Friday, November 14, 2008

Being present in my son's life

I recently posted on What My Parenting Looks Like. Way down in number eighteen (did you make it that far?), I discussed being present in my son's life. This means a lot of different things to different people, but this post will better articulate what it means to me and our family. If you are interested in what being present looks like for others, Attachment Parenting International has a category on its blog for Presence.

In my previous post, I summarized my Attachment Parenting style as the following.

Attachment parenting principles guide our life as a family. This means I respond to my child’s needs—physical and emotion—when he needs it. I treat him with respect. I am present in his every day life—not just physically in the same room, but we interact with one another. My love is not conditional, and I am mindful of the balance necessary between my work and my family.

Being present means all of those things in our family. It means that when my son cries out for me, I respond. We interact rather than dictate. We teach on his level rather than directing from above. It means when there is an activity at his school, I take off work. I slide down slides and look at bugs. I get dirty, wet, and sweaty with my son. I try hard to spend most of our time together completely there for and with him. We continue to nurse and co-sleep.

On the flip, I also include him in my life (so does Kevin, btw). The Boy goes to football and basketball games. He visits me at work. He goes to dinners at non-fast food establishments. We take him almost everywhere we go, and he behaves well. He also gets plenty of attention by charming wait staff and really all of those around him.

Some might wonder why I parent like this-- after all, children need to learn independence and by catering to his needs I'm spoiling him and dooming him to a life of dependence. Honestly, I find that idea to be rather ridiculous. Isolating a child and forcing the child to sooth or entertain him/herself before the child is emotionally and physically ready is counterintuitive and teaches the child to cling to you when you are around.

By raising a child who is secure in knowing I will always be here, The Boy is more likely to explore his independence. So far, it has worked. He blows us kisses goodbye at daycare. He can play independently when something must get done (i.e. dinner or an important call). He explores at the park. He does this because he knows in the end, he can fall back in to my arms. He knows he can curl up beside me in bed-- put his hand on my arm and know that I am there when he needs me. After surgery, he could nurse, and we'd snuggle together.

The Boy doesn't rely on a pacifier or blanket. He needs no teddy bear. He has me. Some might consider this a burden. I view it as a true joy. Soon enough, he will want his bed to be his. Until that time, I am soaking it in along with him.

So there you have it-- being present in The Boy's life. Attachment parenting is my life-long gift to him.

I'm more than happy to entertain questions. :)

3 comments:

Christina G said...

Great post, Maria. I completely agree with you. Oliver also is well-behaved and doesn't need a pacifier, blankie, teddy, or his thumb. I'm totally sold on AP.

Maria said...

Oooo... I forgot the thumb. The Boy doesn't use that either. No thumb or finger sucking, because he's always had me (and my breast!). :)

Bethany said...

I also agree! I know people think we are crazy because Parker really goes everywhere (except school) with me. He is as well behaved as a 1-year old can be...he sometimes throws his food on the floor at restaurants! also, no binkie, blankie, thumb, anything--just me!!

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