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What Is Attachment Parenting?

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What Is Attachment Parenting?

What Is Attachment Parenting?

You may have already heard of attachment parenting and wondered what it is. Well, we have the answers. It is an approach to parenting that is concerned with the nurturing bond that develops between parent and child.

A very well known pediatrician, William Sears MD, argues that children who are raised with this method will grow up to be secure and independent adults who are capable of forming strong bonds in future relationships.

You may be still wondering what is attachment parenting exactly, and what it involves. Well, let’s take a look.

The 8 Principles of Attachment Parenting

1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting

Advocates of attachment parenting believe that mothers should not be exposed to negative messages about pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting itself. They say that this prepares the parent for the emotional demands of being a parent.

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2. Loving and Respectful Feeding

Supporters of attachment parenting believe that breastfeeding is the best way to form an attachment between mother and child. They feel it also sends a message to the baby that the mother is attentive to their needs.

3. Responding Sensitively

In attachment parenting, parents consider expressions of emotion as attempts at communication. This includes tantrums. They feel it’s best to listen and try to interpret what your child is really saying when they act out.

4. Nurturing Touch

Proponents of attachment parenting talk about the importance of skin-to-skin touching. They encourage joint baths with your child and the use of a front carrier sling to keep your baby close. This increases the development of a strong bond between parent and child.

5. Night-Time Parenting

When it comes to bed-time the attachment parenting approach recommends parents make arrangements for what’s known as “co-sleeping”. This is where the child sleeps in the same room as the parent, making night feeding and comforting easier. Some parents take this a step further and bring their children to bed with them. However, this is considered dangerous by the Academy of Pediatrics, as it could cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (or SIDS).

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6. Constant Care

It is advised that parents remain present with their child at all times when they are very young. In fact, they advise that children of thirty months or younger should only receive childcare for twenty hours per week.

7. Positive Discipline

This group says its better to distract, redirect, and guide all children, even the youngest ones. Attachment parenting is all about getting to the root of the problem. It’s focused on what your child is trying to communicate when they act in negative ways. Instead of spanking or forcing your will on a child, this approach simply encourages finding a solution to the problem with your child.

8. Balance In Life

Supporters of attachment parenting express the importance of finding balance in your personal and family life. Parents are encouraged to find support in order to prevent burning out.

These are the principles of this approach to parenting, if that doesn’t answer your question of “what is attachment parenting” maybe if we dig a little deeper we can find out more.

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The Roots of Attachment Parenting

Attachment parenting outlines the importance of the “attachment figure” in a child’s life (the mother, father, or guardian). They feel that a very strong bond is necessary between the baby and its parents or the child will grow up with many problems. They see insecurity, lack of empathy, even anger, and attachment disorders as being experienced by those who are not raised with this important bond.

Some people feel that this is a bit harsh and unfounded. There has been much criticism of attachment parenting.

Criticism of Attachment Parenting

Many people feel that while it is a good thing to form secure attachments with your child, this approach takes things a little too far. Here’s what they have to say.

1. Bed Sharing Isn’t Safe

While we all love to have a cuddle with our babies in bed, it is felt that it would be safer not to allow babies to stay in the bed all night. The attachment parenting group (API) addresses such concerns with special rules for night-time sleeping.

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2. The Nature of Attachment

Research has found that there are many factors which determine an individual’s ability to form attachments beyond their childhood experiences. For example: peer pressure, relationships at school, dating, and marriage.

3. Changes in Modern Times

Attachment theory first came about in the 1950s before the introduction of childcare facilities. Critics of attachment theory want to draw attention to this and have attachment theorists acknowledge this fact.

4. Discipline Approach is Questionable

Many feel that there is a risk that if parents are to be so attentive to their child’s every need they will soon become burned out or worse their children will begin to bully them.

5. Reactive Attachment Disorder?

Proponents of Attachment Disorder claim that without this close attachment, kids are at risk of growing up and developing a psychiatric condition called Reactive Attachment Disorder (or RAD). However, critics have bitten back, saying that this disorder is reserved for those who are severely abandoned, like those growing up in orphanages, for example.

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Conclusion

Now that you’re fully informed on the ins-and-outs of this type of parenting, you can judge for yourself if it is for you and your family. I know some people who have had a great deal of success with this form of parenting, but it just never came together for me.

While I would agree that it’s a good idea to listen to your kids and see what it is they are trying to say when they act out, I believe that boundaries and rules are also very important for the security of our kids. When all is said and done, it is a matter for the individual parent to decide for themselves what approach is right for them.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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