Thursday, May 17, 2012

Anti Attachment Parenting, Part 2

Ava Joy and I
She's all "Who is that crazy lady?!"

Here's something you might not guess (the fans on the Gracelings Blog Facebook Page didn't!): One of the most common search terms that land people on this blog is "anti attachment parenting." Like, a lot of hits. Frequently (although moreso in the past week since TIME Magazine's controversial article, which I have not read.) And often, I will get an email or note through my contact page, or even a comment on the post or the Facebook page from another mother who is thanking me for writing that post... thanking me for speaking up and saying it's okay not to practice Attachment Parenting.

It's been a while since I wrote that first post about why I don't practice AP. I've grown and changed. I've had 2 babies. We've moved across the country. I've parented longer, faced more parenting issues, and have been introduced to 2 more kiddos personalities. So I thought I would follow up on some of those thoughts.

My main reasons for not practicing AP were:

  • it didn't make sense to me (from a historical or Biblical standpoint)
  • it didn't seem to support the main goals of my family
  • it didn't fit with our family's personal style
  • I had never seen it "work"
I wrote that the 8 principals of AP weren't really the root of the issue, but rather the mentality of AP was. 

Much of what I wrote still holds true today. AP still doesn't make sense to me, doesn't seem to support our family's goals, and doesn't fit with our style. I still have never met a person for whom it "works" in real life (although the lovely Jamie may be that exception... we need to get together, girl!) I have found that therapeutic parenting is much more in line with where we are as a family and helping us overcome the hurdles we face.

But what I have decided is that the root of why I am still not an APer is that I believe the success of APing is based in parenting without fear and doing what comes naturally for you and your baby. And for some people, that works. I sincerely believe that people like Jamie who are practicing the principals of AP because that is how they were raised or because that is what is most natural to them are much more likely to be successful than those who are practicing AP because they are afraid that without those principals, their kid(s) will grow up to be a psychopath! I don't think fear-based parenting is ever good for kids, no matter what your actual parenting practices are. 

What cinched it for me was watching various interviews with Dr. Sears. He repeatedly points out that the AP principals are "tools, not rules." While I believe he often extrapolates data, I do also believe that his motivation for practicing and encouraging AP is not because he is scared kids will turn out horribly if they aren't APed, but rather that he believes that kids and parents will both receive positive experiences as a result of utilizing AP principals.

That's probably clear as mud, huh?

One final, semi-related thought. 

I know a lot of adoptive parents believe attachment parenting is some sort of cure-all for adoption-related traumas and hurts. 

It's not. And sometimes, the principals of AP can be the opposite of helpful. 

When a child comes to you dysregulated, hypersensitive, with food issues or sensory issues or negative touch issues or sleep issues or any other "issues", parenting them the way you would parent a child who was born to you (and never experienced anything other than a loving, caring, responsive environment) probably will not work. 

While the goal is certainly to build attachment in the relationship you share with your adopted child, AP techniques- which assume a loving environment, without loss, trauma, institutionalization, lack of food, etc- may not "work" until you have helped heal those wounds caused by adoption trauma/loss. 

Please, my adoptive parent friends, please know that the best way to parent your adopted child cannot be prescribed. There are many right ways, and some "wrong" things too, but ultimately, knowing your child, accepting them in the (heart)broken state in which they may come to you, and caring for them through that is so much more and bigger than APing or any other parenting style. (Although, of course, this and this probably help!)

Now, someone preach that to me on my rough days, okay?

I think I've rambled on enough for now, but I would love to know what you think. What is your "natural" parenting style? Do you AP? Do you not AP? Why?

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