When Being An Attachment Parent Is Difficult
I am an attachment parent through and through. I’m really not into labels but everything I do would certainly put me in that category. We co-sleep, I breastfed until my son was two and we baby wore. For me it was an instinctive thing. When my son was born it felt natural to be really responsive to my baby and that just rippled through my parenting journey. None of it was forced.
Like all things in life, attachment parenting can come with it’s own challenges. It is not all sunshine and lollipops. Like all parentings we have had our struggles and some of those struggles have been directly related to some of the attachment principles that we have cultivated in our family.
One of the biggest challenges I faced was other people’s opinions on how we were doing things. If we had another baby I am confident that this would not be the case but it often felt like a conveyor belt of people questioning our decisions. At one point my husband had to be the gatekeeper to protect me from some of the negativity, as that really is what it was. The problem is that when people see you doing things differently to how they do or did things they automatically take it as a sign of you judging their choices. Of course, this was never the case but I found myself constantly having to compliment and reassure other people who appeared to be offended by me doing certain things differently. For example, the number of people who found it perfectly acceptable to ask me if I was “still breastfeeding” my son astonished me. My son might have been eight months or eighteen months but I was often tempted to ask them were they still cuddling their child. Breastfeeding was normal to us. No big deal.
It was never an issue for me but one of the challenges that we noticed with attachment parenting was just how needed we were. But of course, this is the basis of being a parent in general. Your baby does need you a huge amount. An invite for a wedding came our way when our son was a couple of month’s old. I was in no way resentful but I knew that our decision to breastfeed and co-sleep made my attendance very difficult. It is not a negative but it was certainly a challenge trying to figure out the best way to approach the experience. It was, however, never a big deal or a reason to start doing things differently.
Another challenge I have experienced is separation anxiety. The physical and emotional bond I share with my son made it very difficult for me to accept going back to work. I think this is something that all parents struggle with, and as mentioned above I really don’t enjoy labels, but my attachment parenting choices really added to this anxiety. There is nothing negative about a bond of attachment but I never expected the separation anxiety to be so difficult for me. Everyone told me that it would be so much worse for me than my son and they were right. I really struggled with being separated from him for eight hours per day.
I am yet to enter this phase but another challenge I am anticipating is the likelihood that attachment parenting will become a little bit more difficult when my child is older and enters the teenage years. The whole process has been majorly instinctive but parenting an old child is a completely different ball-game and I know it will require a lot more patience and tought. It will be more important than ever to have that strong bond of attachment. Our physical closeness will be less frequent but the foundations of trust and empathy will hopefully have been laid well so that we can continue to nourish the relationship in much the same way as now.