Precepts scare me. My mind can turn any set of precepts into another explanation of why I have failed and my family will need some serious therapy. Just writing about this is too much. I think I need to break for some pranayama.
But I have found that Dr. William Sears' seven precepts (known as the seven B's) of Attachment Parenting are different. Sears's list essentially says: Trust your baby, trust your parenting instincts and get support from friends and family. This, perhaps, I can stomach.
Sears's seven B's of Attachment Parenting are, more specifically, as follows:
1. Birth bonding. Take an active role in the birth you want. Educate yourself. Speak openly with your obstetrician, midwife and/or birth attendants. Be fully present for the birth. It's tough to be a man and write a post like this.
2. Read and respond to your baby's cues. Newborns don't misbehave. They communicate. We just need to watch and listen. And try things. Even if you misunderstand a cue -- offering a nurse when all little Jimmy wanted was a cuddle -- he'll let you know and you will refine your ability to understand. Translation: I promise that baby Jimmy is not f*cking with you. It may seem that he is. It will seem that he is.
3. Breastfeeding. The benefits of breastfeeding are endless. Mom gets happy hormones. Baby gets antibodies. No one has to get up in the middle of the night and walk across the cold linoleum to mix a bottle.
4. Babywearing. (That is, carrying baby in a sling or wrap.) Sears says carried babies cry less and grow more. In Northampton, MA, where I live, parents favor baby carriers and wraps. There's always a qualifier when using a stroller, "I'd have all three boys in a carrier on my back, but I threw out my SI joint in chaturanga last week."
5. Bedding close to baby. (a.k.a. cosleeping). Sears wonders when and why this practice became so controversial. He has found that because it's so discouraged in the mainstream, lots of families who actually do cosleep don't admit to it. Plus, he reminds us that most babies the world over sleep with their parents. And I know that our ancestors did not have a separate teepee, hut, cave, or dwelling of any sort for their baby.
6. Balance and boundaries. Take care of yourself. A healthy baby needs a healthy mom and dad. Take a night off. Hire a sitter or call Grandma. Have some sex, for Chrissake. Exercise. Eat well. You'll be a better parent when (at least a few of) your own needs are met.
7. Beware of baby trainers. Don't be convinced to follow any dogmas. Ignore any advice that counters your parental instincts to nurture your baby. Turn off Supernanny. Parent from your intuition and your heart.
I love that Sears's seven B's of Attachment Parenting are not dogma but a call to empowerment. They are a call to wake up to my instinctive parenting wisdom: being alert to each moment, assessing what is needed with clear eyes and an open heart. Intuition. Flexibility. Mindfulness . . . if nothing else it's an excuse to keep doing yoga and meditation, now that there's really no time for it.