Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Single Attachment Parenting

My situation is unique, well, I haven't met any other attachment parents who are single and planning to homeschool their children. I'm lucky that I have supportive family and friends nearby, but it's still really difficult to meet my children's needs and take care of myself enough to remain an attachmed mum.

For Lou, being an attachment mum mostly means co-sleeping and breastfeeding on demand. For Iris, who has only just self-weaned and is a very sensitive child, it means trying to stay connected with her, and to meet her needs in a gentle way.

Some days after trying to meet my children's needs from dawn until dusk I just want to run down the street screaming "Get away from me! Stop touching me! Stop having needs!" ;P But at the same time it has still been worth the work because the impact of having their father move out has been cushioned by the fact that I am connected to them and have worked hard to remain connected to them, through attachment parenting.

In the process of trying to meet my children's needs, on my own, and not taking care of myself properly while I was doing it, I almost gave myself a breakdown. It's also very hard being a single parent to two young children who need me so much, because sometimes I have to make a choice between which child to care for first, or who needs me the most.

As supportive as family and friends have been, it's really been hard when I've been struggling, basically the only suggestion I received was to put my children in childcare and "let someone else deal with them." While I was having a really, really hard time, struggling with the kids, there was a while there where I struggled to get out of bed, someone told me that I should put my girls in childcare and that they would be "better off with someone else" than to be at home with me while I was struggling. It really hurt to hear that somebody who I thought cared about me thought my children would be better off in the care of stranger than with me!

Putting them in childcare would not have solved my issues or theirs! 1) How would it be better for them to be detached from me when they had already lost their Dad in the past few months? And 2) how would that solve any of my mental health issues? All that would do would increase my guilt because they would be in a childcare situation that I didn't want them in. And for them it would mean being separated from their full-term parent who they have spent everyday with since birth.

All the judgments on my ability to parent my children didn't just come from friends and family, they also came from medical professionals. Despite seeing that my children were well loved and cared for they still questioned why I chose to parent the way that I do. When I had to take Lou to hospital the staff were shocked to see that I was an attachment parent and a single parent. They tried to treat me like a dumb stereotype of a single mother, like I couldn't possibly know what was best for my child. They spent hours lecturing me on the "risks of co-sleeping" and breastfeeding my baby to sleep. It must be awful for other single parents who go in there with a sick child, who don't have the supportive people that I had with me, or who aren't as well informed or prepared to stand up to the staff. They also gave me attitude, asking me where my child's father was, despite already being told that we were separated.

I continue to attachment parent because I know it's what's best for my children, especially when their lives are being turned upside down. This is when they most need to feel secure attachment. Being an attachment parent has always been important to me. But now that I'm a single parent, the principles of attachment parenting are even more important!


  1. And you are doing a great job with your girls, they are beautiful :-)
    I hope you are starting to feel better yourself now. You are a great mother and role model to your girls, and they are lucky to have you.

  2. What I find most amazing about your situation is that you attachment parent as a single woman with mental health issues which you never complain about! Of all the people I know you have more reason than anyone to bitch and moan about how hard life is and you're such a happy, funny person who's lovely to be around! Honestly you make it look easy.

  3. Well that's me too ;). My kids are a bit older though, 3 and 6 (almost!) Been separated for 7.5 months, and I have primary care (he does have them on weekends though which is a blessed relief for me!) It IS hard, but also pretty amazing too as the negative influence of a festering relationship recedes...

  4. Yep, me too :) Mine are 2 and almost 5, and I would be planning to homeschool but their dad is refusing to allow it...

  5. You're awesome Sarah. I'm going mental trying to meet my two kids' needs and I have a supportive DH to help me. So many hugs to you. xxo

  6. Hi Sarah, you're an inspirational single mum. I understand your childcare issues. As much as i agree with you, i have to say that childcare is a great place to enhance your children's development, social-emotionally. The experiences there are really worth it. Maybe you can consider half-day care?

    Besides that, i understand your separation anxiety with your kids as a whole. Please do take care. Hugs.

  7. From reading you here and on FB I know you are an amazing and inspirational mum. I too had an idiot use the childcare line when I was suffering postnatal depression - my counsellor of all people! They just don't get that childcare will compound the problem not make it better.

    And for what its worth, as a health professional myself, if any parent comes in and tells me they co-sleep and breastfeed their child to sleep, I congratulate them on doing an awesome job!


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