Friday, February 24, 2012

Fostering Healthy Attachment?


Welcome to February edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama!. This month, participants have looked into the topic of “Fostering Healthy Attachment”. Please scroll down to the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants. Enjoy!

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Are you an "Attachment Parent?" I hadn't heard the term until I had Sasha. I was very attached to my older daughter, too, though. We rarely left her anywhere. Hell, I rarely even left her with her father! I nursed her on demand, until she self-weaned at 3½ years old. She was, however, considered a "mama's girl" and it is all too easy to blame that on my parenting style. When I left that family (got a divorce), I had planned to take her with me. However, based on my weird work schedule at the time and living at an apartment, her father suggested leaving her with him - in the house in which she'd grown up so far. We agreed on it. We hoped that the separation would help her, too.

I still can't speak to that topic. I don't know yet if it was a benefit or detriment. Three years later, her father passed away suddenly and she came to live with me full time. We're not as close as we were back then and I think being her mother would probably be a lot easier if we hadn't had that time apart. Thinking about that makes me sad.

Tyler with Baby DollI started working from home while I was pregnant
with Tyler because I couldn't fathom leaving her.
(This photo was taken from my desk.)

Now I have Sasha. I'm still parenting as an Attachment Parent. It is simply what works for me. It is how I'm wired. Maybe I'm just too much of a control freak, but neither my husband nor myself are comfortable leaving her with sitters. We have one friend that we're comfortable having care for her, but even then it is generally within the perimeter of our home. He takes her for walks or outside to play.

Sasha with Uncle BrandonSasha with "Uncle Brandon"

Now we have Spencer, too. And I'm not changing me. My husband trusts my experience and supports my decisions. We do discuss things if we have differing opinions on how things should be handled. I know sometimes it disappoints him just how much she prefers me over him, but he also understands that breastfeeding alone makes a big difference there.

Even though my older daughter may have seemed too needy and my toddler prefers me over everyone else, I really believe this is the right and healthy path for us.

So how, exactly, do I encourage a close relationship and healthy (hopefully) attachment with my children? First off, I'm available at the drop of a hat. I generally put their needs well ahead of my own. The other, really wonderful way that I enjoy fostering a close attachment is holding my babies while they sleep and having them cosleep in our family bed. I just feel that these choices help show our children that they can trust me to be there for them.

Sleepy Mommy & Baby SpencerCatchin' a cat nap with Spencer

My hope for their healthy futures? I hope that my children become adults that want to talk to me every day! My mother had it with her mother and wished that we had it. We did have it before she passed and I miss rattling to her about whatever was on my mind. It was a relationship that I treasure, though.

I also hope that by being here for them, fulfilling their needs as they express them, they will one day develop that into voicing their needs with their life partners. Dreaming big? Eh, this just seems like a great place to start that foundation!

How do you ensure a healthy attachment with your children?


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15 comments:

  1. My husband refers to himself as Agent A's 4th favorite person (after me and his two sisters). He's mostly joking (I think) but breastfeeding and co-sleeping really enhance that connection to MOM more than anyone else.

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    1. My husband is definitely jealous of my attachment with our daughter, especially considering he was her primary caregiver for over a year. He understands, though, that he can't compete with the breasts.

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    2. Yeah, it's hard to compete with built-in snacks.

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  2. You're such a great mama! I love how you follow your instincts no matter what <3

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    1. Thank you. More recently I've actually had to go against some of my stubborn ideas. I'll have posts on night weaning coming soon. I did NOT want to night wean, but it has really helped with our sleep problems.

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  3. 'How do you ensure a healthy attachment with your children?'

    We co-sleep, breastfeed on demand (tandem-ing baby & toddler ~ really not easy or fun at times!) and I too try to be available no matter what. Similarly we don't use sitters (who has the energy to go out anyway?!) It's working out for us so far. And there is nothing I like more than waking up with my beautiful girls snuggled either side of me :-)

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    1. What are the ages of your littles? I try to nurse as on demand as I can manage, but lately our toddler (2½yo) asks for milk every time I hold her baby brother!

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  4. I am inspired by your conviction on knowing your path!

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    1. Thank you! Most of the time I can't imagine doing otherwise, but sometimes I do suffer self doubt.

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  5. Oh how I wish the same thing about having close relationships in the future!! I want coming home to be a blessing for our kids (and us), not a chore.

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  6. Building a strong, healthy, respectful relationship with our children yields to the same strong, healthy, respectful relationship with them when they are adults.

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  7. Great post, Momma! I just love seeing how other families foster attachment in their homes with children of all ages.

    -Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling

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  8. holding sleeping babies is so sweet - my 22 month old still loves falling a sleep for her nap in my arms and sometimes prefers to spend the whole nap glued to me :)

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  9. We are all in with attachment parenting. we have one daughter who's 4 1/2 now.
    I think I'm like you. It came so naturally and I may have some control issues... But I've tried to stay conscious of that and of any projecting I may do. I was always fearful as a child (one of 6). I try to allow for the possiblity that my daughter doesn't feel what I did.
    I did have a struggle with seperation and waited too long to encourage her. For her sake. She was wanting and needing it and didn't know how to do it.
    We also didn't have others care for her. Some help, but only with one of us in the house as well.
    I'm so happy to hear that your husband trusts your instincts.

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