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02/26/2010

Attachment and Parenting

My sons are growing up-- one is 15 and the other is 11. Sometimes, when I think about it too much, I feel a teeny bit terrified about sending them out into the big ole world all on their own one day too soon. Birds

I envision that mama bird who nudges her growing babies out of the nest so that they can learn to fly and it is an exciting yet scary image for me.

What if they fall? Will they ever return to the nest, just for a visit?

Yes, I tend to be an attached mom.

I've worked (and am still working) to let go, stop trying to fix it all and allow them to have their experiences...but it's so freaking hard at times!

We practiced attachment parenting when both the teen and the tween were babies. We shared sleep in shoved together futons for years and I breastfed both of them pretty much on demand for as many years as they each chose.

It was hard and precious work and I understand that this approach does not resonate for everyone. I don't regret these parenting choices.

However, it seems to me that somewhere along the line, I got confused. Attachment parenting does not mean that, as a mom, I get to attach myself to who and what they are and are becoming.

Even for parents who did not breastfeed or have a family bed, it can be too easy to get all caught up in our kids. After all, they are “our” kids.

So when one of my sons does something that is uncomfortable to me, especially in public, the attachment can kick in-- and not in a good way!

In past situations, I have found myself feeling embarrassed and eliciting a heightened response, to a large degree, because the boundary lines were blurred between me as a human being and my son as a human being.

The usual result was that I could not be focused, present and calm enough to truly guide my child through this challenge.

Let me be really clear here... I'm not blaming any of this on attachment parenting practices.

What I have been learning over the course of 15+ years is how to dance that line between being an engaged and connected mom and also being unattached. (I'll let you know when I finally figure it out!)

There are still times when I stick my nose, my ego, my “way” into their business when it's not needed or requested. And there are other blessed times when I stand back, remember to breathe and allow them each to stretch their wings and give flying a try.


This is an original Ohio Moms Blog post.

Amy Phillips-Gary lives in Columbus, Ohio with her two fabulous sons and equally fabulous husband. She is a personal growth coach who writes relationship and self improvement articles for various websites including Personal Growth Planet-- which is where you can also read her weekly blog.



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