Several of them have told me that maybe if they hadn’t gone out to work, maybe if they’d spent the pre-school years at home with their kids, those kids wouldn’t be having problems. They’d be happier and less anxious.
There’s a lot of guilt out there.
A few days ago, a friend posted an article by Heather Abel in The Paris Review about how so many mums of our generation have been sold the idea of attachment parenting. The idea, promoted by Dr William Sears and his wife Martha, is that years of baby-wearing, bed-sharing and breastfeeding will create a happy child. In fact, that is the way to create a happy child.
LISTEN: A boy used his pocket money to start a racketeering business in the playground. Post continues after audio.
Abel says this is what Sears tells parents: that studies suggest the attachment-parented child is “more trusting, competent, sensitive, and empathic; she’s better organised, smarter, healthier, easier to discipline, and more bonded to people than to things; she grows better, feels right, acts right, learns language more easily, establishes healthy independence, and learns to give and receive love”.
Then it hit me. That’s exactly what my kids are supposed to be like. I breastfed both of them for years, co-slept (safely) for years, carried them everywhere in a sling.
And yet… my kids aren’t like that. I wish I could say that they were. I wish I could say they’re model children, perfect in every way, but they’re not.