Archives for July, 2012
Everyone loves babies. We’re programmed to. It’s biological: A 2008 research study at Baylor showed that the happiness centers in our brains light up when we see a baby smiling at us. Conversely, a 2012 study at Aarhus University showed that a baby’s cry elicits a unique, lightning-fast response in his parents to soothe the baby. We want that crying to stop. We’re wired that way. So, it’s puzzling why there seems to be a surge of entertainment centered on crying children, particularly infants. The quiver of the lip, the shaking of the chin, the miniature pout, the glistening tears. Apparently, it’s quite adorable. And as the child grows and those crying sessions become tantrums, these big reactions can seem downright hilarious to a lot of people. “You’re having a fit about what?!” Making sport of crying babies – from Parenting.com’s “They’re mad, they’re sad, they’re so darn cute!” crying baby pictures to YouTube’s swarms of “cute baby crying” videos to talk show host Jimmy Kimmel’s challenge to parents to feign eating all their child’s Halloween candy to Japan’s crying babies festival (what!?) – seems to be taking this fixation with baby cuteness one step too far.
So, what does Attachment Parenting look like in older children? Here are some ideas of differences between babies/toddlers and older children, using the Eight Principles of parenting with attachment: Preparing for Parenting, Pregnancy, and Birth – Obviously, this has to do much more with babies, but one part of the principles, “preparing for parenting” has to do with all ages. This is the principle that charges parents to learn how to overcome challenges in parenting any age child. I use this principle often when I am learning how to adjust my expectations to match child development. Included in this principle is continuing education for parents, in books, DVD courses, local classes, parent support groups, visiting with friends who are also parents, etc. in an effort to learn to be a better parent to our children.
There is a pervasive myth that Attachment Parenting is done once the child has left the baby stage, when breastfeeding and babywearing are no longer appropriate or even possible to do. This is related to the same myth that prescribes only certain parenting techniques – namely breastfeeding, babywearing, bedsharing, and others – to parenting with secure attachment in mind. Actually, Attachment Parenting – being an approach to childrearing – knows no age barriers, and while this approach has to look drastically different in older children than it does with babies and toddlers, it is still vitally important to a child’s optimal development to continue to parent with attachment well beyond the early years. Right now, I have a baby, a preschooler, and a school-ager in the house. I am using an Attachment Parenting approach with all three of them, but the techniques that go with each child development stage are very different. They have to be. What works for the baby just plain will not work with older children – as anyone can tell you. When someone mentions Attachment Parenting for the older child, that person isn’t so dense as to think that the same strategies used with babies can be applied to an older child. This isn’t a matter of breastfeeding a six-year-old. Rather, what can be applied to all age groups are the Attachment Parenting principles.