One recent night, my son, almost 3 ½, rejected me. It’s happened a few times before, but that night was the end of a hard day; I was just feeling fragile and it stung. He was upset in his bed, I went up to hug him, and he said “No. Daddy.”
Hand in hand with the hurt, I was also thrilled for my husband. He deserves that honor and had to wait to earn it. It was me who was pregnant, went through labor and birth, breastfed and became a full-time caregiver while my spouse did none of those things. His bond with J has been more gradual, but boy has it become sweet!
Amidst all the hoopla and bullcrap over the provocative Time Magazine cover, I think many people missed a short opinion piece tucked in with their “Attachment Parenting coverage” called The Detached Dads Manifesto. It was a weird column that immediately chaffed me and felt forced- an essay in need of a red pen. But the author must have done something right because this line has been sitting with me since I read it: “There is one valuable role for the father when it comes to attachment parenting: he can argue against the whole thing.”
Wth? Is that not the most screwed up thing? What kind of partner would do that?
When I am not working my tail off as a mother, I work my tail off as community builder and supporter of mothers and children. For three years now when I could have stayed in my yoga pants and tended to the needs of my own gang, I have chosen to walk the walk. C’mon in, Brethren (Sistren?), my door is open. It feels like a calling to share the AP love, encourage, empathize, plan events, make sure new Moms know where LLL meets, hug the hormonal/unshowered/ sleep-deprived and beautiful women who show up on my doorstep. Maybe my cheerleading helps them stand up to pushy in-laws or bosses or Pediatricians, reminds them of their rights, and normalizes their instincts.
Do you know the lament I hear most? “My husband is giving me a hard time”.
Ugh, that is so infuriating! In most cases this child was planned and wanted- some couples I know even struggled with infertility. Then the miracle happens and the movie montage cues up-nine months of dreaming, painting the nursery, thinking of names, talking to your belly, taking photos of the changing profile, feeling kicks, childbirth classes, registering, and passing the baby care books back and forth on the couch.
Then you get home from the hospital and realize all that fun hasn’t prepared you at all.
Which is why that essay sucked. Nervous couples need no extra prompting to argue. Trust me. And first time moms don’t need to have their instincts challenged (more), especially by their best friend.
Dr. Sears gives Dads the 411 here. But in brief, Partners, please just support your wives- tell them how wonderful you think breastfeeding is, especially when Mom is struggling. Embrace safe cosleeping. And for goodness sake– learn how to rock a sling, wrap or carrier, which will benefit 3 people at once: Baby and Dad bond, Mom gets a touch break. And for added bonuses, Dad gets to feel like a champ for putting Babe to sleep, AND Dad gets to feel like a stud because guys wearing babies are way hotter than Fifty Shades of Grey.
Rebecca’s spouse has a good sense of humor, most of the time. He is attached to their sons.
2 thoughts on “Earn it, Dads”
Forced and in and of a red pen–YES! I had the very same reacation to that column. It felt so…bitter? Out of place? Surly?
I feel so fortunate that my partner feels the same way I do about AP. Whenever we’re not on the same page about something, it prompts an honest discussion about how to better manage that particular issue. That’s just a general trend in our relationship in general, but I am relieved that it carries over into our parenting approach, too. I think that column is reflective of one of the overarching objections I have to how the magazine (and subsequent unsupportive comments/blog posts) presented AP–as this rigid, exhaustive, prescriptive way to parent. Dude, if something’s not working…don’t do it! And if one parent is adhering to AP principles at the expense of their relationship, that is not attachment parenting.
And I share you feelings on this: why antagonize? Parenting is hard enough as it is without the added questioning and undermining. Sigh.