06 January 2014

Why I Am Not an AP Parent

We feed on demand. We cloth diaper. We don't plan to spank our child. I wander around with a baby in one of those wrap carriers when I go out. As a current stay-at-home mum, my daughter is constantly around me, and if she's not with me, she's usually with J. I don't believe that babies are out to manipulate their parents or that holding them frequently spoils them, like some parenting methods say. I think those ideas are rubbish, actually.

On the surface, our parenting style often resembles the one advocated by attachment parenting (AP). But.

We aren't an AP family.

We don't practice exclusive breast-feeding, as I've written before. Combo-feeding is enough to get me kicked out of the hard-core AP groups, and enough for milder AP parents to look slightly askance at me. I get a pass because I'm still breast-feeding and my kid wasn't gaining weight normally on exclusive breast-feeding, but it's still one of those things that makes us really not fit.

I don't like co-sleeping--it never feels very safe and I think it interrupts my sleep and hers more than it does when she sleeps on her own. That said, there have been times when that was the only way all three of us could get enough sleep to be functional the next day. I still prefer it when she sleeps in her crib and doesn't require holding all night.

Unlike several of the AP families we know, we vaccinate. I could rant about this, since not vaccinating makes me extremely angry, but it's not really the topic of this post. I know that not vaccinating isn't a tenet of AP, but it seems to coincide a lot with AP families.

I don't call it baby-wearing. The term pisses me off. My daughter is a person, not a fashion accessory, and I do not "wear" her. I put her in the baby wrap and carry her. When invited to join a baby-wearing facebook group by a complete stranger, I just smiled, nodded, said I'd think about it, and then never bothered to check out the group. I also have no problems setting her down. Time to do the laundry? She hangs out in her crib or on the floor with some toys.

The thing is, while some of the stuff about AP I agree with (being physically and emotionally present for your child whenever possible, some of the alternative methods of discipline), I really don't like the culture that surrounds it, and the science of it is a tad dubious (from what little I've read, some of it is based on studies that aren't entirely compatible with the assertions that are then spun out from them; not that this form of parenting is bad--I just would like to see a little more research on what happens when a family actually practices this style of parenting).

I just feel uncomfortable in the AP culture. Yes, the spinning, knitting, sewing woman who makes her own vanilla extract and lip balm is uncomfortable in the "granola" culture of AP. It feels too faddish. Though I, like many, am prone to fads, I'm more prone to researching the heck out of them. I've avoided researching too much about AP because, like lactivist literature, it just makes me upset when it tends towards extremes. Unfortunately, this phenomenon isn't limited to AP parenting sites, because discussions about parenting become polarized so quickly. And ultimately, that's my biggest problem with any parenting style. I'm doing my best with my child, trying to respond in the way that seems to work best for her, and I'm sort of practicing a couple parenting styles, in moderation. I'm a moderate with many things, and in a world of extremes (at least on parenting forums), I don't fit.

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