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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.