The first part of this series can be found here, including some really interesting comments regarding attachment parenting and enmeshment, attachment parenting and children learning to have self-reliance: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/01/23/attachment-parenting-whats-going-on/
So, on with my list of the ways I feel attachment parenting as sometimes been misconstrued and misunderstood, coming from my experience of being in the attachment community for the last 11 years:
Number Two: The only way to guide a child is to talk to them, and talk some more, no matter what the child’s age. I think if we look at the child as moving through the stages of imitation, short explanations, needing a loving authority figure, going into cause and effect reasoning around the age of twelve and then moving into mentorship, apprenticeship, and such during the teenaged years, a completely verbal approach cannot and should not be the answer for children of all ages. I have written about the idea of combining thinking, feeling and willing for the guiding of a child many times and in many ways on this blog.
Sometimes I think attached parents use excessive talking to a child to not only communicate and explain, but, (in all honesty!) in hopes that the child will agree with them. This way we can still all be friends! This can be a very passive way to set a boundary.
Just because you are attached and connected to your children doesn’t mean they are always going to agree with you!
So, I wish the attachment parenting community would write more about communication and guiding the small child versus the grades aged child versus the teenager in other ways besides just talking and focusing on how the child feels. One thing that brought me to Waldorf education is that all of the gentle discipline books I was reading seemed to feel the same techniques (talking and more talking) would work no matter if the child was age 3 or age 13. Since that time, I am pleased to recommend Judy Arnall’s works, which do break things down by age. I don’t always agree with everything she writes for each age, but I think this is at least a beginning!
Number Three: I am a more attached parent because I (fill in the blank): breastfed longer than you, co-slept longer than you, never said no, always kept my children with me and never let them go anywhere without me…and the list goes on. I think if we are not careful, we can as attached parents divide our ranks in another case of the Mommy Wars.
For this one, I don’t know as this needs to be written and discussed more in the attachment parenting literature, because it seems to me that time and sometimes having more than one child or hanging around with lots of children the same age as your child can be the great equalizer. Children may go through similar developmental stages, but they really all are individuals! It would be nice if attached mothers were not so judgmental toward each other, especially in a society where mothering is not well-supported anyway, but I guess that is just going to take time. And, I think again, we must be careful not to confuse healthy longer-term physical and psychological interdependence with a more insidious controlling enmeshment that entails a blurring of psychological boundaries.
A few more mistaken ideas about attachment parenting to come…