Attachment Parenting vs. Detachment Parenting
To be honest, I’m not an expert on either of these methodologies. I’m more like the kid who reads chapter summaries to pass quizzes.
Nonetheless, I do know enough to be concerned. As detachment parenting was developed in response and direct opposition to attachment parenting, I’m guessing that this juxtaposition of opposing methodologies will soon become just one more thing for Christian parents to disagree on, one more thing to draw the primary focus of parents from what it should be, raising children who know and love the Lord and recognize the Bible as the ultimate authority in their lives.
Attachment parenting, in its extreme form, boils down to building a child’s self-esteem by prioritizing that child’s needs over almost anything else. If Sally bites Johnny, you say, “Sally, you bit Johnny. I can see that you are upset. Is there another way you can get his attention? I know you can think of a better way because you are so kind and smart.”
Detachment parenting, in its extreme form, boils down to letting a child feel the weight of consequence and pull himself up by his own baby bootie straps, come what may. If Sally bites Johnny again, you say, “Sally, that was really mean for you to bite Johnny. I wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t want to be your friend anymore. Use your brain and think before you act, would you?”
Neither extreme, in my opinion, is healthy or beneficial to children. To lead children to believe that their own need to speak, desire to cuddle, or present hunger pains are more important than the needs of those around them while sparing them the natural consequences of their own inappropriate words and actions is to raise self-centered, compulsive, and confused adults. Likewise, to lead children to believe that they must eat or be eaten and do unto others lest it be done to them while ignoring their needs and withholding compassion is to raise defensive, suspicious, and confused adults.
God is not the author of confusion.
Scripture tells us that God gives wisdom impartially to all who ask. Why would Christian parents, people with the Holy Spirit living inside of them, go to anyone else for advice on parenting? All they need is a Bible and a teachable spirit before the Lord.
The book of Proverbs is a great example of the right way to give instruction and parental guidance. Many of its directives are followed by both the rewards that come with obedience and plainly stated consequences of disobedience. For example, Prov. 14:23 says, “Hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
It’s all about balance.
As parents, we must learn how to “…spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24) while teaching our children the difference between the wise man and the fool, the righteous man and the mocker. We’ve got to keep it real, for lack of a better term.
My advice to Christian parents? Listen to the Holy Spirit and obey, even when (maybe especially when) His instruction goes against popular and/or contemporary thought. Beware anything that polarizes believers, and hold Scripture up as the ultimate authority in your home, just as you hope your children will one day.