Childrearing

Anonymous Mom: Attachment Parenting Broke My Kid

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two kids baby wearingAnonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.

My experience while pregnant is that in this internet age we all crowdsource information and advice. Everyone I know participated in message boards at BabyCenter or The Bump while pregnant. Hell, I met some of my closest friends on our birth month board. I read all the books, listened to my peers and compared my own experiences to come to the conclusion that attachment parenting was the way to go.

So I did what I was “supposed to” do. I breastfed for a year. I fed on demand. We co-slept. I was a babywearing champion. No cry went unattended. My SuperMom badge was due to arrive any day. And I loved it when my son was an infant.

But then he turned into a super clingy toddler and even clingier preschooler. Now at nearly six years old he can’t play by himself. He won’t sleep in his own bed and I can rarely get him to go to bed by himself. All of this makes me a very cranky mother. I don’t have the benefit of a partner and having a kid stuck to me like Velcro is exhausting.

In retrospect, I feel like I did a shitty job instilling independence in my child by attending to his every need and basically letting his needs run the show. Is it dramatic to say that attachment parenting broke him? Yes. But emotionally, that is how I feel. I keep kicking myself thinking if I just put him down every once in a while or made him sleep in his own bed then I wouldn’t feel so beat down by parenting.

Do you know how hard it is to sleep train a grade schooler? Every night is an epic battle and I give up in favor of sleep which makes me an inconsistent parent. Talk about a can’t win situation.

Then there is the independent play. He wants every day to be a playdate or a special outing because playing alone with his toys is like torture. I don’t even know where to begin fixing that issue. I try to play with him, but I’m just not good at play. Board games and things that are structured? Sure. Free play needs to be just that, free. Independent. And I need him to play alone so I can get other things done. It is impossible to clean the house or cook dinner when he insists on me being nearby.

I love my son, but I’ve had enough.

If I broke him, how do I fix him?

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(photo: realgranola)