Thoughts on ROOM (the film) and Attachment Parenting

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A fledgling we rescued from Ginger to the opposite side of the fence. We kept an eye on it until the mother showed up 20 minutes later and coaxed it into the safety of some brush.

We watched this film recently, on recommendation of a friend. Sean (age 8) and I held our breath. We agreed it was a fantastic film. You can find the web page for the film here: ROOM (the movie)

What was not lost on me is that this child was raised alongside his mother in many ways that are in tune with attachment parenting. At 5, he was still breastfeeding – and the portrayal of him doing so was so intrinsically accurate with real life that I was blown away.

Interestingly, in the end, the child was emotionally “just fine,” according to psychoanalysis (in the movie). It was the mother that broke down once freed.

The child emerged healthy from secure attachment to the mother, despite their dire life circumstances.

Secure attachment comes from responsive parenting that meets the needs of the child, so that even in conflict (such as when the child had to endure “old Nick”), the child has resilience. The child compartmentalized crises in respect to perceptions about his overall world view.

Sean (then, age 6) and Ginger

I was reminded of this recently (as I have been numerous times over the years with Sean) when a guest hammered Sean about a topic that I felt was putting Sean on the spot.

Later, I asked Sean how he felt about it, and he had no hang ups or bad feelings at all. He simply handled it. He didn’t come to the exchange with fear or insecurity. He didn’t leave the exchange feeling put on the spot.

I was the one projecting MY fears from my own childhood, that he would feel insecure and inadequate under such pressing.

Instead, I learned (as I have so many times) that attachment parenting does produce secure, confident children, capable of trusting themselves, and fully capable of standing on their own.

So many perceive attachment parenting as making a child dependent. It is immersive and intensive, but it is not overbearing – quite the opposite.

Outsiders imagine a child who will never be free of apron strings.

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Cub as a toddler with apron strings.

They are allowed to develop on their own terms, at their own pace, without coercion and punishment.

They learn acceptance of their emotions, and they generously give such acceptance to others, with the same empathy and compassion modeled to them – and they do not bully.

I don’t think this was the goal of this film, but it was something I took away since I can relate so closely to these aspects of a child being raised in the primary care of its mother.

In the film, a reporter questions the mother about her choice in not releasing the boy to “old Nick” when he was born, so the boy could have had a “normal” childhood. My own reaction was emotional, and I was irritated with the reporter.

Normal is not being separated from the mother, and normal is not being raised in a system.

Normal, as defined by most of society, is really an arbitrary definition of what is acceptable.

It has only prevailed in modern times, as for millennia, all but the wealthiest of children were raised alongside the mother, breastfeeding as older children, and given the freedom to develop secure attachment.

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