Category Archives: attachment parenting

Co-Sleeping: The Things That No One Tells You

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We never planned to co-sleep with our kids.  Like unschooling, and baby-wearing, and regular-length (what the world likes to call “extended”) breastfeeding, the idea all came later… once we were face to face with this first little human we were lucky enough to get to call our son.  Spencer – who, though it surely defies all rules of time and space, is 19 at the time of this writing – had a beautiful crib in his beautifully decorated nursery.  It was great for holding stuffed animals, and I think he might have taken a nap or two in there, but yeah, it was otherwise never used.

In hindsight, there were many reasons that we brought him to bed with us, but the biggest one was that it simply didn’t make sense for him to be anywhere else.  He spent nine months in my womb, completely connected, warm, safe, feeling my heart beat… only to be born to sleep in a dark room all by himself?  It was illogical.  Plus, in those early days when I was still breastfeeding multiple times a night, what could possibly be an easier and gentler way (on the both of us) than just turning over on my side, and quietly nursing him back to sleep?

Three more kids, and nearly twenty years later, and we have shared our bed more often than not… sometimes with one kid, sometimes with two.  It was one of the best parenting decisions we never knew we’d choose to make.

These are just a few of the things we learned in the trenches:

1. They’re bed hogs.  No, really.  A tiny, 8 pound baby can position itself in such a way that it takes up the space of a thousand Great Danes.  And a toddler?  Forget it.  You get half an inch of mattress space, if you’re lucky.  I don’t know how it happens.  Nighttime falls and they turn into little Houdinis.

2. If you get up to use the bathroom, all bets are off and you’ll lose your spot.  And since you never want to wake a sleeping baby… you cram yourself into a teeny tiny ball and hope for the best.

3.  You’ll get peed on.  And pooped on.  And occasionally, unfortunately, puked on.  Everyone who’s ever co-slept knows the feeling of waking up to something… wet… followed by that moment of confusion and apprehension as you wake up enough to determine what variety of wetness you’re dealing with.  Is it going to be a “get everyone up and strip the kid and strip the whole bed catastrophe” or a “change a quick diaper and PJ bottoms, throw down a towel, and wait till daylight to deal with it little leak?”

4.  You’ll get physically injured.  Squirmy sleeping babies and toddlers are quite adept at throwing elbows in your eyes, and feet in your groin, and fists at your boobs.  Sometimes you get throat punched.  It’s a fun way to wake up.

5.  You won’t just share the bed with your child.  You’ll share your bed with your child plus their whole entourage, which may include:  stuffed animals, matchbox cars, baby dolls, Cheerios, and the pine cone that they picked up on your last nature walk.

6. They’ll come back.  None of my kids made an abrupt transition to their own beds.  They’d choose to try their own beds for awhile, then came back to ours.  Then they’d try their own again, maybe for a longer time period this time … and then come back to ours.  All our boys (12, 16, 19), have of course been sleeping on their own for a very long time now, but a period of boomerang behavior is expected and commonplace when you’re letting them move at their own pace.

7. You’ll get criticism if you share.  And QUESTIONS.  Oh dear Lord, so very many questions.  Aren’t you afraid you’ll roll over onto them?**  How do you keep them from falling out of the bed?  Don’t you worry they’ll never leave?   How will they learn to fall asleep without you?  And my personal favorite:  When/where do you ever have sex if you’re sharing a bed with your child??

And finally,

8. When it’s actually over, when they’ve officially chosen their own bed over yours… you’ll remember the sweetness of their little bodies snuggled up against you; the smell of their hair in the middle of the night; their warm hand wrapped around your back; the deep, even, and contented sound of their breathing; the feeling of genuine connection and peace and love;  the joy of holding them close to your heart;  the pure bliss of letting them be your babies, for just a little while longer.

And you’ll deeply, and genuinely, and profoundly miss it… black eyes and mystery wet spots and all.

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**Interested in co-sleeping?  Always make sure you do it safely!**

  • Don’t try sleeping with a young infant in something like a recliner.
  • Always use  a bed with a firm mattress, one that’s plenty big enough for the both of you.
  • Avoid pillows, fluffy comforters, stuffed animals, etc around young babies
  • Never, ever sleep beside your baby when you are under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.
  • Put your baby on the side of a bed pushed up against the wall.  Or, use a bed rail.  OR, invest in a sidecar sleeper that abuts to your bed.  Fill in any gaps with a rolled up blanket.
  • In our house, we always did either wall, bed rail, or co-sleeper (at different points in our journey), then baby, then mom, then dad.  As they got older they graduated to sleeping in between us… usually positioned like a starfish, in order to take up the maximum amount of space as possible. 🙂

Happy snuggling!

 


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Gentle Goodnight – Interview and Giveaway

I recently had the chance to read the book, Gentle Goodnight, a lovely little book (only 60 pages, so you can read it in one sitting) outlining the author’s method of nursing and dancing her babies gently to sleep.  I wanted to share it with all of you, because it’s something I would have loved to have read when I was a new mom, still figuring it all out!   No sleep training here….. just a loving, conscientious way to help your babies and toddlers get peacefully to sleep.  The book’s author, Lyssa Armenta, was kind enough to answer some questions for me.  She’s also giving away TWO copies of her book, so keep reading to find out how to enter.

1.  Parents like to hear from other parents.  How long have you been a mother / how many kids do you personally have, and what are their ages?

I have been a mother for 12 years now. My oldest son is Sterling who is 12, my daughter Samantha is 9 and my youngest son Spencer will be 5 next month.

 

2.  Tell us a little bit about what prompted you to write this book?

 

I wanted to share the Dancing Method I had been using almost non-stop since becoming a mom to get my own kids down for nap and bedtime. Gentle Goodnight can be used into toddlerhood if you are still nursing. My oldest was 2 and a half when he stopped, and my daughter and youngest son were both 3 and a half when we stopped. I felt I had a duty to not let this gentle sleep method stop with my kids. Every time I put them down and saw how peaceful they were, I was convinced it would help other new moms. My kids were each so different that I learned more tricks and things to include so I felt I was perfecting the Dancing Method with each one of them. To me, parenting is so much trial and error, and I felt I should share the finished product. This way, new moms do not need to make the errors and this will hopefully make their lives a little easier. Being a new mom is so overwhelming.   I felt so vulnerable with my first that I thought any method that gives them more confidence or helps them out in any way has to be a good thing.

 

3.  How is your book different from other books about sleep that are on the market?

 

This method meets your babies where they are at before nap or bedtime in terms of how awake and active they are, and then matches their energy level to be able to slowly bring it down to fall asleep. Every nap or bedtime can be different (activity-wise or mood-wise) and the songs can all be adjusted to start where your baby is at with the dancing intensity, volume, beat or rhythm…to get them to first start to relax and finally to sleep. This method also provides the benefits of exercise for mom. Most moms have no energy or time for exercise but this is multitasking at its best:  getting your baby to sleep, losing a few baby weight pounds, and the exercise is also stress-relieving for both of you.  It is not strenuous enough to effect milk supply, yet it is considered weight bearing exercise with the baby as the weight. This book doesn’t suggest things to try.  Instead, it gives you detailed instructions on how to prepare, how to do the Dancing Method, how to put the baby down, and things to take into consideration that could be keeping the baby awake.  Gentle Goodnight provides ways to overcome obstacles by giving many modifications you can make to meet the needs of your own unique little one. The last thing I want to mention is that this sleep method can be done anywhere, as long as you have a little music. From visits with friends or family to vacations, you will have confidence that your baby will still be able to enjoy his familiar routine of getting to sleep. This eliminates anxiety for mom and baby to be able to enjoy any outing.

 

4.  Some parents who see the phrase, “A proven sleep method” worry that this is just another controlling, “sleep-training” book, and/or that it employs some hidden crying-it-out.  How would you respond to those concerns?

 

It is a proven, loving, gentle sleep method that has been personally tested over 6000 times with a 99.99% success rate. I say that with confidence because I know this method works, but of course you can not say it will work for every baby.  No sleep method will work work for every baby. In the beginning of the book I have a Note From The Author saying that the book was specifically written for nursing, co-sleeping mothers for the purpose of not wasting anyone’s time or money.  I am trying to get the book in the hands of trusted sources such as Dr. Sears (who has a quote on the book’s cover) and The Path Less Taken who are publicly known to be against cry-it-out and controlled crying. This way they can share with their fans or readers who trust them already when they say that the book contains no cry-it-out or controlled crying. I am honestly trying to give moms an alternative, fun, quick, easy method to try to get their babies to sleep.  I understand the suspicions and I am willing to try to gain trust one mom at a time to help one baby at a time find a peaceful, gentle way to catch some zzzzzzzzzz’s.

 

5.   If you could give just one piece of advice to brand-new parents, what would it be?

 

Do whatever you can so that when your kids are grown and you think back that you have as little regret as possible in the way you raised them! I love the quote: “I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

 

You can read more about Lyssa and her book, as well as purchase a copy, at the Gentle Goodnight website.

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Giveaway!

 

Lyssa is giving away two copies of her book (this is a soft-cover book, not an e-book)  to two readers who will be selected at random.  There are four chances to win.

 

1.  Leave a comment on this post, letting us know why you’d like to win the book

 

3.  Share the link to this post on Facebook

 

4.  Share the link to this post on Twitter
Please leave ONE comment telling me which ones you’ve done.    You’ll receive one entry for each method.  Be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win!

 

 

Good luck, and thank you Lyssa!

 

This giveaway has now been closed.  Thanks for all who participated!  The winners are:

 

Lydia, and
Maria Wong

 

Congratulations!  Please send me a message with your mailing address so I can get it to Lyssa, and she can send out your books!

 


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Is it Okay to Let Your Child Cry?

 

 

It was the first day of a new session of swimming lessons, and the girl next to my smiling daughter was screaming.  Not just crying, but screaming.  She was petrified, literally shaking from head to toe, calling out for her mother in between gasps.  When her mother approached her, I at first thought she was there to do what I would have done:  scoop her daughter up, hold her close, and tell her that she didn’t have to get in the water.  But what she did instead was clamp her hand over the girl’s mouth to muffle her cries.  She said something to her that I couldn’t make out, then went back to her chair on the deck.  The girl finished the class, screaming with the same intensity the entire time.

This happened two weeks ago, and I’ve thought of it frequently since.    And while it would be easy and convenient for me to blame the mother, the fact is it’s only partly her fault.  Her child’s whole life she’s likely been told – by everyone from pediatricians to the media to well-meaning friends and relatives – that it’s important for her baby to separate, that she shouldn’t be so dependent, that she needs to be strong, that letting her cry would ultimately be good for her.

That mom has been lied to.

We’ve all been lied to.

Have you ever heard someone say (or perhaps you’ve said it yourself) “Oh, it broke my heart to hear her cry, but…” or “I hated listening to his screams, but…” and then go on to tell you why it was so important that the swim class be completed, or that day camp be attended, or that dental cleaning be performed?  We have those gut feelings for a reason.  They’re there to tell us to listen.    As parents, we are biologically designed to respond to our children’s cries, not ignore them.  It doesn’t feel right to hear our children cry and not attend to them, because it’s not.   Yet somewhere along the way, someone decided that we should ignore our intuition, and ignore their cries.  And society bought it.  It’s the only way I can explain the fact that when I shared the story of the little girl in swim class, that while everyone agreed that the hand clamped over the mouth was not a nice thing to do, many didn’t seem to have an issue with a child screaming her way through the duration of the class.

“She’ll get used to it.”

“It’s a safety issue.  Learning to swim is important”

“Lots of kids cry in the beginning.”

That’s society talking.  And society lies.  ‘

Will she get used to it?  Maybe, maybe not.  But is taking that chance really worth the damage it’s doing to your relationship with your child, who now knows you won’t always be there when she cries?

Is it a safety issue;  must she really learn to swim?  If she’s going to be around pools, of course.  But there are other classes.  Other teachers.  Other methods.  There is the simple option of waiting a couple of months to try again (a couple of months can make a huge difference in the readiness level of a toddler!)  There is the option of helping her learn yourself, in her own time, in her own way.

Do lots of kids cry in the beginning?  Sadly, yes… something I can surely attest to after watching 4+ weeks of classes now.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  It happens because too many people have been conditioned to listen to a falsehood, to ignore their intuition, and to ignore their child’s cries.

What children need – what all of us need – is connection.  Compassion.  To feel like we are heard.  We do not need to be separated from our parents, the people who love us most, from the moment we are born.  We do not need to be banished to another room, forced to cry-it-out, “trained” to sleep through the night, ignored when we call for help.  To do so is to go against our very nature as caring, nurturing adults.  We are meant to respond to our children’s cries, not ignore them… whether they’re crying because they’re lonely, sad, hungry, or scared.  Whether they’re crying because they’re not ready for swim lessons, unsure about the dentist chair, not wanting to get their hair brushed, or suddenly fearful of their car seat.

But wait, wait, you’re thinking, isn’t it inconvenient to find a different swim class?  To brainstorm with the dentist, or to go to another one?  To get creative, or adjust your standards, when it comes to tangles?  To take the time to let your child regain his comfort in the car seat, even if it means staying at home for awhile?  Is it really that big a deal?  Yes, it really is that big a deal.  Your child is that big a deal.  Your relationship with your child is that big a deal.  And you know what?  Sometimes taking the time to listen to your child’s cries and coming up with a respectful solution is inconvenient.  But no one ever said parenting was supposed to be convenient.   And to be really blunt about it, what’s more important: your relationship with your child, or convenience?  It’s not a matter of “picking your battles” either.  You and your child are partners.  You’re on the same team.  Parenting should not be a battle.

Lastly, to get back to that title:  Is is ever okay to let your child cry?  Of course.  Just like their adult counterparts, sometimes children need to cry.   They’ll cry out of anger,  sadness, frustration, and disappointment.    Fear, exhaustion, pain, and overwhelm.  Sometimes our job as parents is to just be there, to listen, to hold them if they want to be held, and to let them cry if they need to cry.

To make sure they know – beyond any shadow of a doubt – that their needs are real and that we, as their parents, will respect them.

This post was written as part of a joint project called Listen To Our Babies, Heal Our Nation.   Be sure to visit our website to read more contributions from dozens of bloggers, parents, professionals, and concerned citizens.

 


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Early in the Morning

 

One of my very favorite times of day is early in the morning, sometime between 4:00 and 5:00 AM.  That’s around the time that Tegan usually wakes up and makes her way into our bed, to sleep for a few more hours snuggled between us.  Like her three brothers before her, she slept exclusively in our bed as a baby and toddler, and it’s only been recently that she’s started choosing to start the night in her own bed.  As I think most any cosleeping parent would tell you, it’s a bittersweet milestone to be sure.

But we still have our mornings.

I always wake up as soon as she’s out of her bed… partly because of mother’s intuition, but mostly because she’s so dang loud.  How a tiny 40 pound girl can make herself sound like a herd of elephants just coming down a hallway is beyond me, but she does.  Every time.  Once into our room, she almost flies onto our bed as if possessing super powers, and nestles herself in between her father and I.  If we’re sleeping too close together, she simply burrows her way in.  Not an eighth of a second after she lands, she’s asleep once again.

As our fourth and final child (our “caboose” as one of my friends likes to say), her fading babyhood is all the more poignant.  At four, she is so busy, so active, so big… but in those early morning hours, she’s still my baby.  And as I lay there in the dark, waiting for sleep to come again and loving her so fiercely it almost hurts, I drink it all in:  the soft, rhythmic sound of her breathing;  the faint scent of coconut in her tousled curls; the warmth of the little hand she’s wrapped around my back.

In those moments, nothing else matters but me and my baby.

I am home.

 


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Listen to Our Babies; Heal Our Nation

Listen to Our Babies, Heal Our Nation: Bloggers Unite to Humanize Babies

July 1-8, 2012

The US has some of the highest rates of depression, anxiety, cancer, and other diseases in the world. Every year our government puts billions of dollars into funding programs that attempt to address these issues. The efforts are consistently ineffective. We are the leaders of the free world and we must remain healthy to stay that way.

There is a cost-free, efficient, and fulfilling way to heal our nation. This simple change requires no permission, program, or rhetoric, and it can start with you, today. By listening to our babies and accepting that their needs must be met, we can reduce disease and promote healthy members of society.

If you are skeptical, we understand. So for one week in July, a group of knowledgeable and respected bloggers are coming together to share how listening to our babies can heal our nation.

We invite you to join us in learning how to raise healthier children. We do not promise it will be easy- at times it will be difficult to hear what is being said. The United States of America has never shied away from the difficult, though. Instead, we choose to do the right things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” (John F. Kennedy)

“Listen To Our Babies, Heal Our Nation” agrees that meeting the needs of our babies is the most patriotic thing we can do for our country.

Will you join us?

How you can participate: We are looking for submissions of all sorts; blog posts, artwork, vlogs, videos, original movie clips- anything that shares why or how you came to believe that we must listen to our babies.

Everyone: Have you always wanted to share your thoughts, but never had a venue to do it? E-mail submissions to: healournation@ourmuddyboots.com

Sponsors: Opportunities available. Please e-mail healournation@ourmuddyboots.com for more information.

Experts:  Have something interesting to chat about pertaining to understanding and listening to our babies?  Host a live chat on a Facebook page.  E- mail: healournation@ourmuddyboots.com

Bloggers: Publicize this event; share it on your Facebook page and Twitter;

Post this Press Release as an entry on your own blog.

Submit something previously written or create something fresh.

Listen to Our Babies, Heal Our Nation: Bloggers Unite to Humanize Babies

Organized by:   The Badass BreastfeederOur Muddy Boots,   The Path Less TakenLittle Hearts Books,   The Single Crunch, and  Zen Parenting

 


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Parenting a Two Year Old

Thanks to Meegs of A New Day for today’s guest post!

Parenting is an ever evolving process. No one would claim that parenting your newborn is the same as parenting your infant is the same as parenting your toddler and beyond. Every parenting style changes, but I think that if you consider yourself an AP parent, then you are especially in-tuned to your need to evolve.

My personal parenting style has definitely had to change a lot since Gwen turned 2 years old, and the biggest change has had to be to my expectations. I always knew 2 would be rough – I’ve worked with kids before, and I’ve heard the horror stories – but it is so very different when it’s your own, and I didn’t expect it to be so tough for me. I consider myself a pretty patient individual, and its not that I thought I would be immune to the ups and downs of toddlerhood, but its always a bit of a surprise watching your basically sweet baby have her first toddler meltdown.

Gwen has so much she wants to say, so much she wants to do (on her own, of course: “I DO IT!”), and heaven help the person who gets in her way. I haven’t gotten to pick out her clothes in AGES, but now sometimes she gives me such a hard time about even the little tweaks to make her outfits weather-appropriate. Foods she loves she sometimes decides she
hates. She’ll have a complete breakdown if you tell her there are no more of [whatever snack is the magic snack that she decides she must have today]. She wants to open/close every door, and put on her own diaper, and pee on the toilet but only if she feels like it and not if she doesn’t and sometimes for 20 more minutes even though she did the actual peeing as soon as she sat down and…

The ages of 2 – 3 (and 12, 17, 20) are “straddling” ages. My little girl is caught between the toddlerhood she is shedding, and the childhood that lays beyond. From what I’ve heard, the dawning of that childhood (4 – 5) is pretty magical and wonderful. But this coming of age part… well, i know its as hard for her as it is for me. She wants to be able to tell me everything, but sometimes she just can’t find the words… or I can’t understand them. She wants to be able to do everything, but she’s not quite big enough to reach, or strong enough to carry, or…

And Mama has her good days and bad days too. Some days I can read her, feel the frustration building, and head it off at the pass. I can weather any anger and yelling with a calm determination, “I see you are angry. You take a minute and let me know when you are ready to try
again. We can do it together.” Other days she catches me off guard with every outburst and and I’m left wondering what happened. Some days it’s all I can do to grit through my teeth, “Enough. We Don’t Hit.” Some days I want to push the fast forward button up to 16x.
BUT she is also bright, and happy, and loving… grabbing your face to kiss both cheeks and your forehead. I don’t want to fast forward that part, and I hope she doesn’t grow out of it!

Here’s what I’m working on to have more of the calm days and less of the frustrated ones.

1) Age realistic expectations. At two, she is only emotionally able to handle so much. She’s still learning what appropriate reactions are and how her actions cause reactions. And you learn by trial and error.

2) Expectations that match with what I want for Gwen in the future. A friend once told me about a very trying morning with her spirited, energetic, intelligent daughter. She delivered her to daycare and asked the teacher, “How do I raise a daughter who is strong,
determined, independent, comfortable with her feelings and voices her
opinions, but who also listens and always does what I ask her to?!” The answer, of course, is that you don’t! But a few tiffs now, as we figure all this out together, is well worth it to foster the independence and determination that will serve her so well in the future.

3) Name the emotion, for both of our sakes! When Gwen is frustrated or sad, I say as much… “I see you are frustrated/mad/upset because of xyz…” I do it to help her figure out her emotions, but I do it to remind myself of them as well. Do I love crying because she wants something she can’t have? Nope. But I do know what its like to be overly tired after a long day and have something be extremely frustrating and almost too much to bare. Naming her emotion helps me put myself in her shoes.

4) Evaluate if I really need to distract/dissuade/say no. Gentle/AP parenting is not (contrary to what some media might have you believe) permissive parenting in the negative sense. But at the suggestion of a smart mama, I started looking at the why I didn’t want Gwen to do certain things. Is it because of a safety reason? Then stay the course! Is it because it will be a little messy and I don’t want to clean up? Hmm, there are times this is valid, but many when it’s not a great reason.

5) Teach respect by modeling respect. Gwen is an equal member of this family. Yes, her dad and I have the life experience, and as her parents we will ask her to defer to our judgement many a time. However, she deserves our respect as fully as we deserve hers. So we listen when she talks, we say excuse me and thank you and please, and we try to give our reasons/explain our actions when we do need her to defer to us. “Because I said so,” or “because I’m the mom,” are not explanations.

Here’s the thing, and I’m sure this will shock no one… I’m not perfect. Not by a long shot. I do get overly frustrated, slip up and yell sometimes. That can be a learning time for us both though too, because when I catch myself, I excuse myself to calm down, then come back and apologize. No one is perfect, including this Mama, and I want my girl to know that. People make mistakes, and the fact that we can apologize, hug, and still love each other afterwards, just as much as we did before, well… I think that’s one of the best lessons I can give us all. Hopefully it is the one that will keep her coming to me when she makes her own mistakes.

When all is said and done, that’s what I want. A daughter who respects and loves me as much as I respect and love her (and treats others with respect as an extention), who talks to me and tells me the bad as readily as the good, who is kind-hearted and strong willed.

Two is tough, but the lifetime ahead of us is promising.
***

Meegs is an easy-going girl that loves tattoos, food, and the outdoors; but most especially her husband and daughter. She’s passionate about being greener, co-existing peacefully with animals/the environment, and LGBTQ rights. In her free time, she loves to read, go for long walks, cheer for the Eagles and the Flyers, cook, and spend time with her family and friends. A breastfeeding, babywearing, sometimes bedsharing mama, Meegs finds her online home at A New Day.


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Extended Breastfeeding – Let’s Get Real

By now you’ve all seen it:  The Time cover with the young and beautiful mom breastfeeding a 3 or 4 year old boy, who for some reason is standing up on a chair as he nurses and stares down the camera.  If you’re like me, you’ve in fact seen it over and over (and over and over and over) in your Facebook news feed, accompanied by commentary and opinion on both sides of the issue.  Beautiful!  Love it!  Disgusting!  Perverted!

I have my own opinions… on the photo, on the sensational “Are you mom enough?” headline, on the act of breastfeeding a 3 or 4 year old in general.  But here’s the thing.  My opinion, your opinion, the opinion of the zillions of people who are freaking out about this cover… none of it changes the fact that what’s shown on that cover is normal.  It’s not wrong, it’s not disgusting, it’s not perverted.  It shouldn’t even be controversial.  It’s just…. biology.

I’m going to go over this one more time:

Humans are mammals.  Let’s just start there.  Humans are mammals, and mammals are biologically designed to get their early years’ nourishment from their mothers.   And even if mom doesn’t initiate cessation herself, the child will eventually fulfill his/her need and wean, at whatever age is appropriate for that child.  The appropriate age range is huge – just as it is for learning to walk, talk, and use the toilet – but being mammals, there are certain biological factors that point to what may be a natural and normal age for weaning.

You with me so far?

You may have heard that the worldwide average age for weaning is around 4.  I’m quite certain I’ve touted it myself.  But my recent readings have shown me that that number is not very meaningful, and in fact not necessarily even accurate.  So forget that number.   I’m not a math person, so words like “mean” and “median” tend to give me a headache anyway.

But I do love facts.

Here then are some facts about mammals and weaning*:

1.  Larger mammals usually nurse their offspring until they have quadrupled in body weight.  In humans, this happens around 2.5 to 3.5 years of age.

2.  One study of primates showed that offspring naturally nursed until they’d reached 1/3 of their adult body weight.  For humans, this means about 5 to 7 years.

3.  Another study compared weaning ages and sexual maturity, and suggested a weaning age of about halfway to sexual maturity… around 6 years old for a human.

4.  Still another study, conducted by Holly Smith on 21 different species of primates, showed that the offspring were weaned at the same time that they got their first set of permanent molars.   In humans, this happens at 5.5 to 6 years.

*Read A Natural Age of Weaning by Katherine Dettwyler for more.  She concludes a natural weaning age of anywhere from 2.5 to 7 years*

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least a year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) now recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of two years.

And it should go without saying that the health and emotional benefits – both for mom and child – can’t be argued.

These are all facts.  Your discomfort or disagreement doesn’t change them.  It seems to me, given all of the above, that the question really shouldn’t be why or how moms like the ones on the cover of Time could breastfeed so long.  It should be why so many people are in a rush to wean so early.


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Positive Parenting in Action – Review & Giveaway

What we’re truly doing is going back to our heart – our humanity – to bring up our children in love, not fear.  ~ Rebecca Eanes & Laura Ling

Positive parenting is a concept that confuses a lot of people.  So ingrained is our society with the traditional, authoritarian style of parenting, people tend to assume that no punishments must surely equal no parenting.

The opposite is true.

Positive parenting is a highly responsive and attentive type of parenting, one in which our relationship with our children is paramount, and kids are guided (guided, not ignored) with love, respect, and kindness.  In short, positive parents treat their children they way they themselves would like to be treated.  The question that is on many people’s minds is, “But how do I do it?”

Positive Parenting in Action, a new ebook by Rebecca Eanes (owner and author of the Positive Parenting website, and the founder of the popular Facebook page, Positive Parenting:  Toddlers and Beyond) and Laura Ling, breaks it all down in a really lovely and encouraging way.   Instead of just offering up vague advice about what NOT to do, it instead gives the reader clear and loving examples on respectful ways to handle everything from tantrums to aggressive or dangerous behavior to sibling rivalry to potty learning.

Even with all of these examples (there are more than 50 pages worth of common scenarios), this is not a how-to book that a promises if you employ a specific method, your children will turn out a certain way.  In fact, as it says in the very beginning of the book, “Positive Parenting isn’t a method, but a philosophy – a way of seeing our children and our relationship with them.”  The common thread throughout all the parenting examples given is that connection with the child and maintaining a position of love and empathy are top priority.  All parent/child relationships are different, because all children are different. This book allows for that, while still holding the position that there is a always a way to respond with kindness and understanding rather than with anger or punishment.

I think what I loved most about this book is that it never once resorts to shaming parents into feeling like they’ve somehow failed, or like they’ve surely messed up their children by not doing things differently.  Instead it acts as both coach and cheerleader, offering both practical advice (and lots of it) as well as gentle encouragement to follow the innate, loving, Mama instinct that was there all along.

While it’s aimed at parents with children from ages 0 through 6, it feel it holds value for all parents wanting to learn more about the positive parenting philosophy…. from those with brand-new babies, to seasoned moms of four like myself.   I truly enjoyed this book, and gleaned much from its pages.

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Want to a win free copy?  Just leave a comment telling me why you need to read this book.   Share the link to this post on Facebook and/or Twitter for up to two bonus entries (let me know which ones you’ve done.)  One lucky reader will be selected at random, and announced next Friday, April 20th.  Good luck!

Winner is Amy D!   Thanks everyone for participating!

Can’t wait to read it?  You can purchase a copy here.


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Filed under attachment parenting, book reviews, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, giveaways

Plane tickets & new chapters

 

The first time Mike and I were on an airplane together was on our honeymoon.  We were headed to Florida, to a condo that was graciously offered to us by a family friend.    We were all lovey and wide-eyed, and I remember actually feeling a little bit embarrassed about how loudly our appearance screamed, “Newlyweds.”  We were, like, twelve years old, and our wedding rings (which we have since ditched for matching silver bands with a quote in gaelic on them) were blindingly clean and sparkly.

The second time – of two – was right before we got pregnant with Spencer.  We were on our way to the Bahamas with my sister and her then boyfriend.  It was actually supposed to be a cruise (which we did take on the way back) but there was a fire on the ship, and we ended up having to fly there instead.   It was a fun trip to a cool resort with great music, all-night limbo parties, and my introduction to the drink called the Bahama Mama.

This morning, 16 years since the booze cruise Bahama vacation, he booked us two tickets to Chicago. Next month I’m going to accompany him on a 4 day business trip sans kids, which will mark the first time that we’ve gone away just the two of us since becoming parents, AND the first time I’ve spent more than a day away from the kids period (I’m not counting the time I was in the hospital for five days with my gall bladder issues.  I’m pretty sure there are different rules when you’re unconscious, losing bodily organs, or hopped up on morphine)

Not leaving the kids was not a conscious decision so much as a continuation of just following my heart and their lead.  I knew I’d do it when they were ready, and not a moment sooner.  We feel most happy and whole when we’re together, whether that means sticking around home, traveling across the country, or all those medium spots in between.

But there he was.  Asking me if I wanted to go with him to Chicago.  A year ago, I wouldn’t have even considered it.  Six months ago, I wouldn’t have even considered it.

This time though, I knew it was time.  And I was ecstatic about the prospect…. three whole days in a new-to-me city, just me and that husband of mine.  The kids are thrilled to spend a few days with their grandparents, and while I’ll miss them like crazy, I know that it’ll be a positive adventure for them as well.

I feel excited, I feel nervous… but mostly I feel an overwhelming sense of the bittersweet.  Not because I’m not sure if the kids are ready, but because I know that they are.


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Filed under attachment parenting, family, kids, traveling

A Recipe for Disaster?

Today’s guest post was written by my good friend, Amy. I think it’s important to note that I did not twist her arm to write it (in fact she took it upon herself without my knowledge. She’s sneaky like that) But she did have to twist my arm to get me to post it. Not because it wasn’t lovely and well-written, but because it’s a very odd and somewhat uncomfortable feeling to post something like that about yourself and kids, written by someone else. I resisted, and she said “Jen, you have to post it.” So I am.

Here it is; her response to those who are sure I’m raising future criminals.

No spanking, no time-outs, no parent induced bedtimes, no formal schooling…….recipe for disaster, right?

Attachment parenting, gentle parenting, radical unschooling are all catch phrases currently moving into mainstream society. My friend and owner of this blog, Jennifer McGrail, is an advocate for all of it. This is how her children are raised and let me tell you about these soon to be criminals, drunks, and wife beaters………….. She is praised by many and criticized by few. This is written for the few, from the perspective of a family friend who can’t say she, herself, has always practiced the above parenting philosophies but has observed the behavior of the four McGrail children extensively.

Let’s start with criminal #3, age seven. My son belongs to the same Boy Scout group with #3. At one of the meetings a uniform inspection is on the schedule. There are about 10 boys and the leader warns parents in an e-mail beforehand that he will try to be quick because he knows how hard it can be for the boys to stand still and wait while others are being inspected. The inspections are done in an orderly fashion. Like the leader indicated it was hard for most of the boys to wait patiently, quietly and calm. Nothing abnormal about that, right? They are all young, active boys. Here is the abnormal part: The winner is #3 and here is why he is the winner. Judging the uniforms alone created many ties, so they decided to look at behavior in line to come up with a winner. Guess who won the uniform inspection? #3, because he stood still with arms to his side, without talking and messing around all with his best friend standing right beside him. He didn’t do this because his parents threatened him or prepared him for this. HE JUST DID IT! Because he has self inflicted ideas about how he wants to present himself. Because he is allowed to grow without criticism, coercion, and with trust that he will make good decisions with unconditional love waiting when he doesn’t. That was just one situation, right, so now I’ll tell you the other stories. The ones where because he has never had a time-out, or been told what he must eat and at what time or when to go to bed, or spanked, must mean he is a crazy kid running around with no idea how to behave and headed to jail at an early age. Sorry, but I don’t have any of those. #3 is just a typical 7 year old boy that tends to know how to control his own behavior.

 

 

Moving on to #2, age 11. He, all on his own, manages a server for an online game that other children play. Just like life this game has gotten messy because children, like adults, don’t understand each other, get over emotional and react without thinking. One such situation happened and it destroyed most of the server. All the hard work that had been done was gone. #2 was MAD, steaming mad!!! He retaliated by writing about it on a forum that would be seen by many. He was asked by his mother, “Do you feel better?” “YES!” he said. She left him with his yes, and didn’t say another word. I’m not sure I could have done this. I probably would have had to explain how this wouldn’t help the matter and being the bigger person can make you feel better and on and on, but she didn’t do that. Guess what, not very long after posting what would have probably made matters worse – and yes he had a right to be mad because someone destroyed his server – he deleted the comments and decided he was going to rebuild the destroyed server. On top of that, he even built a special house on the server for the very person who had done the destroying. This 11 year old did what most adults can’t do. HE JUST DID IT!

 

 

#1 is age 14. Oh no, a teenager! I certainly can’t have anything to say about this guy. If he has been raised without rules and grounding he is surely out there with one foot in jail already. Actually, this 14 year old enjoys talking to and discussing life with this 41 year old. He is comfortable talking to me and his mom. He doesn’t mind hanging with us and gets our opinion about friends, life and girls. I don’t have teens yet, but I remember the teen years being hard. #1 teaches that it doesn’t have to be SO DARN HARD. Every single time I am around him, and that tends to be several times a week, he says, “I love being me!” Seriously, how many people, let alone a teen, loves being them? As adults we read books, go to counseling, and attend workshops to learn how to love ourselves. This 14 year old just does. What a head start he has on life. His joy for life radiates to others as well. My daughter has quoted him several times with lessons she has learned from this 14 year old boy. She is loving herself because of him. I’m pretty sure he is never going to beat his wife. A person who loves himself doesn’t beat others.

 

 

Now to #4, age 3. She is a typical 3 year old. She gets tired, throws tantrums, annoys her brothers, shares, doesn’t share, hugs, kisses, calls names…… but no worries. She has five role models that love her unconditionally. I look in those big, brown eyes and I see pure love, not a criminal.

 

 

These 4 children are all typical children in many ways. And yes, there are many typical children out there doing extraordinary things just like these children. But raising children without rules, time-outs, spankings, grounding, etc. does not produce criminals, alcoholics, wife beaters…………

I realize this isn’t really written to convince those criticizers that this type of parenting is the right way. Their minds are made up. This is written to those parents that were like me 11 years ago. I was looking for a different way to parent from the mainstream spanking, time-out, and grounding type of parenting. In many ways I did parent in a different way and took criticism, but if I had read an article like this one or known Jennifer McGrail eleven years ago, I would have had the support to know my instincts were right for me and my children. We are a better family for knowing the McGrail family.

Amy Travis is a former teacher, and an unschooling mom.  When she isn’t writing blog posts for other people, she enjoys throwing parties, making cake balls, and forcing encouraging this introvert to get out and be social every once in awhile.


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Filed under attachment parenting, gentle parenting, guest posts, mindful parenting, misconceptions, unschooling