wasn’t so much an attempt to take a social stance as it was just familiar and close to my own comfort zone. Hyper doctors make me nervous.
As an attached or natural parent, I have chosen in the past to reject certain tests that they wanted to run on LB. When he was 2 months old, he suffered from terrible colic. My answer to this was simple: Keep nursing (because breastmilk is easiest on baby’s tummy), walk him often, burp him often, pump his little legs, and put a little cotton in my ears to take the edge off those screams. It was recommended that he take a barium test to check for GERD. The procedures described sounded awful. There isn’t a cure for GERD, so the test would simply be done to confirm that he did have Gastrointestinal reflux disease. I didn’t think it was necessary to put him through that test just to assign him a more clear diagnosis. His tummy hurt. He spit up a lot. That’s all I needed to know. They made the appointment, but on the way home from the hospital with my mother-in-law, she asked me if I was going to bring him back for that test, and I said no. She looked at me in the rear-view mirror and said, “Good.” It was about going with what felt right and weighing the risks, pain, and benefits.
Some families won’t question the authority and recommendation of a doctor for any reason. I’m not one of those people. I trust doctors, but they are people who make mistakes too, and one thing I learned through my struggle with HG is that if your instincts say are telling you that this person is just WRONG, then go with it!
To Vaccinate or Not?
Some natural parents won’t vaccinate their kids at all. We do. My son is completely up to date on all shots. I can’t in good conscious even slightly recommend that you skip vaccines for your child. In my opinion, this is something that can’t be compromised. We did space them out more than what the CDC recommends. This seems like a healthier and less risky alternative for skipping vaccines altogether. Studies have been shown that vaccines do not cause Autism. (The previous link will send you to a New York Times article regarding the fraudulent vaccination claims made by Dr. Andrew Wakefield in 1998.) Currently there is no known reason for autism, but vaccines are definitely NOT the cause of it.
I went with the recommended schedule of vaccines until my son was about 3 months old. At that vaccine appointment, he received several shots and ended up getting a fever and a bad tummy ache for several days. I decided maybe for him it would be better to space the vaccines out a little bit. So I checked the online state vaccine database to see when each booster was needed (if you wait too long between boosters, they’re ineffective), and I went with the later recommended date. For instance, if a vaccine booster was recommended every 3 to 6 months, I went on the side of 6 instead of 3. The nurses at our ped’s office tried to schedule him for 3 months every time, but I talked it over with the doctor and asked if it was safe to space them out a little bit more so they didn’t make him so sick. He said it was perfectly fine, so that’s what we did.
This may not work for every family, and it may not even work for our next child. But again, I can’t say I support skipping vaccines altogether. I also need to reiterate that I didn’t make any vaccine choices without first discussing it with my child’s pediatrician to make sure that I wasn’t making an uneducated decision. I went to school for English- he went to school for pediatrics. Please consult with your doc. The reason most of these terrible childhood diseases are basically eradicated is because of the invention of these vaccines. I would hate for them to return and kill a child because of our fears.
Natural parents and medicine come in all different shapes and sizes. Some will choose traditional means of health-care and have no hesitations about using antibiotics or OTC medications for their children. These parents do so because that’s what they feel is in the best interest of their own child. Others like us take a middle of the road approach- relying on home remedies when we can but knowing when we need to administer some medications in order to help our son heal from an illness. Still others on the other side of the spectrum will avoid any medical intervention at all costs- avoiding circumcision, vaccines, antibiotics and all OTC medicines. Dr. William Sears does not speak of these measures in his books, and those are the books I follow most closely. I’ve spoken about picking and choosing what’s right for your family, and in the mainstream Natural Parenting world, this is one that we have not adopted.
In my next entry, I’ll discuss even more aspects of Attachment Parenting including breastfeeding and co-sleeping, and how AP methods helped us get our son into his own bed!
I loved all the feedback on the previous entry! Please continue letting me know what you’d like to know more about.