Friday, January 14, 2011

Not Crunchy Enough?

Often, in attachment parenting circles, people refer to themselves as "crunchy." This word generally refers to someone with a deep respect for nature. In terms of parenting, it can involve using cloth diapers, purchasing sustainable clothes and toys, and feeding one's children organic, locally grown foods. These principles sound ideal to me, but I often find myself falling short. I am guilty of such atrocities as covering a disposable diaper with a reusable cover when the sticky tabs go bad. Sometimes I find myself lurking in attachment parenting communities and feeling like I don't quite measure up.

So, I am throwing out a question for you to think about. How crunchy must one be find a place in the attachment parenting community? Dr. Sears, who helped popularize attachment parenting, encourages parents to "do the best you can with the resources you have." Where do we draw the line? At what point can we acknowledge that a mom has done her best?

I would never advocate for parenting that is violent or disrespectful toward children, but I do think there is some value in finding common ground. Perhaps not all of us share the same political views. Maybe one mom chose more interventions for her birth than another. So what? This is not to say we will always agree. When we do not, let us treat each other with the same gentleness with which we aim to treat our children. We have one thing--the most important thing--in common. We respect our children and value their needs. That is enough to form a connection. The rest will work itself out.

-Connected Mom, Mandi


Gina said... [Reply to comment]

I don't think that you need to be super crunchy to find a place in the AP community. I think that we do feel like we don't measure up if we don't buy the whole package but you also need to do what works for you and your family.

I used to feel ashamed walking Kaiden in his stroller because I planned on baby wearing, but he simply does not like it. I've tried and tried and tried, but I suspect it is just to restrictive to him. He also gets a soother for naps. (Can't lie, I have thought about hiding the stroller when I have a AP parent meetup at my place but then I decided that it was wrong and I need to be confident in all my parenting decisions).

I had to realize it is ok if I can't do everything I planned, I am still a natural, AP parent even if I don't do everything perfectly.

I think that the AP community is starting to try to get moms to realize that being AP doesn't mean following a set guideline about principles. It is a a way we have chosen to raise our children but we will each use our own tools/resources to get there. I also think part of being and AP mom is not judging others, that is energy that is wasted. Seeing that a mom not doing X and thinking why can't she do X, I do, it's easy or assuming it makes her a bad mom is just not right. She may not be able to do X but she does Y and you can't quite pull that off.

Yes, my little guy gets a soother for sleep (yep, I let DH win), enjoys his stroller and I should really work on being more green, but I am still AP and crunchy in my own way! I cloth diaper, EBF, didn't vax, eat an organic real food diet, removed toxins from our home, etc! We do what works for us and understand that others do what works for them. There is no such thing as the perfect AP mom. :)

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Im about as crunchy as they come. I even dried and capped my placenta to use as a nutritional post partum supplement. But my kid wears a disposable diaper every night to bed ( Earth's Best, because it works and they sell them in my city) and I DID vaccinate, on a 2 shots at a time schedule ( my husband works at a hospital, I think its kind of important).

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I know I felt defeated at the time when I sent my son to daycare in disposables after searching for a daycare that would do cloth. But I don't think they knew what it really involved at the time. Sure I could have continued a back and forth argument that had gone on for two weeks but I was new and needed daycare for two hours a day. I think my compromise there helped my son because his caretakers could care for him without resenting his diapers (and possibly him). But I still hold my head up now, call myself an AP and spread the word as best I can.

Aprille said... [Reply to comment]

Well, I dont necessarily consider myself an AP parent. However I do a lot of AP stuff...EBF, part-time cloth diapers, part-time baby-wearing, and even occasionally co-sleeping (we always room together). Im not really crunchy at all as far as the whole organics, toxins, toys, etc. I still take my baby in his carseat when I go into restaurants and he loves to take naps in his swing.

But I still feel fairly "welcome" in the AP community, at the very least as a lurker. I read a TON of blogs and follow a lot of AP pages on facebook and I have learned so much in the past few months.

I'll be honest, 4 months ago things like co-sleeping and extended breastfeeding were totally not just foreign but unacceptable to me, but I read one book by Dr Sears when my baby was having sleep issues and it really opened my eyes to the fact that those things weren't that crazy after all. That's when I started following more pages and doing more reading and now I am more understanding toward my AP friends and definitely have a leaning toward AP.

However, I don't feel guilty for the non-AP things I do. As Gina mentioned, sometimes AP things don't work for every baby. My rule of parenting is to find what works for YOUR baby and do that, whatever it might be.

I'm learning a lot though! :)

flowers said... [Reply to comment]

I think this is really important to talk about. I don't identify as an AP parent for some of the reasons you talk about. I have had 3 homebirths, everyone sleeps in a family bed, and I do have a deep reverence for nature, but I don't particularly want to self-identify in a group, b/c then things come up like, "how can you be AP and x, y or z?" Who is the "most" AP? blech.

I live in a very eclectic community and I notice there are so many amazing families and they all do their own style of mindful parenting. One family might be diaper-free, but they don't mind their kids watching tv. Another might have their kids in their own bed, but are ardent baby wearers. I find it interesting to see how every family picks something to focus on.

Shawna said... [Reply to comment]

I think it's important to think of AP as a process and not an ideal. If your kid really hates baby wearing, than your process of "attaching" with him/her will involve respecting them as an individual and working with him/her in a stroller. We live in the real world, not an ideal one and we all make the compromises (if you can even call them that) our family needs us to make or that make sense to us. I think trying to be the perfect "attached" mom is just as impossible as being the Perfect Mom, period. Just try your best and if you have a bad day (or week! or month!) dust yourself off and try to be a better parent tomorrow than you were today. That's what I tell myself when I get down on myself!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I personally dislike labels. Like it's a group you can get kicked out of if you don't follow the rules. Not everyone can follow every aspect of AP due to baby's preference, money and time, does that mean they can't call themselves APers?

I just like focusing on what's best for my baby, what bonds me and my baby together and leave the labels for my clothing.

I wear my baby, we co-sleep, occasionally bed share and breastfeed however I use disposables b/c I don't have a washing machine and I use formula when I need to supplement b/c pumping and I don't get along. Maybe I'm not an APer but I'm certainly attached to my baby.

Minnesotagal said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for this article! I personally would consider myself an AP (although there are many divergences - we are a no CIO family but don't co-sleep, we buy virtually all organic but vaccinate, I cloth diaper but use disposables at night and for outings, I baby wear but also love my stroller, the list goes on...). I have been amazed by some of the comments (dare I say attacks) that I've seen moms get posting on various AP boards trying to get help with things that aren't necessarily totally AP. So for the most part I read but don't post because I'm afraid of the backlash. And like you I am surprised at how vicious some AP parents can be and find it ironic since they're trying to be so gentle with their children. I think raising compassionate, generous, gentle children starts with modeling those behaviors toward *everyone*.

Gina said... [Reply to comment]

Minnesotogal - I love how you put that "I think raising compassionate, generous, gentle children starts with modeling those behaviors toward *everyone*. " That is perfect!

Julian@connectedmom said... [Reply to comment]

great post!

AP is the process of fostering a loving and secure attachment between parent and child. Doing that looks different for some people than it looks for me.

All it takes to be an AP is to say `I am an Attachment Parent, I treat my children with love, empathy and respect and do my best to stay connected` Actually living up to your own, or other people`s standards is less important than the intent I think.

Also, my confessions:

I am addicted to paper towel

I hated pumping and so my son got formula the 4 or 5 times I went out without him before he started eating solid foods.

I have, on 2 occasions, left my screaming child in his crib while I called my husband to calm ME down enough to tend to him. on one of these occasions he cried himself to sleep.

I have not only fed my child fast food chicken nuggets like I said I NEVER would, but I also let him eat a donut for breakfast just this morning.

Do any of these things make me less AP or less `Crunchy`I don`t know maybe, but I try not to judge myself for them and keep doing the best I can.

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