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Friday, June 14, 2013

Attachment Parenting vs Detachment Parenting and what's in between?

It takes a lot to get me worked up when it comes to magazines. Most of the time, I don't even read them. I still receive parenting and cooking magazines in the mail and I do skim through if something catches my eye; But more often than not, it goes into a pile of "maybe I'll read that later-but probably not".

Today I read an article in Parenting magazine titled 'The New Laid-Back Parenting'. Basically, it's an anti-attachment (read: attachment parenting bashing) article that gives reasons and justifications for being a shit parent. I'm sorry, did I say that out loud? (Note: There is a difference in being a "laid back" parent and being laid so far back that you're practically non-existent.)

One thing that caught my attention (in that negative I-would-love-to-punch-you-in-the-throat way) was where they talk about a fellow soccer-mom that ran onto the field to spin her child around after he'd scored a goal and the writer had to "literally put my sunglasses on so she didn't see me roll my eyes". Seriously?! First off, I'm sure this mother didn't do this every time her child scored. Maybe he was having a hellish day. Perhaps he was ten shades of nervous about the game. And you're going to belittle this connection that his mother made with him by spinning him around in front of God and everyone? Wow. How badly do you think your child wished you'd do that, even just one time? He probably craves this kind of affection that he's seeing around him and not receiving. That's what children do. That's what they are. They are little affection sponges. They suck it up, absorb it and come back for more. That is what helps them grow and thrive and feel special.  I'm not saying every child enjoys this, they don't. But the ones that want it the most are the ones that do not receive it. A little mother-child PDA is sometimes just what they need for that incredible ego boost! And keep in mind, before long they won't want anything to do with you. They'll want you to feel free to miss their games so they don't have to groan internally when they score and you shout so loud you break sound barriers. They won't want you hugging them, much less spinning them around, in front of their friends. So come on! Give it to them while they're young and relish these types of things!

Another thing that really chapped my ass was mention of a mother that spent a whole weekend beating her FOUR YEAR OLD at Chutes and Ladders just to teach him to say "good game" instead of becoming upset after losing. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Essentially you just taught your kid that he has to accept being a loser. I'm sorry, that's stupid. S-T-U-P-I-D. I want my children to be upset when they lose. I also want them to understand that it's all right when they do. Yes, of course, I want them to congratulate the winners, keep their heads up and move on with their lives, but I most definitely do not want them to just accept that they are losers. Telling your kid that they aren't allowed to express certain emotions, especially strong emotions like feeling like a failure, is only going to lead them to repress more of their feelings. Why is it so wrong for a child, especially a child as young as four, to be upset about losing? When my kids and I play a game and they lose there will occasionally be tears or pouting and I simply thank them for playing with me and wish them better luck next time. I do not gloat or boast and I sure as hell don't make them play me again just so I can beat them some more. On other occasions they say something like, "good job!" and might ask to play again. Either outcome is fine by me. I do not want them to ever feel like their emotions aren't valid or warranted. I get upset when I lose at something, why shouldn't they? I understand teaching them to be gracious losers, but what about being gracious winners? Letting them win every now and then isn't going to kill you and it will, again, help boost their self-esteem and self-confidence. I would never say, "Ok, we're going to play again and again until you learn to be happy that you lost and congratulate me on my win."

The last thing that really grated on my nerves was the statement, "The icing on the cake, however (and my personal favorite reason not to hover), is: Less parenting means more "you" time. "When you realize you don't have to make every single moment a Learning Moment for your kids, you have time for Enjoyable Moments between grown-ups again." And you have your sanity. And your husband and your wine." This to me just comes across as not only anti-attachment parenting but just downright anti-parenting. When you make the decision to become a parent, it's not something you "sometimes do". It's a FULL TIME commitment. It isn't something you should ever do "less" of, until they are grown up and moved out. And even then you don't stop being a parent just because they aren't under your roof any longer. I know plenty of parents that still have their grown-up time, husband time, wine time, sanity and are wonderful parents all the same. And never do they have to do "less parenting". They simply shift their schedules and become more flexible. I understand that a lot of people feel that bringing a child into their family shouldn't uproot everything, but come on. If you have kids, you know that's just how it goes. "First your money, then your clothes."

All of this being said and my thorough disgust for this article aside - I'm curious. What is between attachment and detachment parenting? I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I don't run to my children's aid every time one of them falls down. I don't coddle them every time they lose at something just as I don't throw a party every time they succeed. My oldest just recently went to a program that the local library conducted all by herself. I didn't even walk her inside. I watched her from the car until she made it into the building, and then I drove off and left her there. It wasn't easy, let me tell you. My instincts are always to stay glued to my kids so that I know they are all right. But hey, she's growing up. She is ready for a little responsibility and freedom from mom. And you know what? That's fine with me. I am not trying to keep her from growing up, but I'm not trying to sprout her into a little adult by the time she hits puberty either. I often let my children play on their own in different areas of the house or in the [fenced in] backyard without having to be right there with them. I love it, in fact. Because yes, I do enjoy having a few minutes to myself where I am not being pulled in nine directions at once. But hey, that's what I signed on for. I know it, I accept it, and damn it.. I love it! My husband and I still spend time together, I don't drink wine but if I did, I'm sure I could find time to squeeze it in if I so desired. And hey, most days I pass as sane and I never have to do "less parenting".