How do you reconcile the attachment style of parenting with the Buddhist mandate of non-attachment?
As the child of a single parent, I wanted to raise my children in the Attached Parenting style described in the Sears’ parenting books. This includes baby-wearing, nursing beyond infancy and co-sleeping, among other things. When #1 son came along I was living in circumstances that allowed me to do these things and I did them to the greatest extent possible, with wonderful results. The proof for me was when my child weathered a divorce, a cross-country move, a new stepfather, the stepfather’s near-fatal car accident and a new sibling in the space of just three years. He survived all of these things displaying little more bad behavior than a bit of pouting once in a while.
Waiting for my second son to be born I picked up a book called Buddhism for Mothers: a Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children by Sarah Napthali. Ironically, though it was about raising children, I found my need for it in trying to muster the patience to wait for that second birth to happen while enduring the pain and discomfort of the last weeks of pregnancy at the age of 39 in the 100 degree heat of late summer in south Louisiana. There was only one small section about Buddhism in pregnancy, which I read eagerly, but I found lessons that helped me with both boys, the seven year old and the not-yet-born, in the rest of the text.
But in reading about the basic tenets of Buddhism, imagine my dismay to learn that the first step toward happiness is non-attachment! How could I possibly reconcile this with my tried and true style of attached parenting? Of course, this is really just a matter of semantics; whoever coined the phrase “attached parenting” was probably not Buddhist and was simply looking for a way to describe that special affinity you can achieve with your children. Nevertheless, attached parenting was one of the ways in which I had come to define myself not only as a parent, but also as a human being. I knew in my heart that attached parenting would continue to guide my principles long after my boys were grown.
So who cares what you call it? They’re just words, aren’t they? I tried to reason with myself but in vain; I am a word person, like some people are numbers people or animal people, or people people. Even though I spent my university years studying art, even then I knew I was fascinated by words. I kept journals all through school and while studying ceramics I wrote words into the wet clay. Some of these words were lost in the firings, but they created a texture that I liked, and I enjoyed the idea that the words were locked there in the glaze forever, a secret never to be discovered. Later I studied metalsmithing and jewelry making and the same thing happened. I made jewelry and tried to put words on it or into it. The scale of jewelry being so small, I often found myself trying to make pieces that visually articulated ideas or even short narratives. At one point I made a ring that sat in a reliquary that was actually a book, complete with an original, two thousand word short story created just to give a background that one piece of jewelry.
Published in: Family