Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Attachment Parenting for Introverts

I've been thinking a lot lately about Attachment Parenting. I certainly didn't follow it when either of my kids were infants (when I look back, I probably tried way too hard at times to invent Detachment Parenting), and I honestly don't think I'd do it if I were able to relive the boys' baby days. I'm an introvert and I need my daily solitude.

Plus, my kids are so clingy that sometimes I think they're practicing "Attachment Child-ing."

Me and Pie.
Looking back, I see now that because of my constant stress and lack of self-care during the past five years, my boys probably don't have as full a sense of safety and security as I would have liked. I let them both "cry it out" before age one. I've sent them to their rooms for being naughty when I see now that they were most likely acting out because they needed me to help them feel safe and secure. I've angrily sent Bug back to his own bed plenty of times in the middle of the night because I was totally against co-sleeping (even though co-sleeping has been going on since the beginning of time).

So, during a recent Google search, I came across this article: Why Introverts Fail at Attachment Parenting, and this tidbit that jumped out at me--"Introverts require periodic alone-time in order to function properly, so constant connection to their children is simply not reasonable."

It's true: there usually comes a point at the end of the day (sometimes I can stretch it out to a day and a half) when I just can't handle being talked to or touched any more until I can have some "alone time" to recharge my battery. Denying myself my needed quiet and solitude usually results in a crazy woman who flips out on everyone and everything in her path. That's most likely what would have precluded me from practicing Attachment Parenting.

But, do I agree that introverts simply can't be "attached" parents? I'm not sure. I do think that it would take an amazing amount of discipline on the introverted mom's part to clearly separate time with the child and alone time (that would mean no more trying to fit in ten minutes of zone-out time for myself on the computer while the kids are playing next to me. Zone-out time would have to be completely separate from present-with-the-kids time).

In my own case, whether or not I could have done Attachment Parenting during the early years is sort of a moot point. However, I'm coming to the realization that if I could try to integrate elements of Attachment Parenting into my "style" (most notably, positive discipline strategies and determining the true needs behind behavior issues) and make sure to address my alone-time requirement, my kids might become less clingy and attention-seeking (I'm thinking I probably "created the monster" by trying too hard to isolate myself while I should have been fully present with them). It's taken me five years to figure out what the "balance" is supposed to consist of, but I don't think it's too late to fill in the empty spaces in my boys' senses of safety and security. Hopefully there's still time.

Here's some more to read...
 This post has been featured on Taming the Goblin


    1. I enjoyed reading this article from you. I fall somewhere in the middle of attachment parenting and the other side (what ever the politically correct word for that is.) I see value in helping my son feel safe and secure but I too need my space and alone time to remain sane. I didn't have my son until I was 30 and for the first 30 years of my life I enjoyed frequent peaceful solitude.
      I hope that acknowledging that need for alone time and his need for connection will help us find a happy medium. It is a daily process and many times I fail miserably but I am not a perfect person, not a perfect parent, and I want him to know that no one is perfect. What matters is honesty with our selves and those we love. We can fail miserably but that's ok as long as we keep trying and keep loving those who love us.

    2. what a great post. I don't think its ever too late to change direction in the way we parent. After all parenting is a bit experimental. I'm featuring this post on the Sunday Parenting Party this weekend. Thanks for sharing

      1. Thanks, Monko! You know you're one of my favorite bloggers. :) After re-reading this a few times and my mom telling me such, I realize this post might sound a little depressing, but it's not supposed to be. I've just been doing a LOT of heavy thinking lately (I AM an introvert, after all). It'll probably end up turning into some positive changes in my relationship with my little guys.

    3. I can't help thinking that the quality of time spent with our children is far more important than the quantity. There really is no need to berate yourself for needing time alone, your own needs are just as important!

      Paradoxically, I consider myself an (accidental) attachment parent, but equally need alone time every day in order to be "me". When my children are awake I spend most of my time with them; I still breastfeed my youngest, carry him with me a large part of the day and co-slept with all three (youngest still does). But I greatly value the time I have for myself during baby's afternoon nap, and at night when all three are in bed. I find myself rearranging activities (housework, shopping, meeting friends) to coincide with "awake time" leaving myself completely free to do my own thing when my motherly duties are not required.

      I'm sure you'll find a happy medium to balance your role as a mum and as a woman who has her own needs to attend to. In years to come you'll look back at this time of your life and wonder why you were worrying in the first place!

    4. Wow, finally an explanation! I tried hard to carry my children around. But I am little and my back rebelled. I breastfed my children till they were 14 and 12 months, and still nurse my boy and plan to do it for just as long. But I wouldn't describe myself an attachment parent. Becuase that while I think that babywearing, co-sleeping adn extended breastfeeding are great for some parents, they don't work for others. Another thing I just don't get is the way attchment parenting got hijcaked by doing certain things (like the ones I described above). So, parents who don't do that are detached from their children? No, I don't think so. I htink all parents are attachment parents because they care deeply about bonding with their children adn do the best they can to do this. Also, I think many AP books, blogs and articles are deeply judgmental. I believe that there are many ways to bond with a child: just by spending time with them (not necessarily by babywearing), feeding them (doesn't matter how, breast or bottle), or just being with them. But I believe taking time for ourselves (when needed) is also crucial to bonding- becasue it allows you to charge your batteries and be a calmer mom. Also what I don't like is that nowadays pretty much everything is explained by lack of attachment. But we are complicated beings and we don't know why we get sick/depressed or whatever. SO, don't beat yourself up!

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