One of the lines of thinking that comes up so frequently from people who don’t understand attachment parenting is that it’s about the mother’s need to cling to the child. That it’s about her fear of letting him go, of letting him move away from her and be independent. That is categorically not what it’s about. But what it is about, is knowing that it’s OK to hang on.
Mainstream western parenting philosophy is rooted in minimizing the child’s need for its parents. Soothers, swings, schedules, bottles, cribs and sleep training were all created to reduce the amount of time a parent (usually a mother, in the early days of infancy) needs to spend tending to her child’s needs. New parents are warned not to let their baby ‘get used to’ nursing or rocking to sleep. They’re told not to respond to a cry too quickly or hold the baby too much for fear of ‘spoiling’ her. And how many times have your heard that if you let your child sleep in your bed you’ll NEVER get him out?
The thing about attachment parents is that we see through that propaganda. We understand the universal truth that everyone grows up, that it happens on its own and that it happens faster than you expect. So yes, we hang on to our kids. We hang onto them until their adorable little hands let go, because we know unequivocally that they will let go.
Whether you snuggle your baby in a sling or put them in a swing, when they’re 6 or 7 they’ll still ask you to take the training wheels off their bike.
Whether you breastfeed them for 3 minutes or 3 years, either way, you’ll be the least cool person on the planet when they’re 13.
Whether you cuddle them to sleep or they cry themselves to sleep, they still won’t be asking you to come to their dorm room.
Every day your child will need you less and less, and before you know it he’ll be all grown up and won’t need you at all. But for right now, he does need you and the point of attachment parenting is that that’s OK. It’s OK to immerse yourself in this job while it lasts, because it will. not. last. forever. It’s OK to hold them in your lap while they still fit, to breathe them in while they still smell so sweet and to be there while they still need you. Because very, very soon they won’t, and that will be OK too.
No one spends their old age regretting the moments they spent cuddling their kids, but if the popularity of Harry Chapin’s song is any indication, then plenty of people do regret the moments they wasted, and attachment parents know that.
I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then