There is a popular misconception in the mainstream about attachment parenting; a school of thought that attachment parenting is the same as no parenting.
“If you don’t spank your child, he’ll run all over you!”
“Don’t put your child in your bed! How will she ever learn to sleep on her own?”
“How will your children ever learn to know you’re in charge unless you ignore their cries?”
When I first started down the attachment parenting path almost eight years ago, my husband and I were the only ones in our respective immediate families who had ever heard of it and were doing it. We were met with all kinds of grief, especially from his side of the family.
“Babies don’t need breastmilk after their first birthday.”
“He nurses all night because he’s in your bed!”
My husband was told that our children would be spoiled, disobedient, and impossible. He was condescendingly told, “You’re just new parents. You’ll figure it out soon!”
The kids are older now, and remain the only attachment parented cousins on both sides of the family. To those who said to us that we’ll reap what we sow, I wholeheartedly agree; the proof is in the pudding!
There is a local restaurant that our family frequents. It’s not a huge place, and we recognize or know all the people who work there. One particular time after we had finished our meal, I took the kids outside to get them strapped in the car while my husband took care of the bill. When he joined us at the car afterwards, he had this to say:
“As I was paying the bill, the woman told me that it’s always such a joy when our family comes in. The kids are always very well behaved and they eat so well! They aren’t loud, they don’t scream or yell, and they never make a fuss! ‘We’re always so happy when you all walk in the door!’”
- The kids and I flew cross country last summer to visit family. It was the kids’ first plane trip, and I was nervous about how they’d do. To my utter delight, several fellow passengers on each leg of the flight there and back made a point to tell me how impressed they were with my kids. They were very quiet, stayed in their seats, listened to me, and the ubiquitous “well-behaved.”
- During a parent/teacher conference, my son’s teacher said she can always count on him to do the right thing.
- People who know my kids have made comments to me about their good behavior. One woman in particular, after spending time with my kids, said that they were the best behaved children their age that she has ever seen!
So to any doubters of attachment parenting, to those who have just started out and are unsure, and to those who don’t know which parenting path to take, let me say point blank:
You reap what you sow.
8 thoughts on “Reaping the Rewards”
Thank you for the post = D. My daughter is only 2 1/2 and I get questions all the time: how do you get her to sit so still? Can I take her home with me, she is so good. And I get told she is sweet all the time.
My favorite is when we go grocery shopping, she hates being in the cart, so I let her walk, and she follows behind me, very closely. This woman asked how I get her not to run away or touch anything and my response was that I ask her not to! She looked at me like I was from another planet.
It’s really great when our children are old enough that their behaviour speaks for itself, isn’t it? There’s no better advertisement for attachment parenting than a well-adjusted older child.
It’s all so true. Our daughter is still very young (only 2) and we used to get a lot of “helpful comments” from friends with young children who were clearly certain that our daughter would turn out to be sheer terror. She didn’t–she’s empathetic, patient, and affectionate. And lately we’ve actually seen those same friends using some of our “AP tricks” with their children!
THANK YOU! I love hearing about happy, well-adjusted, attached children when they’re a little older.
My guy is 7.5 months old. It’s truly hard to picture him as school-aged.
And yet, when we’re out in public, people tell me all the time how good and quiet he is. Well yeah, when he’s snuggled up in his sling, he’s warm and cozy and content! Love it!
I think that you’re just good parents and your children are good because of good parenting, not necessarily because of AP. I would hate for people to read this and think that if they follow the path of AP, they will produce perfect children. I know a lot of parents who AP’ed, did the right things and had children who turned out … not so great.
I get comments all the time — “you’re baby is so quiet”, “she’s so well behaved” things like this — yet I still get other comments like “why do you still let her sleep with you?” or “don’t you ever put her down?”
No one seems to understand that these things are LINKED!
You also must take a child’s personality in account. We use AP parenting and my son is a very active and curious 2 year old. I always thought that his lack of inhibition to explore, be independent and be strong in his ways has to do with a parenting style that helps him feel secure and safe in his everyday life that he CAN be his more active and outgoing self (which some would view as not “quiet & well behaved”). I have always thought that the kids who seem overly compliant have something “held over their head” to act that way and that a child who doesn’t want to sit still at age 2 knows they can “act their age” with out punishment. Anyway, I think it’s more about personality combined with parenting that makes a child’s temperament.
Amy, you bring up a good point, that personality must also be taken into account. My son (the oldest) is a very introverted and quiet by nature, and always has been. He has always been one to follow the rules and prefers to sit still. His younger sister on the other hand, is a different person altogether! She was the one who ran off in the parking lots, who ran away from me without a backward glance, and who seems to take particular joy in doing the exact opposite of what is expected. In her younger days, I wouldn’t allow her to play in the front yard by herself because she’d always run out into the road. As a two-year-old, she was much how you describe your son. If you’ve ever read the Olivia books, that’s my daughter. 😉
But because we have always respected her particular personality as well as her brother’s, and have shown respect for them both as the individuals they are, they have both grown to be remarkable children. My daughter nursed considerably longer than my son did; I think she needed it to feel connected to me and to give her the confidence that I would always be there even when she ran off. She also co-slept with us longer. By allowing her to do this, I believe it gave her the confidence and closeness that her personality didn’t want in the daytime. I’ve never spanked my children; I don’t want to “punish” them for being themselves. Instead, I support them and their individual personalities as an attachment parent is uniquely able to.