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December 05, 2005

some thoughts about attached parenting

by flowermama

Parents who do what is often called "attachment parenting" put especial emphasis on making parenting choices which build and strengthen the bond between them and their children. They commit to avoiding unnecessarily doing things which weaken or hinder the growth of (or break) an attached relationship. We all fumble along the way and will forever fall short of the elusive "perfect parent" role we might wish to play, but nurturing an attached, connected relationship is a main goal towards which "attached" parents strive.

Examples of choices parents sometimes make which do not nurture a healthy bond between them and their children -- things which can be very harmful and hurtful to the bond -- are leaving their baby to cry alone or ignoring their baby's cries (even if they are sitting near him). Making their little baby wait to nurse until a certain time or refusing to comfort-nurse their wee babe bring disconnectedness to the parent-child relationship, as do refusing to hold their baby when he wants to be held because they are afraid of holding him too much, slapping his hand or swatting his leg, yelling harshly at their child, spanking their child.

Doing disconnecting things tend to come most easily to us parents when we are not truly listening to our child and not responsively and lovingly meeting his needs. They are things we do when we are not listening to our God-given mothering intuition and the Holy Spirit's guidance and the clear direction we receive from God in His Word.

These types of choices are sometimes made from selfish motives. Other times many of them may just as easily be choices we misguidedly make out deep love for our children, and sometimes we make these choices by default. We may have read faulty information about the importance of making these choices, or heard about it from a friend, or lived these choices as a child at home growing up. Our culture is so full of detached parenting choices that many of us have been immersed in this way of thinking our whole life.

Though change can be painfully difficult, it is wholly worth the struggle -- and praise to our gracious, caring, untiring Father that He is by our side carrying us, and our children, through the rough spots. Having an attached relationshiop with our kiddos brings both parents and their children a feeling of "rightness." And the benefits of parenting this way continue from the start off point to grow in leaps and bounds.

Is our goal for an attached relationship selfish on our part because we desire it ourselves? It could be selfish, but in a healthy relationship these choices are not made from selfish motives. To parent this way takes a deep commitment and focus on the future. As servant-leaders in our family, we often have to lay aside our desires and, through God's strength and by His grace, give selflessly in ways we never before thought possible or could have imagined before having children.

Is our goal for an attached relationship something that puts our children first before our husbands, and what about our own needs? There are admittedly times when rightly our children's needs come first before our husband's, and many times our children's needs will come before our own. But a healthy family works together to meet everyone's needs the best they can. Still keeping in mind the goal to meet everyone's needs the best they can be met, there are seasons when our little one's needs will necessarily and rightfully be at the forefront.

For instance, little babies are so helpless and fully dependant on their parents, and they are so very newly born from their safe place of warmth and consistancy to this overwhelming world with it's bright lights and harsh sounds and confusing feelings that their needs should be responded to as quick as can be! This level, though, of focus on meeting their needs in this immediate and quite consuming and rather tiring (and full of joyous rewards!) way will change as they grow older. In a heatlhy, attached relationship where a child's needs have been consistently met, they learn to trust that their needs will be met and they learn to wait and eventually to work together as part of the family team.

Does our goal for an attached relationship put our children first before God? Just as with anything important to us, it could happen. A better question would be, should our children ever be put first before God? The answer to that is a resounding NO. Does this type of parenting make us more likely to put our children before God than following, for example, a parenting philosophy which says that babies should be on a feeding schedule from birth, or that says babies should be left at home while their parents go on a weekly date night, or that says that babies need to be trained with switches? Not at all. Parenting is a ministry. We are following His heart's desire when we take precious care of His blessings! When we care for our little ones, we are obeying Him, loving Him, serving Him, sacrificing for Him. We are caring for the least of these. . .

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? . . .' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me for you are cursed, . . . for I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, . . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'" ~ Matthew 25:37-40

Posted by flowermama at December 5, 2005 12:41 AM


What a great summary of what we are all striving for, Jeri! My ministry to my son and husband is the most fulfilling thing I have been blessed with. And my needs are met by them, as we all seek to love one another as Christ loves us.

Posted by: jadensmom at January 3, 2006 03:30 AM

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.


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