I received an email from a mother who is clearly in a difficult situation with her 5mo boy: she’s been raising him with the basic tenets of attachment parenting, but is now starting to get negative feedback from her family and friends. So she’s not sure she’s doing the right thing… please, read through what she’s written and, if you have some words of wisdom, add ’em here. Thanks.
“Hi. My name is Anita and I’m the mother of 5 months old Adam. He is my little sunshine but at the moment we are going through a very difficult time. Lets start from the beginning. Me and my boyfriend were trying for 3 years for a baby and after long time of trying Adam was here…
“From the beginning I was very attached to him. He spent lots of time on my chest in sling, or falling asleep on my shoulder and I always did enjoy it. I didn’t know anything about attachment parenting I only followed my instincts. And we were always happy.
“For me as for ex-nanny this was something new as she had always been loving, but quite strict. You know, like baby needs to sleep in his cot and you have to let him cry and all that stuff.
“But as mother I cant do any of this in my past “unbreakable” rules. He is very happy baby and I always believed I’m doing all the best for him but in last 2 weeks I had big argument with my aunt and also my friend about the way I bring up Adam. He is used to falling asleep nursing and in my arms. I know is maybe not the best way but I cant manage to let him cry.
“My friend says that because I leave him after he falls asleep he is in stress. And now I don’t know what to do.
“I’m just so confused. I tried to let him cry but I felt like the worst mother. I need to hear something what will help me and I will enjoy my days as before.
“Did you ever let your kids cry wen they were so young? I just feel so stupid and I have more then 6 years experience in childcare. I just can’t let him cry because I feel I’m breaking him.
That’s a tough situation but I will say first off that babies are far more resilient than you think and if you need to teach him to go to sleep without you being there, well, that’s what the little guy will learn to cope with. Is it optimal? I don’t think so. I think we all need to be touched and loved and it’s only modern Western society that teaches us that it’s “normal” to push the baby away and establish their independence from the very first day they’re born.
Having said that, peer pressure can be very tough, and I can also understand that your boyfriend might get a bit frustrated that baby Adam gets Mama 24×7 but he’s sitting on the sidelines hoping for a few minutes of your attention. You don’t mention that, but be aware that it is a common attachment parenting cost, particularly in a situation such as your own.
My opinion is that you should listen to your heart, though, and raise your baby the way you believe is best. Also listen to the advice of other people who have been good parents: even if you don’t agree with them, it should help you consider the long-term ramifications of your decisions.
And otherwise, I invite other parents to add their proverbial two cents here too: what would you, dear reader, advise to this young mother?