The Opposite of Attachment Parenting is Not “Detachment Parenting”

So, how about that Time magazine cover? I haven’t read the article, but they certainly caused a stir.

Is she nursing a baby or cradling a delicious baguette? The world may never know.

Personally, I don’t really think that moms needed another piece of fuel to add to the “my way is better than your way” fire. I’m seeing a lot of snarking from both sides – people up in arms about how attachment parenting goes so far as to be unnatural, and other people equally flustered about how anyone could do anything besides home-birthing and breastfeeding for a few years.

As I read up on Attachment Parenting, I realized that I would naturally classify myself in this category of mothers. However, I did not and do not “adhere to all the tenets” of this “method” as many mothers seem to demand. Here’s what I noticed about real attachment parenting, though: the point is to respect, love and listen to your kid. The principles of attachment parenting are more like guidelines to help lead you to a natural way of parenting if you don’t have a strong feeling one way or another about it. The way some people talk about it, you’d think that if you don’t follow all eight of the Attachment Parenting Principles to the letter, you must be practicing “Detachment Parenting” and your child is, therefore, obviously headed to jail.

Truths about myself and some potential attachment parenting “failures”:

  • I gave birth in a hospital, twice. With epidurals both times. (They were lovely).
  • I went back to work when Little Girl was 6 weeks old, but pumped twice a day so she could still have my milk when I was gone. My mom watched her and should therefore be crowned with the Ultimate Mom Crown.
  • I breastfed Little Girl until she was 22 months old, and am still going strong with Little Guy.
  • I love physical contact and had no problem holding Little Girl as much as she wanted, which was all the time. I wore her and snuggled her and everything was great. Little Guy? I couldn’t figure out why he was crying so much. Then one day, Little Girl needed me and I set him down in his crib. He quieted down right away. Turns out, my Little Guy likes his alone time. He still does.
  • We were practicing co-sleeping out of necessity more than desire. Little Girl loved every second and snuggled happily with us until we finally got her her own bed a few months ago. However, now that Little Guy is (very) mobile we have had to stop. He thinks that jumping head-first off the bed is a good idea. You know what else? Sometimes if he gets overtired or overstimulated, the only thing that can calm him down before bed is a little bit of screaming in his crib. Seriously, he doesn’t even want to be touched or nursed. Just wants to yell – five minutes and he’s asleep. Ferberizing seemed so cruel with Little Girl, who could scream for hours without stopping if you didn’t comfort her. Little Guy? He’s all like “Come on, guys, give me a little space.” Every child is different!

So, some may consider me an attachment parenting failure. Others may think I’m a “hippie boob-slinger” (as I heard someone refer to a classic “attachment” mom). What do I think? I think I love my kids more than anything in the world, and I try to to what is best for them all the time. I think that is what attachment parenting is really all about.

If you are one of those people who think parenting is your way or the highway, wait until you have another kid before you decide that your way of doing things is right for every child 100% of the time. Or, at least wait until all of your children grow up into happy, healthy adults. You might learn something from the people around you if you stop to listen.

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