Parenting. Nowadays, there are so many complicated theories and trends in parenting that it’s no wonder mums and dads are left bewildered and totally confused as to what is best for their children. A lot of expert advice and overwhelming information has left parents feeling utterly powerless at the prospect of raising their children the ‘right way’. But which one is the best way? Many would argue that parent-centered approaches to parenting are ideal whereas others would reject them in favor of attachment parenting.
Professor David Popenoe, of Rutgers University, argues that ‘’one of the biggest observation of the last few decades is the deterioration in the bond between parents and children. No longer can children count on what they need most–loving parents devoted to their well being who act as good role models and protect them from harm.’’
He strongly emphasizes that ‘the absence, emotional distance or preoccupation of parents strikes at the very heart of those values which we hope children are learning–trustworthiness, respect for others, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.
Each of these is learned primarily through interactions between parents and children, interactions in which it is mandatory for parents to be physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually present and involved in the lives of their children.’
So, parental presence and involvement are crucial to the healthy development of children. However, does this mean that all women should be asked to stop working in favor of looking after their children? The ones that are financially stable without work, should be. Children are the greatest responsibility of one’s life and their character and personality formation is one of the most vital and significant jobs in the world.
‘Adults have more freedom than ever, especially freedom for their own self-development and self-fulfillment, while children grow up in an ever more toxic environment.’
In our adult-centric society, parents want ‘easy’ children; children that don’t cry a lot, sleep on their own without any problems, who don’t seek constant attention and cuddling. They want to have their own personal time to pursue their dreams, to go on holidays while their children stay with the grandparents even when they are very little.
They don’t want them to be fussy eaters and don’t pay attention to the emotional intelligence deprivation of their children as long as they physically grow up.
Many psychologists and other professionals believe that the first three years of a child’s life are crucial to its psychological and emotional development. Surely, they are parents who need to work, and they also do the best they can, under the circumstance, to offer their children as a stable environment as possible. And there are others, the most, who struggle daily with life’s and society’s demands to raise emotionally healthy children against all odds.
To be honest, with both my children, I followed what felt and seemed natural for me to do. I am not so preoccupied as to whether that is called attachment or something else. I am more concerned at what would benefit my children the most, bearing in mind their psychological and emotional well-being amongst other factors.
Sleep with your children. Yes, we have said it many times. If that works best for you and if really feels natural, stay away from disapproving opinions and ‘expert’ advice. There is nothing more natural in the whole world than the parental nourishing warmth for the children while they sleep. Mammals have been doing it since the beginning of time and still do it to this day. Children are not meant to act like little trained robots and stay on their own in a room because ‘they have to learn’.
Although some people believe that co-sleeping comes with an extra risk of SIDS, that is not entirely true. Dr Margot Sunderland, passionately argues that: in England there are 500 babies dying per years due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In China where co sleeping is considered as a standard practice and natural SIDS is so rare they haven’t even officially made a term for it!
As long as safety precautions are taken, co-sleeping with your children is an amazingly natural experience which will help your children them turn into healthy, emotionally fulfilled adults.
Stay away from ‘cry-it-out’ methods. All babies and children cry for a reason. Ignoring your child’s cry will only lead to catastrophic results. Numerous studies over the years have emphasized the importance of parental response to a baby’s cry. Such practice will greatly affect a child’s mental maturity and emotional development. Moreover, positive touch, immediate response and communication have been proven to be the principal requirements for empathy development in a child.
Studies have shown that: ‘the ability to self-soothe and manage anxiety later in life originates in having been reliably soothed as an infant.
Securely attached toddlers are healthier, tantrum less, and develop a “conscience” earlier. As they get older, they’re more cooperative with parents, get along better with peers, learn faster at school, have higher self-esteem, and are more flexible and resilient under stress.’
‘High levels of stress, such as during prolonged crying, cause a baby to experience an unbalanced chemical state in the brain and can place him at risk for physical and emotional problems later in life’
Trust your own instincts. The only expert when it comes to your child, is you. Definitely, parents worldwide should continually educate themselves on parental issues, find new ways of doing things and learn new invaluable sources of information that concerns their children and their parental skills.
However, we should never forget that what it feels natural to do Is probably the best option for our child. [quote_box_center]Kiss, cuddle and smooch your children AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. The more cuddling , the better. [/quote_box_center]Children need a secure attachment while growing up and constant parental touch and nourishment.
Don’t give in to advise that its meant for you to not ‘spoil your child’.The more you are involved in your child’s life in any way possible, the more independent, healthy and stable adults they will become.
Breastfeed. Don’t just wish you can make it. INTEND to breastfeed. Get informed way before you are due and ask for help and advice from breastfeeding experts. Breastfeeding, although challenging and emotionally draining, at first, IS the best food for your child, no matter how many people support otherwise.
The truth is, that women have been breastfeeding since the dawn of time because that was the only baby food available so they did make it happen.
Exempting the women who through medical reasons are not able to breastfeed, all the rest of us, CAN. If you choose not to breastfeed will NOT make you a bad parent or worse than women who do. It will only be a pity to waste such nutritiously valuable source when your child could benefit so much by it.
Absorb every single moment. Children grow up faster than you think. A child will only be an infant for 6 months! Who cares if you manage to do nothing more than being with your child all day?
Nothing else matters or has priority over those 6 precious month. You will be surprised at how much housework you can get done with your baby in a sling. Babies love to watch you do stuff and even more so, they love it when you talk to them.
[quote_box_center]With reliable and nurturing parental influence, babies develop healthily and count on this internal security to aid them in tackling the next developmental step. [/quote_box_center]
Wear your baby everywhere you go in or out of the house. You will be surprised at how easy it is and at the way it soothes your baby. Children are much calmer and happy in a baby sling rather than in the pram.
Scientists support that: ‘frequent holding and interactions with baby increase bonding and promote secure attachment. In the first six months or so your baby may seem happy being held by or interacting with other people. Then at eight to nine months of age, many babies will suddenly begin to show fear and anxiety about being separated from their mother. This, too, is a normal phase.’
Balance. We need balance to everything we do. We also need to set a balance in our life and our well being. Happier parents equals happier children. No one will benefit from you being burned out. Arrange your daily schedule including a bit of time for you to relax and unwind. If you are breastfeeding try to nap at the same time as your baby. That will help you a lot.
Look after yourself and delicate some of the daily responsibilities to your partner or any relative or friend that can help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help ; now is that time to do it. The more peaceful you are, the more tranquil your baby will be too.
Don’t forget that: ‘the child’s needs must be a priority, and the younger the child, the more intense and immediate his needs. Even so, he is one piece of the complete family picture that also includes the needs of the parents as individuals and as a couple, siblings, plus the family as a whole’.
Tips for parental ‘burnout’:
- Make regaining balance a priority TODAY
- Cultivate friendships with other parents
- Simplify and let go of unnecessary things
- Take frequent deep breaths
- Use yoga, meditation, or visualization
- Consider professional counseling
- Remember that “this too shall pass”
Attachment is in, over-parenting is out. Babies need a lot of attachment to flourish but babies grow up, eventually. Most parents find the transition to toddler-hood very challenging and a bit confusing. Toddlers and preschoolers and even older children still feel the need for such a strong connection to their parents. However, they also need to explore the world around them and be able to take their own initiatives in daily life.
Although hard for many parents, this transition is crucial and they need to learn new ways of coping with this developmental stage. We, as parents, always are and will be overprotective and worried about our children’s well being and safety.
Dr. Laura Markham warns that: ‘parents make the mistake of overlooking their child’s needs to stay connected, appropriately assert his will, explore his environment, and make a contribution. Unfortunately, trying to control a child–rather than setting limits with empathy and focusing on a close relationship–results in a rebellious, uncooperative toddler. Attachment parents, conversely, often run into trouble by not realizing that parenting responsively in this stage means responding to long-term as well as short-term needs, which calls for a new approach that includes empathic limits.’
Set limits. Every developmental stage is different and has its own internal rules and processes. We can’t treat a baby the same way we treat a toddler and vice versa. With that in mind, although practicing attachment, which comes natural, with our children when they are small, we should later change alongside our children different needs. If we don’t succeed in setting limits and rules then we will raise unhappy children who will not really learn nothing constructive.
‘Giving in to kids’ demands because we can’t bear their unhappiness isn’t attachment parenting, it’s irresponsible parenting It gives kids the message that their sad and angry feelings are so unbearable they must be fended off at all costs, and often that other people’s needs aren’t important. All kids benefit from learning that sometimes, as much as they want something, they just can’t have it. Good parents set limits when it’s in their kid’s best interest.
They tolerate the resulting rage and unhappiness. They allow their child to have his disappointment, rather than trying to talk him out of it. [quote_box_center]Most important, they resist being punitive, instead offering empathy and understanding in the face of their child’s upset.[/quote_box_center] Our kids learn that they can’t always have what they want, but they can have something even better: someone who loves and accepts the full range of who they are, no matter what’, Dr. Laura Markham.
Always keep in mind.
- Make your children’s needs a priority and build strong bonds responding to those needs. In the end you will have happier, calmer and more co operative children.
- Have respect for your children’s needs, show them empathy and raise them with mindfulness and emotional intelligence in mind.
- Do what you think is natural and feels normal. Try not to get confused by ill spirited advice that goes against what your children really need.
- Build a life-long relationship with your children that is based on desire for connection, closeness and emotional understanding.
- Not wishing to breastfeed or co-sleep will NOT make you a bad parent. It has been proven in a numerous amount of studies that both these practices are best for the healthier development of children. However, every family should decide about what works best for them.
- Love yourself and show self compassion. Allow some time for relaxation and rest. Burning out is not good for anyone , let alone for your children. Trust your instincts and don’t be too harsh on yourself. Children do not come with a ‘how to’ manual. Every single day offers a brand new opportunity for improvement.
The essence of successful parenting is nurturing a strong child-parent connection. Many decades of longitudinal and brain research have proven that ‘humans’ optimal physical, mental and emotional development depends on meeting the infant’s innate relationship needs.’
Most of all, enjoy your child and include love into everything you do.
[quote_box_center]The more the child feels attached to the mother, the more secure he is in his acceptance of himself and the rest of the world. The more love he gets, the more he is capable of giving. Attachment breeds self-control, self-esteem, empathy, and affection, all of which lead to an increasing ability to develop literacy.We don’t know why, but it seems to be true. Attachment is as central to the developing child as eating and breathing. Robert Shaw, M.D[/quote_box_center]