Attachment Parenting and Older Children

Attachment Parenting and Older ChildrenSome parents do not find out about this kind of parenting until their children are older.  In this piece Hailey talks about Attachment Parenting and Older Children.

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“.

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8 Replies to “Attachment Parenting and Older Children”

  1. Yay for you! I never considered parenting styles until I was suddenly pregnant, but coming from an anthropology background, the only thing I was sure about was that the way North Americans parent as the ‘norm’ didn’t seem right to me. I know parenting is a journey, but I’m glad I’ve discovered AP and gentle/natural parenting. My daughter is 9 months old now and such a happy little wonder. I have to laugh when everyone I meet is completely horrified at my parenting choices, yet never fail to comment on what a happy and sweet baby she is.

    • It always seems to be the way, doesn’t it Jennifer?! It is still shocking to me (even more so I think) that we are convinced that our babies should be independent and that we are encouraged to distance ourselves from them. Poor mamas and babies! Thank you so much for being her here and sharing your insight Jennifer.

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  3. I coslept, wore my kids and breastfed into toddlerhood. Thought this was Ap.but you are so right that it is about emotional connection and respect. All that cosleeping, etc is truly meaningful only when you allow it to set the stage for developing a compassionate and respectful relationship with your child.

      • I don’t know, I think alot of people co-sleep and breastfeed for the purported scientific outcomes and once their children grow up, they revert to the authoritarian/traditional parenting relationship.

  4. Thank you so much for this. I have a one year old and have just recently started AP! The first year was INSANE! She was colic, and then i was told i had to let her cry it out, which never ever felt right in my body to let a tiny being scream until exhaustion and then fall asleep… I spent so long being frustrated with her and not understanding her and in turn we had a hard time nursing.
    Now she is over a year and we’re still nursing beautifully… i still wear her, and although we do not co-sleep (because i was told not to!…argh), I go to her in the night as soon as she lets me know she needs me (by crying out or moaning).
    I stopped caring about mainstream articles, and started nursing her to sleep and being there when she cried immediately.
    I foudn myself feeling SO guilty that i didnt do it this way in her first year…. and i felt like i “missed the boat” on AP. This article made me feel so wonderful that I can continue down this path emotionally supporting her and caring for her in a gentle, nurturing way!
    Thank yyou 🙂

  5. Thanks for sharing. We are just starting AP and it is very hard to integrate into our busy lives. Often our 6 year old acts up when it is time to leave to go to school, etc. I hate to resort to threats or rewards but I’m not sure how else to get out the door on time. We did some time-in this morning and he just wanted to keep doing it at every little thing instead of getting ready for school.