For Father’s Day: Musings from an Attached Dad

Like many of you, I’m guessing, I found myself feeling particularly pinchy in the wake of Time magazine’s attachment parenting (AP)  issue. Much of my discomfort and defensiveness stemmed not so much from the lead article itself, but more so from the outpouring of uninformed and judgemental comments in response to it.*  And then there was that cantankerous and divisive little column, The Detached Dad’s Manifesto, tucked amidst the pages of the lead article; I was irritated when I first read it, and hours later I realized my irritation was still  there, steadily ramping.**  I felt it made AP mamas sound like blind,  attachment-at-any-cost harpies. But more? It thoroughly demeaned and dismissed AP dads.  Boo.

For Father’s Day, in the spirit of appreciation and celebration for all that AP dads feel and do for their families, here are a few snippets from a recent email conversation I had with my husband, who, without reservation, describes himself as an attached parent; who doesn’t equate AP with intense, helicopter parenting; who has never rejected AP as suggested in that absurd “mainfesto”; and who reaps the joy of AP every day.

On attachment parenting:

I feel that attachment parenting is simply an extension of our personalities. I’m unable to see any other way to parent. It’s funny, I don’t think I would have known there was a name for the way we parent if you hadn’t read so many baby books before Arlo was born. All the questions you asked me about sleeping arrangements, baby wearing, discipline etc. just made me think, “Yeah, of course.”

On birthing preparation and birth bonding:

At once I could see myself at each stage of Arlo’s development and immediately thought of how I needed to prepare to give Arlo what he needs to grow. Emotionally, I was ready for him. I thought I would be more nervous than I was. But, everything just felt natural….nature was taking its course, literally.  … And the birth. I remember everything about the birth. There is not one moment I could call a “favorite” because the entire experience is one of my all time favorite moments of my life. From the moment your water broke while laughing along to National Lampoons ‘A Christmas Vacation’ to the moment he took his first breath on your chest….just incredible. You were so strong, so determined throughout the birth experience. I was in awe. Completing the experience was naming our son. I remember we both looked at each other, and there was no question in either of our minds that this baby was an Arlo.

On sharing sleep:

Sleep deprivation is part of new parenthood.  However, I think bedsharing has made this an easier,  more pleasant experience for us because I would fail miserably at having to get up and soothe him. As it is now, there is minimal crying (score) and he goes back down easily with us right there (double score). I never hide that Arlo sleeps with us and have never felt the need to. When we go to bed in the evening, and he rolls over an puts his arm around me, all of the stress in my life is immediately forgotten.

On making sacrifices so that one parent could stay home:

Arlo became my number one priority. We made sacrifices–really tough sacrifices–for one of us to stay home with Arlo, but it’s has been worth every single sacrifice, every change big and small. Making these choices has emotionally enhanced my relationship with Arlo, if that makes sense. I love knowing that he is happy and home with you while I am at work. I love coming home to his smile.

To all of the attached papas out there–those of you feeding with love (and supporting mama while she does so), sleeping with your half-pints, wearing ’em close to your hearts, valuing their communication, responding with love and gentleness, and striving for balance in it all–  we here at TOBB salute you! We wish you a joyful Father’s Day!

*Have you read guest TOBB blogger Jessica’s smart, insightful response? It’s worth it, promise.

**Rebecca touched on this “manifesto,” too, recently.

Rhianna lives in St. Louis with her husband and toddler, who plans to ply his doting papa with caffeine-themed gifts this Father’s Day. One of these days he’ll sleep through the night, but until then he has to help power the parental units with an alternative fuel source.

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