She is born of your flesh and blood. She may seem needy, but she’s incapable of doing anything on her own. She appears dependent, but why shouldn’t she be? She has her whole life to be independent…to do things on her own. So why not take advantage of the now? She won’t always need you this much. It’s not spoiling, it’s love…and she needs yours now more than ever. Give her all the snuggles, all the kisses. For although she won’t remember them, you will. She exists because of you, but you live because of her. It’s in our instincts. You can never love her too much.
I’m often told that I spoil Aspen. That I hold her too much or don’t let her cry alone enough. My response? She’s a baby…and she’s my baby. The idea of spoiling a child with love is absurd to me. Love builds empathetic children who can rely on their parents. This is why I chose attachment parenting.
What is attachment parenting?
Attachment parenting can mean many things to various people. To me, it’s the idea that the bond with your child comes first. Period. It’s not always about convenience or doing the easy thing, but more so about choosing love first. Our children will be far from perfect, but we love them nonetheless. The love is unconditional, and so we should lead with that love.
Children don’t understand that if we yell at them that we still love them. Leave them alone to cry it out and they feel abandoned. They don’t understand that love is unconditional at such a young age. If you push to put the attachment first, you’re securing the idea in your child that even when they make mistakes…you still love them. This isn’t by simply telling them, but by showing them, too.
It starts as early as infanthood
Those first moments where you practice skin-to-skin and try your damndest at breastfeeding are early examples of attachment parenting. Here’s a list of examples of how you can practice attachment parenting in the early days:
- Regular skin-to-skin
- Baby wearing
- Room sharing
- Immediately responding to cries
- Holding/snuggling regularly
Attachment parenting isn’t necessarily an all-or-nothing approach. You can do some or all of these things as you see fit. These are merely examples of bonding techniques that go hand-in-hand with attachment parenting.
It doesn’t end there
Babies aren’t the only ones who need all our love and attention. Toddlers and older children do too! Attachment parenting doesn’t end when your child isn’t an infant anymore. It doesn’t have to be rocket science…it’s as simple as always leading with love and attachment! This is also true in terms of discipline.
It’s not always easy
Aspen isn’t even in the tantrum phase, and I still find myself growing frustrated at times. If she had her way, Mama would always play with and/or hold her. This becomes a challenge when I’m trying to write, do housework, or just have a moment to relax. Still, I have to remind myself that she wants all of my attention because she adores me so much! How can I be mad at that? It simply means I have to type with her on my lap, clean while wearing her, and relax when Dad comes home.
As Aspen grows older, I intend to incorporate attachment parenting into my discipline style. What this means is no time-outs, no yelling, no spanking, and no walking away or rolling your eyes. Does that mean she will always get her way? Of course not! It simply means that I will be there to help her through any tantrum. I may not let her have what she wants, but I can help her through the powerful emotions of how to deal with being frustrated. In time, she will learn the skills that I teach her to deal with frustrations in a healthy way.
Independence is important too
All that being said, children still need ample independent play to build problem-solving skills and a longer attention span. I often achieve this by playing with Aspen until she’s thoroughly intrigued, then I can easily walk away while she remains entertained.
Babies and toddlers simply aren’t capable of dealing with feelings independently. Time-outs only make them feel abandoned and more frustrated. With attachment parenting, you assure your child that you are always there. Your mere presence can be enough. Therefore, the independence I suggest doesn’t refer to leaving your child alone to “figure out their feelings.”
You won’t be perfect at it
Just as you can’t expect perfection from your child, you can’t expect it from yourself either. You haven’t failed if you slip and yell. All you can do is lead by example and learn from your mistakes. It’s important that your child sees that adults can make mistakes too.
What’s the end goal?
The purpose of attachment parenting is to have an everlasting bond with your child that they carry with them into adulthood. Don’t worry, your co-sleeping toddler won’t be in your bed until they’re a teenager. Children can learn independence and resilience with time, but it’s important to follow their pace. Strict parenting doesn’t build a strong individual. In fact, it’s proven that children raised with overly affectionate parents do better academically. Support forms strong individuals, who also gain empathy and nurturing from your approach. They will be ready to face the world and lead with kindness, but still, always feel like they have a place at home…if they need it.
So what do you think, can you love too much?