Attachment, Restrictive, or Normal?

Because many of us believe you can only be an attachment parent or a strict one, I am posting this to let you know there is another alternative: Normal.

The Normal parent charts a course between the two extremes of attachment and restrictive parenting.  The Normal parent sense both the injustice and inadequacy of the extremes, as they apply it in everyday life and find the results exhausting and disappointing.

Here are some examples of Normal parenting, as it applies to babies:

  • Attachment: always pick the baby up (or feed it) when it cries.  Don’t put it down again if it means he’ll cry again.
  • Restrictive: never carry the baby if he or she doesn’t need it.  Never get a sling.
  • Normal: pick the baby up when it is crying and see if it helps.  Don’t wear the baby all day, though, because you’re afraid of it crying.  When you’re tired or busy (or need a shower), put her in a safe place.
  • Attachment: always co-sleep with the baby.  Cribs are cruel.
  • Restrictive: never put the baby in your bed.  Leave it in the crib until gets used to it.
  • Normal: keep the baby next to you in the newborn days if it is helpful for nighttime feedings.  Put it in a crib for naps so it gets used to it slowly, and move him out of your own bed as soon as it doesn’t work for you (or your husband) anymore.
  • Attachment: naps are not as important as security.  Don’t put the baby down for a nap unless it happily accepts it.
  • Restrictive: put the baby down for a nap when you’re done feeding it and playing, etc.  You have other things to do, and don’t worry if she hates it.
  • Normal:  Naps are important to development and future healthy sleep.  Not all babies like naps, but they all need them.  help your baby nap by putting her down regularly every couple hours and patting her back occasionally if she cries.
  • Attachment: Feed the baby whenever it cries.  Breastfeeding is your new job.
  • Restrictive.  Put the child on a bottle so you dn’t have to think about it except every four hours.  You don’t want to be tied down.
  • Normal: Breast or bottle feed so it suits your baby’s biological need for food, not you or his emotions.  Enjoy the time, and make changes as necessary.
  • Attachment: Try and keep your baby happy at all times.  If he cries, there is something wrong.  Sad is bad.
  • Restrictive.  Stick the baby in his bouncy seat until you’re ready.  Who cares–he doesn’t know what he wants.  He’ll learn to be patient.
  • Normal: Accept crying as your baby’s voice.  Attend to it but don’t capitulate to unreasonable (or immoral, or unsafe) demands.  Change, but know, your boundaries on your time, space, and rules.
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