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Attached ... Hopefully for Life

After a brief hiatus (due to a passing in the extended family and visits from my awesome Mommy and sis), I'm back!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on Anxiety, presented by Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, a psychologist who works almost exclusively with kids with different types of mental health issues. She approaches mental health issues from an attachment theory perspective, and posits that most unwanted behaviours are rooted in a child's perceived or actual physical and/or emotional separation from a primary caregiver, and that it is this loss/lack of attachment that causes anxiety, frustration and fear, and results in a multitude of maladaptive behaviours and attitudes that help the child cope or attempt to re-establish the lost connection.

Her presentation was entirely consistent with what I have been reading lately (e.g. The Science of Parenting, the Whole-Brain Child), and really reaffirmed a few of my parenting decisions, such as:

- not using punitive forms of discipline
- not using isolating forms of discipline (e.g. "time-outs," "thinking chairs")
- not using reward systems
- co-sleeping
- extended breastfeeding
- not involving Little L in activities/playgroups that cause her anxiety
- not sleep training
- not leaving Little L in the nursery at church
- spending lots of quality time engaging with Little L

The truth is, my "attachment" approach to parenting is not popular.  It's actually quite controversial in my social circles (and Western society as a whole), and most think that I am spoiling her because I work so hard to keep her from crying* and feeling uncomfortable. A few suspect that she will never stop breastfeeding or start sleeping in her own room and crib, and I know that there are those who are concerned that my girl will never be able to cope in situations where she doesn't get one-on-one attention from an adult.  As she gets even older (and bigger), I can only imagine how the comments and questions will increase in frequency and negativity!

Despite the weird looks and unspoken concerns and skeptical questions, however, I continue.  I cannot and will not parent any other way given my intuitive leanings, Little L's temperament (highly intense and aware), and all of the neuroscience evidence that points to this type of parenting being the most effective for healthy "upstairs brain"/frontal lobe development.  So, for me, it is incredibly affirming to hear PhD's with decades of experience working with kids tell me that going against the tide of conventional Western child-rearing practices is not just okay, but preferable in many ways.

* Little L does cry, but rarely.  She cries when she gets injured or when she is really tired and needs me, and she cries when she is anxious or fearful or angry.  It is her communication system to alert us that something is up and she has a need that has to be met or a big feeling that needs to be understood, named, and worked through.  We usually respond immediately when she cries, however, so that her actual crying time is minimized.  I cannot remember the last time that she cried for more than a full minute in length, not even when she was teething molars.


Sharon said…
Nice. Glad it was useful!
Mrs. Loquacious said…
It was! Where were you? Missed seeing you, my friend! And I think you would have enjoyed the workshop, too!

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