Love and Affection

We’re fans of Attachment Parenting here. Throughout their young lives the only times the twins haven’t been with either me or the Mummy they’ve been with the Mummy’s parents, & even then never for very long. We always try to give them us much attention as we can: to talk to them, listen to them, play with them, laugh with them, comfort them. We feel very lucky that we’re able to spend so much time with them as I know many parents simply aren’t able to, however much they might want to.

Since moving to Wales we’ve been taking them to a kind of pre-Nursery group a few days a week, like Nursery but with fewer children & which seems to get out & about a bit more.

The main difference with this new playgroup, apart from it being more than just the usual hour or so they had before,  is that for most of the time  – for the first time in their lives – we’re not with them. They’ll be going to Nursery soon so we want to get them ready for being in a group with us not there. We’d been worried that they might be distressed there without us: it wasn’t too long ago that they would freak out at a playgroup even if I had to go away for a few minutes to use the loo or to change one of them, although they’ve been OK with that in the last 2/3 months.

So how is it going? I’m actually starting to feel a little redundant! One day last week when the Mummy picked them up Ellie ran over to her, said “Hello Mummy” & gave her a hug then ran back to carry on jumping on the trampoline. Monday she really did not want to leave & went into the biggest meltdown I can remember her having, lasting a good 5 minutes. Van Morrison in the car seemed to calm her down eventually! The woman who runs the group  – let’s call her ‘Karen’ – is terrific & Ellie in particular gets very excited whenever we even mention her name. Hmph! It’s nice to be needed…

This morning when I dropped them off there were 2 other little girls there. Jake went up to 1 of them & gave her a great big hug. She just stood there looking a bit confused: I’ve seen that a lot when the same has happened in other playgroups. Apparently her brother is about Jake’s age & is often quite aggressive with her: she’s more used to being whacked when he doesn’t get what he wants than being hugged.

He’s there too some days, & this morning ‘Karen’ told me that after seeing Jake being so affectionate that he himself has been hugging his sister there, instead of just lashing out. I’m not in the habit of welling up in front of strangers, but… That little guy made me such a proud Dad!

I like to think that his, & Ellie’s, affectionate & sociable nature is in part at least due to the love & attention that they’ve had from us, that the hard work  – if you could call it that – is paying off.

I’m probably being overly simplistic but I think that with children you tend to get back what you put in: give them love & they give love back & are loving to others. If they’re neglected they become insular & nervous. If they grow up with anger they are more likely to become angry & aggressive themselves.

I’m not pretending that they’re little angels – far from it! The do all the normal 2-year-old things like fighting over toys, & lashing out at each other & us in frustration when they can’t get what they want. But the love is there & it shines through every day. And that’s what matters, right?

So how about you? How much time are you able to spend with your children? Do you think it’s as important as I do? Or are things like providing for them materially & keeping a clean & tidy house (which we often don’t!) more important for your family?


6 thoughts on “Love and Affection”

  1. i try to follow attatchment parenting as closely as possible. i breastfed, co sleep, and respond quickly to any upset. i spend all my time with my kids i gave up my career for that and to the point that im not sending my three year old to nursery as i feel the time at home with me and his family is more important and once he reaches four he will spend enough time then in full time education. so i am a big believer in nurturing these early years they are precious and much too short x

  2. I followed attachment parenting – co-slept until she was one, carried her in a sling also for the best part of a year and breasfed her until she was two. I think it has made a difference as LIttle A expresses alot of love, affection and empathy.

  3. I think you should do what you feel is right for your family and allow everyone else to do likewise. While I agree with you that kids learn anger and aggression if they are brought up in that situation, it’s simply not true that nervous children are a product of their environment. I have volunteered in my kids’ nursery schools (which is a form of attached parenting, let me tell you, LOL) for years and have seen remarkably similar characteristics in children whose family life and parenting experience has been totally different.
    Having spent 16 consecutive years (yes) in the home with a small child either full or part time I have experienced every emotion and had every opinion. You do what you think is best not just for the children, but for the parents. There’s no point being an attached parent if it’s overwhelming and not fulfilling for both sides.

  4. I’m not that au fait with attachment parenting, but it seems common sense that you get out what you put in. One of the areas I have noticed this most is in facial expressions. With our two we always seem to be smiling like loons. It’s not very hard – they’re funny and interesting little men. Consequently they are pretty happy and smiley kids.
    Conversely there are some people I know who are quite serious, and unsurprisingly their children are quite unsmiling. I’m not saying they are unhappy, but it doesn’t sit well for a five year old to look so serious all the time.
    Like you, I’m very lucky in that I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with our two, as I work from home. But there are times when I just want to escape…

  5. I did attachment parenting but it was 37 years ago, and as far as I was concerned, it was just parenting. This was pre-Internet and I didn’t read any baby books. Strange to think that what I did because it just seemed right is now a trend.

  6. As a child psychologist, I can say that if a child is securely attached to their caregiver, it is relatively easy to leave them in the care of somebody else because they trust you will come back for them. They are secure about your return so they adjust easily to the new setting.

    “The child psychologist who thought she had all the answers to parenting until she became one herself.”

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