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Excuses for bad parenting: 1) Well, it isn’t like they came with a manual. 2) You need a license to fish but anyone can be a parent. 3) Ever since they made it illegal to spank, parents aren’t allowed to parent. People say this all the time when they are in parenting classes. It’s like we have decided that since we are ill prepared for parenting that we should not be held responsible for what we do as parents. Then you have the converse who feels that parenting is a full time job which must be approached like containing a nuclear spill with a baby strapped to their chest. Is attachment that important?
Lee says: I use to teach parenting classes. I use to counsel parents who abused their kids. I have worked as an emergency response worker for the Department of Children and Families. I have reported abuse more times than I can remember and I have convinced women to give up their parental rights. In the world of parenting, I have seen the dark side, have waded in their pool and am happy to report that I have come out with only a few scars and some idea of what not to do as a parent.
Attachment is the ‘it theory’ of parenting right now. As defined in the psychological sense, attachment theory says that a child must develop a psychological and emotional attachment to one of their primary caregivers to develop normally. Therapists have seen that people who fail to form attachments while infants are predisposed to mental illness starting as young as early adolescence. However, as with most forms of parenting theory, there is little in the way of experimentation or studies proving the efficacy of Attachment Parenting.
Attachment Parenting espouses the 7 Bs- 1)Birth bonding- they propose having a non-medicated birth experience, 2) Breastfeeding, 3) Babywearing- that’s right, slinging the baby to help them transition and keeping the baby calm, 4)Bedding close to Baby- co-sleeping to help facilitate breastfeeding and help decrease separation anxiety for the child, 5) Belief in the Language Value of your Baby’s Cry- responding to your child’s cry will help to build trust between baby and you, 6) Beware of Baby Trainers- eschew any advice that tells you to place baby on schedules or cry it out; these are only means to separate you and your baby, 7) Balance- don’t forget to take care of yourself.
The 7 Bs seem pretty straight forward. So what’s my problem with it? Nothing, really. The theory warns people from being to pedantic when it comes to this theory. It tells people that you must do what is right for you and your family. This is why the final B was added to the mix. However, people aren’t like that. If we know anything about human nature, it is that we believe that what we are doing is right. We believe that our opinion is something we garnered from a burning bush and should be carved in stone. Therefore, Attachment Parenting parents tend to be the yahoos who condemn those who do not co-sleep or have to put their kids in day care at an early age. That’s right, technically these would be the fanatical Attachment Parenting parents.
I’ll be honest, I did not practice co-sleeping. I am a poor sleeper and having the babies next to me made it near impossible to get even a few hours of sleep in a row. Any noise, hiccup or sigh was enough to check them. As for breastfeeding, the last two kids had issues. One had an attached frenulum which made the suck questionable and with the last one, I had PPD making the breastfeeding something of a burden on me since I was already losing my mind. I also think it is important to build boundaries with our children to avoid enmeshment (unclear boundaries within relationships). The parents who practice this must know when to hold them and when to let them go. This depends so much on the parent’s mental health that the possibilities of mental health issues from too much attachment are very possible as well.
I think, in the end, we must do what feels natural to us. It always behooves us to work on our own issues before we pass them to our kids in one form or another. It is important to live our lives not only as parents but as men and women with needs. And we should always avoid any absolutes in parenting. Except for the whole feeding, changing, hugging and loving your baby; that part is always important.
Paul says: I want to add another B to the theory. 8) Beer – the only way that I can stand that much attachment to my kids is with beer.