Ever since my son was born, I have received lots of advice from everyone and their mother. Some of it has been helpful, some of it has been useless, most of it has just been plain annoying.
The biggest criticism I have received, and continue to receive, is that I’m “too attached” to my child.
This has always bugged me for a few reasons:
- My relationship with my child is none of your business
- I shouldn’t feel sorry for raising my son to feel secure and loved in our relationship
It started when he was a newborn. Family and friends saying I held him too much and I was going to spoil him. That’s literally the worst piece of “advice” anyone can ever say to a mother, and if you’re someone who passes judgement like that, stay in your lane. How dare you make a mother feel guilty for nurturing her child. I cringe when I think about those times and the guilt I felt as my newborn slept on my chest.
Since the birth of my son, I have been endlessly smitten and thrilled about being his mother. Why should I feel bad for letting him seek a warm place to rest on my chest?
Listen, I don’t take my job as a mother for granted and I sure as heck don’t regret being “overly attached.” Especially after experiencing two pregnancy losses this year. I may never get to experience another newborn phase and I am so glad I soaked in every waking minute with my baby.
What I’m trying to say is that life is short and the baby phase is even shorter. Mother to mother, I wish every child could experience having an attached mother. Someone who is there to rub their head and caress their cheeks. Someone who is there to kiss those baby lips.
My son is the most proudest and most precious part of my life and I am not sorry about that.
Unfortunately, there is a general fear and persistent myth that if we focus on building this kind of relationship with our kids, we may hinder their growth as independent and self-sufficient beings.
But the truth of the matter is: Attachment doesn’t slow down growth, it fuels it.
When you consider the big picture, the ultimate goal in raising a child is to help them become their own separate person, right? We should want them to have their own mind, set their own goals, form their own reasons, make their own decisions, think for themselves, know their boundaries and create their own intentions. But what we need to be asking ourselves is this: What do we need to do to make sure our kids do grow up like this?
Children can’t be too attached, they can only be not deeply attached.
Attachment is meant to make our kids dependent on us so that we can lead them. It is our invitation for relationship that frees them to stop looking for love and to start focusing on growing. When kids can take for granted that their attachment needs will be met, they are freed to play, discover, imagine, move freely and pay attention.
It may be paradoxical but when we fulfill their dependency needs, they are pushed forward towards independence. It is security in the relationship that frees children and allows them to let go of us; attachment isn’t the enemy of maturity but insecure relationships will be.
At the end of the day, the most important lesson is this: Children don’t need to be pushed to separate or to grow up. What kids need most are deep relationships and to be freed from their hunger for connection. And by golly, I will do everything in my power to make my child feel that way.
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