Since since leaving taw attachment parentinmove cement, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about what drives people to labeling themselves as attachment parents andwho these people are. I’ve reached the conclusion that there are three types of attachment parents: The Normal Type, The Abused Type, and The Narcissistic Type
1) The Normal Type
The normal type is just that: normal. They’re the parents who always protest when someone else talks about looney AP types by saying they practiced attachment parentingsend weren’t that extreme. Some of them just fell into attachment parenting without knowing it: breast feeding on demand, baby wearing and co-sleeping. Others like it for its “green” appeal. It’s more natural. Or they haven’t spent a lot of time around babies and their friends did it this way or they live in an area where AP is the prevalent parenting culture and just fell into it. These parents are not dogmatic and are perfectly fine with other parenting styles and abandon tenets when they no longer work. I’ll be optimistic and say that this group comprises most attachment parents
2) The Abused Parents.
I’m not sure this is the best term for this category, but basically parents whose childhood experiences were suboptimal fall under this heading. This includes those whose childhoods may have been fine by objective standards but as adults view their childhoods as lacking. For these parents, attachment parenting is a way for them to heal themselves and their relationship with their parents via their children. I myself fall under this category. Since my mom didn’t really have room for her kids in her life, I was determined to raise my kids differently and stumbled across attachment parenting when I was 18, it seemed like the perfect philosophy. Finally a parenting method where kids matter!
However, the 7 baby b’s of AP are so demanding that they have particularly insidious results for members of this category: just as the Abused Parents needs weren’t met by his or her parents, so they continue to be neglected as the parent strives to sacrifice herself for her kids while practicing attachment parenting. In my case, it became another relationship in which my needs didn’t matter if I needed sleep, I was supposed to wake up hourly at night to meet the needs of my 18 month old. Similarly, when I was a child it didn’t matter that needed to sleep, my mom was upset and needed to blast Peter, Paul, and Mary at full volume. My needs didn’t matter.
Even without attachment parenting, it is extremely easy to lose yourself in the role of parent. If you haven’t had a healthy parent-child relationship modeled, it’s even easier, especially if you fear breaking away from AP will damage your child in much the same way you were damaged as a child.
I managed to break away from this mode of thinking when a very AP friend told me she chose her style of parenting because her mother was very controlling and she hoped her way of raising her children would enable her to have a better relationship with her kids than she had with her mother. Being my usual compassionate self, my first thought was “That’s dumb. Why should she let her mom determine the way she raises her kid? Her relationship with her kids could be better than the one she has with her mother by the simple fact that she is not her mom.” It was like a light bulb went off over my head. I’m not my mom either and the fact that I’ve actively sought out better ways to raise my children than my mom raised hers automatically makes me a better parent.
Aside from me and my friends, I know several other women who practice attachment parenting largely because they were abused as children and I can only view them as sad cases in obvious need of therapy. Their lives revolve around their children and they are quite open about the fact they were abused by their parents and seem to think mainstream parenting is also abusive and will result in ruined, broken children, just like themselves. What they don’t see is how they are inadvertently forming abusive relationships with their children. One of the women mentioned how her son calls her a “fucking bitch” (I think he was about 7) and smacks her, breaking her glasses. She reported she didn’t know how to handle it and it was very triggering for her and made her very angry, as well it should. No one in the AP community had any suggestions for her, aside from lamely telling him “It sounds like you are very angry right now.” Indeed.
It’s useless to tell these Abused Parents that they don’t need AP in order to avoid repeating their parents mistakes on their children. The ghost in the nursery is too strong to avoid and unless they got therapy–that is, real therapy and not therapy with therapists who themselves advocate attachment parenting and insist that’s the only way to not create broken children–they seem quite content to continue to sacrifice themselves.
3) The Narcissistic Type
Again, I’m not sure if this is the best term for this category. I first typed “Overbearing Type” as I don’t want this to be confused with the narcissistic parent who has narcissistic personality disorder. But basically this is the parent who is not only an attachment parent, but the BEST Attachment Parent. They are the Most Attached, the Most Involved. They wouldn’t never dream of not playing with their kids at the park and their kids are always their number one priority and they will be quick to inform you how much of a martyr they are for their kids. Not in those exact terms, of course, but that’s what they mean. Because everyone knows there’s no less selfish thing in the world than raising your own kids. After spending any significant amount of time with these parents, you get the dim impression that it’s not so much about their kids, but about them. Just as Abused Parents raise their kids using the AP methods in order to heal themselves, these parents us AP in order to glorify themselves. It’s not so much about them meeting their kids NEEDS, but how their kids need THEM.
So they will tell you how they sacrificed their Very Important Career in order to stay home with their kids. They’re not bitter, but man! They’re such MARTYRS. They’re the ones who will tell you they nursed until their kid was 5. It’s about THEM, remember. They haven’t gotten a night’s sleep in years and it’s so hard, isn’t it? The sacrifices they make! Other parents who don’t attachment parent aren’t good parents. They don’t love their kids as much as the narcissistic parents. Their kids will have all sorts of issues. A lot of times, narcissistic APers tend to have issues respecting boundaries. My narcissistic friend once informed me she couldn’t help us with Alpha’s Finnish and I stared at her dumbfounded and informed her that we didn’t WANT her help with his Finnish, given that she couldn’t speak it. She also informed me on multiple occasions that friends whose son she babysat wanted her to raise them and he was so obviously unwanted. It must be hard being the Best Parent Ever and having all these other parents banging down your door, eager to have you raise their offspring.
Attachment Parenting plays into their hands so well with its constant claims of being better than mainstream parenting and producing better kids. The sad thing is that a lot of these parents don’t seem to see their kids as anything but extensions of themselves. If their kids grow up to be wonderfully empathetic people, it won’t be because that child is just amazingly awesome on his own terms, but because of What a Great Parent he had.
So, what do you think? Did I miss any types of attachment parents? Does this seem accurate to you?