24 February 2012

My Early Morning Shadow

Welcome to February edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama. This month, participants have looked into the topic of “Fostering Healthy Attachment”. Please scroll down to the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants. Enjoy!

My parenting style was pretty, um, unrefined, when sweet Agent E came along. Breastfeeding and sleep baffled me the most. In the early days, I remember thinking she can’t possibly want to nurse again. Again! Seriously, didn’t I just feed her? The second she dozed off (or stopped eating, or stopped crying) I made a beeline for the bassinet. I put her down. She protested. What was I doing wrong? Weren’t infants supposed to just lie there quietly, either sleeping or cooing at the ceiling, unless you were tending to their immediate needs?
Happy (and chubby, and bald)
4-month-old Agent E
Then I discovered Something Very Important: The goal is not to put the baby down. The goal, as it turns out, is to know your baby. Once I accepted this little epiphany my mothering became much more intuitive and relaxed. (And lucky for her two siblings, Momma had way more reasonable expectations by the time they came along.)
As E grew I became more interested in attachment parenting and developing a secure connection with her. And today I still have the same goal: to know my child.
Following are some ways we incorporate AP principles into life with an almost-six-year-old.
When we offer healthy meals and snacks, trust her assessment of when she is hungry and when she is full, never force "one bite" of something, do not make certain foods forbidden, and treat food as energy for our bodies instead of a battleground, we feed with love and respect.
When we strive to understand the reasons (and potential unmet needs) behind undesirable behavior, make an effort to include her in decisions that affect her, and encourage her to direct her own play and learning, we respond with sensitivity.
When we sit side-by-side on the couch with a good book (or a good movie and a bowl of popcorn), dance together in the middle of the living room just because, and reconnect every morning and evening with snuggle time, we use nurturing touch.
Agent E today
When we honor her sensitive nature when it comes to remembering dreams (good and bad), understand there will be times she needs reassurance (even at "inconvenient" times), and accept the fact that my little 6:00 a.m. shadow may just be an early riser like her mother, we ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally.
When we respect her readiness for separation, allow for an adjustment period when entering a new situation away from mom and dad, and let her needs and maturity guide how much independence she is prepared to handle, we provide consistent and loving care.
When we demonstrate instead of demand, avoid punitive consequences, and teach not train, we practice positive discipline.
What are some ways you connect with an older child?

Visit Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: (This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 24 with all the carnival links.)


  1. Isn't it shocking how Western Society creates these false ideas about babies? When I became a parent I hardly held an infant and I had the same expectations you wrote down, combine this with my daughter's incessant crying and you create meltdown in the strongest person.
    Love your post a lot. Many parents forget that attachment continues, even after toddlerhood

    1. I know . . . as I wrote that paragraph I could hardly believe that I *actually* thought this at one point. Definitely a blessing that I did not get an "easy" baby as my first . . . I'm sure my views on parenting could have turned out VERY differently.

  2. Hi! I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your thoughts on responding to potential unmet needs. I think that we as parents can sometimes experience pressures from others to discipline our children in ways that are out of sync with our instinct to act lovingly towards them or as you describe it sensitively. It's so helpful to think about how our responses to undesirable behaviors can relate to our attachments. Great insight!

  3. I thought the exact same thing! With my older daughter, I kept putting her into her moses basket and then being amazed when she didn't fall instantly asleep. I thought that was just what babies *did*. Couldn't work out why mine had been programmed incorrectly ;-)

    Thanks for a lovely post ~ I've been pondering on how to remain attached to my toddler as she grows more independent, so I have found this post really reassuring.

  4. Great list! Right now we are struggling in the first area, b/c our 4yo son has hit that incredibly picky eater phase (he never went through it as a toddler). It's so hard to make 2 meals every night, and *still* have him not want to eat either of them. {sigh} It's a work in progress!

    1. We know that if all else fails, both Senior Agents will always eat carrots. So we make them every day for dinner. Although my oldest is now asking for seconds and thirds of everything (growth spurt at almost six?) and the baby is so fascinated with food still (go, BLW!) that it's not really an issue for him. Agent J is my only wild card . . . she eats mostly plain pasta and fruit.

  5. It sounds like you've got it going on! I started out attached with my oldest, but lived in separate homes for 3 years starting when she was 10. Its like tarting from scratch!

  6. Such a great post, Valerie! I had a similar awakening into Attachment Parenting when my now 5yo was an infant, and I love your thoughts on fostering attachment even as children grow.

    I'm thrilled to have discovered your blog from this carnival!

    -Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling