My mom talked to me on the phone today. She was (politely) confused about my last post. I explained myself.
“Say that,” she said. “Just write that down now.”
Yes, Mom. Whatever you say, Mom. Right away, Mom.
(I love my mom.)
So, to continue…
The answer to the question Will You Be There When I Need You is pretty much the same when you’re talking about babies. Babies are simple. They’re mind-numbingly loud and demanding, but they’re simple. They need someone to pick them up when they cry, feed them when they’re hungry, walk them when they fuss. It’s universal. Yes, some babies don’t require as much attention or the same kind of attention, but the basics don’t shift around all that much.
But as kids grow, their needs become more individualized. One size doesn’t fit all. One child might need more structure than others; another child might thrive with an extra dose of freedom and independence. Where it gets confusing is when the kid that begs for freedom is the one that actually needs some pretty tight reins (and a couple lead weights tied around his ankles). But through all the differences, that core question stays the same. The fun thing is, the answers get to be custom-made by loving, attentive parents, and each answer is different for each kid.
So don’t even try to tell me that one parenting method is THE Parenting Method!
Ho boy, this is where I get all bristly and peeved, miffed and irked, bug-eyed and red faced, etc., because I don’t believe there is one right way to raise all children. I’ve said this before, but I’ll heave a heavy sigh and whack the proverbial horse yet again: parents of any and all ilk—be it tiger, relaxed, or somewhere in the middle—can all be under the umbrella of attachment if and when they are seeking to figure out what it is their child needs from them. It’s a basic (not to be confused with “easy”) quest, filled with much stumbling and bumbling about. Most parents do this (quest and bumble) naturally. This attachment terminology is just a different way of couching the issue. I find that looking at parenting (and all my relationships) (try it! it’s amazing!) through this lens relaxes, reassures, and challenges me because my needs are getting met as well as my child’s since I long to be attached to the people I love! It’s as simple as that.
So if it’s this simple, what’s my beef, you ask? Well, the thing about these hot-ticket, baby-focused attachment parenting books is that they lead parents to think that all of parenting is raspberry kisses and sweet milky baby vapors if you co-sleep and breastfeed on demand (two perfectly acceptable things, I happen to believe). THIS IS A LIE. However, sadly, some parents believe it and then when the shit hits the fan—and the shit will hit the fan, mark my everloving words—parents are shocked, appalled, and, in some of the sad cases I’ve witnessed, incapacitated.
All I’m saying is, I wish attachment parenting experts wouldn’t water the theory down by focusing on the baby issues. Attachment parenting is more than just an answer as to whether or not babies should be allowed to cry it out or go to daycare. It’s a broad, all-encompassing approach, and it deserves to be seen as such.
(Is that better, Mom?)