Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Tue 22 Feb 00 15:28
I'll be right back . . . . I'm off to try to harrass some wellpern into posting on babies who really do seem to need to be allowed to cry and how parents can help their children learn to comfort themselves. However, we're not talking about newborns, here!
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Tue 22 Feb 00 15:46
Oh, I also wanted to ask if the ideas in _The Continuum Concept_, which was published in the early nineties I think, influenced your thinking, Katie.
Katie Allison Granju (katiegranju) Wed 23 Feb 00 08:26
I was definitely influenced strongly in my thinking by The Continuum Concept. It's a really important book and interestingly, my own somewhat unusual upbringing had a lot of elements of Continuum Concept philosophy. For example, my parents allowed us a lot of "benign neglect" once we got old enough to entertain ourselves. They didn't focus really specific attention on us at every moment. We lived out in the country on a small farm and I would disappear for hours on my pony into local fields and woods from thet ime I was about 8-9 years old. My parents didn't micro-manage every aspect of our lives and hover over us, which is a big problem with the way we are raising older kids in the U.S today. In some ways, I think we have it all backwards. As a society, we are literally obsessed with teaching our babies independence and to comfort themselves and sleep alone and not need us too much. Then when our kids get a little older, we never allow them to be alone. We arrange all their playdates and schedule all their Saturday afternoons and never let them go anywhere by themselves. I believe in doing things the other way around. And my observation, and that of Jean Liedloff, who wrote The Continuum Concept, is that children who have their admittedly intense dependency needs (which are clearly biologically hardwired into human infants)met in babyhood and early childhood are *more* independent and able to forge their own identity as they grow into later childhood and adolescence. Katie
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Wed 23 Feb 00 10:21
I hope that firstname.lastname@example.org will let me know if I'm wrong, but I think what she may be referring to is the idea that infants can teach themselves to comfort themselves if they are left alone to do it. Which does seem like the emperor who made sure nobody spoke to a group of newborns so he could see what the "real" language of humans was. Infants learn to comfort themselves if they are comforted by older humans and taught useful strategies as they get older. The difficulty, for me personally, of reading and thinking about this stuff now is I find myself wanting to call my grown up son to wail "I'm *sorry*--I didn't *know*." Only the thought of how much he doesn't want to hear it stops me. I'm trying to comfort myself.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 23 Feb 00 14:55
My childhood sounds a lot like yours, Katie. I didn't have a pony, but there were a lot of open fields to wander around in and I definitely wasn't enrolled in all the organized activities I see kids enrolled in these days.
among fiends (frako) Thu 24 Feb 00 10:40
Same here. I would make myself a sandwich and wander off to the swamps and meadows of Novato by myself all day long when I was 11 or 12. There were plenty of frogs, cows, trees, and horses to keep me company. I also had friends, but they didn't always come along. In Paris visiting friends, I was constantly struck by how their little toddler often kept to himself, either in the same room or in another room, playing while we adults talked. He was very companionable and in communication with us, but his parents didn't make a big deal of him and he was obviously having a good time. Whereas over here in the US, the children become the center of attention whether they want it or not.
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Thu 24 Feb 00 16:36
When I bought my house in the city, come spring, I went out to inspect my tiny front yard and decide what to do with it. Since it was totally weeds, I decided to make it totally garden--no grass. So I started to dig it up. And I met every kid in the neighborhood. I'd like to think I was the attraction, but I suspect it was just being able to dig in the dirt to say nothing of the bugs and worms. Something of the kids enjoyed having something purposeful to do; some just enjoyed being able to hang out. I don't think that wonderful summer could be translated into some kind of program (although there are wonderful programs based on gardening) because I do think a large part of the attraction was the serendipity--we didn't meet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10-12. We met when I came out the front door with the tools. All of which is to support what you all are saying here--it's being together doing something purposeful without pressure that is probably among the most valuable of childhood experiences.
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Fri 25 Feb 00 12:33
So Katie? I know all the components of attachment parenting are important, but if you had to prioritize, what order would you put them in?
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 25 Feb 00 14:32
Also, Katie, I'm curious about what kind of feedback you've had from people who have read your book? I read the reviews at amazon.com - there were 51 of them! - and mostly they were very, very positive, things like: "A worthwhile read for expectant parents" "Excellent writing and a great message" "Terrific book" "Contributers a great deal to literature on AP" "Excellent book" "The first book an expecting couple should read" "The must-have book on attachment parenting" "Rich" "This is a wonderful book" "Best parenting book out there" "A GREAT source for current supportive research" "A masterpiece" "A real mama writing for real mamas" "Answered all my questions. A terrific, practical resource" And so on. On the less-than-positive side there were: "Disappointing" "Did not add to my knowledge in any way" "A pull in the right direction but incomplete" "Her philosophies promote a loving home but are out of balance" "OK book but don't feel guilty if you need some time alone!" "High on the preaching, low on practicalities" And so on. There there were those who said they'd written to you, but you'd never answered! And then the real scary one who said "Great for baby bonding, bad for SIDS aspect" and continues by saying, "I was very excited about this book, until my baby died of SIDS. I think it has some great info, on breastfeeding, etc, but the chapter on SIDS is simply incorrect." Whew! So, do you ever get a chance to respond to these people? Are these comments pretty typical of the kind of feedback you get about the book?
wpn (wpn) Fri 25 Feb 00 18:30
It's my belief that parents these days are tempted into other parenting styles by a need for control. We're used to have a well ordered life, especially if we've built a career before having children, and as we get older we get better about pulling disparate threads together and creating a stable routine. Then a baby comes along -- a force of nature if ever there was one -- and suddenly there's someone in the house who is as unpredictable and uncommunicative as a housepet but much more important. The parents need to reassert some control over their lives, and this may take the form of what Dr. Sears calls the "clean nest" syndrome (someone, usually the mother, needing the home to be clean and tidy, and falling to pieces when it's not). But new parents may also grasp for anything which looks like a schedule, regardless of whether it benefits their babies as individuals, particularly if it means they can get the sleep they so desperately need. This leads to a power struggle with the poor baby: "You've got to teach her that you're the parent." Listening to your baby's needs means, in a real sense, giving up control of your days and nights and your life. The baby isn't going to make it easy on you and tell you what he's going to need at what times; you have to work it out by trial and error, and worst of all, the rules change from week to week, month to month, and child to child. But I think it's a lot better than trying "conditioning," "training," or anything else that smacks of controlling the baby's physical and emotional needs. You cannot train a baby like a pet without treating him like an animal. wpn
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 25 Feb 00 19:06
Wendy, I just glanced at your bio - you mention a "pouchling" but you don't say what that is? Can I safely assume that it's a baby?
wpn (wpn) Sat 26 Feb 00 06:14
Yes, Linda -- it's sort of a Babylon 5 joke, but goes nicely with the idea of carrying a baby in a sling all the time :-) wpn
Katie Allison Granju (katiegranju) Sat 26 Feb 00 07:56
>>So Katie? I know all the components of attachment parenting are important, but if you had to prioritize, what order would you put them in?>>> Well, I think that responsiveness to your baby would be the core concept of attachment parenting. Instead of following some sort of one-size-fits-all baby care instructions, attachment parents are open to their baby's unique cues. And the other biggie would be a deep respect for the intense dependency needs that humans have in babyhood. Attachment parents tend to accept that babies come hardwired with certain biological needs/behaviors and that this is a Good Thing. One of these needs is to be part of a very connected parent-baby dyad during infancy. Katie
Katie Allison Granju (katiegranju) Sat 26 Feb 00 09:04
>>>>Also, Katie, I'm curious about what kind of feedback you've had from people who have read your book?>>>>> Well, I have a website about the book at www.attachmentparent.com, so people are able to e-mail me and I get A LOT of e-mail! 50% of it comes from parents who have specific questions about parenting that they would like me to answer. The rest mostly comes from folks who really liked the book, and a very few e-mails come from people who have a bone to pick with me. So, overall, the feedback has been very positive. I've done a lot of print, online, and radio interviews since the book came out about 6 months ago, and more and more people seem to be finding their way to the book, so I expect that I'll keep hearing from readers. >>>>I read the reviews at amazon.com - there were 51 of them! <snip> Whew! So, do you ever get a chance to respond to these people? Are these comments pretty typical of the kind of feedback you get about the book?>>>> When my first negative reader review appeared on Amazon, I was really bummed. But I've begun to develop a much thicker skin about these things. I also had one negative review in Library Journal (all my other reviews have been very positive) and that made me feel terrible for days. I had the overwhelming urge to get in touch with the reviewer at LJ and explain how WRONG he was :-) !!! But of course, I didn't and again, now I am better able to roll with the punches. Unfortunately, I get *so* much e-mail lately that I am not able to reply to every one. I hate that. I think it's very rude of me, actually, and I need to figure out a better way to deal with reader feedback. I just never imagined that I would get so much. The review on Amazon in which a woman basically implied that my book led to her baby's death from SIDS didn't upset me as much as make me sad. I am 100% confident of the information in my book regarding infant sleep, SIDS, and the family bed. But as a mother, I just can't even begin to imagine the pain of what she is going through and I am sure that if I were in that situation, I would be desperately looking for reasons behind what happened as well. Katie
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Sat 26 Feb 00 14:33
So is there a pattern to the questions? Do you have your favorites?
Little Miss Drift (jilld) Sun 27 Feb 00 20:51
Katie, I'm 30 weeks pregnant w/ my first baby, and my husband and I read your book a couple of months ago. I'm going to reread it soon. I didn't find a lot of what I read helpful - a lot was just scary - but your book more than anything else save conversations w/ some of my close friends and relatives put me at ease and gave me confidence that this is going to be a fabulous experience and we are ready and able. Reading your book also felt great in that I had a real internal sense of assent - yes! this is the way I want to raise my kid. I hadn't heard anyone explain it before you did, but it made so much intuitive sense. I don't currently have any particular questions, but want to take this opportunity to say thanks.
Katie Allison Granju (katiegranju) Mon 28 Feb 00 07:47
>>>So is there a pattern to the questions? Do you have your favorites?>>> Well, I love it when I am able to direct someone to resources that will actually help them in a practical way. For example, if someone writes and asks me where they can find a local lactation consultant or where they can find medical cites on the risks of artificial feeding to take to their pediatrician's office, those are things I can really help with. The harder questions are ones like "why won't my husband hold my baby more?". Obviously, in a situation like that, I shouldn't be dispensing trite online advice. So I usually suggest talking face to face with a counselor or family practitioner who is supportive of attachment parenting concepts. Katie
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 28 Feb 00 14:36
Katie, do you find that people are generally resistant to or acceptant of the concept of attachment parenting? Jill - thank you so much for your comments - congratulations on your impending parenthood! I couldn't tell whether or not AP is something that you and your husband are planning to try?
Little Miss Drift (jilld) Mon 28 Feb 00 17:01
Hi Linda - I think we'll incorporate many of the ideas that Katie, and other writers about attachment parenting, have mentioned. I am sure we'll adapt these ideas and combine them with others as seems best.
Katie Allison Granju (katiegranju) Tue 29 Feb 00 18:50
Yes, congrats Jill! And I am so glad that you have found the book helpful. I really did try to write the book I wish I had had when I was pregnant with my first baby. As far as whether people are accepting of or resistant to the concepts of attachment parenting, I would say that overall, most people in the U.S. are somewhat resistant to any idea that challenges the parenting they themselves received. It is often too painful to admit that what our parents did with us wasn't optimal or even very nice sometimes. I mean, look at how many people will swear up and down that they actually benefited from being spanked. It's just too hard to face the fact that when a big person hits a small person, an injustice has occurred. Also, a lot of Americans are heavily invested in the idea of "teaching" independence to infants as early as possible,so attachment parenting really pushes their buttons. I will say that as the research mounts in favor of individual attachment parenting concepts such as longer term breastfeeding and lots of touch for babies, as well as other things, it is becoming harder and harder for parenting pundits to criticize mothers and fathers who parent in this way. For example, a lot of old school childcare gurus such as Brazelton and Richard Ferber are now softening their formerly hard line "anti" stance with regards to the family bed. Katie
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 29 Feb 00 23:02
Would you say more about the family bed, what it is and how it works in a family? What's the upper age range for kids to be in the family bed, or do you advocate one? Also, why do you suppose Americans in particular seem to want to teach their infants to be independent younger than in other countries?
among fiends (frako) Wed 1 Mar 00 13:25
This has been a very interesting discussion, Katie. Much of what you promote sounds like the parenting normally advocated in Japan. My Japanese girlfriends and students had no idea what a playpen was for, because they didn't believe in letting a child sit alone in a "cage." Also, their homes are too small even to need something like a playpen.
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Wed 1 Mar 00 19:01
Do Japanese mothers carry their infants/toddlers most of the time, frako? My immediate reaction was that if your house was really small, you'd *really* need a playpen!
among fiends (frako) Thu 2 Mar 00 13:54
It's much more common in the past for Japanese mothers to carry their babies around all the time on their backs, even while they're working. Now, mothers are expected to be so totally dedicated to their infants' immediate needs that many are quietly going crazy! When a woman becomes pregnant, it's compulsory for her to go to the local ward office and pick up a detailed brochure on prenatal care. I would love to get ahold of one of these. I'll ask around and see if I can.
Karen Freeman (karen-golden) Thu 2 Mar 00 14:58
When you compare child-rearing practices between the two cultures, frako, which do you think does better?
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