On more than one occasion, when consulting with parents about a child’s behaviour, I have referred to non-emancipated children as “parasites.” Delightful, sticky, dirt-covered, entertaining, frustrating, aggravating, crazy-making, lovable parasites.
This nearly always produces a stunned response, then smothered giggles or outright laughter, followed by expressions of guilt or denial. But it’s too late. I’ve just said out loud what many parents think (with a big dose of guilt). The truth is, our children give virtually nothing back for the care that we give them, except gummy smiles and as they get older, unexpected opportunities to take joy in being alive with this kid. Otherwise, children take. Take. Take, and then demand some more, occasionally sucking the life out of us by their insatiable need/demand to be cared for. The very definition of a parasite.
Does this change anything about the amazing, miraculous, reality of being a parent? Not at all. It’s just an acknowledgement of reality.
Attachment Parenting as promoted today is JUNK science. Bill Spears and his family had their own belief system and consequent agenda in pushing this parenting style, and it’s done and is doing a LOT of damage to parents and affecting future generations. Before all the mommies out there flex flaming fingers to put me in my place, let’s make a clear distinction between Attachment Parenting (AP) as touted by Dr. Spears and his acolytes, and Attachment Theory as posited by such giants of psychology as John Bowlby. This theory has been researched since the late 30s when Dr. Bowlby first proposed secure attachment to a primary caregiver is a significant factor in a child’s growth and development. Dr. Spears took that premise (The “7Bs of Attachment” or the Hunter/Gatherer style of parenting) and came up with a whole method which he promoted heavily, in the process turning ‘ideal’ parenting into a family business and a social movement.
Proper, secure attachment to a primary caregiver in the first five years of life is absolutely imperative for healthy growth and psychological/emotional development. No question. But what that looks like in reality, based on years of research data, is rather different than today’s faddish enslavement to a style of parenting that is creating a generation of self-centered, emotionally stunted and psychologically dependent individuals. The principle which underlies the practice is responsiveness. Fostering an attachment that does not also foster autonomy and independence in equal measure results in inadequate preparation to be emancipated adults emotionally prepared to take responsibility for their own happiness.
Parents, with the best of intentions, who love their children deeply, are inadvertently thwarting the healthy emotional and psychological development of their children (…and don’t even get me started on what the expectations of this parenting style can do to many moms’ mental, physical, and psychological health). The principles of Attachment Parenting may be good but when those principles become proscribed practices and acolytes evangelize for those practices instead of the principles, the result is negative.
(Hint: Ignore any posts that have any hint of: ‘If you aren’t doing it this way/my way/our way you’re inadequate, failing, harming your child, doing damage, not part of the AP Mommies Club, shame-worthy, or a bad mother‘ preaching.)
Secure attachment is the desired outcome and that is fostered by a parent’s responsiveness to each individual child’s holistic developmental needs in the moment, not just the ones Dr. Spears thought important.