Are parents taking “attachment parenting” too far?

India is all about “attachment parenting”. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, etc., are the tenets of attachlent parenting. And these seem easier to explain because of the toddlerhood. Once they grow into teenage and almost adults, it’s harder to explain why parents are so bothered about their child’s grades or worse, choices. Wanting the best for the kids is one thing. But is this the way to go about it? Mirriam O’ Callaghan investigates this issue 

Attachment parenting now, seems to extend way beyond the milk-machine phase all the way to the late 20s. Breastfeeding zealots, desist. Save your pity and wisdom. I spent three years breastfeeding and apart from mastitis and the wipe-out exhaustion of the first three months on each child, I loved it. In retrospect, though, I wonder if I would have been a better mother to my children, enjoyed those precious months more, if I hadn’t been so bewildered, drenched, sleep-deprived. My advice to soon-to-be mothers? Don’t beat yourselves up. Three months of the breast is plenty. After that time, anyhow, it’s a doddle. If you can’t manage to breastfeed, or choose not to, don’t worry. Your child won’t starve. You might sleep. The maternal beatific stuff is nonsense. As are the public ‘statements’. Enjoy your baby. Relax. You can only do your best.

Our parental ‘best’ though is becoming farcical. If we’re not gifting emergency language-weekends in Bordeaux or Berlin or Ballingeary on hardy youth facing the concocted National Trauma, formerly known as the Leaving, we’re either positively neglectful or deep in negative equity. The Transition Year designed to prepare our teenagers for work is subverted, as more privileged parents dispatch their beloveds to Alpine eyries or Provencal monasteries imprinted by Nazis, hidden Jews and old abbots waving au revoir mes enfants. The parental subtext being with that crowd in the Gaelscoils, they’ll never get the A in Irish. And what use is Irish anyhow? But, by Christ, they’ll get it in the French.

A schoolpal reminds me, it was ever thus. But we were so far removed from it in our Sisters-of-Charity enclave, it was only when we went to university, we became aware of our exclusion.

I’m amazed by the number of mothers and fathers toddling to universities ‘for a word’ with the professors about their adult children’s results. Think about it. On a Tuesday night, galoots and straps in their 20s are devouring each other in the euphemism of Netflix & Chill. By Wednesday morning, mammy and daddy are interrogating academics about the grades the dotes are scoring for their obviously Nobel-standard essays.

Mind you, when you consider the rise in STDs, you’d have to wonder about an extravaganza of ‘adult’ choice, evidently unmatched by grown-up common sense and responsibility. Last year, HIV cases were up by a third. A few months ago, a report from the European Centre for Disease Control found that in the last decade in Ireland, incidents of gonorrhoea quadrupled, and recorded infections of syphilis and chlamydia doubled. Worryingly, the relative lack of symptoms of chlamydia means the actual infection rate is likely to be far higher.

As Dr Pixie McKenna told this newspaper last month, with the capacity to exchange explicit texts and photographs, access to porn and one-night stands at the push of a button, Ireland is now in “the Celtic Tiger of sex”. When it comes to safety and education we are “overwhelmed, under-resourced and probably heading for a crash,” she says.

The shiny-plastic-object-in-the-orifice syndrome and the substitution of intimacy with a sexual takeaway menu – number 47 and we’d like basmati with that, organic obviously – are for another day. But for now, we could look at the rise of delusional parenting.

In one reality, we’re infantilising our 20-something children, supporting them through their third master’s, with their washing pristine, wine in the cupboard, beer in the fridge and their dinner on the table, to the mantra of ‘sure they’re kids, what else can we do’.

In a concomitant reality, we’re abandoning our young teens, even pre-teens, to extreme sexual and physical violence, relentlessly available on their own and others’ technology, and to the same refrain.

While we are mollycoddling our adult offspring, it’s worth remembering that Marco Polo started out on the Silk Road when he was 17; Alexander the Great had conquered Persia by 25; rebels Con Colbert, Joseph Plunkett and Sean Heuston were in their 20s when they were executed. At the time of the Rising, insurgent and workers’-rights activist Rosie Hackett was 24. If Commandant Ned Daly (25) was wandering across Stephen’s Green, it wasn’t because he had been disgorged by Coppers.

On the Somme, 100 years ago yesterday, the Germans launched operation Schleswig-Holstein with an assault on Vimy Ridge. Over four hours, in Allied trenches, 15-year-olds pretending to be 18, were pounded by 70,000 German shells. Xbox ultimate.

Still, we have reasons to be cheerful. A century on, with the supposed wisdom of age, we’re leaving it later to tie the knot.

According to the CSO, the 2014 average age for a bride and groom was 33 and 35 respectively. In 1977, it was 24 and 26. It was only five years earlier that the 1972 act declared marriages, where either party was under 16, to be invalid in law.

It is preposterous to us now, that having danced to a DJ last night, the fragile hordes who descended on Wesley disco, would be fighting to book him or her for their upcoming nuptials. That said, there are probably a few mothers who would love – for one night only – to tell an exasperating 17-year-old who detests them, himself, the world, light, air and the texture of salmon: “I’ve had enough of you, sunshine. Take yourself off to your missus!”

I know I’m learning more from my 19-year-old than I ever taught him, though information on using Lukla’s Tenzing-Hillary airport he can keep to himself. The most dangerous airstrip in the world, only 1,500 feet long with a 9,000ft drop into Nepalese space at the end. “It’ll be great. These guys really know how to fly. Calm down.”

Calm? I’m positively Zen. I’ve already paid a thug in Kathmandu to set upon him and break his legs. Never too old to be grounded.

This post is from here

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