By Alyce Collins
THIS MOTHER-OF-TWO’S parenting style sees her entire family sleeping in the same bed EVERY NIGHT, and she even carries the five and three-year olds round in a wrap when they’re upset, claiming attachment parenting gives her more of a connection.
Corporate team leader, Anita Leerink (30) from Meppel, The Netherlands, wants to show the enviable connection she has with her children through attachment parenting, which sees her practice positive discipline, extended breastfeeding and even sleeping with them every night.
Anita and her husband, Sido have been together for 12-and-a-half-years, and they have two children together, Kady (5) and Luwan (3). As soon as Kady was born, Anita knew that attachment parenting was right for her as she could form such a strong bond with her child through it.
The elements of attachment parenting include co-sleeping, breastfeeding for as long as possible, being sensitive and positive discipline. Attachment parenting aims to optimise the bond that a parent has with their child through strong empathy for emotions and constant physical closeness.
“Attachment parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and children,” Anita said.
“It challenges us as parents to treat our children with kindness, respect and dignity, and to interact with them the same way we’d like them to with others.
“I think we have a real strong connection because I respect them as real human beings, I give them authority and I really listen to them to try to fulfil their needs.
“Me and my husband chose to work less so we don’t need a nanny or nursery. My husband has a full-time job and I work two evenings during the week and one day over the weekend.
“There are specific elements involved in attachment parenting, including feeding, I breastfed for as long as I could because it’s the optimal way to satisfy the child’s needs. I always follow cues from the kids and they can stop when they’re full.
“I give them a nurturing touch all of the time. I used to carry them in a wrap every day but now they’re older they don’t need it as often.
“But if they’re sick I will do it, especially when they need to regulate their emotions – if they’re mad or hurt or so on.
“I ensure they sleep safely, both physically and emotionally by co-sleeping. Children have needs at night just as they do during the day.
“We co-sleep every night, I’ve never spent a night without my kids.
“The kids have their own shared bedroom so sometimes they start in that room and we stay with them until they’re asleep. But during the night they always come to our bed.
“For positive discipline, rather than reacting to behaviour I communicate and craft solutions with the child.
Anita has received criticism for her style of parenting which sees her entire family sleep in the same bad each night. Though for Anita, she listens to her instincts about what her children need, and she strives for that.
As Anita home-schools her two children, they wouldn’t have any plans for an overnight school trip and if in the future the children ask to sleepover at a friend’s house, Anita says she would want them to understand the meaning of a sleepover and would be checking up on them the entire time. If they weren’t okay she admits she would go and pick them up.
Anita breastfed her daughter Kady until she was a year old, however she still breastfeeds three-year old Luwan at night times.
“I can’t think of a moment when I’ll want to stop this kind of approach,” added Anita.
“I started co-sleeping when Kady was a young baby, so she could breastfeed easily and I could pick up the signals really quickly. After that we never stopped.
“We are still able to pick up the signals of their needs really quickly and know they are safe.
“People have told me that I’ll never get the children out of my bed, that I’m spoiling them and I’m making it hard for myself. But when Kady was born, the mother in me was also born.
“Before having kids I never thought about parenting until Kady turned me into a mum.
“I wanted to be the best mum I could rather than just follow what other people do because they say so.
“Attachment parenting suits us well, but just like everybody else I’m trying to be the best mom possible.”
You can follow Anita’s attachment parenting journey by visiting her Instagram, @_villanita
For more information see www.mediadrumworld.com