Primarily, three things were key in how I chose to parent -
- Bed sharing
Over time, I learned other aspects of gentle and natural parenting and if the proof is in the pudding, then three happy, confident, independent adults is a more than satisfactory outcome!
Today, as a grandmother, I am seeing the ongoing impact of that instinctive, intuitive parenting style which my second daughter is now practising with her own first child.
In addition to the above, today I also consider important:
- Skin-to-skin - including uninterrupted contact in the first hours after birth; kangaroo care for premature babies, baby-led attachment for learning to breastfeed and baby massage.
- Baby-led introduction of family foods, respecting their ability to control what they eat.
- Community connection - ensuring mothers have access to a modern form of the traditional village for support and learning.
By being a part of my granddaughter's circle of attachment since birth, I have built a strong bond with her and she will happily spend time with me - despite how some people interpret attachment parenting principles, it is not about the mother and baby being inseparable or excluding other care-givers. And because my daughter and I share this approach to parenting, Charlie can happily switch between us. She gives me very clear signals when she needs to go back to mum for the breast but otherwise she allows me to care for her alongside or in place of her mum. I am able to care for her for several hours, feeding expressed breastmilk - meaning mum and dad can have time-out and mum can make plans about a return to paid work, confident that her baby will be cared for as she would herself.
Grand-parenting isn't about a second chance at being a mother. It is about continuing to support and nurture your child as they support and nurture their child. Within a traditional society, grandmothers, aunts, older sisters and cousins are all part of the female collective who care for the young and the elderly. Rather than clinging to their mothers, these children feel at ease in-arms with any of their circle.
The wonderful off-shoot of my being part of this cross-generational triad is that the women in my daughter's mothering circles have embraced me as a sort of community grandmother. By continuing my involvement in breastfeeding support groups and extending that into baby-wearing, parenting and other groups, I have been able to reassure newly-attached parents that they are doing a great job and I can share the actual results of parenting in the same style: when they are told their baby will never leave the family bed, never wean from the breast, never be out of arms - I simply point across the room to my daughter, who did!
(Sadly, what was probably my only chance to actually meet The Sears when they spoke here earlier in 2013 clashed with my daughter's baby shower! It was tempting to drive the four hours each way to do so the day before with her but common sense prevailed. So we settled for a copy of my favourite book Nighttime Parenting, personally signed to the two of us!!)