Sunday, May 13, 2012

Balancing Attachment Parenting, Elimination Communication and Transitioning to Cloth Diapers

Thanks for your feedback on Unschooling. I'll probably keep coming back to it as something I'm thinking about (as you all suggest, there's a balance to be had and each of us will probably find a different balance).

Attachment Parenting
Here's a recent article about a related subject: attachment parenting, which has raised a lot of discussion in parenting circles. When Noah was born, I hadn't heard of attachment parenting, but I did a lot of AP-like things. With Eli I'm much more conscious of what these things are- baby wearing, cosleeping, breastfeeding. Rather than being anti-feminist, which it's accused of, I found attachment parenting made me feel like I could rely on my instincts; I did it because it was easier and gave me confidence, not because it's necessarily better.

It would be a sad kind of feminism that didn't allow us our instincts and our connection with our babies. It's also silly to take things to extremes: I forget to put Eli down occasionally, which leads to ridiculous things like being in the toilet with him for two days straight and not brushing my hair or washing my face. But that's silly, because Eug is available and Eli also does great laying on his lambskin.

I'm not all that strident in many of my beliefs around baby care, but I really believe the context and timing of our choices may matter more than the actual choices. Research offers support for breastfeeding, but otherwise I simply don't know enough. Rather I want to use the wisdom of our instincts, of trusted friends and family, not because they're necessarily right (each generation has their own strange ideas), but because we can glean the context in which a particular child-rearing idea worked, or didn't.

Given how little we know and how much changes, wisdom is most powerful in the context of relationship and environment and figuring out what is working for a family: So if unschooling or attachment parenting is running you, your spouse, or your child into the ground, maybe it's time to change tactic. And if using some crutch (computer, running water, watching this 20 times with Noah) to pass the time is the difference between feeling like a run down, exasperated parent and not, I'd say use the crutch.  Though it's not always so easy to identify what's not working, is it!?

Elimination Communication
I've started taking Eli to pee in the bathtub (this is the only potty that's big enough for this boy) and it's fun. It's easier now, when he can't move around and he's peeing and pooping pretty much continuously.

When Eli was first born it felt a bit daunting to start, because he didn't like the potty and it's getting colder here, so it doesn't make sense for him to be naked for any length of time. But taking him to the bathtub with each diaper change has been a really easy way to start out.

Transitioning to Cloth Diapers/Nappies
The last thing that's happening here is the transition to cloth diapers. We spent the first two weeks in disposables- for the sake of sanity and because it was raining so much- and it's a little tough to get used to washing again every day (multiple loads). Eli also came out a little small for Bumgenius Diapers, our diaper of choice. Another reason to do elimination communication: laziness. The cost of disposables and the amount of trash we created in two weeks was staggering.

Happy Mother's Day! Here's to trying whatever works. Noah turned two yesterday! He also pulled out the external hard drive with our photos, so it no longer works- note how calm I am? That's how much I trust Eug to work miracles or look up on the internet how to work miracles.


Darren said...

Hey Jo:
Maybe this is the kind of discussion I should just sit out.

I appreciate the choices you’ve made and I appreciate the grace in which you offer them up.

After Johanna was born, Carla had in mind all the things perfect mothers should be doing, such as breastfeeding. She watched these videos at the hospital on how it’s totally natural and easy. Carla’s response to these videos? She wept inconsolably. The nurses on her floor, were very helpful but also very strident, as to what Carla should be doing. As a result, Carla was mess. I don’t think she would mind me saying this. Expectations placed on her by others and herself, turned mothering into misery. When Emma was born, Carla basically threw out the book and just adopted those things that worked.

Read an interesting blog in the Boston Globe on the whole attachment parenting discussion.

For us this article is too true. Parenthood often gets down to the simple things. Right now, the girls, seem singularly intent on driving each other absolutely crazy. In these moments, you just want them to play with each other without having the end result being someone crying or yelling at the other.

Concrete Gardener said...

Hey Darren,

Do comment on these kinds of discussions! Although I have a strong sense that I don't know much, I also really like to feel I'm making all these good choices, which can be either condescending or alienating. But that's not the tone I'm aiming for here (or anywhere).

I'd want to figure out why things are easier or harder, and whether it matters for our kids. And there are plenty of areas where I cry, too. One thing I realized with taking a pretty hard line on things like cartoons or really any media, was that the impact of my being angry and shouting at Noah might be much more profound than the impact of him having seen a cartoon (if the moment of space allows me not to get angry). This was quite a wake up moment for me.

I really liked the article you linked to (Sarah from VY, whose daughter is the same age as Emma, recommended it) and it rang true for me, also.

emily said...

I relate a lot do Darren's experience. But I admit to being in the AP "set". I have appreciated what Dr. Sears writes (I find it very balanced if you read long enough to see that he insists that co-sleeping isn't for everyone, for example) and that he has helped to make things like baby wearing more mainstream. I'm a long term breastfeeder (well, not THAT long term) and many similar things and appreciate that I live in a community where I'm not a pariah for these choices. I have lived in a community where I was and that is one of the great dividers between the "US" moms and the "THEM" moms - what fuels the so called mommy wars.

Interestingly, I feel that in order to have reached many of my goals as a parent, I have intentionally avoided classes, videos, advice columns, books, etc. I wanted to homebirth after a ceasar and I intentionally avoided anyone who might try to give me advice - benevolent or otherwise. I've never been to a birth education class. I've read a grand total of 3 (carefully selected) books on the subject over 8 years. I feel that going with our gut and having the confidence to do what gets us through the night and makes us a decent parent makes parenting doable - and allows us to achieve more of our parenting goals. It's important to know what it takes to protect your confidence. In my case, it was, ironically? avoiding the opportunity for others to give me advice. Now I can take advice with a grain of salt because my confidence is a little bigger. Well, until the next challenge.