The way we choose to parent our children can be a fraught subject. The way we choose to parent can bring us closer together, or drive us apart.
It’s understandable that clashes between the closest of friends (or even total strangers) can occur when discussions about parenting start. After all, we are all just trying to do the best we can for our kidlets, and by slamming someone else’s methods we automatically slam them as parents.
Of course, there are some things (in my opinion) that should be slammed – baby sleep training and circumcision are two examples that come to mind. However, it seems to be a common trend amongst passionate proponents of attachment parenting to be very judgy about how others choose to raise their kids.
Now, I am not saying that it’s unnatural or even wrong to judge others. It’s human nature to make snap judgements, and I am the first to admit that sometimes I jump to unfair conclusions about people. Furthermore, when you are informed and educated about gentle, attached parenting and its benefits (and, almost more importantly, the damaging effects of methods involved in more mainstream parenting styles), it’s hard to wrap your head around why somebody might choose to bottlefeed their babies from birth, push them around in pushchairs rather than wear them or have them sleep in their own room from a young age.
However, I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the out-and-out mummy bashing that happens on AP facebook pages, forums and real-life groups alike. There seems to be a breed of parent –and to avoid getting slammed myself, I must point out that there are plenty of non-AP parents guilty of this, too – that seem to believe that their way is the only way. Just the other day I saw on an AP-orientated facebook fan page that a mama had asked a question about her 5-month-olds sleep. She was simply asking for some advice on gentle ways to help her daughter settle at night (she was waking 3 or 4 times each night), and was met with a barrage of judgement from other mamas telling her that she shouldn’t expect any better and to man up and ‘just deal’ with her sleep deprivation.
Since when did we all become so mean? Would it not have been kinder and more productive to have offered this mama the support and understanding that she clearly needed? Could these women not understand that full-time co-sleeping isn’t an option for everybody? Is wasn’t an option for me for a long time due to physical issues (which have since resolved thank goodness); did it make me a bad parent to seek gentle, no-cry solutions to get a little more rest?
A very good friend of mine has a year-old baby. Due to some issues and a lack of adequate support for mama, he was bottlefed from a couple of days old. He is rarely worn, and has slept in his own room from a couple months old. He first spent the night at his granny’s when he was 5 weeks old, and he regularly sleeps at her house now so that mama and papa can go out, or simply enjoy an evening to themselves. He is also a very happy, settled, confident and well-adjusted child with strong attachments to his parents and his grandparents. My friend and her husband parent very differently to my husband and I, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we (or they) are doing a better job. We both have happy, healthy kids who want for nothing, physically and emotionally. Whether we AP mamas would like to admit it or not, attachment parenting isn’t the One True Path that everyone must follow in order to be good parents.
Of course, I believe that attachment parenting is a great way to raise children. I also believe that you don’t have to co-sleep, breastfeed, be a stay-at-home-mum or wear your baby constantly in order to be an attached, loving and conscientious parent (as Joella so eloquently discussed in her guest post ).
It’s high time that us mamas started supporting each other, rather than slamming each other for ‘crimes’ such as rejecting cloth nappies at night-time in favour of freakishly absorbent disposables, or for using a pushchair on occasion – lets face it, sometimes it really is easier. I refuse to be so hypocritical as to suggest that non-AP parents are bad parents by proxy, and to whine in the next breath that I feel judged by so-and-so who thinks co-sleeping is dangerous. Give me a break.