Getting Attached: What It Means - Part Two
This article is about attachment parenting and covers such topics as: Some Questions You May Have, Attachment parenting sounds exhausting. Is it one big give-a-thon?, What does attachment parenting do for my relationship with my child?, Ok, so the attachment style helps the parent-infant relationship. What specifically does it do for the baby?, Attachment parenting improves behavior, Attachment parenting improves development, Attachment parenting improves intelligence. There will be one more part to follow on this article so keep an eye out for it..
Some Questions You May Have
When parents-to-be are told about attachment parenting, they react pretty strongly -- often with relief. Attachment parenting is, after all, commonsense parenting. But even parents enthusiastic about attachment parenting are often a bit leery, probably because this style of parenting is rather foreign to the fear-of-spoiling mind-set we've all been exposed to. Here are answers to some of the questions asked most often.
Attachment parenting sounds exhausting. Is it one big give-a-thon?
There is a biological angle to mutual giving, as well. When a mother breastfeeds her baby, she given nourishment and comfort. The baby's sucking, in turn, stimulates the release of hormones that further enhance mothering behavior, as mentioned previously. The reason that you can breastfeed your baby to sleep is that your milk contains a sleep-inducing substance. Meanwhile, as you suckle your baby you produce more of the hormone prolactin, which has a tranquilizing effect on you. It's as if the mommy puts the baby to sleep, and the baby puts the mommy to sleep.
What is "hard" about parenting is the feeling "I don't know what he wants" or "I just can't seem to get through to her." If you feel you really know your baby and have a handle on the relationship, parenting is easier and more relaxed. There is great comfort in feeling connected to your baby. Attachment parenting is the best way to get connected. True, this style of parenting takes tremendous amounts of patience and stamina, but it's worth it! Attachment parenting early on makes later parenting easier, not only in infancy but in childhood and in your child's teenage years. The ability to read and respond to your baby carries over to the ability to get inside your growing child and see things from his or her point of view. When you truly know your child, parenting is easier at all ages.
Early Attachment -- Livelong Memories
There may be occasions when you wonder if your baby's high-need stage will ever end. It will! The time in your arms, at your breasts, and in your bed is such a relatively short while, but your message of love and availability lasts a lifetime.
Won't holding our baby a lot, responding to cries, breastfeeding on cue, and even sleeping with baby create a spoiled and overly dependent child?
No! Both experience and research have shown the opposite to be true. Attachment fosters independence. Attachment parenting implies responding appropriately to your baby; spoiling suggests responding inappropriately. The spoiling theory began in the 1920's when experts invaded the realm of child rearing. They scoffed at parental intuition and advocated restraint and detachment. They felt that holding a baby a lot, feeding on cue, and responding to cries would create a clingly, dependent child. There was no scientific basis for this spoiling theory, just unwarranted fears and opinions.
Let's put the spoiling theory on the shelf -- to spoil. Studies have proved it wrong. In one study, researchers observed two sets of parents and their children. Group A was securely attached, the product of responsive parenting. Troup B babies were parented in a more restrained way: put on schedules and given less intuitive and nurturing responses to their cues. These babies were followed for at least a year. Which group do you think eventually turned out to be more independent? Answer: Group A, the securely attached babies. Researchers who have studied the effects of parenting styles on behavior in older children have all concluded that the spoiling theory is utter nonsense. A child must go through a stage of healthy dependence in order to become securely independent later.
How does attachment foster independence?
Doesn't attachment parenting put the baby in the driver's seat?
This style should not develop into "martyr mothering": Baby pulls mommy's string, and she jumps. Because of the mutual sensitivity that develops between attached parents and their attached children, parents' response time can gradually lengthen as mother enables the older baby to discover that he does not need instant gratification. Nor does attachment parenting mean overindulgence or possessiveness. The possessive parent or "hover mother" keeps the child from doing what he needs to do because of her own insecurities. Attachment differs from dependency. Attachment enhances development; inappropriate dependency hinders it. There is a beautiful balance to attachment parenting.
What does attachment parenting do for my relationship with my child?
The other dividend to expect is mutual sensitivity. As you become more sensitive to your baby, your baby becomes more sensitive to you.
Ok, so the attachment style helps the parent-infant relationship. What specifically does it do for the baby?
Attachment parenting improves behavior. Attached babies cry less. They are less bored, colicky, fussy, whiny, and clingy. A very simple reason lies at the root of this observation: A baby who feels right, acts right. An attached baby whose cues are read and responded to feels connected. She feels valued, She trusts. Because of this inner feeling of rightness, baby has less need to fuss.
Attachment parenting improves development. If attached babies cry less, they have more time to grow and learn. Watching mother-infant pairs in action and interaction, you will be impressed with how content babies are who are worn in a sling, breastfed on cue, and responded to sensitively. They seem to feel better, behave better, and grow better. It is believed this is because attachment parenting promotes a state of quiet alertness (also called interactive quiet or attentive stillness). A baby in the quiet alert stage is more receptive to interaction with and learning from his environment. He is not bored. The quiet alert state also promotes an inner organization that allows the physiological system of the body to work better. Baby diverts the energy that he would have spent on fussing into growing, developing, and interacting with his environment.
In essence, attached babies thrive, meaning that your baby grows to her full potential. Researchers have long realized the association between good growth and good parenting.
Attachment parenting improved intelligence. Attachment parenting is good food for the brain. Many studies now show that the most powerful enhances of brain development are the quality of he parent-infant attachment and the response of the care giving environment to the cues of the infant. It is believed that attachment parenting promotes brain development by feeding the brain the right kind of information at a time in the child's life when the brain needs the most nourishment. By encouraging the behavior state of quiet alertness, attachment parenting creates the conditions that help baby learn.
If you are beginning to feel very important, you are! What parents do with babies makes them smarter. In the keynote address at the 1986 annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, infant development specialist Dr. Michael Lewis reviewed studies of factors that enhance infant development. This presentation was in response to the overselling of the superbaby phenomenon that emphasized the use of programs and kits rather than the parents' being playful companions and sensitive nurturers. Lewis concluded that the single more important influence on a child's intellectual development was the responsiveness of the mother to the cues of her baby. In caring for your baby, keep in mind that relationships, not things make better babies.
Benefits of Attachment Parenting:
Help! How are we ever going to get our baby on a schedule this way?
Won't a mother feel tied down by constant baby tending?
Remember, too, that attachment parenting, by mellowing a child's behavior, makes it easier to go places with your child. You don't have to feel tied down to your house or apartment and a life-style that includes only babies.
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