Saturday, May 12, 2012

Detachment Parenting: Creating an Adult From Scratch

We've all seen the Time magazine cover, showing the hot mom nursing the way-too-old-looking-preschooler.  Yes, they are trying to sell magazines by making Attachment Parenting look like a naughty secret, but if you read the article it's only slightly weird. Much of it I have probably done once or twice with my own kids (except the nursing the preschooler part), but I never considered it to be my parenting style.  I follow something I like to call Detachment Parenting, wherein I teach my child to exist without me while simultaneously keeping my sanity.  It's sounds radical, I know, and I'm sure Time will be contacting me soon for a cover story.  You, my lucky reader, will get the inside scoop of how I plan to raise three children into adults without every getting a visit from CPS.

When my oldest was an infant I would bring him into the bathroom while I showered or needed a potty break--what if he started to cry?  When the second came along, I would leave the door open a crack so I could hear them--I did have bionic mother hearing, after all.  Once number three came along, I figured they'd all survive the 15 minutes I needed to feel human again.  Soon they were old enough to make their way to the bathroom door, pounding on it incessantly and asking unintelligible questions,  and I was forced to institute the "Three B Rule".  They were only allowed to interrupt me in the bathroom if someone was barfing, something was burning or there was blood.  I am happy to report that they are all still alive.  Lesson learned:  not everything is an emergency.

Taking young children along to events they don't include a playground or singing Muppet characters can be a trying event for both parents and kids.  When my three were little I'd always pack toys and snacks to keep them occupied.  Once they got older, they had to bring their own entertainment: a book, DSi, Barbie or crayons, packed by them, in their own bag that they carried.  Being the younger sibling dragged along to a sporting event seemed to be a recipe for whining.  I tell my kids that while I know they're not enjoying themselves, their complaining is not going to make time go faster, it's just going to irritate their mother.  They will just have to suffer in silence.  Lesson learned:  sometimes you're going to be bored--bring a good book or suck it up.

Bedtime at our house is sacred (well for me, anyway). The oldest child gets to stay up the latest, but forfeits television rights after a certain hour.  When it is bedtime, it is bedtime. On weekends and during school vacations my kids are allowed to stay up just a little later and then they must adjourn to their rooms where they can stay up as late as they want, as long as I don't hear them  The youngest must be in her bed, but can be reading or playing her DSi or whatever--quietly.   Mommy is off the clock and will no longer be granting any requests for snacks, answering questions about who my favorite Twilight character is, or helping with homework projects that should have been started hours ago.  Lesson learned:  Mommy needs a break...or good sleep habits are important, or whatever.

Don't get me wrong--I think it's important that kids know you'll always be there for them.. I nursed each of my kids to the age of one, came when they cried, stayed up with them when they were sick, read them each their own bedtime story (until they asked me to stop), attended every tee ball game, band concert and karate practice time would allow.  My kids always come first, but they need to realize that the rest of the world may not see it that way. Lesson learned:  Mom will always be there for them when they need me, but they are going have to learn to stand on their own two feet.

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