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Discuss! at Natural Family Online transcript:

Falling Off the AP Wagon

Lisa P.
Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 12:10 am Post subject: Falling off the wagon


Have you ever fallen off the AP/natural wagon? Have you suddenly found yourself parenting in a more detached manner or living in less healthy, more mainstream ways than you really intend to do? Have your good intentions gotten lost in the hustle and bustle of American llife?

Why do you think this happens? What are some of the danger zones? What about warning signs?

Let's talk!

Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:16 am Post subject:


You mean like last weekend when I suddenly had the urge to go get Taco Bell for dinner?
Yes, I do stuff like that all the time. And for the most part, I don't even feel bad about it either. It mostly happens for me on the weekend. By then I'm tired, I don't want to cook, everyone's home & I feel a little smothered sometimes.

Lisa P.
Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:24 am Post subject:


Heh, Taco Bell. Gotta love it.

I think things like that are more a question of your chosen balance. While plenty of families go all the way with particular eating styles, for instance, there are plenty of in-betweeners who strive to eat whole, organic, healthy foods most of the time in order to give them the leeway to "live a little." You'll probably find a lot of those families here at NFO ... we're a spot for "midstreamers" who live at some degree back toward mainstream along the line from crunchy-granola natural.

The kind of "falling off the wagon" that bothers me is the more serious kind where families lose their parenting focus altogether. For instance, mothers who have worked so hard on APing their babies who lose sight of their philosophies completely once the toddler/preschool years hit and their little one's needs seem less intense or less manageable by the classic AP baby strategies (babywearing, nursing, cosleeping, etc.). In our local AP/natural parenting group, I see this happen all the time -- one-time dedicated AP mama/baby pairs drop out of sight, finding themselves with no time and interest in AP and natural parenting after being swept up in the daycare/structured activity whirl. They've not only lost sight of the philosophies and practices they valued so much during the baby years, but they've lost sight of how to balance them with mainstream life and how to implement AP and natural parenting beyond the early years.

Anyone struggling with this?

Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:43 am Post subject:


IKWYM. It is especially challenging if you have an older child & you are a parent that needs to return to work so the child is in out-of-home care or if your child is schooled outside the home. Adapting your definition of "AP" or "natural parenting" when the child is not in close physical proximity is what seems to me to be a big hurdle for a lot of families. I think it was easier for me because when my boys were little, I had never heard of AP or any other approaches so I really didn't think much about my philosophy. I just did what worked.

Lisa P.
Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 3:35 pm Post subject:


Exactly. And most families I know who are faced with that challenge just give up and go with the flow -- rationalizing all the way. I find that a lot of it gets shuffled under the "I need to find/express/be myself" rug. Others, though, simply seem to be at a loss for how to keep their families together in contrast to a never-ending stream of school and work and extracurricular activities. Or they fall back on "convenience" items more and more frequently until they're back to using substitutes full time (diapers, formula, daily care providers, what/how many TV/videos are allowed ... things they had worked so hard to remove from their family lifestyles up to that point).

Homeschooling and self-employment for me has helped my family preserve our time and relationships to a large extent. Most of the families in the HS group we belong to consider HSing yet another facet of their family lifestyle (rather than solely a response to particular educational, developmental or social needs). I feel very lucky to have found a group of people who manage to continue living the values they established when their children were young, and I greatly admire those who are persisting well into the teen years. These families are fonts of wisdom and experience!

What are some of your "anti-wagon-hopping" solutions?

Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 3:48 pm Post subject:


Even during the times when my kids went to daycare or school, I think the most important thing is to stay involved. Just because the kids aren't with you doesn't mean you give up authority over what happens to them. Too often parents feel like they don't have a say anymore once kids enter those settings & that's just not true. It has to be a partnership among everyone involved-- one in which the parent authorizes what happens. Along the lines of staying involved, IMO it's important to take time out at the end of the day & really talk to the child about what happened that day & how they felt about the events. They still need our guidance & they need to know that we're backing them up even though we're not standing right there. That emotional security is very empowering for a child.

Lisa P.
Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 9:59 am Post subject:


Here's an odd observation about being tempted to slide off the wagon:

I find that living a more home-based, family-oriented lifestyle can put me in the odd position of looking like an old-fashioned, authoritarian meanie to outsiders. Because we homeschool, we combine lots of time spent at home with an equal amount of mad scrambling to make it to all our various groups and activities. We work as a team to make this happen -- everyone does his or her own part. The two-year-old sets that table, the 10-year-old clears it. Big kids do their own laundry ... and so on. In this day and age, I'm often looked at with utter amazement over "making my kids do all that." I guess there are lots of families out there who don't spend enough time at home that their kids even know where to find a cloth to wipe up their own messes with!

This attitude does affect me periodically when it builds up enough that I begin to question whether or not I *am* being a big meanie. It's like everything else -- when you do things differently, you have to be strong in your convictions to stand up under cultural pressure. I just have to remove the emotional component ("No, I'm not being unrealistic and no, I'm not a big meanie") and remember why we do things the way we do. It's such a boost when my kids tell me and show me how proud they are to be self-sufficient. It really is worth the effort!

Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 10:08 am Post subject:


That is so right on! I have always told my kids that they are expected to contribute to the functioning of our household community. That means that they are indeed expected to help out with certain chores. They are expected to clean & vacuum their side of the house (minus the actual scrubbing of the bathroom), they are expected to put away their own laundry, they are expected to collect their linens, they are expected to help clean up the dinner mess. My mother always said that she would be doing us a disservice if she didn't teach us how to take care of basic self-care like laundry. That's the same philosophy I've tried to follow.

Back to top

Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:21 am Post subject:


Lisa P. wrote:
I just have to remove the emotional component ("No, I'm not being unrealistic and no, I'm not a big meanie") and remember why we do things the way we do.

I always find it so amusing, on one hand a lot of people think I'm too strict with our 2 year old because we require him to say "Please" and "Thank You," pick up his own toys at the end of the day, and behave himself appropriately in adult situations - restaurants, Church, etc. Then on the other hand, we've had perfect strangers come up to us in public and comment on what a well-behaved little boy he is.

My take on the "meanie" aspect is, I'm ok with some people thinking I'm a meanie. (I've been called worse!) It's all about results - we didn't become parents in order to be our kids buddies (that's what they have other kids for), but to help them grow up to be better than society expects them to be. If that means being different, I don't see that as such a bad thing. Besides - what a great support community we've got, all us oddballs!

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 12:30 pm Post subject:


Lisa P. wrote:
mothers who have worked so hard on APing their babies who lose sight of their philosophies completely once the toddler/preschool years hit and their little one's needs seem less intense or less manageable by the classic AP baby strategies (babywearing, nursing, cosleeping, etc.).

Anyone struggling with this?

I'm struggling with it big-time, but not exactly b/c of "busy-ness". I just can't give Meg everything I used to with two new babies around. I hate it, I feel like I'm neglecting her. I put her in Montessori in the mornings b/c I felt so much like I was ignoring her needs and they could meet them better.

Lisa P.

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 4:15 pm Post subject:


Analisa, do you know how I know that it's not as bad as you think?

The Continuum Concept

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 6:16 pm Post subject:


That's the reason my boys go to school-- because their needs are better met there that I feel they would be at home. I don't think that has to reflect negatively on me either. I'm glad it's available for them & that they are so happy there.

Posted: Sat Apr 10, 2004 1:47 pm Post subject:


Lisa, I have read the CC (thanks to LLL Lewisville's library) but I don't see how it applies...

Lisa P.
Posted: Sat Apr 10, 2004 8:53 pm Post subject:


analisa_roche wrote:
I just can't give Meg everything I used to with two new babies around.

According to CC, that's only natural. What the Continuum Concept emphasizes is that it is natural for young children to get what they need from being with adults in the course of our daily lives. It's not necessary to spend time exclusively focused on children, "enriching" them. CC says that parenting is about being responsive to children's immediate needs for comfort and contact within a context of daily life and adult interactions and business.

When you plug that concept into the reality of a growing family, what you get is ... well, just normal family life. By CC standards, it's not really normal or natural to have a mother at home devoting all her time and energy to one child. It *is* normal to have broader support from extended family and immediate neighbors and friends, and it *is* normal to have siblings who share the primary caregiver's focus.

From a CC perspective, then, the thing to remember as the family grows is that you aren't so much losing the ability to give the first child what she needs as you are shifting from an environment that was artificially child-centered toward one that is more naturally family- (i.e. group-, other- and even adult-) centered.

... So my point with bringing up CC being that it's not that you personally are not able to continue meeting your first child's needs anymore and are "falling off the AP wagon" -- it's that you're now in a position where constant, one-on-one attention isn't possible or even desirable anymore. You're not losing AP practices by broadening the focus on the family; you're simply coming into a more natural rhythm of taking multiple needs into consideration. In my mind (if in none others' ), that's not "falling off the AP wagon" at all!

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:13 pm Post subject:


So the part that's missing (no big surprise here) is the extended community that helps me meet their needs. I was just reading in Byron Child magazine about how Attachment Parenting might better be termed Community Parenting b/c of that whole "it takes a village" thing.

Thanks for the reminder, I understand now. Don't think I've fully processed the book, there's an awful lot in it!


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