I'm an attachment parent (AP), which means lot of different things to different people, (some good, some bad). To me, it's a no-brainer and I'm proud of my decision to parent this way. Some people just don't get it, though, thanks to some significant misconceptions about attachment parenting. As a result, some people aren't shy about sharing their opinions. I know I'm not alone when I say there are things every mom who chooses attachment parenting are tired of hearing.
When I first became a mother, I had no idea what I was doing and I found some much-needed comfort in my AP research. It confirmed that the things I felt like I should be doing — picking up my baby when he cried, breastfeeding, sleeping close — were all natural things that so many parents do. I was comforted in knowing that my instincts were actually right and that I wasn't an aberration in the evolutionary chain who just didn't know how to mother.
Attachment parenting gave me the confidence in my abilities as a mother that I had been missing. However, as with anything, some people — either out of ignorance of AP principles or plain old disagreement — are vocal in their disapproval of my parenting. While judgment and shame might be part of the motherhood experience (unfortunately), there's no denying that there are things all AP moms are just tired of hearing, including the following:
"You're Spoiling Your Baby"
Fruit spoils, not babies. I'm responding appropriately to my baby's needs and giving him what he is asking for (via cries and whatever non-verbal cues he uses and I have learn to understand).
I recognize that when he cries, he's communicating with me in the only way he is able. By reacting to his communication, I am communicating with him that he can trust me and that his needs will be met.
"When They Can Ask For It, It's Time To Wean"
I noticed a commercial recently for toddler formula, and learned that it's flying off the shelves. While I'm not in the shame-game business, and won't judge a mom for using formula, I think it's important to highlight that toddler formula is mimicking breastmilk for toddlers.
So, how about just not weaning them at some arbitrary age when they are "old enough?" If consumers can see the benefit of breast milk for toddlers, there's no reason to shame or judge a mom who has decided to breastfeed her 2-year-old kid.
"They'll Never Learn To Walk If You Wear Them"
Really? They will never learn to walk? Tell me, have you ever seen a mother wearing her 17 year old son because he didn't learn to walk? Come on people. Use your noggins for something besides coming up with ridiculous judgments.
"They'll Never Be Independent"
I guarantee you that I will not have to sit next to my son at his high,school prom, or go on his first date with him, or sleep on the floor of his dorm room. He will be independent because I'm teaching him, by responding to his cues, that it's OK to be curious and adventurous.
I will help him if he needs me, but I will not hover and impede his development.
"Your Kid Still Sleeps With You?"
Yes. My 18-month-old son still sleeps with me. He still nurses at night, and he still needs parenting at night. Everyone gets more sleep this way.
"Why Did You Let Your Baby Sleep With You At All?"
Both of my children have slept in my bed since they were newborns. No, I haven't squished them. No, they've never suffocated under the covers. Yes, my husband and I have sex, as evidenced by the fact that there are two children in the bed, not just one.
"He's Going To Live In Your Basement When He's 30"
I doubt it. I don't have a basement. Plus, stop being rude.
"Bottles Are A Thing For A Reason"
I have two boys, and both were breastfed well beyond infancy. Neither ever took a bottle. They never really needed to, and I never had a situation that, to me, made a bottle necessary.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons when a bottle is called for (or when a mom or parents simply want to use one); if mom works or co-parent wants to help with feedings, mom takes a trip or a mother cannot does not breastfeed. However, using a bottle isn't a hard or fast rule.
"Your Kid Can Learn How To Self-Sooth, You Know"
There are so many things I could say about forcing an infant to self-soothe, starting with they aren't developmentally capable of self-soothing as infants. It's best if all mothers are given the space to make their own decisions about their own children, and I have decided that self-soothing simply isn't for me and my babies.
"I Was Spanked As A Kid And I'm Fine"
To each their own, of course, and I'm not one to say whether or not someone truly is or isn't "fine." However, science suggests that you should never, ever, hit your children, and I have decided to side with science on this one.