Attachment parenting in a disconnected world

I think I should probably open this week’s post with a disclaimer.  I have not read Gina Ford’s new book, nor do I intend to do so.  As a brand-new first-time mother, I did read the first couple of chapters of the other book, and very quickly realised it was not for me.  Alt.Father was lent a copy by a workmate on his return from paternity leave.  He gave it back, nodding and smiling as he did so.  Thanks, but no thanks.  Despite the bizarre love affair that the Daily Mail seems to have with Gina Ford, it does not seem to have escaped the notice of the general public that “Britain’s No 1 Parenting Author” is not a parent.  Now she is also apparently a relationship guru despite also being divorced.  I have learned that reading the Daily Fail, I mean, Daily Mail does nothing but make me angry and ranty.  It certainly does not make me contented!

Also, let me be perfectly honest, I may have harboured one or two judgmental thoughts about those who adhere to Ms Ford’s advice.  It’s none of my business how they choose to raise their babies, I only need to worry about my own babies.  For that, I am sorry.

I am not sorry though, that Alt.Father and I chose pretty much the polar opposite of the regimented routine based parenting style advocated in those books.  Somehow, both of our daughters seem to be perfectly contented little people.  And there in a nutshell is my point.  Babies are people, not pets.  Instead of training them, we need to train ourselves as parents, to respond to their needs.  That is the way we can truly be content.

When I hear my child crying, I am far from content. I am edgy, nervous, unsettled, until I know that she is unharmed and soothed.  If I want to teach her that there is no need to cry, I will do so by teaching her that I will respond to her needs.  “Use words” I find myself saying to Alt.D1 when she is frustrated.  She takes a deep breath and usually manages to express what’s wrong in coherent language.  At 3, she can do so.  At 6 months, Alt.D2 is less able to communicate.  Or is she?  I often hear that babies cry “because it is the only way they know how to communicate”.

Actually, I would disagree.  Alt.D2 astonished me in the first few weeks with the way she hardly ever cried to be fed.   As she is my second baby, she has very much had to go with the flow in the house, being dragged along here and there with her sister.  Yet somehow from even the earliest days, she and I had a communication going which let me know when she was hungry.  Then I would feed her.  I certainly didn’t add to my own agitation as well as hers by making her wait until a pre-determined time slot for her feed!  This has since developed and I know her cues for tiredness, boredom, comfort, and countless others.  We just co-exist, we just are.

Relying on your instincts could be considered a brave choice, whether for better or for worse.  It’s certainly something advocated by the author Jean Liedloff in her book The Continuum Concept.   This kind of instinctive parenting has been lost to most of the Western world as we’ve become increasingly keen to fit our babies and children into our busy, structured lives, somehow forgetting that perhaps nature intended us to listen to what our babies are trying to tell us.  “Happy Baby, Happy Mummy” is all well and good, but if that “happiness” is achieved by conforming to a recipe, how much guilt and discontent must be underlying? 

So Gina Ford now seeks to remind us that our relationship with our partner is going to change when we have children.  She encourages us to start leaving the baby with others soon after birth, to take time together as a couple, before resentment starts to set in… well thanks, Ms Ford, for the vote of confidence!  For the suggestion I might have forgotten about the person I have chosen to build my life with, to have children with, and to grow old with.  Contentment in this relationship might have less to do with being able to leave the children with a babysitter, [not conducive to breastfeeding, anyway!] and more to do with the fact that caring about and caring for each other when you have young children is enough.  It’s just enough to think to say “I love you” and “thank you” every day to your partner, and to know that he will be there and she will be there when these babies have grown and flown the nest.

If I am going to be content (and I am, thanks!), I really don’t think that heaping on the guilt is the way to go about achieving that goal.

Rant over, Alt.Mother resolving not to follow links to the Daily Mail website this week, in order to return to positive stories of alternative parenting next Friday!  

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Comments on: "Contented Little Whatnot…" (14)

  1. I hate the 'Daily Fail' as well, but prefer to refer to it as the 'Daily Facist'

  2. I Alt.Mum you are very lucky that you have the instinct and inclination to pick up on these ques and are confident in your skills. Many parents find these don't come naturally. Nana Bev for instance bought my baby his first chocolate at 8 months. She's not got a clue and it doesn't come naturally.

  3. Read (some of) the book. closed the book, hid the book. Realised my daughter was not a robot that needed programming!

  4. @Smappybunny, this IS my second time around, first time I think it took a long time to pick up on the cues. Alt.D2 has been in a sling and co-sleeping with us from birth, so there has been a lot of time to get to know her. My grandma gave Alt.D1 her first Easter Egg at 5 months… luckily, she gave it to me, and I ate it myself! 🙂

  5. Well said! Those without children always feel the need to dish out advice! I haven't bought any books as I thought id get paranoid about everything I wasn't doing right & lil man is doing just fine… although I did start off timing my feeds & recording everything in a little book!

  6. i would call this restrained. i was given a copy of one of her books and got so angry after flicking through it (even as a very new first time mum) that i couldn't even find the words to express how i was feeling. no wonder so many mums feel inadequate. unless they have groups of people to support them and nurture them through the massive upheaval that extending a family can be, they rely on this claptrap.

  7. I'm going to link one of my friends up to your blog, she had her first baby 2 weeks ago and sounds like she is doing brilliantly but is possibly not very confident in her own instincts (which sound pretty good to my ears). It's such a shame that so many do lack confidence in themselves and then turn to the horrors of Ford.

  8. thank you for the link meandering mother. you are right, the instincts are there i just have to learn to trust them. so much of what we read and hear tells us otherwise i just need to shut all that clap trap out and listen and respond to my beautiful baby.

  9. Ah, the Daily Wail. Horrible little rag. It's only useful function is to feed the marvellous 'Kill or Cure', which catalogues those things that either cause or cure cancer. Often both. http://kill-or-cure.heroku.com/To improve your life, I recommend kittenblock, a Firefox and Chrome addon which replaces any Daily Mail group page with a page showing you a picture of a kitten and a nice cup of tea. Very soothing. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/kitten-block/

  10. I totally agree with what you're saying, I have never read any Gina Ford, nor do I intend to, unless I want to to help me formalise an informed decision about her to comment on her 'baby training' methods in opposition to her. From all I've heard about her would stay well clear. Like you I have been fortunate enough to be able to follow my instincts in parenting, to realise that we've been brainwashed by cultural conditioning to bring up our children in a way which is damaging to them, to their parents and to society as a whole. Thanks for sharing your opinions about Gina Ford and your style of parenting. The Continuum Concept also deeply affected me and how I parent my son. Beware of baby trainers, is my advice. Babies do not need training, they need nurturing and listening to and responding to as unique human beings. For more of how I parent, have a look at;www.stoneageparenting.com

  11. Considerably less ranty than I have been about her. I honestly think these "baby experts" should not be allowed to publish these harmful books without huge disclaimers saying"the author of this book is not an expert, just someone giving one-sided advice in return for money"

  12. Completely agree, that women's advice will surely cause more harm than good x

  13. It's funny before kids when pregnant loads of people gave me the book and said "this will be your life saver – do this and you will cope". People whose advice I really valued and people who had made this journey before me. I think I got to about page 25 before I started to get that sinking feeling before total panic and dread steps in. I remember thinking I'm no expert and quite frankly had at that time zero-experience of newborns but even I could see that such a regime would create huge pressure and stress. So I promptly ebayed the book made six quid and never bought another book in that vein again. We stumbled along in the early days demand feeding and tried to be as relaxed as possible about 'feeding routines' – every baby finds thier groove eventually. Love your blog! Xxx

  14. Possibly wont shock those that know me but have never read any of her books and have managed to not break any babies yet. I dont have my family around as the Grandfolk are all of the still working and going to Monets garden for weekend breaks generation so had to do what we thought was right. I have two kids who are social bunnies who at the same time dont like to be far from me…. suits me and I havent read a book!

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