We have been attachment parents for as long as we have been parents. Nic required this type of parenting from day one. We held him by night and kept him in a sling by day. He blossomed and an attached family was born.
Some might say that attachment parenting is ‘easier’ when the children are little. I’ve been told by more than one person, “well, ap is fine when they are babies, but you’ll find that it is useless when they get older.” And I simply reject that.
I think that as in life, there’s a lot about parenting that is all about how you approach it.
For me attachment parenting is a foundation. Upon this foundation of love and comfort and safety and authenticity we are building futures for our children. My eyes are not on whether or not my daily path is easy. My eyes are on their path as adults. What choices will they make and what people will they encounter? I haven’t a clue. But what I can have some idea about, and yes, some influence, is the heart with which they will go about their days.
Back in the days when each of my babies were young enough to spend many hours a day in a sling (or wrap or Kozy or Ergo) I’d get the same question over and over again: How will they ever learn to walk while in that thing?
The implication was that I wasn’t letting them develop into individuals by having them so close. Pshaw! Babies are born to strive for independence. They work hard at developing properly in the womb so that they might survive after birth. They work hard after birth to gain control of their heads, their hands, their legs, their will…because they are ‘programmed’ for independence.
Being carried in a sling cannot possibly blunt this drive. What it can do is allow them to view and process and interact with the world on their own schedule. What it can do is give them the feeling of being loved and secure as they make their way into so many new experiences.
Eventually each baby (on his or her own unique schedule) shows signs that they are ready. When they are ready to play on the floor, they squirm and fuss and let us know that they want ‘down’. Eventually they return now exhausted and/or overstimulated.
When they are ready for food beyond breastmilk, they make that known by watching others eat and by gesturing, or as my children, grabbing food off plates and eating it before anyone can stop them. 🙂
In short (and I could come up with a dozen more examples) in every case babies/children/people will make it known when they are ready to spread their proverbial wings and fly (or at least attempt to fly) with a new skill.
Staying close, staying attached, providing appropriate amounts of encouragement or quiet support never hobbles anyone or delays the timing of their first flight.
Now all three of my children are beyond the baby stage. Even wee Whinnie, who will be 3 in December, is beyond the toddler stage. And yet each of them shows the ways in which they still crave closeness and still need to store up extra courage before the road ahead.
So, where is this long post going?
When I was alone on Monday and thinking and planning related to the next few homeschooling months I was making a list of what was working well and what wasn’t. As I looked at the list it became clear to me that what was working were those things that were still ‘attachment’ oriented: reading together, nature walks/hikes together, cooking/baking/creating together; and what wasn’t doing so well was in the ‘detached’ arena: reading alone, writing alone, researching alone.
And then it came to me. We were homeschooling but I wanted to be attachment homeschooling. I wanted to be close enough to each of the attachlings so that I could tell what they needed next and how much to push and how much to support.
So I looked at the plans for the next two months and adjusted here and there so that the focus was on learning together and being together.
And I hope to take with me the lessons I learned from those early baby days. I endeavor to remain an attached parent throughout my lifetime.
And if anyone suggests to me that I am in some way inhibiting my children by doing this, I’ll just remember that every person is born with an innate desire for independence. The children will show me in little and grand ways when they no longer need the same amount of cuddling (physical or emotional) and when they are ready for greater challenges.
Along the way there will be subtle (and obvious) cues and we will work to adjust the delicate family-dance. And through it all we will be an Attachment Family, and attachment homeschooling will be just one aspect of what makes us strong.