|see, I told you|
I was lying on my bed this afternoon, nursing a headache (no pun intended!) and trying mightily, vainly to lull the baby to sleep. I started thinking about being an attached parent, and how it makes me feel and how easy and difficult it makes my life. We live in a society where being a smart, independent leader is of high value. Most of us want to see our kids grow up to be happy self-starters with successful, meaningful lives. So we steer them towards that goal from birth - sleeping in their own cribs, learning to master their own bottle or cup, baby playdates, sports and classes of every variety from 6 months old, preschool, and then suddenly there they are, five years old and graduating kindergarten writing paragraphs. I'm pretty sure *I* didn't even know what a paragraph was when I was five.
But sometimes I think that with all of our well-meaning intentions, we're actually pushing our kids away from us. Instead of fostering independence through a secure attachment to parents (knowing hey, mom and dad will always be here for me), we're terrified of spoiling our children so we keep them at a distance. We don't want to be the lady who can't leave her 9-month-old home with someone else, ever, because he'll cry frantically. We don't want the toddler who clings with a death grip to our legs every time we go someplace new. It's scary knowing that there's a little creature out there who is so reliant on you. We worry that our babies will become whiney, helpless children if we always cater to their every whim. But what's a healthy level of attachment?
Attachment parenting is one of the most misunderstood concepts I think I've ever seen in the parenting world. Attachment parenting is not a tactic used to spoil a child; it is not so-called "child led" parenting. It is not teaching your child that he is the center of the universe and all of the planets revolve around him. I like to think of it more in the terms of "instinctive parenting," because when you look at the principles of attachment parenting from their source, you'll see that they are pretty much how a "wild" human would parent. So easy a caveman could do it!
It actually has its origins in the likes of Dr. Sears. You can go on the Dr. Sears website and read a ton of great info on attachment parenting, including scientific research that backs it up. For a quick overview, the seven attachment tools are listed as follows:
1. birth bonding
4. bedding close to baby
5. belief in the value of baby's cry
6. beware of baby trainers
If you look at the seven "Baby B's" as a whole, they really are just what you or I would do naturally if we were wild animals. If we were like any other creature out there, we would keep baby close after birth. We would breastfeed baby because that would be the only way baby would survive. We would wear or otherwise carry baby close to us, to keep baby safe from predators. We would likewise keep a sleeping baby right next to us. We wouldn't let baby's cries go unnoticed because that would attract predators. We certainly wouldn't follow a program that went against our natural instincts. And finally, as in the wild, we would maintain a balance in our lives. We wouldn't let ourselves starve or neglect our families for the sake of the baby.
So how do we cope as attachment parents in an unattached society? In a country where more babies are fed by bottle than breast and women are frequently too scared of public opinion to nurse; wearing a baby in a sling or even a Snugli often is admonished with cries from the older crowd of, "You're spoiling her, you'll never be able to put her down!" and babies are expected to sleep in their own cribs in their own rooms, and by some crowds peacefully through the night, at a young age; how do women even find the courage to be attached to their children?
When did everyone become such an expert over Mother Nature?