Wednesday, 21 November 2018

3 More Mistakes Critics Make About Attachment Parenting

The to-be-continue post (Contrasting Attachment-Parenting with Child Hate, Childism and Misoproliny) was all about the kind of mainstream parenting that attachment-style parenting isn’t. 

This one is about all the types of parenting it is often accused of being instead.
Permissive, Hippy-Flippy, Woo-woo Non-Parenting

Yeah, that. Attachment-style parenting isn’t that.

It is not permissive. It may look like it to the folks still living over there on the mainstream parenting channel, thinking that the only safe or sane way to get an infant to adulthood without turning them into axe murderers or basement trolls who never get a job is harsh treatment or 'tough love' … but since both of those results are far more common from the mainstream … let me explain the difference.

I am sitting at a playground, watching my kids. There are not many other kids around, because that’s not an accident –dinner time is a great time to be at the playground if you want to actually sit down and not be mediating the war over the sandbox toys. One of my children is climbing up the slide, down the ladder, up the slide, down the ladder. Some helpful and kind grandmotherly type wanders up behind me, protesting and asking me why I don’t stop her. I can’t remember now if the problem was that she was breaking the slide rules (no climbing the slide) or because of how lethal climbing down the ladder clearly was. I also don’t remember what I said to Nice Old Lady. It was polite, but I clearly disagreed with her.
My kids did not need any help at all in deciding how to use the children’s playthings. If the inventor of slides only meant them for going down, the design was seriously flawed –up was available, fun and absolutely something my kids were permitted to explore. Not safe when someone else is coming down, but notice I already arranged the playground visit for a lull: not an accident, as I said.

Ladders are definitely made for going up and down (for fairly obvious reasons once you detach the idea of ‘slide and’ from ‘ladder’) and she clearly felt completely confident in her ability to manage the task –she’d already done it at least 7 times.
My deranged (to others) playground rule was simple: you may never help them go beyond what they are comfortable doing, and they must be rescued the moment the indicate the need.

This rule was not ‘permissive’ –it was intelligent and carefully thought through: what kind of risks do I want my kids to feel safe to handle when they are alone?
The kind that needs a spotter? The kind that needs help from others to reach and that would be very dangerous for them, alone, to get to at all?

Gee, no.
There’s the first part of the rule: you can only explore your way to the edge of your own comfort zone, no further. This is easily enforced because adults are rational and will do what they’re told by the kid’s mom even when they don’t understand it (or they will become very uncomfortable and wander away… darn.) Kids will naturally stop when they no longer feel safe, so that doesn’t need any kind of compliance from the kid, it’s built in.

My favourite kind of rule: the kind that I don’t have to police.

And this natural limit results in the odd ‘omg, I have got myself into a pickle here’ experiences for the kid:

Do I want my kids to feel free to ask for help, and get it, when they need it?, yes.

Oooh, look, another goal met without me having to do anything at all to enforce it! They ask for help, they get it. Ta-da!

Watch me sit on the bench watching them police themselves and their exploration all by themselves… while they are building their confidence in their abilities, all by themselves.


This isn’t permissive parenting, it’s lazy. And quite intentionally so.

Just ask, it may not be what you think it looks like.


Regular people unfamiliar with attachment-style parenting will also look at how misbehaviour is handled and think ‘they’re permissive.’ They aren’t. That is, attachment-style parenting parents are not. Permissive that is.
It looks like it because of what they really aren’t: punitive, authoritarian, shouting, demanding, coercive, threatening, nagging … it’s a long list. It is a long list of things you can see happening from across a busy mall.

Since the mainstream is used to expecting kids to get attacked for making mistakes or expressing their emotions, when attachment-style parents don’t do that it looks permissive. The kids appear to be ‘getting away with’ something.

Remind me to write a post about ‘getting away with’… grrr…


Here’s a tip for onlookers: just because you don’t recognize what is happening doesn’t mean nothing is happening, k?


    ‘My 3yo just won’t listen!’

    ‘How do you get your kids to listen?’

    ‘They never do anything they need to do!’, in this context is code. So is ‘mind’ and ‘do anything they need to do.’

The word obedience is so militant and WWII-ish, so people shy away from it all the time.  

Too bad they don’t shy away from the idea of it rather than just the word for it.

Yes, your 3yo will listen. I promise. Get down on their level, touch them gently, make soft eye contact as soon as they look at you and very quietly say, 

‘would you like your very own giant chocolate bar?’

Promise: they listen just fine. 

What they don’t is obey.

How you ‘get’ your kids to listen is two-pronged. First, you listen to them (so they have any idea at all what it looks like) and second, say things you expect they wish to hear. ‘Go do this right now because I told you to’ is very unlikely to be anything anyone anywhere ever wants to hear.

The last one: they resist doing what they need to do.

No, they don’t.
They need to breathe … and they don’t hold their breath until, and unless, they are frantically frustrated at trying to get their other needs met.

They need to eat … and they don’t starve themselves or resist eating healthy food until the whole issue becomes fraught with drama and top-down control (everything that is fraught with drama and top-down control causes resistance, it’s completely natural and inevitable.)

They need to eliminate … and they don’t hold it or get weird about letting it go (bladder shy) until after they’ve been shamed about bodily functions (including uncontrollable noises and odours) or someone’s attempted to control that from the outside.
Obedience is not an attachment-parenting thing.

All 3 --No AP Anywhere In Them

Neither misbehaviour nor obedience, or permissiveness, are part of the way Attachment-Style (AP) parents think about this game.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Ms Clement I love your writing. Since I can't stop my editorial whisper, I need writers like to to shut that bitch up.
    and Linda... we who attempted raising adults in the generation before you salute you.
    I hope when your kids have kids that they too write.