On first glance, you would think that a “detached parent” was an uncaring or uninvolved parent. Detachment parenting seems almost as if it was created specifically to rebut the attachment parenting model that has grown to be so popular. However, according to Heidi Smith Luedtke, Ph.D., author of Detachment Parenting: 33 Ways to Keep Your Cool When Kids Melt Down, detachment parenting is nothing of the sort. Luedtke explains in her book, “Rest assured, detachment parenting is not the opposite of attachment parenting. It doesn’t require you to deny your feelings, keep kids at arms’ length or let them cry it out when they’re distressed.” She says, “Detachment parenting does not prescribe choices about how you feed, cuddle or care for your kids. Breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping parents can use these techniques. So can bottle-feeding, stroller-pushing, sleep-scheduling parents.”
What is Detachment Parenting?
Detachment parenting has less to do with the lifestyle decisions you make for your family, such as feeding, diapering, or sleeping choices, and more to do with how you as a parent respond to your child’s emotions, as well as your own. It’s very easy to react to parenting scenarios with your emotions, rather than taking the time to calm down or think things through before you respond to your child. In Luedtke’s book, she provides tools that allow parents to “break out of fight-or-flight mode.” Instead of reacting to situations emotionally, she shows parents ways to tune into their bodies’ “natural relaxation response”. Once a parent is calm, she is naturally better able to respond to her child’s needs.
The main premise of detachment parenting is that you become more “detached” from the emotional scenarios that you encounter, and not allow your kids’ or your own high emotions affect how you parent. Some of the methods of detachment parenting are common sense. When you or your kids get angry, you need to take steps to stay calm. You can use simple things to help you get your mind in a calmer place, such as counting to 100, taking a time out of your own, or deep breathing.
Other ways to keep your family running more smoothly include having structure and rules. Routines and rules help children know what to expect. They keep things more predictable, and there is less likelihood of tension or friction when kids have structure.
Detached parents tend to want their children to be independent and are not completely absorbed in their children’s lives. Of course, they love their kids and spend time with their kids, but they also make time for themselves. They try to make time for “me time” so that they are happier, more relaxed, and better able to deal with the situations that come up with their kids.
What Detachment Parenting Isn’t?
Although some detached parents use methods considered to be the opposite of “attachment parenting,” many do not. Being a detached parent doesn’t mean you ignore your child when he cries or that breastfeeding or cosleeping is off limits for you. It just means that you have chosen to use a more structured and less-reactive type of parenting style.