Conversation at Christmastime, last, with a single woman.
“So, you practice attachment parenting.”
“So you kids seem nice. They are polite and well behaved. The only people I have met who practice attachment parenting have obnoxious overbearing children who lack self control.”
Oh. My kids are like that sometimes. But I would be worried if they were like that all the time. Or most of the time. I’ve met people who practice a type of parenting that is not attachment parenting that might on some level have similiarities to attachment parenting. Parents who don’t believe you should require children to do anything. You don’t say no to a child. It might harm them, they say. That’s not attachment parenting. Its counterfeit.
“I didn’t know that.”
But you know that not saying no to children is going to cause them harm?
So I think its important to look at the difference.
Actual Attachment Parenting and Counterfeit Attachment Parenting.
I realized, during this conversation, the fullness of the bad rap that AP is getting. And the ignorance which surrounds the general understanding of what it is. And isn’t.
I clearly remember my first encounter with this counterfeit. It was at a La Leche League meeting, with my first baby. It seemed this entire group of parents practiced this counterfeit on attachment parenting. It was wild. Children were screaming and fighting and jumping on the furniture and taking things away from smaller babies and demanding things from their parents and sassy to other adults.
Oh, of course they did a lot of the stuff that looks like attachment parenting, like breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping, but instead of a gentle and loving discipline, there was no discipline at all. I met this so frequently at LLL meetings over the next few years that To This Day, when I recommend going to LLL meetings to newly pregnant mamas to be prepared for the early days of breastfeeding…I always send along a qualifier that they Might Meet This Behaviour at these meetings.
Sad, too, because no discipline is not what LLL or the Sears or any other thoughtful writers on discipline have ever intended. Perhaps this method was the catalyst for Ezzo-type parenting methods. I don’t know. But if this is what I thought attachment parenting was producing, I would run, not walk, run to something very different.
So I think I would like to rant about Attachment Parenting (which is a dumb name, it seems to imply that we are doing something above and beyond Normal Parenting, like Extended Breastfeeding is in addition to Regular Breastfeeding, as opposed to something mamas and babies were actually built to do).
Perhaps a better name for Attachment Parenting would be Having A Good Relationship With Your Children. But, alas, its not as catchy. And, it was already taken for the last several thousand years by mothers and fathers who have good relationships with their children.
What it isn’t:
Letting your kids do whatever they want
Never saying no
Tossing discipline out the window
Giving in to all their demands
Asking your kid’s opinion about everything you do
Being a helicopter parent
Micromanaging all their friends and affairs and events
Letting go of behavioural expectations
Never getting a break
Not needing a break
Never getting frustrated or losing your temper
Kids who don’t misbehave
The exclusion of non parent relationships
New or Radical
A set of parenting rules
One size fits all
Going to solve all your problems
Got any other Isn’ts? I’d be happy to add them.
So let’s start there. I would like to cover in this Serial Rant a few other things.
What AP looks like in babies and toddlers
What AP looks like in younger children
What AP looks like in teenagers (don’t worry, its not scary)
AP in your marriage
Keeping the Big Picture clearly in focus