Saturday, January 9, 2010

Being an attached parent

I think part of the reason I am such a fan of attachment parenting is because it gives me an excuse to hold my baby constantly.

As I am sitting here typing, my beautiful son is napping in a Mei Tai carrier on my chest, listening to my heartbeat, attached to me in the most literal sense. Keeping him close to me is the most natural part of motherhood, and in my opinion has had a major impact on his personality. Even now, when he is sick with bronchialitis and an ear infection, he is a calm, happy little guy, and I am happy to hold him any time he wants me. Shopping is so easy when your baby is strapped on, no worries about the car seat taking up half the cart, or trying to hold the baby in your arms while pushing a cart. Social events and church are a breeze, I can strap him on and easily navigate crowds without worrying about dropping him or having enough room to get through with the car seat. And of course, there is the added benefit of making it much more difficult for anyone to take him from you to give you a "break" from holding your baby. I really don't mind other people holding my son, I just want to be in control of who holds him and when, and babywearing makes that possible.

Another tenet of attachment parenting that makes my life easier and keeps Hunter happy is co-sleeping. I'm sure we've all heard the "dangers" of having your baby in your bed, but the thing that most of those studies leave out is the ways to co-sleep safely. If you do not smoke, are not obese, and are not on drugs or drunk when you go to sleep, your chances of not waking up when your baby needs you are almost non-existent. I have also noticed that when a baby dies of SIDS while co-sleeping, there is almost always blame placed on the fact that the baby was in the parent's bed, but when a baby dies alone in a crib, there is no blame placed on anyone. I would love to see a study comparing those who co-sleep following the safety rules, and those whose babies are alone in their cribs, to see whether there is any difference at all. For now, I will just enjoy being able to feed my son without getting up or even being fully awake, being able to check his breathing any time I happen to wake up, and being right there to give immediate attention if he starts to wiggle, choke, cough, or fuss. 

My newest form of attachment to Hunter is one that has been "normal" all over the world since the beginning of time, and goes by many names, including Elimination Communication, Infant Potty Training, and Diaper Free Baby. Most other countries can not afford to use disposable diapers, and cloth needs a lot of washing, so your other option? Taking the baby to the potty when he has to go! It is not nearly as difficult as it seems, and contrary to popular belief does NOT require your baby to be naked all day. I use cloth diapers as my backup, and any time Hunter starts grunting, fussing, etc., with no obvious reason, I take him to the potty and turn on the water (or make a psss sound), and most of the time he goes! No washing the diaper, it just goes right back on. It fascinates me how much this one thing has taught me about my son; he refuses to go to sleep until he has emptied his bladder, and generally goes a few times in a row about 20 minutes after he wakes up or after he eats. As little as he cried/fussed before, it is even less now, because I know that most of his fussing has a reason behind it, and once the need is met, he stops crying. I have known people whose children were fully trained by 7 months with this method, and 99% are out of diapers before age 2, with few or no potty training fights or tears. To me, that is completely worth taking a few minutes out of my day to take Hunter to the potty.

There are so many options out there for parenting, but I can't imagine changing any of the things I do when I see benefits from them every single day!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Born a sinner

When I look down at my beautiful 3 1/2 month old son, I want to think that he is perfect. I want to think that he will grow up to be a wonderful Godly man, find a good Christian wife, and never make any mistakes or fall into the trap of sin, and will always do exactly what he should in the eyes of God. Such a sweet tempered, mild mannered, smiling child who only cries for a minute or two a day, if that, can't possible be a sinner.

But he is.

Just like everyone else on the planet, my beautiful baby boy was born with the sin of Adam upon his head, and as his mother, I (along with my husband) have been given the responsibility to give him the tools he will need later in life to fight the lifelong battle that is sin.

Now, you may think that I have plenty of time to worry about how we as a family will deal with discipline, but children grow up so fast, I want to be ready when that first defiant scream escapes his lips.

I firmly believe in spanking as a tool for teaching self-discipline. Before you close this blog and call me crazy, let me define spanking for you, starting with the negative: Spanking is NOT an angry slap across the face or any other part of a child's body. It is NOT a spur-of-the-moment reaction to a child's sinful behavior that involves hitting or beating with an object. That is called child abuse, and has nothing in common with true biblical child rearing.

I grew up with two wonderful parents who understood what spanking should really be, so I will outline what happened in my house. The offending child would be taken to my parent's bedroom, where the parent (usually my Dad) sat and asked us what we did, why we did it, and what God said about that. If we didn't know, they looked it up. It was almost always Exodus 20:12, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you." At this point, they reminded us that they love us, and since they love us, they have to do what God commanded them to do, and correct our sinful behavior. The spanking is then administered, a prayer is said asking God's forgiveness for the sin committed against him, then the child is taken to the one he offended (Mom, Dad, sibling) to ask their forgiveness as well.

That, in my opinion, is Biblical spanking. No abuse, no anger, just correction and forgiveness. It is a beautiful thing, and it upsets me to read well-meaning gentle parenting advocates claiming that it is a horrible, barbaric practice, when in reality they are condemning the entire idea based on those who practice spanking incorrectly.

I still have some time before my son needs correction, but once he does, I hope to be the most loving, Godly disciplinarian and mother that I can be.

For a more in-depth article on Biblical spanking, with scripture quoted, I really enjoyed reading "eight misconceptions about spanking" by David Reagan. I do think the section about manipulative crying applies only to older children; young infants, for the most part, cry when their needs are not met, so for now I treat all of Hunter's cries as need-based. The author mentions later in the article that spanking an infant is wrong and cruel, and I agree completely.