Non-Attachment Parenting

This is my clever little play on words.  I Googled it, and no one seems to have thought of it yet.  Here’s the definition: Parenting through the use of Buddhist non-attachment techniques.  As far as attachment parenting goes, I’m all for it.  Its definition is something like: “allowing your baby to tell you what he/she needs and responding to those needs, rather than imposing structures or schedules on said baby.”  My thesis is that the two ideas have a strong connection and tension between them, even though the play on words is merely coincidental.

I am attempting both forms of parenting right now.  By being sensitive to the needs of each of my four children and trying to meet them where they are and help them build to the next place as I follow their leads, I am practicing attachment parenting.  I have practiced it, largely faithfully, since Jane was born six years ago.  Even after my last one was born into an already crowded family, I still tried to carry him, cuddle him, and be with him as he needed me to in early infancy, and I continue to use this approach to see him through to the ultimate goal I have for them all: happy independence.  It is a tenet of attachment parenting that we are creating a strong base from which our children will then be comfortable and self-confident branching out.

But none of them is happily independent yet, and that’s where non-attachment comes in.  When mired in the chaotic mess of the daily lives of these four people, it is all too easy to get caught up in the emotions of the hour — and there are so many over such a range that I sometimes long for a very powerful sedative for everyone.  The problem is that I have emotions about their emotions, and emotions about this whole crazy job in general, and emotions about my own life “journey” in big-picture terms.  I am dedicated (in theory, not practice, so far) to maintaining a “scream-free” household, but how can I if I actually attach to each and every emotion that runs through all of us each day?  For an attachment parent, though, my kids’ emotions are the meat and potatoes of my job. They are my clues about what needs to come next.

So what I have come up with is the sense that staying “present” with the needs of each child at each moment does not mean that I have to feel what they’re feeling, or have an emotional reaction at all.  In fact, the more my emotions enter into it, the less effective I am at negotiating theirs.  When I am at my worst, I take every small outburst or demand personally, as though the children are deliberately putting more of a burden on me and expecting too much of me.  On other days, when I have my game on, I dodge and parry everything they throw at me with all the expertise of a Buddhist master.  When I have it together like that, the flow here is breathtaking.  Needs are getting met, souls are being guided, and good habits of being are formed.  On those days, I am a non-attached parent who does not allow any of the emotions of my children stick to me and slow me down.  I greet the feelings, deal with them, and watch them fall away with the moment itself.  And when it works, the child and I are left only with the wisdom we cultivated in that moment together.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mom
    Jul 28, 2010 @ 11:55:18

    Great blog! Just one observation: aren’t the children Buddhist masters, too? Isn’t it their job to throw challenges at you?


  2. Meghan
    Jul 28, 2010 @ 18:44:18

    Wonderfully articulate, Missy! Such a great way to explain the difference between standing on the merry-go-round next to the horse, keeping everyone safe while they rythmically go up and down, round and round; and being dragged along the outside of the merry-go-round while holding onto my child’s hand for dear life, trying to get my footing and never quite catching up. 🙂 Looking forward to more postings!!


  3. Missy Cochran
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 02:14:35

    Bravo! Spoken like a true Buddhist Mother. It’s like meditation; don’t worry if you loose your thread ~ Your power comes from repetition.

    Keep it up – You rock, Miss!


  4. nicki
    Aug 31, 2010 @ 11:56:04

    Oh, how insightful. I want to hear more, learn more about this non-attachment parenting. I have been thinking loads about how I am not my emotions…trying to let them go in a non-attachment sort of way.

    Really like the comment above from Mom. Children as Buddist Masters. Will come back to this idea.

    Really liking your blog. Great ideas to ponder.

    Peace, Nicki


  5. amy (cypress sun)
    Oct 20, 2010 @ 02:09:12

    amen. and i bow to you, mother of 4 children who takes time to reflect.


  6. Monica
    May 20, 2011 @ 09:50:36

    excellent. i needed this gentle reminder today.


  7. applepie
    Sep 18, 2015 @ 07:23:45

    I always wonder what to do about those never ending worries concerning your kids…I am an anxious person (who someday discovered Buddhism and Vedism which changed my life even though I still have to practise re-wiring my brain and old thinking habits) and as soon as there is the slightest sign of illness or problems I overreact and worry too much. I know this is exaggerated but also for the other parents out there: how to handle fear and worries concerning your kids?


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