One of the basic tenets of attachment parenting, as far as I can tell, is that childhood is a time to be protected, a time to be nurtured, and a time to grow within a safe and sheltered environment. Not to some obsessive degree, necessarily (though some people seem to go to extremes, as with anything else in life), but the idea is really that children should be allowed to have a childhood. There are other facets to attachment parenting, because it’s just as much about the parent’s side of things than the child’s side of things, but let me stay on topic for now: how protected should children be?
This is all coming up because I attended a reception at a professional conference last night and was surprised and upset to see parents attending the party with their four year old daughter and – more concerning to me – their approx. three month old baby. It’s not that children shouldn’t be at parties, I have no problem with that, it’s that the band that was playing was very, very loud. So loud that no-one at the party could talk or hear each other during the sets.
In a situation like that, it’s difficult not to ask them what they’re thinking, exposing their baby and daughter to a volume of sound equivalent to a jet engine. The daughter could ostensibly have held her ears and asked to leave the room, but the baby was fairly powerless in the situation: even if it would have been crying, no-one (including the parents) would have been able to hear it.
Which leads to the obvious question of how much protection is too much protection? When should parents just say no and leave venues in the interest of protecting their children, allowing them to have a childhood?
I’ve been equally surprised to find that when I go see movies like Saving Private Ryan that parents will drag along their young children and insist that they sit and stay seated. In that particular case, the boy was crying that he was scared and wanted to leave and the father insisted he stay and be quiet.
It’s the same basic question, though: when should children be shielded and when should other parents just stay quiet?