I never knew about attachment parenting was when I was pregnant or even for a long time after I had given birth. I was essentially parenting by instinct. I'd read all about what to do for the birth (and then thrown all my plans out the window - you can read about that here). I forgot to figure out what to do after. I literally sat in the hospital alone with my beautiful boy thinking 'well what do I do now'. I'd just fed him in the night and put him down, the midwife checked his temperature and scolded me that he needed feeding, I should be feeding him. I took him home and he had jaundice and then because of the heat at the time he wouldn't wake to feed. Once he was feeding I wonder if that is why I fed him pretty much constantly until he started to be interested in other things. I wonder if that is why I hated to put him down, and he hated to be put down.
So I exclusively breast-fed Kit for a long time. For a long time I held him all the time when I was at home, he slept on me and often in bed with me. Once it stopped being too hot for him, and he stopped hating carriers I baby-wore a lot, I still carry him too much. He pretty much baby-led weaned, although with purees added in, but always organic and no added sugar or salt. He was my shadow for 16 months, rarely leaving my side and getting all the attention that he craved. From reading about parenting I think I could have claimed to be an attachment parent. And then reality kicked in.
At 6 months I'd left Kit's Dad. I'd been living at my parents. At 16 months I moved out. I'd had no money for a few months, living off jobseekers allowance, and my jobseeking had paid off. I had a job. I was moving to live alone with my son, and I was going to have to leave him with someone else while I worked. I didn't want to, but he was eating more and I thought it might be nice to have enough money to buy us food. Suddenly, my dreams of stay-at-home parenting, homeschooling and devoting all my time to ensuring that my son had the best life possible were quashed. My parenting style was going to have to change too.
When we moved Kit had his own room for the first time so he slept in there (he rarely does now, I have a fidgety human hot-water bottle in my bed most nights), and he had already pretty much weaned himself off breastfeeding so we let it go, he was happy and content about both. He wasn't happy to be left with his childminder to start with, but pretty soon he was as happy to go there, now he bounds along to a full day at pre-school and cheers when I tell him he is going. I wasn't keen on the idea of the 'naughty step' and it amused me that his childminder said he thought it was a fun game. But, I do use our own form of time-out. Kit is fairly hyper, he gets tired but doesn't like to miss out and go to sleep then he gets even more hyper to keep himself awake, he flails and hits and bites and generally turns into a small tornado-like monster, when he does this a few minutes sitting in his room in the quiet calms him down so that he can get on with enjoying himself without causing physical harm to himself or anyone else, and he normally comes out happier. I haven't managed to find any other way of calming him down so it works for us. And no he doesn't do it because I feed him rubbish, I'm mean like that, it's all salad and rice-cakes in this flat (apart from on cake-days!).
I've been reading a few parenting books recently and it is really easy to beat yourself up that you aren't doing something right. It's alright though because it is also fairly easy to find someone that says you are doing it right, because there are so many parenting books out there and even if it isn't the trendy parenting style this week it will probably change next week. The main thing I've learnt on my road to parenting so far is that people are individuals. And more importantly, children are individuals. And no-one else knows what is best for your child any better than you, you probably know better than them.
I know that I raise my voice more than I want to, but actually my son raises his voice to me more often, and I work really hard to only do so when he is about to do something that might injure him or something else, which is quite a lot (if you've met my son you'll probably agree). I still would rather not send him to school at 4, but I live in a society where unless you have someone else to financially support you, you really have to work. I don't have that level of support. I worry that my son hasn't learnt any phonics and is facetious so when you ask him to count he doesn't do it right (even though I know he can), but I also don't want to push him, I really believe in letting children be children and I have no interest in making him sit at a desk and read and write until he really wants to learn, it's a shame that society here doesn't agree. I don't want to scold him, or for him to be scolded at school for being a child. I want him to explore life, and so long as he isn't being destructive or violent, or he isn't risking injuring himself, I don't want to control him. I need him to understand that sometimes we have to do things he might not want to, and I think it is important that he learns how to be act as part of society, so yes I do make him say 'please' and 'thank you' and he does share, I don't consider that to be about development but part of learning to live in society, to make friends and influence people so to speak. I wish I was less stressed with life in general at the moment and I could be fully present with him all the time I was with him, but life has it's bumps in the road and I'm positive that once we're on the way back up again that I will be more aware and present than I ever was before.
I parent for my child and for my situation, if I had a different child and I was in a different situation I'm sure I would do it differently. There are things that I personally do think are universally bad-parenting, but I think a lot of what people turn their noses up about is something that they either don't need to do for their child or things that other parents might love to be able to have the time or money to do to but don't because they are in a different situation. I don't think that situations should be used as excuses, but I do think that parenting 'gurus' need to consider reality when they prescribe new ways of parenting. For us, for now, the only parenting philosophy I am standing to is, whatever you do, do it with and for love.