New Parent and Attachment Anxiety

Breaking the cycle

Overdoing AP is easy," says API's Parker, "because people are led to it as a result of their own unmet needs. It can be a healing thing, but parents can take it too far." The pitfalls come when a parent finds it hard to tolerate a child's striving for independence or feels that small separations -- such as going to sleep alone or spending time with a babysitter -- are dangerous.

Audra Tsanos, a Brooklyn music teacher, told me about her journey of trying to live up to a perfect AP standard. "I was being asked to sacrifice my whole self to be this flawless mother figure, but it didn't leave much room for being a woman or a wife," she said. "Then I met all these great moms whose kids were happy, and they had had cesareans by appointment or nursed for just a month, and I realized what really matters is that you love your kids."

For me, being a good parent is becoming less about trying to get it all right and more about assuming I'll get some of it wrong as I strive to do my best. I try to remember that mistakes can be repaired and tactics changed as we go along. I pay more attention to the feeling between me and my son and not as much to the voice in my head that says I need to do something specific to make us close. I guess, finally, that I really am following my instincts.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

Copyright © 2004. Reprinted with permission from the February 2004 issue of Child Magazine.

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