Saturday, January 19, 2013

“Detachment Parenting”? You might as well punch me in the face

I just found out this week that apparently, there's such a thing called, "Detachment Parenting".

Yep. I could have happily gone through my entire life not knowing that existed.

As if there's not enough detachment and misguided lack of human connection in this broken world, we now need to ponder a trend of people consciously making the effort to intentionally detach, and push their babies and children from them. Embrace selfishness and reject sacrifice? Well, that is what many people do anyway, so I guess putting a name to it finally, makes no difference.

There comes a point, when it’s not a matter of accepting what works for someone, because it’s nonsense. I don’t need to accept lies. We need to reject lies and accept truth. Some things can be true for one person, and different for another. And other things, are just simply not true. For anyone. And they shouldn’t be accepted.
I don’t accept that it can be okay for someone to choose to not bond and build a sense of trust in their children. There can be different ways to go about that, yes. For instance, while I breast-fed and co-slept with my babies, because it worked for us and I believed in it, I’m not going to tell my friends who bottle-fed and crib slept that they are not nurturing parents, or that they are not finding other ways to bond with their children. You certainly don’t have to do those things to form a relationship with your child and meet their needs.

However, to say bonding and attachment in any form is to be opposed… well, that’s not a difference of opinion. That’s crazy nonsense talk.

These “detachment parents” are not saying to not love your children. But they are saying to care for them less, and care for yourself more. The focus should always be, they say, on you, not on your kids. Wow. Because self-centeredness is what we should be fostering in ourselves and in our kids? This isn’t a matter of wearing your baby vs. using a stroller 24/7. This is, actively detach. This is, don’t breastfeed because your boobs could sag, don’t hold your baby because they may learn to love you too much (or vice versa!). Reject attachment. You might as well punch me in the face.

In her piece on Detachment Parenting for the Huff Post, Nicola Kraus wrote, "Parenting is really f---ing hard. So don't make it harder. Set your life up so it can be full of sleep, sex, movies, dining and travel...." Umm, that's not what I was called to set up my life for, I can say that much. And, while many parents may not be as out-spoken to say it like she has, they DO make those choices and priorities over anything that has to do with self-sacrifice for their kids. My friend just told me about how celebrity Jillian Michaels announced in Women's Health that she chose adoption---not because she necessarily had a heart for adoption, which is an incredibly beautiful, self-less experience and choice... but because she didn't want to ruin her body with a pregnancy. That. That is what I'm saying has to stop. I don't accept that. I don't accept that we embrace a focus on selfishness over sacrifice. That's not motherhood, that's nonsense.

Then again, regarding J.M., I can't be impartial in that regard because I made life-altering decisions due to chronic disease to choose to have kids and I knew it would forever give me the struggle of a ruined body with no natural metabolism again. But through all of that, it taught me what matters. And I'm sick of seeing parents not care about their kids. They just don't care. They don't care who has them, what they eat, if they sleep, etc. as long as they don't miss what's on t.v. or their manicure. Kids aren't accessories. They're human beings. And when we actively treat them as detached objects, we aren't teaching them how to connect or care for others or themselves.

Lets have a look at these two, simple definitions:

Attachment - A bond between an infant and a caregiver, usually its mother. Attachment is normally formed within the context of a family, providing the child with the necessary feelings of safety and nurturing at a time when the infant is growing and developing as a human being. This initial relationship between the infant and his caregiver serves as a model for all future relationships.”

Detachment Disorder - A condition in which a person has difficulty forming lasting relationships. Children with detachment disorder often are unable to be genuinely affectionate with others, have an underdeveloped conscience, and are not able to trust.”

Case and point. End of discussion. Check and mate.

I can leave it at that. But lets go deeper. Only by meeting their needs of dependence, can we give our children the foundation and confidence to build authentic independence!

We are programmed by society to push our children away, because we are led to believe, truly believe, it’s what is best for them. That’s why we leave them crying with strangers.

“They need to learn to be away from us.”

“They need to learn they can have their needs met by others.”

“They need to learn independence.”

“They need to learn how to adapt to situations and have their own life.”

I agree with all four of those statements. I really do. In fact, these were the statements that held me back from our decision to homeschool for awhile. Kids can’t learn to tie their shoes if you are always there to tie them for them. They need independence. But then I started to ask the real question, of, HOW do they learn those things? I mean, authentically learn them, without abusing their sense of security in a typical “swim or drown,” “kill or be killed,” “fight or flight” way.

I believe children need to test the waters themselves. They need to learn to fall and get back up. They need to have the space to gain their own confidence, the space to fail and try again, the space to grow. To accomplish that best, they need a solid sense of security.

Believe it or not, you can both protect and prepare your children!

I also believe, that those who climb the highest, those who dream the biggest, are the ones who have the most trust inside, the most faith in what is bigger than them.

How about this?

They need to learn trust.

They need to learn compassion.

They need to learn to make good choices.

They need to learn respect.

They need to learn empathy.

They need to learn to make authentic connections.

They need to appreciate and create beauty in the world.

Protecting your kids is looked down upon. And if you so much as inch your way toward “over” protecting them, look out!! People frown on "sheltering" children. It's this nasty thing to do to kids. How dare you shelter them. Almost as though sheltering them is abuse. Here is the truth. They are children! They NEED shelter! This world is going to throw junk at them the rest of their entire lives.

Giving them comfort and security is not bad. It’s teaching them that comfort and security exists.

Nurturing them doesn’t harm them, it heals them.

By denying their natural-born need for their parents, you don’t make their dependence go away. You simply demonstrate to them that being scared, or having needs, is to be ignored. Or that their emotional needs are insignificant. But, their needs are still there. You may be unintentionally (or if you are a “detachment parent” then, intentionally), telling them their needs don’t matter, but that doesn’t destroy the existence of their needs. Instead, they learn to meet their needs in INSECURE ways. (i.e.: Acceptance from peers, materialism, cultural values.)

Honestly, we have enough narcissistic people in the world today. And enough sociopaths. Let us not actively build more.

You are the one who demonstrates to your children what to value. There are lessons that are important. And then, there are lessons that are MORE important.

And, get this. Are you ready for this?

By instilling a strong sense of shelter… of security… of HOME, in your children, you are in turn giving them the tools they need to truly engage in and explore the world at large. To become stable, independent adults, who think for themselves, and are secure in who they are and what they stand for.

As long as you are not trying to make them need you more, as long as you don’t foster dependence, but encourage independence… then please, yes, offer them shelter.

Show them love.

And please, please, please don’t strive to instill a sense of detachment in them.

Our society can’t withstand much more detachment. Not from the things that really matter.