Staying Attached in a Detached World

30 Sep

As I move toward more frequent blogging, I am bringing some of my posts over from my “retired” blog – The Canadian Lactivist.  Here is one of my recent posts about Attachment Parenting.

It was so easy for me to be an attached mama when my babies were… babies. They were with me almost every second until the age of one and beyond. I fed them from my breast, wore them and slept with them. I listened to their cues, followed their lead, and loved every moment. I was THAT mom, you know, the one who didn’t use an exersauser, playpen, swing, crib, etc.

I rarely had doubts about what I was doing, but there were so many nay sayers out there, wanting to let me know, in that subtle yet not so subtle way, that I was ruining my kid (s).

Everything that I have ever read about attachment theory and attachment parenting says that a strong attachment in infancy leads to a more secure person later on. My daughter performed the role of Gretl in the Mirvish production of the Sound of Music in Toronto for a year (I’ll save my stage mom stories for another time). She started when she was five. I remember the children’s director talking to me one day during rehearsals about my daughter. She mentioned how my daughter was a pro – listening to the directors and chaperones, picking up the songs quickly, working hard with no complaints, and offering the most insightful little comments. “What did you do?”, she asked. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you”. I wanted to stick out my tongue and say “HA”! to every single person who said “you are holding her too much”, “you shouldn’t sleep with her, she’ll never sleep alone”, “leave that kid for a few hours for some ‘me time’ or she will never be able to get away from you. Ever”. As she marched down that staircase at the Princess of Wales Theatre to Captain Von Trapp’s whistle and stamped her foot telling Maria that she was five years old, I was crying hysterically, proud beyond words that my attached little baby was proving attachement theory right. You make them feel secure at their most pivitol time and they will soar!

I get that my tale is anecdotal and that most kids won’t have that sort of once in a lifetime opportunity, but I wanted to illustrate just how important a strong attachment in infancy is and how it grows and evolves as the child grows and evolves. Attachement parenting does not equal helicopter parenting, it does not equal your kid being your best friend, and it does not equal permissive parenting.

Simply put, attachment parenting is about listening with all of your senses to your babies cues and responding to them respectfully. It doesn’t change as the kids grow older. Sure, you stop nursing at some point, you stop co-sleeping at some point, you stop carrying them around at some point – usually because your child no longer needs these things and communicates that to you. When that happens, your relationships evolves and changes. Your child is secure in the knowledge that you are there, they know this instinctively, and they can spread those wings and run and explore and try and play and know that you will be there for them, the same way you were there when you nursed them, slept with them and carried them.

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