When we misunderstand parenting.
I too had a complicated relationship with attachment parenting that first half year postpartum. I was committed to the concept, although unbeknownst to me at the time, I had also really misunderstood it.
I assumed attachment parenting meant being so responsive to your baby that she never cries. I put endless pressure on myself to baby wear, even when she was sleeping happily in her bassinet, telling myself, "I should be using this opportunity for skin to skin." I worried that if I left her in the loving care of her other caregivers (Dad, grandparents) for too long, she would feel confused and lost by my absence.
I wanted my daughter to be attached to me, but was this the only way? As painful as it was to consider, and as much as I wanted to be part of the attachment parenting group, I began to question if it was really right for me. I started to do a lot of reading and research. I quickly learnt that attachment parenting has really diverged from attachment THEORY, which has little or nothing to do with how long you breastfeed or whether you wear your baby.
Attachment theory outlines 4 different types of parent-child attachment. Naturally, we all hope to raise our children to feel secure, with us but also, in our absence.
Securely attached children have been taught through repeated acts of responsiveness that you are there for them when they need you. This doesn't mean baby wearing 24 hours a day or breastfeeding till they're 3. There are many different ways to meet their needs, and all kids are different. The point is that they get those needs met.
As babies move into toddlerhood, their needs go beyond eating, sleeping and cuddling. They rely on us to be a calm and capable parents, confident in our ability to handle the task of caring for them. They know that we have clear boundaries, and they take great comfort in them. When they try to test these boundaries, they know we will not resort to tactics like shame or punishment to exert our will.
They know that, with us, they are free to release ALL their emotions, even the hard ones, through crying, yelling, screaming or tantruming. And they know that we will not try to distract or punish these feelings away, but rather, be there with them as they weather the storm.
When I think of parenting this way, it still feels hard, but hard in a way that pushes me to grow as a person more than any other experience in my life ever has. The added bonus is a child who feels free (re: secure!) to be who are they are and still be deeply loved and cared for. That is the attachment parenting that works for me.
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