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Has anyone been less attachment-parenty with later children?

(15 Posts)
BertieBotts Mon 04-Jul-16 10:20:00

Can I ask what prompted the change and how you felt about it?

I was really full on AP with DS (now 7) but circumstance with DC2 (TTC) will be different and make that harder, and I feel a bit sad about it. I can change the circumstance in order to be more AP but that would short change DH and I feel it's a bit selfish. And also, that when it comes down to it, I might actually be just fine. So would be selfish for no good reason.

Any thoughts/experiences?

foolonthehill Mon 04-Jul-16 10:43:35

I have 4 children all quite close in age...I found I inevitably parented each one slightly differently.Now I look back (youngest is 9) and see it was a combination of their character and needs, our family situation and my chosen/intuitive parenting style.

I would encourage you to parent as a couple and to "family" as a foursome. Ds is in the mix too and having DC2 permanently attached to you would impair his bonding experience. Think how excluding it could be for him if DC2 is in a sling on your front permanently and he cannot snuggle close for cuddles (on your back might help this).

Your first child is a different experience to your second...whatever your parenting choices. Don't try to make it the same, work with the new dynamic and make it just as good but different. Remember your DC2 will respond differently anyway.

enjoy your new baby and continue to enjoy DC1...it's a great adventure and I am sure you will provide the best and most loving family with lots of bonding experiences for all 4 of you.

foolonthehill Mon 04-Jul-16 10:43:36

I have 4 children all quite close in age...I found I inevitably parented each one slightly differently.Now I look back (youngest is 9) and see it was a combination of their character and needs, our family situation and my chosen/intuitive parenting style.

I would encourage you to parent as a couple and to "family" as a foursome. Ds is in the mix too and having DC2 permanently attached to you would impair his bonding experience. Think how excluding it could be for him if DC2 is in a sling on your front permanently and he cannot snuggle close for cuddles (on your back might help this).

Your first child is a different experience to your second...whatever your parenting choices. Don't try to make it the same, work with the new dynamic and make it just as good but different. Remember your DC2 will respond differently anyway.

enjoy your new baby and continue to enjoy DC1...it's a great adventure and I am sure you will provide the best and most loving family with lots of bonding experiences for all 4 of you.

corythatwas Mon 04-Jul-16 12:13:29

"a combination of their character and needs, our family situation and my chosen/intuitive parenting style"

This. All of it.

My eldest was a high anxiety child, very clingy, with an almost constant need for physical contact. My youngest is more like me in many ways, likes to be in outward control of his emotions, doesn't like asking for help though he can be very supportive if asked, and hates emotional drama. Parenting them the same would not have been kind to either of them.

Also, as fool says, the situation in itself. When dd was a baby I was free to respond instantly to her, because I had no other responsibilities. When ds was a baby, I still had to respond to dd, and as she was mobile her capacity for getting into trouble if unattended was infinitely greater.

In the event, I don't really think either of them has been short-changed: they have a great relationship with each other, which suggests they don't feel too bereft. A lot of the time your arms can reach around both of them (or all 4, as in fool's case- I was one of 4 and never felt left out) and you can balance their needs.

Also, don't forget- they'll have each other: you and your dh will no longer be the only people around to meet their emotional needs. While you can't dictate this, it is a wonderful thing when it happens: it feels so good to know that if my teen feels he cannot talk to the oldies about something, he still has a kind and understanding sister who will know where he is coming from better than we can. And vice versa.

babyblabber Mon 04-Jul-16 16:20:00

Will be watching this as am expecting number 4 and considering only breastfeeding for a month or so. I'd love to be on an easier/more predictable schedule with bottles and possibly get more sleep sooner so I'm not a zombie for months with the 3 I have. But then I feel guilty that the last one gets less!

FATEdestiny Mon 04-Jul-16 16:50:32

7 years plus is a big age gap OP. You will be able to dote on DC2 more than you imagine. At 7 years old your DC1 will be independent in many ways I would imagine - can eat meals without your help, get dressed, play, entertain himself, etc.

I am not suggesting your eldest doesn't need you, but it's a very different situation than having a newborn and a toddler.

You may be able to attachment parent more than you imagine. If you want to.

Roomba Mon 04-Jul-16 20:58:24

I definitely parented my two differently. For purely practical reasons - I couldn't just fulfil DS2's every need immediately as I also had to fit in DS1's life - school runs, meal times, bedtimes - so sometimes DS2 just had to wait (as did DS1 which was probably a bit of a shock for him). Whereas with DS1 I usually knew what he wanted before he even got a chance to cry for it, I was very attuned to his needs.

But also temperament - DS1 was a very placid baby who was happy as long as he was in the sling and slept and napped well. DS2 was a shrieking ball of fury who hated the sling and did not want to sleep, ever. He had awful reflux so I think I was actually a lot more anxious with him. I couldn't cosleep with him as he hated it - he just wanted to be left alone in a dark room and not be disturbed, once the reflux got better.

I dealt with their eating differently, too. DS1 was all home cooked Annabel Karmel goodness, no sugar, sweetners and other 'crap'. DS2 I just feel lucky if he will actually eat anything, so I'm much more relaxed.

I'm not having any more, but if I did, I definitely wouldn't breastfeed. This may be surprising as I fed DS1 until he was 2 and DS2 until 3. But whilst I loved it and found it easy, I would need the flexibility of bottle feeding, and the ability to sleep while someone else did night feeds sometimes. I feel I've done my bit on that front, and it utterly exhausted me and left me anaemic, underweight and with undetectable vitamin D in the end. Plus it meant I had to be with the baby 24/7, only I could settle them to sleep... it took a big toll on my mental health. So I'd be even less 'attachment parenty' if I ever had another child.

ODog Mon 04-Jul-16 22:03:18

This is a really interesting thread. I breast fed and coslept from birth and wore DS in a sling, more out of necessity as he was...er...challenging he's still highly strung at 2 .

I now have 7 week old DD and while I breastfeed, cosleep and sling her, I am often slower to respond to her as I have the highly strung toddler to deal with. She gets left to entertain herself on a playmat or bouncy chair a lot or carted about to toddler groups in a sling which she seems happy with so I try not to get guilty. I'm just icky she's a reasonably placid baby.

QueenOfNowt Mon 04-Jul-16 22:18:09

Oh gosh, Roomba, your post makes me want to weep with my own exhaustion. I have a DD (just turned two) and recently had a baby who is reflux and poorly. I'm exhausted from the months of breastfeeding, co-sleeping and slinging. The toddler is indomitable. Sometimes I stand on the spot in the middle of town and just cry. I miss the Gina Ford predictability of routine and formula sad

QueenOfNowt Mon 04-Jul-16 22:19:24

Sorry to hijack, Bertie.

BertieBotts Tue 05-Jul-16 13:34:42

OK I probably should have put more in the OP, sorry! I was trying not to write an essay.

In many ways having DC2 will be like having a first child as DS is at school all day. He's also very independent (children walk to school alone here) and loves the idea of helping with a baby. Age gap likely to be 8 or 9 years rather than 7 in total. The main issues I'm looking at are whether to go back to work much much earlier, whether to breastfeed and co-sleep. Not things like using slings as that is more of a matter of convenience IMO.

We are in Germany so DH can share parental leave and it's how we split it, basically. I have this feeling DH would be an awesome SAHD and he wants to do it. But I'm having an emotional response to the idea of leaving a very young baby (2, 3, 4 months). The later I go back to work the less time DH has at home. It's covered up to 1 year.

Then the BF issue follows on since if I was at work it would be harder (but not impossible, and we've talked about how we could make BF work in this way) - and also because there is potentially some medication I could take when not BF that isn't advised when BF which could make a significant difference to my life/mental health (with one of the ironic things about it being that it could enable me to actually enjoy the SAHM role rather than feeling like I am slowly withering and dying)

And then if I don't BF and I'm working what would be the point of co-sleeping, since DH could/would do night feeds.

In some ways, then, that actually feels quite freeing. Have a baby that isn't attached to me all the time and who sleeps in a box in the bedroom and I don't have to deal with at night? Alien. Novel. Maybe exciting. But on the other hand, I would probably miss it. And lots of people have grand plans to have their babies sleep in cots but they don't settle. And by the time a baby woke DH up I'd be awake anyway whereas I always found night feeds effortless with co-sleeping. (But my memory is old enough to be unreliable, and I wasn't working.)

Anyway thank you for all your responses and sorry for the drip feed. I definitely take the point of being less PFB and less AP naturally with the second because you have other things in your life. I am definitely more matter of fact in my approach now than I was 7 years ago when I was very much about meeting every need before it was apparent - I know that with DC2 it will be different as everyone in the family has needs and they all need to be juggled and prioritised. I think that is a good thing, actually.

corythatwas Tue 05-Jul-16 17:22:29

It seems as if it is actually more complicated than attachment or not attachment- but also in some ways simpler as it is mainly about practical points which can be broken down and dealt with separately.

"DH can share parental leave and it's how we split it, basically. I have this feeling DH would be an awesome SAHD and he wants to do it. But I'm having an emotional response to the idea of leaving a very young baby (2, 3, 4 months)."

This isn't actually about how your dc is parented: it's about who does that parenting. Your dh can still provide the same level of closeness; the child can still be attachment parented.

"Then the BF issue follows on since if I was at work it would be harder"

Harder but not impossible. You might be able to express some bottles, or even give some bottles of formula without disrupting breastfeeding once dc gets to a few months.

"there is potentially some medication I could take when not BF that isn't advised when BF which could make a significant difference to my life/mental health"

have been there and the thought was agony. In the end my GP pointed out to me that stumbling around in my wrongly-medicated zombie state I was actually a danger to him, and that even if nothing happened, having a mum who was there for him was more important than the milk. It was hard to accept at the time, but with hindsight I can see that all the antibodies in the world would not have been much good to him if I had dropped him on his head because I was so out of it. Of course this depends on how much you need the medicine, but if you are spaced out without it, there will be less attachment than if you are alert and happy with it.

"And then if I don't BF and I'm working what would be the point of co-sleeping, since DH could/would do night feeds."

This isn't something you have to decide once and for all; you could test various solutions and see what works.

BertieBotts Tue 05-Jul-16 19:10:31

Yeah of course. You're right about the night time thing.

I'm not spaced out without meds and I've lasted all my life without them as it's only within the last year it's come out that they might help me. It's more that they'd push me from surviving to thriving (and that's if they work for me). It's not really antibodies that I BF for - that's a nice bonus but predominantly it's a mixture of the fact I find it convenient (which wouldn't really be an issue if DH was doing most things anyway) and the fact that while I don't believe breastfeeding makes you a better parent, I feel like it makes me a better parent because it's one of the things I felt I was really good at and could manage. It's the later stuff I struggle with really and it seems a shame to skip a part of the parent/child relationship that I just enjoyed and felt really fulfilled by last time, if that doesn't sound too wanky.

foolonthehill Wed 06-Jul-16 10:51:09

just popped back to apologise for double posting and to catch up (hi Bertie).

Personally I wouldn't overthink everything too much, you may well find that you naturally feel your way to the decisions as they arise. You are in a very very different place now than you were with DS1 with lots of advantages as well as challenges. In any case the mere fact that you are thinking about these things shows how awesome you and DP will be as parents. You can't predict much in life, babies are people too and need different things, health is very precious, thriving would be wonderful...but you have time and you will most definitely make the best choices for your family together as and when you need.

BertieBotts Wed 06-Jul-16 16:11:38

Thanks foolonthehill! smile

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