Attachment Parenting and the Older Child: Being There in a New and Different Way
Walnut Creek CA USA
Report on a session from the 2003 LLLI Conference
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 5, September-October 2003, pp. 179
Just as our babies need to feel supported and safe, so do our growing children and adolescents. Isabelle Fox, PhD, clinical psychotherapist and author, shared her wisdom with us as she eloquently presented a wealth of practical ideas from her newest book, Growing Up: Attachment Parenting from Kindergarten to College.
Fox stresses that we have basic continuing parental responsibilities to help our children develop in a healthy way. She offered some examples, such as using non-violent methods of conflict resolution, supervising children and holding them accountable for their actions, creating playful times and family rituals, and keeping the home safe so that children feel protected.
Children have basic responsibilities to make their own friends, participate in the family and in school, and complete their chores and school assignments. They benefit from having relaxed time to play without feeling rushed. Too many chores and activities can interfere with both play time and homework time.
Family time is important so that the child develops a sense of connectedness. Fox suggests having dinner together at least a few times a week and celebrating birthdays or holidays together. Some time alone with each child is important, too, at least for a few minutes once a week. For example, children love to cook, and that can be a great activity for learning, spending time alone with a parent, and just having fun.
While it can be scary for parents to watch their children become increasingly independent, they must balance the need for independence with appropriate supervision. Supporting children means giving them privacy when they ask for it, allowing them to dress in clothes they like and feel comfortable wearing, and supporting new interests. Fox suggests rotating chores, putting schedules in writing, and, most importantly, relaxing standards. She admonishes that punishment just increases anger and builds resentment.
Fox's sensitive and intuitive approach to parenting helped Conference attendees feel confident that the investment and connection we establish with our children early on will carry through their entire lives. Mothering through breastfeeding is a wonderful start to developing an attached, loving, responsive, and continuing relationship with our children.