by Hailey Williamson
For any parent that chooses the AP road, this parenting style will keep you on your toes. Constant learning, researching, communicating, and self-exploration can, at times, make your head spin. Especially for people like me, who learned about attachment parenting and true gentle discipline relatively late in the game.
Today, my sons are 9, 7, and 2. It has been just a year since I stumbled across an idea that my heart had told me was correct and mainstream society told me was wrong. Some familiar AP techniques, like natural childbirth, EBF, and baby wearing are things that I will never experience. I am focusing on the emotional aspects of AP.
Gentle and positive disciplines are a huge thing for us, because our children are by no means babies any longer. I am done having children, that door is closed. Therefore, the emotional aspects are what we are concentrating on. I used to manipulate them, and call it gentle. I would give two choices; “You can clean your room, or clean the bathroom. Look, I’m being fair because I’m giving you choices.” Now I realize that I was manipulating them to think they were choosing for themselves, when in fact I was choosing one of two possible outcomes for them and trying to play it off like I wasn’t.
Thankfully my eyes are now open to this form of manipulation, and it has brought me closer to my children. Another thing I did frequently with my older two- I knew better by the time I had my last son- was put them in time out. I truly thought that because I wasn’t spanking them, I was being gentle. I was wrong. What I was really doing was emotionally detaching from them, and leaving them by themselves to deal with emotions and a punishment they didn’t understand. It breaks my heart to think of it now.
Also, I yelled. A lot. I threatened to spank them (yes, physical violence) if they didn’t listen the first time to what I said. I lorded over them, and I’m sure the awful phrase “BECAUSE I SAID SO!” came out of my mouth more than once. It was around the time I got a smart phone that my world started changing. For the first time in my life I had constant, 24 hour access to the internet.
If I had a parenting concern, I would Google it. I noticed websites and blogs that were saying things I had never seriously considered before, but that my heart whispered were correct. Slowly, my eyes opened to my children. They were people, same as you and me. They didn’t deserve the ways that I was treating them.
One night I woke up and cried. What kept coming to mind was that I had been treating strangers in the grocery store kinder than I had been treating my own kids. From then on out, I have been a gentle discipline/AP sponge. I read, learn, and connect with other parents constantly. Our household has been transformed, as have the people in it.
We are equals, we still make mistakes, and we are attached. My husband and I study Aha! Parenting (and recently, Naomi Aldort) like it’s going out of style. Never again will I be deceived by society’s views of children. Now that I know better, I am doing better. Every single day.
Hailey Williamson lives in the midwest with her husband and three sons. She runs a Facebook Page called “Formerly Unattached“.