Too attached to attachment parenting

I don't have the animus for attachment parenting (the crunchy new style of parenting that encourages natural childbirth, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, breast-feeding on demand for a long time, etc) that Skeptical OB has. Yes, moms who practice such techniques by the letter tend to be somewhat sanctimonious. But most manage to keep it to themselves. Within my son's playgroup, there are a variety of parenting styles, and we all manage to get along without overt criticism of one another.

Like Obama, I'm more pragmatic and non-ideological. On the crunchy side, baby-wearing kept my baby from crying and kept my hands free, so I wore my baby. Making organic baby foods from scratch I found to be no big deal, and he liked them better than jarred, so I made his baby food. I am a strong believer in positive discipline (with a few personalized adjustments), and have managed to discipline my toddler without any hitting or yelling or saying "no" very often at all. On the un-crunchy side, if I don't sleep, I'm a frazzled mess, and I value time alone with my husband. So co-sleeping was definitely out, my child slept in his own room from two weeks old, and I have let him cry it out the few times he's gotten off schedule once he started sleeping through the night at 2.5 months. Far from preventing me from really experiencing the birth, I feel my epidural let me focus on what was actually going on with less pain and exhaustion, and my long and short of my "birthplan" this time around is basically to get my husband to give me backrubs during labor, to ask for an epidural at 5 cm, and then push when the doc says "push."

I'm glad for the suggestions put forward by AP followers, such as babywearing, but think AP can be harmful if adhered to religiously. There are two main problems with following attachment parenting by the letter, as I see it. One is that it makes all sorts of claims about what is best for the child with no good controlled studies to back it up. AP practitioners will tell parents that feeding on demand creates a sense of lasting trust between parent and child. Have they really done a controlled study between children who were fed on demand v. children on a schedule, eliminated every other possible factor, quantified the level of trust, and determined that children fed on demand experienced significantly more trust? Please. So stop making mothers feel guilty when there is no evidence to back up claims you believe really ought to be true, but have not proven.

The other problem is how much the interests of the child are valued over those of the parent. Of course, when you are a parent, your child's needs come first. But that needn't lead to the complete abnegation of the parent's interests. Once in a while, family life demands the balancing of everyone's interests.

It seems to me from talking to informally that AP has led to much stress. I have talked to many parent friends in near tears (or actual tears) over their lack of ability to get their child to sleep through the night on her own, or their inability to wean her, or because they are broken down exhausted from pumping constantly at work. But they are too frightened at not doing the right thing for their child, or of damaging their relationship with their child, to put their foot down. There is also a species of resentment that seems to come along with diehard AP practicers, evident in this article by a woman complaining that her toddler prefers her husband:
I ask myself if I'm not, on a certain level, reveling in the old Mommy Martyr Syndrome. I've got loads of fodder. I did Dr. Sears proud, after all. Natural childbirth. Exclusive breastfeeding. Forsaking the stroller for the sling despite aching shoulders and back. Plus I'm home with her full-time. So where's my attachment parenting pay-off? I'm attached; why isn't she?

Okay, I know it's not that. I stand by my decisions as the best for our little family unit. But feeling like a third wheel within my own family actually has me wistfully recasting those early, sleep-deprived days as simpler, easier times.

So why can't I just rise above it? Is this simply a game of hard-to-get, where I should work that much more earnestly for her affection? Am I laying the groundwork for latent mama trauma because I don't? That instead I walk away, leaving her to her beloved Dada? Finding myself alone, sulking over a glass of wine, I wonder if I've become the real baby of the house.

One hears this refrain, too. One did everything by the AP book, yet one does not have a special absolutely amazing bond that non-AP parents only wish they had. One almost gets the sense that the mom here, and some of my parent friends, are blaming the children for not appreciating all that their parents did.

My son sometimes prefers me above all others. Then, for days on end, he will literally push me aside to get to his father. And then he will eschew both of us and weep when his babysitter leaves for the day. I really don't feel anything like what the writer of this article feels - I don't feel hurt or resentful. I really feel able to shrug it off as the vagaries of toddlerhood. Maybe that has nothing to do with AP, and more to do with our respective personalities. But I feel like the fact that I would not carry him in a sling if my shoulders started to ache, that I did not have natural childbirth, that I sometimes choose sleep over comforting him -- basically, that I did not suffer (or ignore my own needs) with the expectation that it would create a bond that was better than it is for other kinds of parents, helps me keep some perspective when a toddler acts like a toddler.

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