- Catholic Carnival #179: The latest edition of Catholic Carnival is posted at Building An Ark. It has a “Swimming Lesson” theme (it’s a very creative and well-done compilation) and is filled with some great stuff. Don’t miss it.
- New Name, Same Mission: You may have noticed that my blog header now reads “Momopoly.” I’d actually had another blog by this same name and posted most of the same stuff over there. I decided to consolidate my efforts. So the URL remains the same and so does the overall theme – miscellaneous mommy musings and some faith stuff, too – but the name is a tad bit more original than “Kate Wicker.”
- Attachment Parenting: I didn’t mean to. I swear, but I participated in Danielle Bean’s Coffee Talk (for the second or third time in my blogging life; I’m not a huge blog commenter) and I opened up a can of worms. How many times has poor Danielle had to moderate a discussion on AP? I only wanted advice on a biting baby who seems ready to wean, but I happened to mention I was an AP mom. Why, oh why? Never. Again. All of a sudden people started going back and forth on the virtues as well as the evils of AP. And I just sat there thinking, “Huh?” Is this really what we should be focusing on?
Yet, at the same time, I just couldn’t stop myself from weighing in, partly because I was accused of being an insecure mom and because someone said my comment was “proof” that AP was bad for kids.
Bad for kids?
Lavish indulgences. Abuse. Letting children to watch unlimited TV every day while noshing on junk. Allowing kids to stay up until midnight and hit their siblings. These are all bad for kids. But how is wanting to breastfeed my child beyond a year (not until she hits puberty, mind you) and wearing her in a sling when I cook bad for her? I just don’t get it. I don’t understand why the phrase “attachment parenting” unleashes so much frustration, rage, and/or guilt.
So, I posted a tome (before I noticed Danielle’s kind appeal to not “go there” – I’m so, so sorry). I then asked anyone who wanted to discuss what I’d written to mosey on over here. Thus, I’m pasting what I shared below. If you’re sick and tired of hearing about AP, stop reading right this minute. Just please know that whether you consider yourself an AP parent or not, you’re doing a great job of raising your kids. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently.
Okay, the AP debate rages on! That wasn’t my intention. I probably should have left the AP part out. Looking back, I’m not sure why I wrote the post at all.
I do appreciate everyone’s comments and insight. I suppose I shouldn’t have used the word “rejected.” If you look at my blog , you’ll see I’m really poking fun at myself for being sensitive about this (comparing myself to a stalker and lovesick teenager who can’t take a hint!). Honestly, my feelings are more wistful than hurt and it’s really not about the nursing; it’s about knowing my baby is growing up.
As I wrote in the post, one of the greatest ciphers of motherhood is figuring out when it’s time to “hold on” and when it’s time to let go. I have an inkling it’s time to “let go,” and I am sad in some ways (and happy in others; weaning from anything, after all, is a beginning, not simply an end) that a chapter is ending.
Now I don’t want to turn this into a heated debate (hasn’t poor Danielle moderated enough of AP discourse?), but I do feel compelled to clear up a few things after some of the comments I’ve read:
1. If being a wee bit sad that my baby is growing up too quickly makes me an insecure mom, then I am one. Am I being a little defensive here? Yes. But I can’t understand why moms are often one another’s worst enemies. Danielle started her forum as a place for encouragement and advice, not a place to tear moms down. I only added the fact that I was an AP parent in my original post to give you some background on my situation, not to make anyone feel guilty or to see a need to suggest my “post” proves AP is bad for kids or that I am just a mom who’s lacking confidence.
I even wrote in my “Weaning Mommy” post that our job as parents is to teach our children to become less dependent on us and more dependent on themselves (and God, above all). One of the biggest misunderstandings of AP is that the parents are “softies” who don’t believe in boundaries. This could not be further from the truth. Maybe there are some AP parents who let their kids run wild and accompany “free love” with no consequences, but I’ve actually been accused of being too strict. And for the record: My kids have very set bedtimes (more so than some of my non-AP friends). My husband calls me the bedtime drill sergeant. They also have boundaries AND consequences (sometimes natural and sometimes enforced). I let them be disappointed . I am not some saccharine sweet parent showering my kids with undivided attention.
Elizabeth Foss wrote a wonderful post about AP parenting and consequences and how the term “attachment parenting” has been distorted in many ways. She discusses how parents who stay attuned to the needs of their children will discover how important it is for their kids to handle rewards/consequences of life with virtue. She also writes, “I will not dig in my heels over an “Attachment Parenting” checklist (that seems to change) to the detriment of my children’s moral development. Furthermore, my goal here is not to be Attached Parent of the Year; it is to raise godly men and women who will bring glory to their Lord. My babies (and sometimes big kids;-) sleep in my bed. I’m nursing a toddler through a hyper emesis pregnancy in order to tandem nurse for the fifth time. I’ve never hired a babysitter. We don’t spank. We take our kids with us everywhere, particularly when they are younger than three. I think we’re pretty attached according to Attachment Parenting as I first understood it. I love Sally’s term for her approach to training a child to meet the rewards and punishments of life: It’s grace-based parenting; it’s Heartfelt Discipline. Attachment parenting is simple when the children are very young. It’s not easy, but is simple. You meet their wants and so you meet their needs. You pour out yourself body and soul for little ones who rely on you for their everything. It’s hard physical labor, demanding as it is rewarding. This is your body, given up for them.” I encourage you to read the rest here, whether you agree or disagree with what you think it means to be an AP parent, here .
I also want to offer one scenario that perhaps will help give those who are against AP (or think they are) some perspective. Let’s say my toddler is screaming, throwing a fit. How should I react? The “AP Mom” in me goes over to the child and offers him a hug. Maybe that works. Maybe it doesn’t. But I try to show him that I care that he’s upset even if pitching a fit over the fact that his sandwich was cut into triangles instead of rectangles is completely illogical. Do I condone kicking and screaming? Absolutely not. If he’s completely out of control and “gentle love” doesn’t work, then I will separate myself from him so he can “cool off.”
However, I resist the temptation to yell or to completely ignore him or to constantly put him in time out or to sequester him to a “naughty chair.” Why? Because that’s what we do as compassionate human beings (forget the parenting part). Think about it this way. Let’s say you’ve had an awful day in the trenches and when your husband comes home, you lose it. You cry and vent and complain. You throw an “adult tantrum.” Now how would you want him to respond?
A) “Geez, get a grip. What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you go cry alone in your room?”
B) He gives you a hug and says that maybe you need some time alone to “cool off.”
He’s really doing the same thing in both scenarios, but how he goes about doing it is very different. Should you be acting like a child? No. But it wouldn’t help you or anyone to be told to just get over it or to imply that something is wrong with you, when really something is just wrong with how you’re expressing some frustration, because clearly you’re hurting.
Am I always a model parent? NO WAY!!! In fact, lately I’ve felt more like a mommy monster than a model mommy. But I do try. We can only be ourselves. There is no golden pattern we each must follow to be amazing parents, nor do we have to be perfect parents. In fact, it’s important to teach our kids that we are not perfect and that we know how to accept our limitations. The only perfect parent is God. We must remind our children of that.
What is important, however, is that the overall weight of how we respond to our children – whether it’s to their joy or their hurts – is more positive and attentive than negative and neglecting. Following the AP principles like breastfeeding, holding babies a lot, co-sleeping (I slept with my baby last night, but I do not sleep with her most nights.), etc. is ONE but certainly not the only way of communicating to our children that they are loved and that they are a blessing, not a burden in our lives.
Not surprisingly, one of the biggest fruits I’ve seen thus far of responding to my kids’ needs/cues is that they are very empathetic. Recently, I had a nursery worker at the gym (see, I still do take time for myself) comment on how kind my oldest was to the other children. When kids would cry, she would go comfort them. Why? Because that’s what her mommy does. Okay, I’ll stop being the obnoxious mommy now. No, she didn’t start reading Tolstoy at 3.
Of course, I will say that part of her empathy is probably innate. My two girls are very different (I can’t wait to see how my future children turn out!). I have one “needy” child; the other is fiercely independent, so I don’t think you can say AP produces this “type of child.” There’s a lot more that goes into a child’s personality than whether we babywear them or not.
2. Now, all that said, I have written about the AP Debate before and I do not believe there’s such a thing as one-size-fits-all parenting. Good parents adopt all different parenting styles. Common sense, your gut instincts, and above all, opening yourself to the graces of God and our Blessed Mother are what help us be good parents more than embracing any one parenting “platform.” However, I don’t understand the strong (and often angry) opposition to AP. I don’t criticize my friends who don’t practice AP or extended breastfeeding, etc. and I only ask that others don’t criticize me. I wasn’t asking to have my parenting style put on a dissection table. I was asking for support.
3. Which brings me back to something I’ve also written about in the past: Why is it that moms find themselves being so judgmental about others’ choices? To answer this question, I have to examine why I occasionally marble my mommy philosophy into conversation with other mothers. I’m not trying to make other moms feel bad. On the contrary, I’m trying to make myself feel good (or at least a little better) about the choices I make for my children.
Ultimately, motherhood is a job we all feel really passionate about and emotions run high when we talk about why we do the things we do. We’re all trying so hard to do our best that we may sometimes lose sight of the fact that what’s best for us may not be what’s best for someone else. But what we fail to see is that all those derisive zingers and even those more subtle, little comments can obviously be upsetting to the wounded party.
So, in closing, I hope that none of this offended anyone – that was not my intent. I pray that we can all embrace our vocations as wives and moms and be open to God’s graces. And when we feel the need to look to someone for guidance on how to be a better mom, we should look no further than Mary, the model of mothers.