why parenting styles don’t work for me

when i was pregnant all i could seem to do was research birthy stuff. i wanted to know everything and anything about birth, my options, and glean as much as i could from others’ experiences and comments. i didn’t do a ton of baby related research, besides strollers and toys and all that STUFF. i knew i wanted to “wear” keaton as a baby much more than put him in a stroller, i knew i wanted to breastfeed for as long as i could, and i knew i wanted what was best for him. i didn’t do much research beyond that, really.

so after keaton was born i kind of had a moment. a moment where i thought- holy cow, i KNEW a baby was at the end of all of this, but i don’t know what to do now! of course that feeling subsided as we got to know each other better, but it still lingered. i started to do a little googling around during keaton’s intermittent naps, as well as the seemingly endlessly long breastfeeding marathons that defined our first few weeks together.  i read up on different parenting styles and realized that i seemed like i was pretty attachment parenting oriented.  the choices we had made thus far, for the most part, and the ideas we had about parenting seemed to have fallen in line with this style and it seemed to make the most sense to me. here is an easy to read, easy to understand, very brief overview.

we bed shared with keaton, i “wore” him, i breastfed, i was staunchly against any kind of crying it out method, and i genuinely tried to attune to his needs and his feelings and fostered a sense of empathy and understanding between the two of us.

after weeks of keaton, or us, not sleeping well i began to break down. i understood i had a newborn but i NEEDED sleep. i thought, if only i could put him in the crib- but apparently that would just completely damage him for life, or so i read, and read stories of women beating their chests about it.  bed-sharing was just not going the way i wanted it to, the way i read it was supposed to- a joyful family, a happy baby who could breastfeed at will, and a much more calm atmosphere.  trevor was lagging hardcore at work, keaton wasn’t getting much sleep, i was awake the majority of the night. and this is after weeks of trying. perhaps if we went further it would’ve been different, but honestly, at that point, i didn’t want to keep trying.  and in a moment of sheer exhaustion, and feeling like a complete failure AP parent, we test drove the crib out. whatdoyaknow? keaton slept. and slept. and slept. 10 hours. got up and nursed and slept 3 more hours. this pattern continued night after night. this worked for us. the crib is his sanctuary. and our bed is ours. it wasn’t what we originally intended, but it worked for us. and i don’t feel bad about it.

eventually keaton’s sleep regressed and we (me) were up every couple hours with him. i was back to wondering what would work. in another dose of feeling like a completely incompetent mom because of the AP articles i had read, i decided to let him cry the first time he got up one night- literally because i didn’t know what else to do and, honestly, i selfishly wanted to sleep. i knew he could go longer without milk, i knew he was okay. i just KNEW it. he cried for 8 or 10 minutes, seemingly like an eternity, and went back to bed. for the rest of the night. no more triple or quadruple wakings. the whole night. the next night i braced myself for another go-round in the crying factory … and nothing. the whole night. and since then, for the most part, it’s been the WHOLE night. had i not let him cry that i night i don’t know what would have become of our sleeping patterns, but i firmly stand behind letting him cry that night. and it didn’t seem to cause any brain damage, as i had read over and over again. i asked an AP friend about it and she said even 5 minutes, so she had read, can have detrimental affects on their trust levels as well as their brain function.  i think the issue here becomes some people are so staunchly behind what they believe in that the facts gets jumbled, and people begin to feel scared, or feel less than. which is not the way i want to go about living my life.  with her “research” of 5 minutes causing brain damage and trust issues, i began to think: i don’t know any parent who hasn’t had a crying baby in the backseat of the car for more than 5 minutes who has worried about brain damage or losing their baby’s trust- sometimes you just gotta drive, get to your destination, and calm baby down there. or at least i do!  nowadays i will nurse him in the middle of the night if he gets up, but it’s so few and far between.

and i still let him cry a bit when he goes down for a nap or to sleep at night. sometimes he just has a bit of energy that a few minutes of crying releases (read: he never cries for more than 5 minutes when he does this, by no real intrusion of mine, that’s just him), and then he falls asleep. i completely rest in the fact that my baby trusts me and knows that i will be there when he needs me, even in the midst of letting him do this. and that if his physiological needs are met (clean diaper, full belly) he can fall asleep. sure he might want to be rocked a bit longer or might want to stay up and party- but his signs of tiredness (literally signing “sleep” as well as his other tell-tale signs) outweigh that. he uses a pacifier still and has since very early on.  i know many a parent who has given me the stink eye because of it, too.  we never put him on a schedule, but he has always been great at telling us when he’s at his limit. and when he hits his limit he gets a new diaper, some milk, some comforting rocks and snuggle time, and down he goes. if he is upset about this, he can let me know. but it doesn’t last for long. and he succumbs to his exhaustedness. and you know what, i have no qualms about it. it works for US.

i still breastfeed keaton- after a rough start, we got into a great groove and it works for us. i wear keaton and that is because i have found two amazing carriers- the baby k’tan sling, and the boba carrier. couldn’t live without em. we are in the throws of figuring out our means of discipline and the AP style of gentle discipline is a beautiful concept. as we navigate through, i intend on taking tidbits from a lot of different areas in order to lead him in the right direction in his decision making processes.  i am happy to be free of feeling like i NEED to fall in line with anything a certain parenting style suggests, as i like being able glean anything from anything. it’s more realistic. life is dynamic. parenting is dynamic. and i refuse to feel like i’m letting anyone else down in the decisions i make.

i still have some AP pieces to me, and in general i think it still describes the way we parent- the idea behind it, not necessarily all of the techniques.  but, all in all, there came a time where i had to stop googling attachment parenting, and the subsequent feeling like a failure when things didn’t work for us, and just go with what actually DOES work for us. it’s not a distinct parenting style. but it’s ours. and it works. and my son is happy and feels cared for. and i feel like i am the best mom for him.

sooo…with that being said: you do you, i do me … and let’s raise some awesome, well-adjusted, sweetly cared for kids, okay?

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5 thoughts on “why parenting styles don’t work for me

  1. I was the exact same way. I feel like I took the AP so literally for fear of somehow damaging her and or being judged. We eventually tried CIO to get Ry to sleep in her own crib but she is strong willed and would cry for hours if I let her. I was almost afraid to blog about stopping bf at 3 months. Eventually I took the reigns and started parenting my way.

    • i think that’s the key, too- taking back the reigns and not letting our own worries of being judged get in the way of how we are parenting our own kids. I live my life differently than another person would, even if we had the same beliefs we are just different people who respond to and enjoy different things- and so it should be the same with kids. i just never want to feel bad about any decision i make with keaton or any future kids- as i know i’m doing so in an educated but completely attuned-to-my-kid way. i talk about in my birth prep classes about the “one size fits all” maternity care that often comes along with birthing in a hospital- it’s the same with parenting- one size shouldn’t (and, if everyone is honest with themselves, can’t) fit all

  2. I think its great you were able to listen to you your motherly instinct and do what works best for you. Everything in moderation. I found attachment parenting because when I was pregnant my husband and thought the baby was going to go into the bassanet, then the crib at 8 weeks. When we brought her home I looked at the bassenet and got teary eyed. My husband felt the same way, and that night we decided to have our baby girl sleep with us. I never put her on a schedule because for methat didnt feel right either. Why was I going to make this baby eat and sleep when I wanted her to and not when she was hungery or tired. I recieved many questions from friends like “is she still in the bed with you”, or do you have her on a schedule yet?” I started doing some research to find out if there were other moms who felt the way I did, and that is where I came across AP parenting. We don’t follow every rule, if you want to call it that, I never breastfead do to medical reasons, and most likley wont when we have our second. Genevieve still sleeps with us as we do skin to skin as she falls asleep on me. If you would have asked my husband and I if our childern would ever sleep with us the answer would have been “no”. Now we can’t imagine her not being in our bed and have know plans to wean her from us intill she is ready. She still doesn’t have a set schedule and were perfectly fine with that. I think its other peoples lack of respect for other moms parenting styles that is the problem. I even had a friend bring me the book Baby Wise, as a housewarming gift after she knew the parenting style my husband and I believed in. So the bottom line what ever works for you and your family is great, and I am happy you were able to find something that works for you. I feel some moms get stuck in the “I should do this” and really end up just fighting with themselves.” There are know shoulds, musts do, the right way, the wrong way when it comes to parenting styles. The most important thing I have learned in my journey through parenthood is that voice in the back of your head, I call it the mothers intuition voice, has been the best guide to my parenting. A mother knows their child, the bond between a mother and a child is something that noone can take away. I think we were given that voice to protect our young and that is way more powerful than any book, any advice, and any parenting style out there. Thank you for sharing your journey about such a personal topic, and thankyou for your honesty and sharing some struggles you have experanced. Its hard to find a knew mom who doesn’t fill your head with bullshit by telling you everything is great, our life is perfect and parenting is so easy. I know longer associate with those moms anymore. Thankyou again,

    • catherine, thanks for the feedback! and i completely agree- i think one of the hardest things for me as a new parent was reading blogs, facebook updates, etc about how sweet everyone’s baby was, how perfect life was, and how seamlessly the baby was fitting into their lives. yes, i experienced these feelings too- but i also experienced a lot of “sooo i must be a bad mom because it’s not coming so easily and flawlessly for me!” letting that go, like you said, was SUCH a breath of fresh air. making decisions and following our own intuition about our individual children is the key to happy moms, happy babies, happy parenting! otherwise i would have totally been enslaved to trying to live up to a standard that i would most certainly fall short of! and, like you mentioned, i totally would have just been fighting myself for the rest of this past year and into keaton’s toddlerhood and beyond had i not thoughtfully made the shift to trust my instincts to be empathetic to by son, and kind to myself!

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