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Attachment Parenting Article
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When Your Parenting Comes Under Fire

By Lisa Poisso

People say the darnedest things sometimes -- and natural parenting practices can be a common target in mainstream America. How do you respond when people question or criticize your parenting? And how can you build bridges with inquisitors, helping them hear and consider new ideas about attachment parenting and natural parenting?

Deirdre Monahan, a cosleeping mother from South Dakota, has tried all sorts of tactics with friends and family members who question her parenting style. “My family of origin has some different ideas about raising children,” she says. “I think I have used everyone of these at some time or another.” Try out some of Deirdre’s gentle (and some not-so-gentle, but still respectful) comebacks, easily adapted to your own particular situation.

• How interesting that you find the need to comment on/question us about how our family sleeps.

• I would love to have your help folding this laundry.

• The family that sleeps together, snores together!

• We believe that our family gets to decide for itself how we do things.

• Yeah, we still sleep together frequently. Isn't snuggling up as a family the greatest thing in the world? There is nothing sweeter, in my opinion. Don't you just love it, too?

• I thought when I had kids that they would probably need me on and off in different ways at different times their whole lives. So her needing me this way, at this time, and my meeting that need -- that's just what parents do, right?

• Yeah kids are the greatest, huh?

• Can't sleep with 'em, can't sleep without 'em ...

• Picking your nose is a habit; snuggling is a pleasure.

• What? Baby my baby? No way, wouldn't dream of it! (big grin)

• I am hoping that she will indeed develop the "habit" of coming to me to get her needs met. We hope that will be a habit she will continue into her teens, instead of doing drugs or engaging in early sex.

• Meeting my children's need for safety and security is a pleasure.

• Unless you want to discuss your personal pleasures when it comes to bedtime, I think you should MYOB.

• I am uncomfortable talking about how our family sleeps. You have made a big deal of this, have tried to shame us about it and are trying to make her seem abnormal for meeting her natural needs for security. Let's talk about something else.

• Why do you feel that this is any of your business?

• Why do you want to start this up again?

• Even big girls need snuggling. There is nothing wrong with that, is there?

• I didn't realize there was a age/weight limit on a child's having her needs met.

• So what do you do -- send them back to bed alone when they need you? Really? Oh...hum...Poor kids...

• We all are doing the best we can. Being a parent is hard.

• Please don't try to shame my child about needing her parents at night. It's inappropriate and hurtful.

• Please stop trying to shame me about sleeping with my child. It hurts my feelings and does nothing to change my mind. Our decision is well thought out, well researched and works best for our family.

• Thanks for your opinion. Please pass the potatoes.

Be the change you want to see

How can you get people to listen to and consider attachment parenting ideas? Be the change you want to see in others. Don't create battles. Give people a way in to what they probably see as a radical approach far from the safety net of mainstream approval.

"First you ask, 'What am I here for? To be right? Or to connect with people and get something done?'" says activist Andre Carothers, quoted in an article on communication skills for activism in Utne Reader (March-April 2003). "Once you've established that, take a deep breath and listen really carefully. Put yourself in their shoes, imagine what it's like for them to be with you at this moment.

"After you are sure that they feel heard, deliver your truth in a way that is easy for them to hear. You want to position yourself in a way that moves a person toward you. That is rarely, if ever, a combative position. It's always this welcoming position. So if you can keep yourself in this welcoming posture, you can talk to anyone and have a humane and intelligent conversation rather than an oppositional one. People don't get moved through being persuaded. People get moved through being aligned."

This article originally appeared at Vegetarian Baby and Child Online Magazine.

Lisa Poisso has performed in ballet and musical theatre, edited magazines, slogged through the world of corporate communications and run a home-based writing and editing business while raising a family. A passionate advocate for attachment parenting and natural family living, she is the founder and publisher of APConnect!, Dallas/Fort Worth’s online resource for AP and natural parenting. She writes for publications and edits for authors specializing in the natural family, attachment parenting, vegetarian and parenting fields.


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