What if it was just normal to give birth at home or in a birth center, attended by a midwife? What if it was just normal to breastfeed your baby, anytime or anywhere? What if it was just normal for mothers to keep their nursing babies close to their bodies, night and day?
What kind of people might babies raised in this way grow up to be?
My first child was born when my husband and I were 22, just seven weeks after I graduated from college. We planned the pregnancy. I was thrilled to start having children instead of starting a career. There was never even a discussion about me possibly pursuing employment, unless my baby was to come with me. I planned a home birth, not knowing it was radical. I assumed the birth would go just fine. I didn’t know that women ever had difficulty breastfeeding and assumed that my baby would breastfeed easily. When I saw an advertisement for a nursing cover, I had to call my mom to ask why in the world would anyone use that? My husband and I had been sleeping on a king size futon on our floor since we got married. I figured it would be good for kids since I remembered sleeping with my mom on a mattress on the floor. I didn’t make a nursery.
My mom was an Attachment Parent. She was into La Leche League and Dr. Sears. I thought all this was normal!
I did give birth at home and my baby did breastfeed without difficulty. My mom taught me to use a sling during my son’s first week of life.
So many Americans believe that children must be taught when and how much to eat and when and where to sleep. Certainly, it is frowned upon in many circles for babies over 1 year to breastfeed. Sometimes even attachment parents question themselves and wonder, “Will my kid turn out okay?”
I am here to tell you that, yes, Attachment Parents, your children will turn out just fine. They might even write blog posts thanking you when they are all grown up and parents themselves. If you are one of the many people who would describe your parents as “detachment” parents, you can probably assume that your children will not have to go through the same process that you did to come to attachment parenting. It might just be normal to them.
Maybe our attachment parented kids will not grow up to be one of the 33% of Americans who are overweight. Babies know when and how much to eat. We encourage them to keep that ability to self-regulate.
Maybe our attachment parented kids will not be one of the many Americans who suffer from sleep disorders. Our babies are fed and comforted at night.
Maybe our attachment parented kids will not be in one of the 50% of marriages that end in divorce. We respect and listen to them. We teach them how to communicate to solve their problems. We aren’t perfect parents and don’t expect our kids to be perfect, but we understand that there is nothing more important than maintaining our relationships with the people we love.
Maybe our attachment parented kids will clean up the messy world they will inherit. Maybe they will enjoy their lives and have enough time and energy to think about problems larger than themselves.
Am I being idealistic?
Maybe, but I wish I was just normal.
Michelle Stille is married to a US Navy pilot. So far, they have two children, Gabriel and Susanna.
Michelle was attachment parented and unschooled. She has a BS in mechanical engineering.
She is a homemaker and La Leche League Leader.
You can read more from Michelle at Adventures of a Growing Family