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Attachment Parenting, Anxious Parenting

Jun30

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Hi Amy,

I am a long time reader and FTWM (first-time working mom, because yes, we need MORE acronyms) who religiously read your pregnancy calendar and am now devouring your smackdown columns. I am starting to think I may need a smackdown myself, and here’s why: I am a pretty anxious person by nature. Remarkably, I wasn’t a terribly anxious pregnant lady, and have been able to mostly keep the anxiety in check as a mom, which I am pretty proud of. However, I have had one area where my anxiety seems to be running rampant, and I’m having a hard time figuring out if my worry is justified or if my anxiety-monster is just finding one thing to latch on to, as it is wont to do from time-to-time.

I have a beautiful 4-month-old daughter who I was able to stay home with for 11 awesome (if exhausting) weeks of maternity leave. My husband and I are fortunate enough to have family in the area and were thrilled when we received offers to help with child care. Since returning to work, we’ve been able to have care covered for every day of the week, so we’ve not yet had to use a nanny or daycare. We do pay our family a little money but it saves us a TON and we both were excited to have our daughter receiving one-on-one care from people who love and know her. She had a few rough weeks of adjustment as I eased back into my full-time work schedule, but now is generally doing well, napping okay and eating like a champ. Sounds great, right?

Here’s where I start driving myself insane. I am not one of those types to subscribe 100% to any “style” of parenting, but some of what I do aligns with aspects of Attachment Parenting (yes, the one with the controversial cover on Time Magazine) and I did some reading on attachment THEORY while pregnant and after giving birth. Everything I’ve read on the theory of healthy attachments in infants says that having a consistent caregiver that the baby can attach to once the primary caregiver (in this case, me) goes back to work is important for a baby’s future health in terms of being a confident, unanxious, normal human being. Too much change and inconsistency can apparently lead to a baby who is clingy and afraid or one that seemingly has no boundaries, even around strangers, both of which are not what any mom wants for her child.

So now I sit here and worry about whether my daughter is going to be damaged by having different people watch her on different days. We do have a schedule for them to follow, and they each return every week on the same days, but I know they’re each going to have their own quirks that will make each day a little bit different for her (plus, can a baby tell a Tuesday from a Thursday? Probably not). I would love to just have one of my relatives do every day of the week, but no one has that availability. So then it comes down to what will benefit her more, having loving one-on-one care from her family but with a different person on Monday versus Wednesday, or a day care (or possibly nanny, but that’s almost certainly too cost prohibitive for us) where she will get less one-on-one attention and may be in a foreign environment, but where there is a consistency in caregivers from day to day (I am assuming this is true of most daycares)? None of these options seem optimal, and I know compromise and flexibility are key to parenting in general, but I just can’t help feeling paralyzed by this decision for some reason.

So are babies resilient and totally fine with a little variety and I need to stop worrying about my current system, or is consistency key and I’d better get my daughter’s butt to a daycare before I ruin her forever?!?!?

Thank you for smacking me down,
Neurotic FTWM

And here is pretty much a perfect example of why I actively refuse any one specific label for my parenting style. (Other than “Good Enough Parenting.” I like that one.) Even though I did quite a few Attachment-Parenting(AP)-like things with my babies, I find so much about it to be unattainable/impractical for so many mothers and families. And yet AP in particular tends to create some of the most vicious guilt-and-judgement spirals this side of the mommy wars. If you don’t do X Y  & Z, terrible, awful things will happen, so why aren’t you doing X Y & Z? DON’T U LOVE UR BABBY WHY DID U EVEN HAVE UR BABBY IF U DIDN’T PLAN TO DO X Y & Z?

I am not an expert in child development or psychology, but I simply fail to see how being cared for one-on-one by a regular circle of loving, capable family members could POSSIBLY be anything other than awesome. This is simply not the kind of situation that attachment theory is warning about — attachment disorders form when there is abandonment, abuse, neglect and/or extreme chaos in a baby’s early life. Children raised in institutions or wildly unstable households, either where there simply isn’t anyone around enough to bond with, or there is a regular failing by the caregiver to meet the child’s (physical or emotional) needs. And even then, plenty of children raised in these less-than-ideal situations grow up into perfectly emotionally stable adults with the ability to form healthy relationships, to love and be loved in return.

Your daughter is getting plenty of consistency in the areas where it really matters. She is getting held. She is getting fed and changed and clothed. She is getting love and attention and has people talking and singing to her, people who will remain in her life for many years to come. She has a mother who comes home to her every night, without fail, and a mother who clearly loves her desperately and wants what’s best for her.

(It isn’t 100% clear from your letter, but the line “they each return every week on the same days” suggests that she is being cared for in your own home, so her environment is consistent? Not that being cared for in different locations would be a big deal either, but still. This is sooooo not the kind of “too much change and inconsistency” that creates lasting emotional problems.)

For the record: Just about all babies and toddlers go through clingy phases. Most of them will exhibit separation anxiety at some point, or start favoring one parent/caregiver over another, seemingly at random. And all kids need to be taught boundaries and be warned about strangers. None of this means their parents did something “wrong” in their early months.

A daycare, by the way, would likely trigger all sorts of other anxieties for you — picture a brightly-lit room with two adults and multiple babies, babies learning to self-soothe in cribs (or…failing to self-soothe, aka CRYING) because both adults are simply busy with other babies and so your daughter would have to wait her turn for a diaper change, a bottle, a cuddle. Once she starts walking, they’ll simply move her to another room, with two new adults and a whole bunch of new toddlers, never to see or probably even remember those original caregivers. And yet this experience would ALSO not damage her for life in the slightest, as she’d get all kinds of other great benefits like peer socialization and a regular routine and immunities to germs and so on and so forth.

(UPDATE: I realize my inelegant attempt here at making a general sort of example for the OP has hurt a lot of feelings. I’m so sorry! I used a daycare center myself and in no way believe it’s sub-par care or inferior to any other arrangement. I was trying to make the point that when your anxiety is cranked up to 11, you’re probably going to find things to worry/feel guilty about with ANY childcare situation — hell, even FT SAHMs aren’t immune from the guilt and worries that they’re doing things wrong or not “perfect enough”. That was what I was going for and grabbed daycare as an example since the OP mentioned it, and I’m sorry I did it sloppily and it came across as daycare bashing.)

If I may play armchair shrink: Is the root of all this worry maybe possibly coming from a fear of passing your anxiety disorder on to your daughter? Of your daughter growing up to be a “pretty anxious person by nature” like you, but with “by nurture” swapped in for that “by nature” part? DISCUSS.

You do what works best for your family. What works best for your family does not have to be what works best for other families. And remember that there’s a difference between “best” and “perfect.” Namely that there is no such thing as perfect, and that’s totally, 100%, completely okay. Tell that anxiety monster to STFU, because it’s Good Enough Parenting FTW.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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37 Responses to “Attachment Parenting, Anxious Parenting”

  1. MR Jun 30 at 1:40 pm Reply Reply

    OP, rest assured, your daughter is fine. What they are talking about is not having a different person take care of her every two weeks type thing. You have a small set of people who watch her, and it is a routine. On Monday’s, person x watches her, on Tuesday’s, person y. It is always person x and y. That is CONSISTENCY. You are fine. Going back to work as a new mom is HARD. And anxiety inducing. And no matter what daycare situation you set up, you will worry. It takes time to relax and trust that. It sounds like you have set up a situation where you have reliable people who love your child watching her. That means she is in good hands. So, that’s a job well done on your part. Now take a deep breath and relax. You are doing your job as mom well. :)

  2. Lindsay Jun 30 at 1:55 pm Reply Reply

    Just a thought from someone who is not yet a mom, but who was once an anxious child – this child care situation with multiple family caregivers actually may help make your daughter LESS anxious in the long run, because she can learn that having different people around doesn’t always equal bad, different play styles doesn’t equal bad, different soothing styles doesn’t equal bad, ect. As she gets older, she’ll have the wonderful benefit of being exposed to different communication styles, different methods of problem solving, different ways to appropriately express feelings, and so on. I remember as a kid, I had very little exposure to other adults. And not saying that was the sole reason for my anxiousness as a kid, but I had an especially hard time doing things like spending the night at friends houses, because OH GOSH YOUR PARENTS DO THIS DIFFERENT, NOT COMFORTABLE! As long as your daughter is being properly cared for by people who love her, multiple caregivers will blossom into a great support network of individuals who can help her grow up with multiple viewpoints and a relaxed, less-anxious learning environment. 

    • Elizabeth Jun 30 at 11:10 pm Reply Reply

      Great point!

  3. Hope Jun 30 at 2:08 pm Reply Reply

    I know that anecdotes are not data, but if it helps you letter-writer, here is how an assortment of caregivers works for us:

    Great! It works great!

    Our daughter spends Mondays with my mom, Fridays with my dad, Tuesdays through Thursdays at daycare, and the weekends with my husband and me. Occasionally, one of my parents will be out of town, or daycare will be closed, and she’ll spend the day with another family member, or a friend, or I’ll take a day of, or… You get the point. Her caregivers vary. And it’s fine! I think the important thing is that everyone loves her and treats her with care. Things are relatively consistent with each caregiver. When daycare adjusted their nap schedule, we worked to adjust it at home and with my parents. My parents care for her in a manner that is consistent with our parenting philosophy. Daycare is maybe a smidge stricter than we are (you have to be in a room full of toddlers!) but is generally consistent as well.

    If anything, it’s worked out extra well for us that our daughter is used to a variety of caregivers. When we’re at a family event, my parents and step-parents can take a turn watching her and she’s completely comfortable with them. And she adjusts to new babysitters really well. She knows that other people are sometimes going to take care of her, but that they’re going to treat her well and then mama or papa will pick her up and she’ll go home with them.

    Our daughter will be two in August and she’s done the caregiver rotation since she was 3 months old. It hasn’t been a problem yet. :)

  4. Andrea Jun 30 at 2:25 pm Reply Reply

    My son had a different caregiver every day of the week for the first year of his life. He is now five years old, and incredibly well-adjusted. He handles change very well and I attribute that to him learning to be comfortable with different people and environments…he is also very social. It will pay dividends when your child is older and doesn’t freak out every time you leave the room because they are comfortable being with different people.

  5. Caroline Jun 30 at 2:29 pm Reply Reply

    Just to echo what others have said, your little girl has the massive advantage of parents who treasure her and a small, very well-known circle of trusted caregivers who tend to her and her alone, in her home environment. I think you (and they!) deserve a gold medal. Separation anxiety is a funny beast; my eldest did not suffer from it in any way at all, not ever, whoever I left him with under whatever circumstances. My 2nd boy… not so much. He wasn’t good with strangers and once he’d decided he was scared of someone *even his wonderful, loving God mother, yes, really*, that was it for MONTHS. I’ve yet to see what son number 3 will do, but each has been raised in the same home, with me or 1 nanny as a caregiver, no weird shocks or anything strange… and yet… So if your daughter ever does have a little segue into SA then it truly has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Aunty Pam watches her on Tuesdays, whilst Cousin Betty does Wednesdays!! I promise you this absolutely faithfully. Quite the opposite, she will learn that there are quite a few loved, consistent faces in her life, she’ll probably learn to be sociable, won’t often be bored, honestly, you’ve got a great thing going here and yes, of course you are anxious (hello! First time mum! Full time back to work!), it is totally normal and natural to feel very concerned for your darling’s safety. You’d be weird if you didn’t. Okay, so you are naturally quite an anxious person, well, welcome to the club! She either will be or she won’t be, welcome to the world of uncertainty! You are doing very well, I think attachment parenting refers to constant changes in primary caregivers (namely, you and her dad) that can be very disruptive, not what you’re talking about AT ALL! Keep up the good work, you are definitely winning at this stage, with a happy, well-adjusted and good baby, you gainfully employed, her family around her to love and help her grow.

  6. Liz Jun 30 at 2:46 pm Reply Reply

    Also, there’s not always great consistency of caregiver at daycare. My son was at a daycare from age 3 months to 6 months where almost every time I came to pick him up I was introducing myself to a new person. Consistent, excellent care in the morning, but not so much by closing time. We changed daycares, and now he has the same two or three people in the morning, and a different but consistent two or three people in the afternoon. It’s great. But especially for a little tiny baby like yous, I would go with the family caregivers plan that you have. Good luck Mama!

  7. leslie Jun 30 at 2:47 pm Reply Reply

    I would agree with everything so far, being a follower of much of the theory of attachment parenting, but having to kind of feel about for what works for us and what doesn’t. I was just having this conversation with a friend yesterday about parenting styles and expectations of parents (especially moms), yet there is not the social support for moms that you might find in other places. Attachment parenting puts a lot of the responsibility on mom and dad, but humans are social, in many, many parts of the world (where attachment parenting claims to find its inspiration, though I find some of their justification a bit problematic, even if I generally agree with the theories), children are raised by several members of a group (family, community, etc.). You have such an ideal situation, I ‘m jealous, We moved away for my job right after we had our first child and I only wish we’d had the opportunities you have where your child gets to know different members of her family early on. We’ve moved back home and are finally getting our 2-year old to know her relatives. 

  8. SarahB Jun 30 at 3:09 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with Amy, that your baby is fine, and I’d add that the adjustment to going back to work was a lot longer of an adjustment process than I expected. It took months to reach something resembling a new normal, as things changed with the baby and we figured out how to handle life logistics better.

    One suggestion: You might take the occasional day off to stay home with your baby. Having sent my child to daycare, DS got sick with some regularity, which meant DH or I was often home with him. I would have preferred he not be sick, but it was some extra time.

    And, gosh, that description of daycare centers stung a little. Our experience with two centers was that the babies were pretty well cared for and happy, and that the centers made a point to lower the lights for nap time, etc. They keep to a good schedule so the infants’ needs can be met–with a one caregiver to three infant ratio in Maryland at least. Sure, it’s not the one-on-one care-giving of a nanny or family member, but it’s also perfectly within the realm of acceptable care.

  9. traci Jun 30 at 3:10 pm Reply Reply

    I do have a degree in child development and my take is your kiddo is just fine. Since you have a regular schedule of caregivers your child does have consistency and so long as they are all meeting her needs in loving ways she will develop secure attachments with all of them. As she gets bigger it may be beneficial to have a caregivers meeting every now and then to get everyone on the same page for big things (ie this is how we’re handling potty training, this is how we’re handling discipline/guidance, etc.). That’s not even absolutely necessary. The big thing is that each individual is consistent with themself so that your little one sees them as trustworthy and reliable and knows what to expect from them. Kids are really good at adjusting to different caregiver styles.

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Kallman Jun 30 at 7:02 pm Reply Reply

      Thank you for sharing your professional perspective. Really appreciate it!

  10. just me Jun 30 at 3:38 pm Reply Reply

    Mom with 3 kids here who had anxiety issues as well, of the diagnosed type. First off, as parenting styles are concerned, the only style I associate myself with is whatever works best for me and my family. What matters is that you and your husband can trust your guts with the set up you have and that your baby is happy and we’ll card for. Those things can happen in a center style daycare, home based, nanny, stay at home and/or your family situation. The key here is that out works for you and your family. I don’t believe that there is one, perfect parenting solution. Just do your best!

    On the anxiety front, have you gone to a doctor or therapist about it? I found when my anxiety is at it’s worst, I y fixiated on a specific issue and go crazy with it which stresses me out more. With a first child, that can be ANYTHING!! so consider seeing someone or going on medication, if it is right for you!

  11. Carolyn Jun 30 at 4:22 pm Reply Reply

    I just wanted to say that I’m a SAHM and have always been the primary caregiver …. and my toddler is anxious anyhow ;) So I just wanted to point out that sometimes even if you have all your ducks in a row, nature likes to throw in it’s 2 cents all the same. No matter your childcare arrangements, your child could still end up anxious and clingy because that’s just who they are. Different child in the same situation might be totally un-anxious and adventurous. There’s only so much you can control, so my gut says that if your baby is being loved and you’re happy with the care she is receiving (this doesn’t sound like some posts where people are writing in about family caregivers who are going against their instructions or being unsafe!) then you can sleep well :)

  12. Eiko Jun 30 at 5:31 pm Reply Reply

    I have a nine-month-old, and I totally remember what it felt like to second guess everything when my daughter was at four months. I agree — you have surrounded your daughter with people who love her. And you clearly love her. That’s what matters.

    PS: all the moms I know have stayed home with their babies for at least a year (thanks to Canadian mat. leave), all practiced some sort of AP, and all our kids have been through separation anxiety. My little girl is the most social animal ever and she still gets freaked out now and then when I leave the room. So when your daughter does too, please please please don’t go blaming yourself. You’re doing a tremendous job.

  13. Amy Jul 01 at 12:30 am Reply Reply

    I also don’t think you have anything to worry about – its really great and pretty rare that you have free family care for your baby – and I agree with the other posters that your child will benefit from the love she receives from each of them.
    But I also have to agree with SarahB that the daycare comments were all a bit harsh and over-generalistic in a negative sense. My daughter has been in a daycare with a warm yet clean environment – good open space and natural light. She also has had dedicated caregivers that not only looked after her in her infant stage, but now can still see her and interact with her through a close family atmosphere as she has transitioned to a toddler class. She never waited her “turn” for a diaper change or to be fed – those were done on demand as an infant and she certainly wasn’t left to self-soothe or cry it out un-necessarily. I have really valued your blog but this post really took me by surprise in its total smackdown of daycare that frankly is just plain wrong.

  14. Grouchiegrrl Jul 01 at 8:55 am Reply Reply

    I was studying when I had my son, and so from literally the day after we brought him home I had to leave him with others to go to class. We literally have a village helping raise him.

    I was very nervous about the same kinds of things as you, but my friend, who has a phd in child development showed me some research that basically said that one or two is not the optimal number for a child to attach to. It shouldn’t be 20, but the optimal number of people for any child to have a primary care-givers is apparently 6-8. 

    My son is now a wonderful 20 month old, who is bright, happy, has great verbal and physical skills – he is a joy. And he is a joy for all of those who love him. And it is beautiful watching him develop these amazing relationships with all the people who care for him. His grandfather spends one afternoon a week alone with him, and they go and take train trips; my best friend takes him one morning a week and they go to all these amazing events. And so on.

    Lately the gorgeous thing has been him starting to use all their names – and watching how thrilled they are.

    Trust your judgement, and your family and friends. Your daughter will flourish and she will never question how loved she is. 

  15. EP Jul 01 at 10:03 am Reply Reply

    Amy, I have to say that I feel quite hurt by your comments about daycare. I understand that you are trying to point out to OP that no situation is perfect, but the judgement and negativity in your description is totally unlike anything that I ever would have expected from you. As a full time working mom with an infant in daycare, there are certain areas of the internet and comment sections that I know to avoid to keep my sanity. Your blog and this column have never been one of those, but this post stings, perhaps more than usual since I’ve always thought of you as a safe harbor from the mommy wars.

  16. Rachel Jul 01 at 10:06 am Reply Reply

    I also found the description of daycare rather hurtful. I am a FTM who’s getting ready to start work again next week and my almost 3 month old will be starting daycare. I would love to have family members watching him, but my parents are the only ones I would trust and they both work full time. When I visited the daycare last fall I got the impression all feeding, diaper changes, etc were done on demand and the babies seemed content. I certainly hope that he’s not left in his crib to cry for hours on end. Amy, I get why you wrote that part about daycare in there, but it could have been done a little more sensitively.

    OP, your situation sounds excellent for you and your daughter and you are extremely fortunate to have so many people who will look after your daughter.

    • Diane Jul 01 at 3:39 pm Reply Reply

      Rachel, I wouldn’t worry about daycare! I remember the awful guilt I had when I started back at work when my son was three months old. No one could care for him better than I could, right? But now that he’s 15 months and able to express himself, I see how much he loves the ladies at his daycare. He kisses them and gives hugs and whenever I come to pick him up he’s either being snuggled or playing with one of his friends. He couldn’t be happier. I don’t think Amy’s comments were meant to be hurtful (I am pretty sure her kids were daycare kids?) but more a comparison that any situation isn’t perfect. Kids will be fine when they have stability and love, no matter where that is. Also, congrats on the new arrival! It’s so poorly timed that when the babies start being interactive is when work starts up again but such is life.

  17. IrishCream Jul 01 at 10:50 am Reply Reply

    Consistency and predictability are really important for infants and toddlers. They feel more secure and confident when they know what’s happening, what’s going to happen next, and that their needs will be met throughout the day.

    And your daughter has that! If all of your caregivers are following the same schedule, more or less, then she will feel perfectly secure. Someone familiar to her, someone loving, is taking her through her familiar routine in a familiar space. The fact that it’s a different person each day of the week isn’t what matters. It sounds like a great set-up for her and for you. And how great for her to learn early on that there’s more than one right way to do things…grandma may put her down for a nap by rocking, uncle may have a special lullaby, and both methods get her to sleep!

    If you are worried about the transitions from one day to the next, you can talk to her at bedtime about which caregiver she’ll have tomorrow, and talk about it again in the morning. She’s not going to understand quite yet, but in just a few months she’ll start to put it together…babies start to understand spoken language well before they say their first words.

    And as for separation anxiety…it’s a normal part of child development, and it’s perfectly healthy! I’m sure your daughter will experience it at some point, and whether it’s mild or more intense, it will pass. It’s a phase every kid goes through.

  18. Kate Jul 01 at 11:12 am Reply Reply

    I’m no child psychologist either, but I swear I read an article once (from someplace reputable, maybe The Atlantic?) that talked about one of the hallmarks of a well-adjusted child being that the child has/had a variety of adult caregivers.  It makes sense to me – a child will learn that grandma does things a little differently than the babysitter who is a little different than mom, but that he/she is ok/safe/happy with all of them.  We also split childcare between my husband and me, my parents, and a day care.  Once your baby gets a little bit older you will see JUST how well-adjusted she becomes (i.e., she will figure out just how she can manipulate each person in their own special ways!  My son takes naps for the day care with no problems, but lord, if I can get him to nap, it’s a miracle!)

  19. c Jul 01 at 12:44 pm Reply Reply

    As a reader of all the books when I was pregnant, and then a new mama with a baby who would.not.sleep, I am familiar with reading EVERYTHING and becoming a basketcase about it (did you know that one of the leading sleep books implies that insufficient sleep during key developmental periods is linked to criminality and imprisonment?! Hello anxiety!).

    My husband, the reader of nothing, reminded me that (1) the authors of all of these books make a living selling these books and telling you that you’re doing it wrong/they have to solution is key to that enterprise, and (2) that none of these authors/purported experts know your child or your specific family circumstances. I felt a lot better when I really owned the fact that I knew my child best, I was the best mama for her, and that the decisions I made for her were exactly right because the were based on her and our family’s needs.

  20. Amalah
    Amalah Jul 01 at 1:24 pm Reply Reply

    Hey y’all! Just wanted to pop in and clarify my comments re: daycare. It was really just meant to be a general-ish example that a daycare center would probably trigger a whole different set of worries for this particular OP.

    My firstborn attended a daycare center full-time from 12 weeks on for a few months, and it was GREAT. He had EXCELLENT care and the women loved him very much. It was not perfect and occasionally some of the stuff I’m describing here happened, because it was indeed two people trying to care for six infants simultaneously. But it wasn’t a big deal. Again, was just trying make a “nothing is perfect but that’s okay, find what works best for you” illustration for the OP. 

    But I really, really did not intend that to read as some across-the-board judgement that daycare is inferior and I’m sorry that it did. 

    • Amalah
      Amalah Jul 01 at 1:30 pm Reply Reply

      Tl;dr Basically if your anxiety/guilt is cranked up to 11, you’re probably going to find stuff to worry about in every situation, that’s all I wanted to illustrate.

      • Martha Jul 01 at 1:53 pm Reply Reply

        That’s exactly how I read your response. I was honestly confused about why people read it any other way. 

  21. Due in Weeks Jul 01 at 1:25 pm Reply Reply

    I so needed to read this/hear this advice today. Most in my social circle are Attachment Parenting adherents and I think there is much about AP that I like. On the other hand, it can be so strict and is not sustainable for many families. I plan to go back to work for both financial and personal (career, fulfillment) reasons but the message from many AP is “babies needs come first always and if they do not why did you choose to have children in the first place.” Don’t even get me started on the “you cannot let babies cry ever otherwise you are doing brain damage” claim.

    I get riddled with guilt, but then I have to step back and wonder about the evidence base of a style that seems to work only for upper middle-class families who can afford to have only one partner in the workforce… I also remember what another commenter said – in many, many parts of the world (and history) children were raised by many people including mothers, aunts, grandmas, older siblings, neighbors, etc. It’s only quite recently that mothers or fathers were taught that it’s best to be with your child 24/7, follow them around to make sure they hit all of their developmental milestones, and provide enrichment activities.

    It’s good to come here and see this kind of support and balanced thought. There are some crazy places on the internet; one site urged BF on demand for 3 years and stated that “dad was not good enough” [for feeding and care] and essentially many mothers who go back to work do so for selfish reasons. Extreme parenting proponents might be just the next place in society where we can convince women that the “best” place for them is back in the home. Only now instead of the messaging coming from men, it’s veiled in the guilt messages we receive from other women.

    • MR Jul 01 at 5:56 pm Reply Reply

      Just remember that “Attachment Parenting” is a new term, but the concepts have been around forever. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you are with your kid 24/7. The people who are telling you that, and that your kid comes above all else are zeolots. Attachment parenting comes in all forms. It can just mean, wearing your baby, or breastfeeding on demand, or just listening to your baby’s cues, or it can be some form of all of the above. It can also mean that you wear your baby, but still let other people watch them, and maybe you half bottle, half breastfeed. There are ALL SORTS of variations.
      I grew up in a family where it was just normal to breastfeed and hold/wear your baby a lot when they are an infant, talk to them, learn their cues. I didn’t grow up calling it “attachment parenting”, I grew up calling it parenting. I don’t do things exactly the same way my mother did it, but my situation is not the same as my mother’s was either. No one parenting style or method will work for everybody. Pick the pieces from various others that work for you and your family. Your style will become one that is uniquely yours. It is going to be so dependent on you, your spouse, and your child, combined with your living situation, where/if you work, etc, that nobody else would ever be able to do the exact same thing. So, ignore all those veiled comments. Pay attention to the methods and styles only so far as looking to see if there is anything you might want to try. Motherhood isn’t a competition. We are all just simply trying to do right for our kids. You’ll get the hang of what works for you.

  22. Martha Jul 01 at 1:52 pm Reply Reply

    I’m jealous of your situation! You have family caregivers who come by on a consistent basis. Don’t worry about different caregivers being there on different days. What AP means by lack of consistency of care is essentially having a string of strangers take care of your baby so that baby never forms a bond with any one caregiver. That’s not what you have.

     

  23. Lauren Jul 01 at 3:38 pm Reply Reply

    Regarding what the OP said about children with multiple caregivers ending up clingy–I would say it’s just the opposite. When a baby just has Mommy Mommy Mommy all the time, THAT creates a clingy baby who is unwilling to adapt to any other situation/caregiver. Attachment parenting or not, that seems pretty undesirable to me. You can’t be with your baby 24/7, and it’s wonderful that you have family to watch her!!! I work full time and my mother and mother-in-law alternate watching my son and it has been VERY beneficial in terms of separation anxiety. He is completely comfortable in each of their homes, which makes it terrific if we need an overnight sitter. He loves to be with his grandparents! So not only does it ease our minds that he is getting excellent care, but he is also spending invaluable time with both sets of our parents. 

    You’re not going to “damage” your daughter. I think you are doing something very positive for her growth, socialization and development. It’s frustrating that a lot of so-called Attachment Parenting information does little more than create over anxious parents. 

  24. Martha Jul 01 at 5:47 pm Reply Reply

    I’d urge the OP to read about alloparenting and the role of non-parental caregivers in many places around the world. Your daughter is so fortunate to have a loving community of caregivers!

  25. jill Jul 01 at 10:06 pm Reply Reply

    (quick rundown: 4 kids; 5, 3, 1yo twins, all have been at home with me since day one)
    I think your daycare arrangement is fine!  You can’t be home, but family is the next best thing and your little one will be all the better for spending time now with the people who love her.  Your family is benefitting from getting to know your daughter, and she will benefit from getting to spend time with family and I think it’s a win-win all around.
    As far as the daycare ‘controversy’ (that totally isn’t controversial) I don’t think Amy meant any harm.  I had 3 in diapers for a year (now just 2 in diapers) and there are a lot of times that they did have to line up and “wait their turn” for a diaper change, or a bottle, or a snack, or a nap or whatever.  That’s just a fact when you have more kids than adults that there will be times when they have to wait for someone to get to them.  All I got from Amy’s comment was her reiterating what a great daycare situation OP has going on.  Trust me, if my kids had grandparents waiting hand and foot they would be in heaven!  Since it’s just me they will wait and be good with it.  

  26. Athena Jul 02 at 7:23 am Reply Reply

    Being a stay-at-home mum who sends child to daycare anyway for socialisation, I don’t really have a lot to comment on this one, just one particular thing stood out.

    You asked “can a baby tell a Tuesday from a Thursday? Probably not”. Actually, in my experience, probably yes, at least after a little while. Why? Because Tuesday is *different* from Thursday, and it *keeps happening*. My little one was around 4-5 months himself and showing clear knowledge that Thursday and Friday (where his other mama comes home late) were different from Every Other Day – and that even though she works 4 days on 4 days off, so it was a pretty broad consistency. Admittedly, Sunday (where she comes home an hour early) to this day (at 11 months) still seems to throw him for a bit of a loop.

    Whether it’s internalising the broader routine himself or just picking up on cues from us that we don’t recognise (I can’t *think* of any way we behave differently on late nights prior to the actual late bit… but that doesn’t mean we don’t), it still results in recognising that, not only is this day different from other days, it’s the day this specific thing happens. And behaving accordingly. (Back then, this meant, if asleep, waking up 15mins before mama is due home or, if awake, bawling eyes out for 15mins until mama gets home)

  27. Ida Jul 02 at 10:02 am Reply Reply

    I’m working full-time and have two kids (3yrs & 11mo). I get the worries you seem to have, I experienced something similar (I think) when my oldest started daycare. What was really helpful to me (and eventually led to a change of daycare provider) was the books by Meredith Small and Sarah Blaffer Hrdy – yes, anthropology made easy. I would in particular recommend this book: 
    http://www.amazon.com/Our-Babies-Ourselves-Biology-Culture/dp/0385483627/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404304496&sr=1-1&keywords=meredith+small 
    In short, it isn’t a bad thing for your baby to have more than caregiver as long as the group of different caregivers remain the same. That calmed me down – and lo and behold – my oldest is perfectly fine without any attachment issues. Perhaps it might help you too. Best of luck!

  28. Susan:) Jul 02 at 12:09 pm Reply Reply

    I think having a variety of caregivers will probably be more helpful as she gets older. She’ll know that different people have different ways of doing things, but it’s all okay. I’m actually a bit worried about my four year old niece. I’ve taken care of her since she was born, and she’s never had any other caregiver besides me and her parents. I’m worried about how she’ll adjust when she starts school this fall. She’s really attached to me!  And she doesn’t do change very well either. I may be writing a letter to Amy myself soon!

  29. slydegirll Jul 02 at 1:20 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for the clarification on daycares, Amalah. I try to keep it low-key online, but I wanted to say hey! I chose daycare OVER family or a nanny, because I want the socialization/schedule/educational aspects/same caregiver every day/learning from peers/nutrition/immune system development/so many other things that my daycare offers that I/family member sans the right training/nanny by herself in my home with single child, etc. might not offer. I prefer my babies to learn self-soothing at a much earlier age, build a strong relationship with peers and adults other than myself/immediate family members, etc. from pretty much the get go (not that those things can’t or won’t happen without a full time daycare, but I’ve seen some nasty adjustments in the kindergarten ages from kids without many of those things, and I chose the daycare because it works best for what I want for my kids). So yay for daycares! and yay for doing WHATEVER works for every family! and double yay with a shot of tequila for Good Enough Parenting :)

  30. wyomom Jul 03 at 1:13 am Reply Reply

    My now 3.5 year old had me for the first 8 weeks (so jealous Canada!) Then an awesome in home daycare that we couldn’t afford when our job situation changed so she was with a friend a few hours a week for a year then in a more standard daycare part time, then at a really awesome preschool full time . She is well attached, sociable and much less anxious than her nature would have suggested at 2 years old. I would love to leave her only with family but her child care providers have all become as close as family and I’m thrilled she has so many people who care so much about her.And I didn’t read Amy’s answer as a dis on daycare, just reality.

  31. jess Jul 08 at 7:23 pm Reply Reply

    What’s interesting is that AP style is often framed as being the most natural/in tune with traditional parenting practices. Yet in many traditional cultures children are raised with several caregivers. 

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