Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 16 Feb 00 18:58
Katie Granju is a freelance writer, a producer for momsonline.com, a mother of three and the author of "Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child" (Simon & Schuster), a new look at an ancient method of parent/child bonding. "Attachment Parenting" was named one of the best parenting and family books of 1999 by the editors of Amazon.com. Katie is currently working on her next book, an exploration of raising a large family in a small-family world, which is slated for release in 2001. Interviewing Katie is Karen Freeman. Karen has been long interested in how we become who we are and has thus spent much time mulling over the interrelations of nature and nurture. As associate director of experiential and individualized learning at Webster University, she has worked since the late '80s with adult students to identify and articulate what they have learned from their experience. Please join me in welcoming Katie Granju and Karen Freeman to inkwell.vue!
Katie Allison Granju (katiegranju) Thu 17 Feb 00 18:24
Hi all. Thanks for having me as a guest at the well. I'm looking forward to the discussion. Katie
Karen G. Freeman (karen-golden) Thu 17 Feb 00 20:03
Hi, Katie! So happy to see you here! To get us started--I guess everyone has firm opinions about child-rearing. Even people who aren't very interested in children have strong views about how parents should interact with their children--usually expressed forcefully when a child is causing adult discomfort in a public setting! I suspect that those of us who have children, approach the adventure with some basic ideas/values of our own which we build upon by seeking advice from like-minded experts. This has brought me to wonder how new or about-to-be parents approach any advice-about-child-rearing books. And it makes me wonder how you, Katie, first encountered theories of child-rearing and how you have used them to guide you with your own children. So, what did *you* read in anticipation of the birth of your children and how were you influenced?
Katie Allison Granju (katiegranju) Fri 18 Feb 00 07:04
I was actually a voracious reader during each of my three pregnancies ( I am a writer after all ;-). But with each one, I became more specialized in what I was reading. With my first, in 1991, I read whatever was handed to me ( all the mainstream stuff like "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Richard Ferber,"What to Expect the First Year," plus Brazelton, Spock, etc.) I wanted to do things "right" with the baby. I was only 23 at the time and although I was very excited about becoming a mother, I realize now that I was also very insecure in many ways about how competent I would be in that role. Even as a neophyte mama, so much of the traditional American childcare advice just didn't ring true to me. When I read about sleeping schedules (always in a separate crib, of course!) and feeding schedules and how to avoid spoiling babies, it just sounded wrong-headed to me. And sexist too. Most of the advice-givers were grandfatherly-aged men. But I didn't want to jeapordize my baby's well-being, so I tried to apply a lot of these theories to my poor guinea pig of a son, Henry, now eight. The results were breastfeeding problems (and soon, complete failure), and a feeling that the two of us were missing something in our connectedness. In my first two years with Henry, I often felt that other mothers seemed to intuitively "get" their babies better than I did. I discovered Mothering magazine (www.mothering.com) when Henry was a toddler and I have to say that being exposed to alternative parenting styles through this revolutionary magazine was a real eye opener to me. The voices in Mothering pointed me in the direction of other parenting resources, like books by Dr. Sears and "The Continuum Concept" by Jean Liedloff. Suddenly I felt like I was stumbling onto parenting info and guidance that actually felt right to me. It was at this time that I also began actively educating myself about human lactation and that was a very radicalizing experience because it became abundantly clear to me that my own problems with nursing were due almost 100% to egregious medical mismanagement -- the kind people sue over if doctors give that sort of terrible advice in any other area of medicine. I felt very ripped off by these traditional parenting books and my own pediatrician. In 1995 I became pregnant with my daughter, Jane, and I also came online for the first time. I started reading misc.kids and soon found that I identified most strongly with the wise, wonderful guidance offered there by some more experienced mothers who practiced what is now termed attachment parenting. Although I didn't know many other mothers like that in my own neighborhood, I was able to find community and mothering support from my online friends. I joined the first e-mail list on the Net for parents who supported child-led weaning, Parent-L, and was an active participant there for several years. Although lately I hear a lot of criticism of parenting books/magazines/online forums, I think that they can serve a very important purpose. Many of us no longer have mothers and sisters and aunts around us to help us define and develop a parenting style that works and to answer specific questions. These resources can fill that need. They did for me. I think the fact that parenting books sell so well means that many parents long for that kind of reassurance and connection with other parents. A few of my current favorite parenting resources are Mothering Magazine, www.wearsthebaby.com, www.bestfed.com, www.hipmama.com, www.momsonline.com, "Our Babies, Ourselves," by Meredith Small (Anchor Books), "The Vital Touch" by Sharon Heller,"So That's What They're For: Breastfeeding Basics" by Janet Tamaro-Natt, and I *still* look things up often in "The Baby Book" by William and Martha Sears. Katie
Karen G. Free (karen-golden) Fri 18 Feb 00 08:28
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Fri 18 Feb 00 08:35
(Sorry about the preceding--found an embarrassing grammatical error as soon as I posted!) You mention that child-care books serve an important role for new parents who don't have their own family who can guide them as parents, but I wonder if these books aren't also read by new parents searching for a better way than those which have been modeled by their own birth families! In my own case, I believed the role of a parent was to help the child discover and become his/her own true self. My own parents (like all conscientious mid-century parents) focused on molding their children into good, autonomous citizens who lived up to society's expectations. So, I was actively ignoring the model I had. At any rate, I read everything that was in the parenting/child development section of the St. Louis Public Library in 1971 and paid especial attention to the developmental guides published by the Gasell institute. Looking back on it, I realize that the thing I missed in all that reading was how to pay attention to *my* particular baby so that I could help him become himself instead of helping him become who I dreamed I might have been if Id just been raised right! While much of what I read did advocate paying close attention to the baby and responding, I dont recall any discussion about how to ensure that you are paying attention to the baby and not to your own feelings about the baby. But now that I think of it, I suspect it is not the sort of thing one can learn vicariously. How did you develop your sense of who each of your particular babies was/is?
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 18 Feb 00 16:21
Karen, I'm due to deliver in about six weeks, and I think we've corresponded a little in email. I'm interested in hearing, now that your kids are presumably older, what sort of effects your different child rearing methods on them when they were babies has now. In other words, can you see differences?
David Gans (tnf) Fri 18 Feb 00 19:50
Welcome, Katie and Karen!
Katie Allison Granju (katiegranju) Fri 18 Feb 00 20:09
Karen asked how I came to develop my sense of who each of my babies was/is. (and by the way, can someone tell me how to quote from previous posts? Thanks.) All three of my children (Henry who is 8, Jane who is 4 and Elliot, 2) have had very distinct personalities right from birth. My challenge as a new parent was to surrender to their uniqueness and not try to impose some predetermined idea of who I wanted them to be on to them. As years have passed and I have grown more trusting of my own mothering abilities, I have also become better able to adapt my parenting to my children's very different behaviors and needs. This is one area where attachment parenting practices have been especially helpful to me. Instead of caring for the three of then "by the book," I care for them "by the kid." Each of them has always had fairly distinct preferences for sleep, eating, touch time from me, etc. By keeping them physically close and letting them lead the way in showing me what they need from me, I have gained a more organic, intuitive ability to read their cues that continues to serve our relationships well as they grow into childhood. For example, my four year old still *needs* to nurse sometimes in order to pull herself together when she gets over-stimulated. If I had weaned her at 6 months, I don't think I would be as aware of the fact that she can really feel out of control sometimes and is helped by having physical contact with my body. Sucking also still really soothes her and I am glad that she has that resource when she needs it. My two year old, on the other hand, is already weaning himself because he is a much more mellow, less high needs person. By allowing him to lead the way with weaning, that facet of his personality has revealed itself more clearly. Katie
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sat 19 Feb 00 07:56
Wups, in #6 I said Karen when I meant Katie. Sorry....too many Ka names. :-)
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Sat 19 Feb 00 09:41
Katie--is it ok if we ask you detailed questions about your personal experiences with your own kids rather than focus on your writings? I'm really curious about what you refer to as a "complete failure" with breastfeeding Henry. But I'll leave it alone if you'd rather.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 19 Feb 00 11:10
Could we have a definition of the term "attachment parenting," please? I just reread the topic so far and I'm not sure exactly what it means.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 19 Feb 00 12:27
And let me just jump in here quickly with a word to non-WELL members reading this interview on the Web: if you have questions or comments for Katie Granju, please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will see that they get posted in this topic. Thank you!
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Sat 19 Feb 00 12:58
David! How could I have overlooked the obvious? Thanks so much for the reminder. Since I showed up first, let me tell you what I understand and then we'll wait for Katie to come along and correct my errors and fill in the holes I've left. I believe the term comes from pediatrician William Sears and is based on the idea that the most important parental task is to successfully bond with the baby so as to best protect, nurture and understand the baby. This bond is established and maintained through on-demand nursing, sleeping in a family bed rather than separately in a crib, carrying the baby in a sling or other baby-wearing device, always attending to the baby's cry. (I think that sentence has certain syntactical difficulties but it would take the rest of the afternoon for me to fix it!) I hope that's a good start.
Katie Allison Granju (katiegranju) Sun 20 Feb 00 05:03
>>>Katie--is it ok if we ask you detailed questions about your personal experiences with your own kids rather than focus on your writings? I'm really curious about what you refer to as a "complete failure" with breastfeeding Henry. But I'll leave it alone if you'd rather.>>>> No, it's absolutely fine to ask about my kids :-). My experience mothering my children is what informs my writing on parenting topics. Complete breastfeeding failure with my first baby went something like this: I totally planned to breastfeed. Never considered that I might bottle-feed. But I knew very little about the subject (although I *thought* I knew enough.) I started out nursing my son in the hospital. Everything seemed to be going OK, but I wasn't clear on how often he should eat, so I let him sleep a bit longer between feeds than I should have. Also, my mother and grandmother were dying to feed the baby, so I let them fix him some of the handy-dandy formula samples that had been sent home with us from the hospital, and offer supplemetary bottles. With every bottle he took, he became less interested in my breasts. At his ten day check up, he had lost a small amount of weight, so the pediatrician immediately recommended full-time bottle feeding for several days. Within 24 hours of quitting all nursing, I began developing symptoms of mastitis (a painful breast infection) and the next day, my OB hospitalized me for three days so I could receive IV antibiotics. During this time, I was told that I could not nurse the baby, so I was to "pump and dump" my milk. I was given a cheap breastpump and no real instructions how to use it. By the time I returned home to my baby, he was totally disinterested in nursing and completely bottle-fed. Everyone assured me that I really shouldn't worry about it, that this wasn't my fault and it really didn't matter how he was fed as long as he was eating. I sadly accepted this line and from about three-four weeks postpartum, Henry never nursed again. Basically, I was given terrible advice from beginning to end. No one met with me in the hospital to explain that breastfed babies should be eating at least eight times every 24 hours and that nursing on demand is the optimal way to insure a strong start to breastfeeding. I was told to never, ever allow the baby in bed with me, which meant that when my mother offered to get up at night and give the baby bottles, it seemed like a wonderful idea. If he had been right next to me, I could have rolled over and offered to nurse him as soon as he began rooting around -- all without having to get up or even sit up. When he began preferring bottle to breast, my pediatrician never explained to me about "nipple confusion." He just told me that some babies never really take to breastfeeding. When I developed mastitis, my OB never explained to me that this was due to lack of breastfeeding frequency. And I certainly did not need to be hospitalized and separated from my baby. This is unfortunately a pretty common series of events for American women who want to breastfeed. Doctors, on the whole, are terribly misinformed about the risks of artificial feeding ( http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/1999/07/19/formula/index.html ) and so they don't consider it important to stay current in lactation science. And since most of our mothers and at this point, grandmothers did not breastfeed, they are often unable to offer any effective guidance. I am happy to report that I went on to happily breastfeed my next two babies -- and in fact am still nursing both of them (although they both seem to be slowly weaning now....) Katie http://www.attachmentparent.com/
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Sun 20 Feb 00 09:29
Katie, what you describe in terms of what information the medical folks shared with you (or rather, didn't share) sounds like this all happened 30 years ago. But I believe all of your children are under 10 years old. This is really surprising to me and I'm glad you trusted your own instincts in the long run.
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Sun 20 Feb 00 10:00
Yeah, that was my reaction, too, Cynthia. This happened in the nineties????? That is very discouraging. Did Henry ever get included in the family bed? How'd you do that? Did he, as many children do, revert to his bottle when Jane was born?
Katie Allison Granju (katiegranju) Sun 20 Feb 00 13:09
I've done a lot of research on breastfeeding in the 90s (see the URL for the Salon piece I posted above), and unfortunately, my own first experience with medical personnel and breastfeeding is the norm rather than the exception. In fact, fewer than twenty-five percent of U.S. babies are still receiving any breastmilk by 5-6 months of age. Henry sleeps with us now sometimes. I became much more relaxed about bed-sharing after I saw how wonderfully it enhanced our family life (we began using a family bed with baby #2). He was almost four when Jane was born and was pretty far past his bottle by then. But he did suck his pacifier until he was five and since by that time I was aware of natural ages of weaning in humans (see: http://www.prairienet.org/community/health/laleche/detwean.html , I was really OK with that. I think that Henry would have nursed past age 3 if he had been breastfed. I also wanted to respond to the question of what exactly attachment parenting *is*. I answer this in my book and it is excerpted at: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ts/book-excerpt/067102762X/ref=pm_dp_ln_b_3/ 002-5740214-1108226 In a practical sense, attachment parenting is a very hands-on style of caring for babies and young children which usually involves some or all of the following practices: breastfeeding on cue culminating in child-led weaning, family sleep sharing, "babywearing" with a sling or other carrier, responsive attention to a child's dependency needs, and minimal parent-child separation in infancy. Until very recently,these ideas were considered rather far out and radical by most American parents and certainly by American baby doctors, but that's really changing now. I've seen a huge cultural shift in terms of parenting norms since the time my first baby was born in 1991 until my last was born in 1998. Katie
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Sun 20 Feb 00 14:34
When I read your book, one of the things I was really struck by was how the society seems to have moved further and further away from supporting families in ways that allow them to provide the kind of nurturance that your review of the research suggests is best. Probably because I'm "between" babies (my only child is 28; no grandkids in sight) I do find myself reflecting on the social implications of child-rearing practices. We do, as a society seem to have a very difficult time with investing now for a payoff even as little as fifteen years away. Your experience with medical personnel remind me of Carol Gilligan's work--that it is the "male model" that sees the proper developmental path as that which leads toward individual autonomy. If that is your underlying belief, then anything that encourages the child--especially the son--to separate from his mother and stand on his own two feet (!) has got to be seen as a good thing. I think it is Kurt Lewin who is generally credited with the statement "There's nothing so practical as a good theory," which is certainly true, but it is also true that if our theory is convincing enough, it can completely blind us to other possibilities. Piaget apparently often remarked on what he called "the American question" which was, basically, about how children can be speeded through the developmental stages. It is discouraging to realize that, in America at least, we've remained most concerned with making our children who we think they should be (as quickly as possible) and have learned very little about the long term effects both on the children and the society.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sun 20 Feb 00 23:42
The family bed sounds like a great idea to me, but (as a childless person) I wonder how a sound adult sleeper never crushes a small child.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Mon 21 Feb 00 08:38
I've read that if you're overweight, a very sound sleeper, or a user of drugs or alcohol, that a family bed is not advised. Also if you have a waterbed. Katie, how does a couple manage sex when they're family bedding?
Daniel Blanchat (dblan) Mon 21 Feb 00 08:43
My wife is a big believer in attachment parenting, and we have a family bed. Sort of. I have my own bedroom when my schedule is such that I can't afford to miss sleep. With sex, what I can say is, where there's a will, there's a way. Dan
Katie Allison Granju (katiegranju) Mon 21 Feb 00 10:50
The most important things to know about sharing sleep with babies and young children are these: in most cultures all over the world it is the norm, and there are many ways to do it. Although American parents have been warned away from sleeping with their kids for the past hundred years or so, prior to the 20th century,most U.S. families slept with their kids. There wasn't room for everyone to have their own sleep space, it assured that the littlest family members stayed warm, and for breastfeeding mothers and babies, it just made (and still makes) life much, much easier. With the advent of Freudian worries about sexualized relations between parent and child, as well as the growth of bottle-feeding, family sleep sharing in the U.S. become rarer and rarer until the 1960s-1980s, when people who slept with their babies and little kids were pretty much considered weirdos. Also, having babies and toddlers sleep alone fit neatly into the growing emphsasis on "teaching independence" as early as possible in American children. Today there is a lot of good research to support the safety and desirability of family sleep sharing. Anecdotally, the U.S. has one of the lowest family bedding rates in the world (maybe even the lowest, although that is changing) and certifiably has the highest SIDS rates in the world. You can read more about this at: http://www.breastfeeding.com/reading_room/family_bed.html The many families I interviewed for my book who use and enjoy a family bed implement it in their own families in lots of different ways. Some have their children in their beds full time. Others attach a crib or child's bed to the side of an adult bed or have a crib set up in their room. Some have their children start the night in their own beds and then bring them into their bed after night wakings. Some parents co-sleep into early childhood while others move their children into their own rooms in late infancy. There is no one "right" way to co-sleep. As far as safety, a parent should take the same precautions she would take with any other sleep space being prepared for an infant: no soft bedding (definitely no waterbeds), baby should sleep on his back or side (a natural position for a co-sleeping, breastfeeding baby)Parents should not sleep with their babies if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or if they are in a state of profound exhaustion. But for most babies and parents -- all higher primates and most mammals -- parents sleeping with their young is a normal, healthy, positive behavior. That's the main message that I try to get out. I am not trying to tell people what they *should* do. I want to tell parents what they *can* do because for so long we were all told that we should never sleep with our babies under any circumstance. As for myself and many of my friends, once you have begun sleeping with a baby right from birth, it's very hard to imagine doing it another way. I cannot conceive of NOT sleeping with my infants. That would feel very strange to me and to my husband. As for sex, you can start your children in their own beds at night, you can be with your partner in other areas of the house, etc, etc. Seeing the parents' bed as the only place for sex is really a cultural construct. And personally, in the postpartum year, I have a lot more energy for other things when I am not getting up all night to feed the baby! Katie
from SED372@aol.com (tnf) Tue 22 Feb 00 09:43
This comment is from email@example.com: From: Sed372@aol.com Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 07:26:50 EST Subject: Attachment parenting To: firstname.lastname@example.org The idea that infants or young children can "learn" to comfort themselves is absurd. Adults don't know how to comfort themselves. Or sometimes they do by turning to alcohol, etc. Human beings comfort other human beings. I didn't allow my son to cry it out, and most of my friends raised their children the same way, despite the outcries of mothers and in-laws. This may be, in part, a generational difference in attitudes towards children.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 22 Feb 00 10:02
Geez, I know how to comfort myself, in many cases.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 22 Feb 00 12:14
I agree with Sharon that adults can provide comfort for themselves somewhat (without turning to gettin' high), but human-to-human comfort is a lot more rewarding, for sure. I once had some friends who thought they weren't supposed to "give in" to their first baby's crying. It was painful to visit them when the baby would be crying in his bedroom for half an hour or so. I don't know how they could stand it! It made me extremely uncomfortable.
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