Breeding Compassion With Attachment Parenting

Parents who use attachment parenting tools often pull out the “instincts” card.

I stumbled upon a great site over the weekend called Parenting Science. It’s a parenting site for those with a more fact-based approach in their choices.

The site is created and written by a woman named Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. Gwen is amazing. Just check out her bio to see the great list of credentials she brings to the table.

Her training falls within anthropology, evolutionary psychology, and other similar areas. All of which she uses to look at babies and toddlers in terms of where they come from, rather than where modern society wants to stick them.

I am absolutely in love. For me attachment parenting always seemed like common sense because it best fits the basic needs of an infant. When I would hear someone call it a “new fad” I couldn’t help but cringe, most of the basic ideas of attachment parenting have been around longer than we have. All that humans have done is put their own spin on the concept.

My own spin on this particular concept is also very obvious in the kind of childcare I prefer. As an attached mom, I would rather have a babysitter come over to care for my kids.

Call me paranoid but I prefer having a babysitter come over. No attached mom would have peace of mind with the services of a daycare center. I really don’t think a daycare center can really address the basic needs of an infant.

If you don’t think a babysitter can address the basic needs of an infant, you better think again. For the past years, I have been signed up with Sittercity and I’ve been very happy with their services.

For me, this online babysitting website is the best there is. Even if it’s online, I get to screen the babysitters before I even get to talk to them. For any attached mom, that’s a big deal.

As much as I am very attached to my kids, there are times when I have to leave them at home. For those scary moments, I need to make sure that I have a babysitter that I can trust.

It just makes sense because that’s just the way motherhood is for me. I want to make sure that my kids are safe and that’s why I hire babysitters from Sittercity.

It’s almost like an instinct or a gut feeling. Given all the information I can get from the babysitters on Sittercity, it’s very easy for me to trust my gut feeling. I just feel safe.

The gut feeling I get is really more than just an instinct or a lucky guess. It’s a mom thing and there’s nothing magical about that.

As a matter of fact, there is some science into that. The science of attachment parenting is one in particular that looks at attachment parenting practices through a scientific lens.

Parents who use attachment parenting tools often pull out the “instincts” card. And I am certainly not knocking that, I am a huge supporter of using your instincts while raising your child.

If your gut is telling you not to do something that everyone else is doing, I say follow your gut. Unfortunately that is often turned around on us and claims are made that we are not thinking rationally, not looking at the facts. So in those moments when science and my instincts line up it’s worthy of a tiny celebration.

Attachment parenting can also get quite tiring, I must say. I’ve noticed some rough spots in my parenting lately, getting frustrated and annoyed far easier than I should. When these rough spots show up, I immediately go on Sittercity so that I can get some help.

In spite of my attachment parenting style, I must admit that I rely a lot on the services of Sittercity. Hiring a babysitter is the only way I can remain sane and attached.

When it’s one of those times that I hire a babysitter from Sittercity, I usually pick up a book. The latest book definitely helped guide how I wanted to parent. The book is Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times by Zoe Weil.

One of the beliefs I see spoken often in Attachment Parenting circles is that if we raise our children with respect and compassion they will learn to be respectful and compassionate. The opposite is often seen, raise a child with violence and they become violent is one example. So using the qualities we want them to hold is a great stepping stone towards them having those qualities themselves.

There is a story in the book that Weil shares about a boy with some physical and mental disabilities.  The boy loved baseball, and though his father would play in the yard with him, he wanted to play with the other kids on a real team. His father always held him back, afraid of how the other children might treat him.

Finally one day he gives in and takes his son to the ball field. Rather than the teasing and torture he was afraid of the boys on both teams cheered the boy on, helped him to hit a home run, and applauded him around the bases.

Some people might roll their eyes at a story like this, knowing full well how cruel and vicious some children can be. Anyone who has survived Junior High can often attest to it. But there are still moments of compassion left in the world. Look at this news story of a girl who, having finally hit her first home run, blew out her knee and could not run the bases. The opposing team members picked her up and carried her around the bases so that she could have her moment.

I’m not saying any of these children were or were not raised any certain way. Compassion springs forth in the best and worst people at times. I do hold hope though that by working to share more compassion with my sons, every day, that I am planting seeds for more compassion to trickle out into the world.


Can Spanking Tone Down Sibling Rivalry?

When sibling rivalry strikes, I don’t deal with it in a general way.

Sibling rivalry. It can be the bane of attachment parenting. Just when you think you have this gentle parenting thing down with one kid here comes another and the dynamic is completely changed. Suddenly they are fussing with each other, picking on each other, and doing all the things you were certain your kids would never do.

Trust me, I’ve been there. Been there? I am still there.

There are some things that you can do to ease the fighting and feuding that come with sibling rivalry. Set guidelines. Identify the actions that are acceptable and the ones that are not. Give them room to express themselves in a space where they are not hurting the other. Also, be sure to let each one know that you love them individually, that they do not have to fight to compete for parental love or attention. Of course, how you put those ideas to work in your day-to-day life will be up to you.

Consistency plays an important role in easing the fighting and feuding of sibling rivalry. The good thing about being an attached mom is that it’s easy to be consistent.

In my case, it’s not hard for me to show the special kind of attention each of my children deserves. The attachment I have for each of my children helps me identify what kind of parenting style is appropriate. So when sibling rivalry strikes, I don’t deal with it in a general way. I get with each child and deal with the situation individually.

Yes, it does get quite taxing but it works for me. However, the most taxing part is when I have to brief the babysitter.  It’s a must that she knows exactly how to deal with my children should there be some kind of drama in my absence.

It’s a good thing that I can screen the babysitters first on Sittercity. I usually choose the ones who have undergone some kind of training in child psychology.  I have found a handful of highly skilled babysitters on Sittercity. They seem to know pretty well how to handle sibling rivalry. Choosing one is pretty hard since their credentials are highly recommended by the other parents who are signed up with Sittercity.

Nonetheless, I have found a sweet lady by the name of Reese. For the past four month, she has been helping me with my children. I don’t think I would have found her if it weren’t for Sittercity, She has an outstanding experience in child caring. I chose her because her methods in dealing with sibling rivalry came pretty close to mine. I must say that I have learned a lot from her.

Of course, I must admit that there are times when sibling rivalry can get pretty ugly. The fighting and the feuding can drive any mom insane. When that happens, is spanking the answer?

Well, there can be a very fine line between discipline and abuse, a line that is crossed when spanking comes into play. Hitting, no matter what, should be considered child abuse.

It is the act of an adult taking out their frustrations on someone much smaller, weaker, and emotionally unprepared. Even in the best circumstances it can be damaging to the child.

Sibling rivalry can get pretty physical. I have noticed that it becomes more and more intense as the kids get older. Believe me, there are times when I have blamed myself for such proliferation of drama. However, I don’t let my feelings get the better of me. No matter what, I deal with each child individually.

That means spanking is never an option.  No matter what, I have never looked at spanking as a solution. I don’t think I can teach my children any valuable lesson if I hit them. As it is, they’re already hurting each other, be it verbally or physically. How can I actually teach them a lesson if I end up hitting the two of them? The situation just worsens with a mom coming in the middle hitting the two of them. I don’t want to be that kind of mom.

My sentiments on spanking are voiced out loudly to the babysitters I hire on Sittercity. Hence, I did make it clear to Reese that spanking is never an option in my home. Should my children get into one of their fights she is to separate them. Being the attached mom that I am, I have instructed her to call me in case the situation arises.

I am very lucky to have gotten a babysitter like Reese who follows my instructions at all times. No matter what kind of training she has had in childcare, she complies with my rules and I like that very much. For that, I’m very grateful to Sittercity.

I am a staunch believer that a babysitter should never spank a kid. There is no reason for her to do that, no matter what. I make that clear from the start each time I interview a babysitter from Sittercity.

In the end, parents and caregivers, specifically babysitters, need to look honestly and completely at what they are doing when they choose to spank. What are they teaching their children about right and wrong? What are they teaching their children about power and physical violence? And what are the long-term repercussions of spanking?

Obviously, spanking is not an option. What are some of the tricks you use to deal with your kids fighting? Do you have any magic bullet that works to defuse the tension and relax everyone? If so do share! Good tips and advice are always welcome.


Co-Sleeping: Why Make A Fuss About It?

Parents are still in a quandary as to whether they should practice co-sleeping or not.

The eternal co-sleeping debate. Does it ever end?  I guess it won’t. It’s always alarming to hear stories about infants dying. Take for example the story below.

The story comes out of Columbus, Ohio where 4 separate cases of infants dying occurred.  On the outside that doesn’t seem so odd. From SIDS, respiratory infections, accidental suffocation, to undetected physical problems many more than four babies die each day. Probably all in the same area also.

However what set these four cases apart is that each child was sleeping with an adult at the time of death. This has, of course, lead to warnings of the dangers of co-sleeping being tossed around. Of course we don’t know exactly how these babies died yet, but the simple fact that all four so happened to be with adults sleeping leaves some pointing to co-sleeping as the obvious cause.

It’s ironic that if four babies in the same county all died and they were all in cribs, there really wouldn’t be much of a public outcry on the dangers of leaving infants alone in cribs.

There really wouldn’t be too much fuss about the dangers of leaving infants in cribs as compared to infants co sleeping with their parents.

Although there are studies showing that co sleeping isn’t as dangerous as it’s depicted to be, a lot of parents are still in a quandary as to whether they should practice it or not.

No one can blame these parents since scare tactics are still being used to sheep people into thinking that co sleeping is, indeed, very dangerous. Parents are told that co sleeping will kill their children, even if there is no proof that it will.

Unfortunately, parents are not presented with facts about co-sleeping.  Instead, they are threatened to practice it.

When it comes to the safety of kids, specifically babies, there’s just no room for ignorance.  Dr. James J. McKenna is from the University of Notre Dame. He is connected with the University’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory. He shares some valuable insights on co-sleeping.

“One of the important distinctions that need to be made, both in research and in discussions that parents have, because it is one that really can change the behavior of people. It has to do with defining and getting it right. What co-sleeping means vs. what bed sharing means vs. what sofa sharing means.”

He defines co-sleeping as a kind of situation or setting where the mother, father, or even a dedicated caregiver are all within the sensory range of the baby.

He adds that the participants in a co-sleeping setting are able to detect each other since they can see, hear, and feel each other’s presence. He further goes on to say:

“The participants can detect and respond to those signals and cues of the other because it changes for the baby.”

Dr. McKenna cites the many ways different cultures practice co-sleeping.

“There are as many ways to co-sleep with your baby as there are cultures doing it, thousands of different ways, depending upon where you are. In our culture, one way would be to have your baby in bed with you, called bed sharing.”

He goes on to cite another variation of co-sleeping and what exactly should take place in a co-sleeping setting.

“Another way to do it would be to have your baby sleeping alongside in a bassinet within arm’s reach … The Navajo Indians put a baby in a cradle board and out the cradle board right next to a modern bed. That’s their way of co-sleeping.  Some moms around the world sleep on a hammock with your baby. Some on a raised platform.  So it isn’t really so much what the physical structure looks like on which it takes place, though the safety issues really need to be raised but it’s very important that the actual proximity and contact takes place because that’s what is biologically appropriate.”

It’s safe to say that the two important elements of a co-sleeping setting are proximity and contact. Unfortunately, those two elements are often missed out. When that happens, co-sleeping becomes a very vague topic that remains a debatable.

“For example, in terms of the ways this can be misused, bed-sharing is often used as kind of a proxy for any and all co-sleeping.”

He cites an example:

“So in other words somebody might say something like, ‘Oh!  I heard that co-sleeping is extremely dangerous. Just five babies died last week or last month in Detroit from co sleeping.”

It’s very easy to make a conclusion about co-sleeping even if the manner of co-sleeping isn’t identified.  Dr. McKenna has this to say:

“What they are talking about isn’t, perhaps, co sleeping.  They’re  talking specifically … about sofa-sleeping,  recliner-sleeping, or bed-sharing. Which can be, in many ways, either safe or dangerous.”

He goes on to explain:

“Bed-sharing may be safe or dangerous depending on specifically how it’s done … I always suggest to parents that a breastfeeding mother-baby care is much safer in bed than it is in a bottle feeding mother-baby care  because the physiology of breastfeeding is very different in both the mother and the baby in terms of sensitivities to the presence of the other …the baby  … just wants to be … as  close to its mother as possible.”

He adds this very crucial point:

“So co-sleeping needs to be further distinguished. The question someone might say is, ‘Oh, co sleeping. But what kind of co-sleeping are you referring to you? You know, bed-sharing, sofa-sleeping, or recliner sleeping?’ Sofa sleeping and recliner sleeping … are two forms that are always dangerous. You want to avoid them.”

Dr. McKenna cites a form of co-sleeping that is safe:

“One form of co sleeping is called separate surface co sleeping. Some people like to call it room-sharing, meaning you’re in the same room. But personally I don’t like that term because it kind of distances what’s really being shared … It’s really person sharing. It’s the mother or the father who’s committed to that baby in the room that’s changing something about that baby and making that baby healthier and safer for its night sleep. It’s proactive.  So separate surface co-sleeping or person sharing but on separate surfaces is extremely important and always safe.”

Co-sleeping is a very intricate topic. You really need to dig into the facts first before making your own conclusion about it.

It will just be a total waste of time to worry about co-sleeping. Why make a fuss about it when a medical expert like Dr. McKenna cites the safest ways to co-sleep with your baby.