Creating a Village
an article by Jenni Pertuset
(our site's article review)
Jenni Pertuset is an Attachment Parenting International of Seattle (API Seattle) leader and parent consultant. Attachment Parenting International of Seattle (API Seattle) is a support group affiliated with Attachment Parenting International that provides encouragement, advice, education, and friendship for attachment-focused families. They form a “village” of connected families. API Seattle families gather regularly for playgroups, potlucks, and other social events, and maintain a lively, encouraging, and respectful online discussion. They offer parent education through monthly topical meetings, occasional seminars and other enrichment events, and resources such as a lending library of attachment-focused parenting books and other media.
Attachment Parenting International of Seattle offers a lending library of attachment-focused parenting books and other media
The article takes a look at the question: How do we build the village we need to raise our children? Pertuset's working definition of a 'village' is that it is "a connected community of caring adults who support us in nurturing our relationships with our children. A village isn’t just a set of friends. It is those friends, neighbors, extended family members, and acquaintances who, whether it’s intentional or even knowing, help deliver us as parents to our children. We are of course not just recipients of support, but full participants, offering our caring and support to others."
A village subcommunity of the past
She says that building a village requires effort and persistence, as well as vulnerability and diversity, and it can include having caring adults from outside your nuclear family included in your family's rituals, traditions, and celebrations such as holidays, birthdays, or regular meals. Even take camping trips with them.
What does all this "encouragement" do when working or sick parents need childcare help? What about when a parent is depressed or in a bad mood but the kids need good nurturing? Surely she doesn't want a depressed, sad mom—who desperately needs to be alone—to do childcare, since it would not be good childcare!
These Attachment Parenting International support group members form a “village” of connected families for the good of their kids and the adult members, for connectedness and networking, encouragement, advice, education, and friendship for attachment-focused families. But is there actual shared childcare? She doesn't say. What does all this "encouragement" do when working or sick parents need childcare help? What about when a parent is depressed or in a bad mood but the kids need good nurturing? Surely she doesn't want a depressed, sad mom—who desperately needs to be alone—to do childcare, since it would not be good childcare.
The key to a child’s optimal development is a secure attachment to a caring, competent, and confident adult who can see and meet the child’s needs. When needed, parents must choose alternate caregivers who have formed a bond with the child and who care for him in a way that strengthens the attachment relationship. Aletha J. Solter, the Aware Parenting parenting expert (it's a type of attachment parenting, probably the best type), says “One way to make the job of parenting easier is to find other people to help you. You do not need to do the job alone. If you cannot afford to pay someone, perhaps you can trade help with other parents." (See Smart Mom's Baby-sitting Co-op Handbook.)
Many times childcare situations involve a caregiver too tired to care or too frazzled or too upset and the child feels this disconnection, and the child would choose a different caregiver if allowed. Why should a baby be stuck with being held by a frazzled, upset mother when a calm, happy, alternate caregiver is available? In an MC, such alternatives are always available and kids may choose one of them at any time, but in normal attachment parenting, alternate nurturers will be available only sometimes, and the idea of allowing a kid to choose who she wants to be with never occurs to anyone.
Why should a baby be stuck with being held by a frazzled, upset mother when a calm, happy, alternate caregiver is available?
As you can see, a friend or neighbor may be good to simply watch the child in a maintenance capacity, but may be a poor need filler, which is why attachment parents always try to choose alternate caregivers who have formed a bond with the child and who care for him, and yet that will often be too difficult to be pragmatic. So the kid will go from a frazzled parent, who doesn't fill needs, to a paid babysitter, who is more interested in her own needs for TV and texting than the child's needs, to a daycare center—only 12% of which do a good job of caregiving. Ouch! Trying to choose alternate caregivers who care deeply for the child will always happen, but succeeding at it will happen only sometimes. So attachment parents' kids will have partially deficient nurturing sometimes, and yet MCs will not—all nurturing bases are covered. See The Forest Through The Trees.
The saying "it takes a village to raise a child" is ancient African wisdom that applies to all countries, all families, and all children in the past, present and future. It indicates multiple caregiving and parents parenting only when feeling nurturing, always knowing that there are backup plans in place. It's interesting that AP parents realize the need for support networks that feel like a village, and yet the AP "neighbors" are not near enough to be legitimate alternate caregivers in this village, even though, from strategic and pragmatic viewpoints, that is by far the most obvious need. It's almost like the AP support network villages are people to whom parents can complain and from whom they can receive encouragement, but rarely receive real parenting help.
We totally concur with the village creation idea as parents can use all the support they can get. But the biggest reason to do it is the one area AP people would need the most, and yet most AP villages would not be set up to handle this without an inordinate amount of driving. It's hard to believe that many of these AP parents just happen to live near each other. So maybe it is about time these good folks formed MCs so they could have their cake and eat it too!
Maybe it is about time these good AP folks formed MCs so they could have their cake and eat it too
Pam Leo (the Connection Parenting expert who also respects AP) says that “parenting never used to be and was never intended by nature to be a one or two person job. Families work best when everyone's needs are met. It does take a village to meet the needs of children and parents.”
Aletha J. Solter, the Aware Parenting (a type of attachment parenting) expert, says we shouldn't feel bad if we have to work at an outside job, rather than spending every day with our kid. She notes that “Many people find that they are actually better parents with more attention for their children when they are not constantly with them.” This is very Aware Parenting indeed! If you choose attachment parenting, avoid William Sears' books and instead use Aware Parenting by Aletha J. Solter, and read her Tears and Tantrums as well as Attached at the Heart, by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker.
Attachment parenting is also authoritative parenting. But the Sears version is just barely so, so it needs to be avoided for every facet of discipline and just used for his baby and AP information. The mistakes William Sears The Baby Book makes are use of rewards and punishments (even spanking, although it’s discouraged), using orders when deemed necessary (e.g., breaking up a squabble), using nondemocratic power tactics, providing too little focus on the win-win context of parental needs being filled as well as kids’ needs, including too much sexism, including old-fashioned Second Wave ideas about family structure and function especially with regards to mothers, and assuming too much—naïvely—about the available time parents will have to be around kids in modern society.
A village subcommunity of the past