I eat, sleep, breathe parenting and much thinking leads to many 'thought squirrels' for me as I tend to go off at tangents due to over excitement and enthusiasm so I will try to blog about one squirrel at at time so we are not continually rounding them up!
Have just been reading again on 'attachment parenting', which caused a range of reactions and comments, see http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/05/what-everyones-missing-in-the-attachment-parenting-debate/257918/#.T83fiH-wYWU.twitter, and I am keen emphasise the important role of 'attachment in parenting', as confusion could lead to us losing this vital component of parenting, especially crucial to establish where there has been any kind of trauma.
It is easy to think that attachment is something that will just happen when some one is carrying a child and that this will be the beginning of the process for the Mum and Dad to be. However, although a more physical, natural bonding process is likely pre-birth, attachment is something that starts once the child is born. Unfortunately though, when a baby is born into a home life of chaos, stress and traumatic events the attachment process is unlikely to run smoothly.
In order to learn about themselves, others and life a baby needs those caring for her to respond to her basic needs. This does not have to be done perfectly every time as sleep deprivation, lack of confidence and competence play their roles but just picking a baby up can never spoil it and is the basis of attachment, followed by talking to a baby and showing you are interested. Sounds straightforward enough, although at 2 a.m. for the fourth night in a row, maybe less so!
Where a family are living with uncertainty because of substance misuse, domestic violence and abuse and/or mental illness, then attachment can be affected. It is hard for a mother to respond to her baby if she knows it is going to get a negative reaction from her partner so she may feel she can't do what she wants too for fear of triggering the abuse. Being criticised constantly every time the baby cries could mean a mother will become random and frantic in her responses to her babies cries. Being too drunk or high could mean that no one is available to do the basics of feeding, comforting, changing, holding and reassuring a baby and this will affect how a baby understands their place in the World and what they should expect from it.
Attachment does not mean being glued to a baby or child's side, as some articles on 'attachment parenting' have indicated, but it does mean making sure your child is aware that you are around, available now, or shortly and that you will do your best to regulate the challenges they face in being a baby/child. Shouting through from the study while you are writing an essay, or from the kitchen/bathroom maintains a link to your child, keeping up a dialogue is not hard for most of us and will let a baby/child know that they matter as wiil regular input of showing an interest in what they are doing as it is impossible to be available every second of the day even when there are two doting parents/carers.
So, no need for 24/7 craft, cupcake baking and nature walks everyday but keep in touch and let them know they matter, especially if you have all lived through difficult times then there will be an increased need for this and it will take time to be able to leave children alone as they will need you there to help them regulate their feelings, actions and thoughts to a much greater degree. (Future blog to come on this subject)
Where attachment has been affected by any kind of trauma seek support from those around you as it will be harder to regulate your child's feelings and needs as they do not have a solid belief system which tells them that it will definitely all be OK, this will take time and will need you to be much more present and to have your child around to a greater degree to offer reassurance and in time this will decrease but the maintaining of a conversation is always crucial to attachment, especially if it is need of extra nurturing. Attachment in parenting and other squirrels!!