Attachment parenting – bonding or bondage?

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You have lovingly, gently responded to your baby’s cues, you have been respectful about how you interact with your toddler, you have read and researched how you can help your child develop optimum mental, emotional and physical well-being and you have encouraged his joyous spirit. Along the way, you have copped reactions from family, friends and perfect strangers, ranging from intrigue (Are you STILL breastfeeding? You mean he sleeps in YOUR bed?) to downright rudeness ( he needs a ‘good’ smack! He’s too big for THAT!).

You probably have some dreamy image of a bonded, loving family of cooperative, placid children as a result of your gentle, connected parenting but I would just like to offer a caution:

Whatever parenting style you choose is hard work, but it can seem particularly intense to implement a very conscious, attached parenting style. It can also be a shock to discover that these empathically parented children can be strong-willed, independent and often quite feisty individuals. There will be days when you question whether it might have been better all round to have kept your baby in a darkened room with little stimulation (so she isn’t so smart); or perhaps to have been more rigid in your style of discipline (so she would be more compliant). On days like these, it can help to remember how important it is to nurture an independent child who can think for themselves:

*Independent children are less likely to be compliant to peers (this becomes especially pertinent in their teenage years).

*Independent children are more likely to have intact self-esteem, which will impact their entire lives and how they allow others to treat them.

Although they are likely to experiment, explore and push the boundaries as much or more than any children as they grow, if the connection between you and your child is strong, you will intuitively sense when they need some extra support or firmer boundaries. As a connected parent, you will have the confidence in yourself to do what is best for each child (this might mean seeking referrals for extra help or support for yourself, at times). You will be secure enough in your role as a guardian of and model for your child that you won’t need to be ‘best friends’ to ensure your child’s love.

 

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