What is "Attachment Parenting?"

What is Attachment Parenting?

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There is a theory in parenting called “attachment parenting.” Although I’m not a new parent, I only heard of the phrase recently, and due to my curiosity decided to do some research on exactly what it is and share what I found with my readers.

What is “Attachment Parenting?”

According to WebMD, “attachment parenting focuses on the nurturing connection that parents can develop with their children.”There are generally eight principles of “attachment parenting” recognized by Attachment Parenting International (API). 

The Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting

Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting:  When a person is getting ready to become a parent for the first (or maybe second, third, fourth, etc.) time, there are a lot of stressors that creep up.  Thoughts such as: Am I going to be a good parent?  I don’t know what I’m doing.  How am I going to afford this baby? What will the pregnancy be like? What can I expect during the delivery? Advocates for attachment parenting encourage parents to rid themselves of any negative thoughts or feelings about the pregnancy.  Doing so, they say, readies the individual for delivering the baby and taking on the demands of parenthood.

Feed with love and respect: Attachment parenting supporters say that the best way to become attached with your baby is by breastfeeding. Breastfeeding your child creates an intimate attachment with your baby, and teaches them to give you cues about their needs.

Respond with sensitivity: This should go without saying for any parent. Always respond to your child with their feelings in mind. Even when a child throws a temper tantrum, he or she is communicating.  Attachment parent advocates take all forms of communication seriously versus punishing the child.

Use nurturing touch: Skin-to-skin touching is viewed by advocates for attachment parenting as a critical form of nurturing a child.  Attachment parents will often bathe with baby and wear the baby in a harness during the day.

Engage in nighttime parenting:  Attachment parenting encourages parents co-sleeping with their babies. Co-sleeping allows the baby to be able to be near the mother for feeding and any emotional soothing that may be needed.

Provide constant, loving care:  Attachment parenting pushes for constant, loving care for their babies.  This means that the parent is almost always with the child during activities. These types of parents also push for no more than 20 hours of childcare per week for babies 30 weeks or younger.

Practice positive discipline: Advocates of attachment parenting are encouraged to distract and redirect their kids and display positive behavior.  It is the parent’s job to understand the underlying cause of a child’s negative behavior and work out a solution cooperatively with the child, instead of relying upon spanking or other methods of punishment.

Strive for balance in personal and family life:  Parents practicing attachment parenting are encouraged to create a positive environment and be a support system for their kids.

Why I’m Not an “Attachment Parenting” Advocate

There are some of the above principles that I can agree to and think that they are wonderful ideas for some, but I don’t completely buy into all of them. For example, I don’t necessarily agree that a child should be allowed to continue to throw tantrums as a form of communication.  If I did that at work or with other adults I would get in trouble.  While the occasional tantrum is normal, I believe that parents should turn their attention to teaching their child how to communicate politely.

I also don’t believe in co-sleeping.  Not only is it dangerous for infants to co-sleep (because of SIDS), but it is also VERY hard to transition a child to his or her room as they get older. My oldest son had a very hard time learning how to sleep in his own bed when he was young, and we had such a hard time breaking him of the habit.  Children should be taught from a very early age how to sleep independently.  While I agree that kids should be able to have their parents nearby to feed or soothe, there is no reason why this has to be done from the same room or bed. Our rule is that mommy and daddy’s bed is not for kids.  We do have occasional “camp out” nights where my wife and I will camp out in our kids room for fun. We don’t do this every night as we are strong advocates for independent sleeping.

I was very interested to read about attachment parenting and am still learning more about it.  Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears have a great book, The Attachment Parenting Book : A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby.  Click the link to purchase it securely on Amazon.

Question for you:  Are you an “attachment parent?”  Why?  Which of the 8 principles above do you follow?  I really am interested to see other perspectives on this!

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