Attachment Parenting is Only the First Step

By: Abby Bordner photogallery_milestones_in_toddlers_development_04_full

When I was pregnant with my first, I read The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears and fell in love. With attachment parenting, that is. It spoke to my instincts as a Mother. I loved the ideas of: being with your baby at all times by wearing your baby, sleeping with your baby and breastfeeding. I deeply understood that responding consistently and immediately to my child would help him feel loved and secure in the world. I knew I would be a great Mom because I would put my baby’s needs FIRST in my life.

But, I have to admit, when pregnant with my second, I wasn’t sure how I would be able to do the sleepless nights, the sacrifice and depletion again while also caring for my four year old. I was jealous of the Moms whose babies slept through the night, the babies who lay down easily to nap in their crib and the couples that went away for the weekend, leaving the kids with grandparents. Attachment parenting, for me, had meant that everything else in my life was on hold.

I coach parents of newborns and infants and I love to share the benefits of tuning into your baby’s needs, comforting them when they cry and breastfeeding. I know from child psychology and brain development that babies thrive with constant contact, affection and nourishment. But what I’ve come to find is that there are developmental strides toward autonomy that help your child become independent, responsible and empathetic.

With Relationship Based Parenting, I strive to coach parents in building healthy relationships with their children. Every relationship needs compromise, consideration of each person’s needs and loving guidance.  Our children need a secure and nurturing relationship with us. AND they need leadership to help them learn trust, respect and guidance.

Children naturally enter into the autonomy stage of development around 24 months. That doesn’t mean they don’t need attachment and bonding anymore, it only means they are branching out from this loving relationship. My advice to parents is this is your time to become more autonomous too! Model healthy separation during this time. Don’t cling to the principles of baby-hood; responding immediately, holding them close, considering their needs your first priority. This is actually a time that you can consider your own needs, as well. How about some time apart? Get a babysitter from time to time? Pursue a class or exercise program or spend more time with your girlfriends? These are great examples of autonomy that your child can learn from.

They can feel your trust and acceptance of the space between the two of you. Children build confidence when they experience other adults as care providers, other environments and new learning situations. These situations present an opportunity to learn resilience, trust and connection with the world around them. It’s good for them and it’s good for you.

Our children continually travel on a circle of connection and exploration. They are reaching for us to feel safe and loved. Then they are off into the world to explore, learn and relate to the environment around them. mothering requires us to hold them with love and let them go with confidence. The work of a Mother is twofold, to hold them and to let them go. We all have our sadness, anxiety or worry when they are out in the world or when they need connection from us. Mothers do that. But if we begin to integrate our own needs and desires into our experience as Mothers, by the time they’re moving away from us on a consistent basis, we’ve got lots of other things to look forward to.

How have you adapted attachment parenting to parent your older kids?

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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  1. Nora
    2 years ago

    I loved this post. With my first girl I have made so many mistakes (and that’s why she is my biggest teacher). But when she was around two years old, she made me know that we could start having some time appart. I live in the countryside. Houses have their doors always open, kids still play in the street, cars and bikes are left without securing them with any system and one day, while I was cleaning the floor, she went to my neighbour’s house to play with their daughter. After that, I looked up for waldorf nursery schools and she loved it since day 1.

    If we learn to watch them, we can see when they are ready to move to the next developmental step. :)

    • Abby Bordner
      2 years ago

      Hi Nora! Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you live in a beautiful place! How sweet that your daughter was secure and confident enough to branch out like this :-) I’m glad you were able to listen to her readiness and not get overwhelmed with a need to keep her close. Sometimes parent’s needs become activated and they can’t respond in the present to what their child is ready for. Good for you!