Before I entered the world of Parent Blogging I didn’t realise how inclined people are to categorise themselves when it comes to parenting styles. I breastfed George and have on occasion let him sleep in our bed if he’s needed comforting at night, however, I have never felt inclined to declare this on my various social media bios. This is by no means a post attacking those who define themselves as particular ‘types’ of parents, if you are proud that you breastfed, co-slept, wore your baby etc. then that is fantastic, be proud of your parenting skills! I just find it interesting that as a community we divide ourselves by using possibly unnecessary labels when it would be much more beneficial to just support each other in our varying styles of parenting. Two main categories I often come across are ‘Attachment Parenting’ and ‘Breastfeeder’, although there are many, many more out there.
‘Attachment Parenting’ is the label which troubles me the most. It is simply defined as, ‘an approach to raising infants that aims to promote a close relationship between the baby and its parents by methods such as feeding on demand and letting the baby sleep with its parents’. If this definition is correct then are all parents not doing this? Surely it is impossible to ignore a hungry baby’s cry for food, or to not doze off with your child on at least a few occasions, even if it’s just so you can catch a few minutes of sleep yourself. My main worry is if I don’t declare myself as an ‘Attachment Parent’ does this mean I am unattached from my child? I am certain that no-one would call themselves an ‘Unattached Parent’, therefore why is it necessary to create a division; those attached, and those undeclared. I recently read a great article on the Huffington Post all about Attachment Parenting as a label, it was so great it almost put me off writing this post altogether for fear that my own writing would seem totally unoriginal in comparison!
Another label I often come across is ‘Breastfeeder’, although rather strangely I rarely see a ‘Formula Feeder’ declaration. To breastfeed or not to breastfeed is a hot topic amongst parents-to-be, new parents, and those of us who have long since passed through that stage, especially when everyone from Jamie Oliver to your next door neighbours Auntie seems to think it’s appropriate for them to weigh in on your decision. I personally chose to breastfeed George, the milk was there and we were both comfortable with it so why not? However, I completely understand the choice not to do so, trying to force yourself into a mould which does not fit is simply ridiculous. We are lucky enough to live in a world where we have created a near-replica of breastmilk which offers the same nutritional values to our babies, so why not proudly use it? I think that the whole ‘breast is best’, ‘breast v bottle’ debate is not only unnecessary, but condescending. As long as we are feeding our babies and they are growing up healthy and happy shouldn’t we all support each other in our parenting decisions?
I think my main point here is that defining ourselves as one kind of parent is alienating and often causes a feeling of inferiority amongst those who wouldn’t define themselves in the same way. As a community, parents generally understand the feelings of guilt, self-doubt and worry that go hand-in-hand with having a child, therefore why do we put further pressure on each other to fit into arbitrary categories that all simply fit under one heading – Parent. I’d personally describe myself as a ‘get through the day with more smiles than tears even if that means using chocolate as a bribe’type of parent, but that’s too long for a Twitter bio anyway.