Attachment Parenting, what it is, what it isn’t

One of the major turn offs to attachment parenting is this idea that it requires parents to become door mats to their children. I know a lot of attachment parenters who honestly believe this, and believe they’re doing their kids a favor by yielding to their every whim and giving up every bit of themselves in order to provide a constant attention and entertainment source for their kids. These parents end up burnt out and wrecked, and what for? That’s not what attachment parenting is!
Attachment parenting is not making yourself a slave to your child. It’s about just being there for your child should they need to. It’s about not saying “you’re on your own kid” in some misguided attempt to teach independence. It’s about respecting your child as a human individual rather than trying to train them like a dog or something.
But you can still discipline your child. You can still be stern when needed. And you certainly shouldn’t neglect your other roles in life to provide a constant source of entertainment and endless happiness for your child.
I purchased the Christopherus home school curriculum for Elijah this year, and really liked the description of child inclusiveness, rather than child centeredness. A practitioner of attachment parenting makes their world and life welcoming and accommodating for a child, but does not rearrange his or her life to revolve around the child. Your child is going to be upset sometimes, that’s life. You should respect and acknowledge those feelings, but it’s unreasonable to think you should be able to make those feelings go away entirely. As a whole person and an adult, you’ve got shit to do. Your child is welcome to either join you in doing that shit, or do his own thing near by you. That’s what child inclusiveness looks like.
Child centeredness looks like the parent who sits around entertaining their child all day and neglects their other responsibilities and relationships to do so. That is not what attachment asks of us. Why it got warped like that I will never know. There is this idea in attachment parenting circles that if you just never let your child be unhappy, and drop everything to devote 100% attention to them all the time, then they will magically want all the right things and be perfect angels all the time. It doesn’t work like that. Kids test boundaries and they don’t know what’s best for them. That’s why they need parents. If you try to create a world of perfect continuous bliss for them, you’re both going to be disappointed, and when your kid wakes up and realizes that not only does the world not revolve around him, but that misery also exists, it’s not likely he’ll turn into Buddha.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating for tough love, cry it out, or being super disciplinarian. I’m just saying that being a doormat for your child is also the wrong answer. There’s a middle ground. A place where you welcome your child into your life as an individual, not property, but still recognize your job to help guide and teach that individual. A place where you make your lifestyle accommodating and nurturing for children, but also functional for healthy adult life which necessitates that you fulfill a variety of roles, which may include titles other than mother such as employee, student, friend, daughter, sister, housekeeper, girlfriend/wife, writer, activist, etc. A place where your life and needs are balanced with your child’s life and needs, where you are both respected as human beings, healthy, and if not always happy, at least always knowing that you are in a safe environment of mutual, unconditional love.

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About Rockingthehomestead

Badass feminist environmentalist.
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