According to Attachment Parenting International, “The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children. Attachment Parenting challenges us as parents to treat our children with kindness, respect and dignity, and to model in our interactions with them the way we’d like them to interact with others.” Attachment Parenting (AP) practices usually involve intentional bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, attentiveness to baby’s needs and cries, and a commitment to listen to and follow one’s personal parenting intuition.
We hear a lot about how Attachment Parenting benefits children. They sleep better, develop relationships of security and trust, are better behaved, and cry less. But if you’re familiar with attachment parenting and some of the suggested practices, you know that it’s no short order for the parents. Consistency with this sort of parenting is a high call, a sacrifice. And just as you think you’re doing your best, you’ll have a lot of bystanders criticizing you as well. Proponents say the effort is worth it for your kids. But have you thought about how this style of parenting benefits you as a parent? Have you thought about the difference it would make in your life?
Attachment Parenting calls on the parent, especially the mother, to give all she has to her role as mother. Is this even desirable? Can anyone fulfill that sort of calling? Probably not. But the thing to remember is that Attachment Parenting is not ‘mom-hood on steroids’, nor is it a tribunal ready to punish you for failing to follow a list of mandates. Rather, Attachment Parenting is a set of tools that takes the intuition that is already in you and puts a framework around it. These are the things our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers did fifty and one hundred years ago because it was instinctual and it was part of the accepted mothering culture. But we’ve gotten away from what we know and we’ve listened to “experts” telling us to do things that never felt right anyways. It’s time to remember what makes sense and return to it. That’s where AP comes in.
You will put in a lot of work, time, and effort on the front end. But Attachment Parenting isn’t much more work than any other mode of parenting (or lack thereof). If a parent neglects their parenting role in order to ‘save time’ when the child is young, they will often pay for it with much more time spent dealing with behavioral issues as the child gets older. Here’s how a commitment to Attachment Parenting benefits YOU:
Confidence. You feel confident as a parent because you are doing what feels right to you and you are receiving positive feedback from your baby. He cries less, he’s calm, he benefits from proper nourishment because he’s breastfeeding well. Nothing inspires confidence in a new mother like a contented, well-fed, fuss-free baby. Attachment parenting reminds you that you know what you and your baby need, and encourages you to listen to your intuition.
Sleep. Some mothers experiment with Attachment Parenting practices for this reason alone! When your baby sleeps with you, you both sleep! It’s a win-win for most moms.
Consistency. Babies and children learn what they can expect from you, and you learn what you can expect from them. There are enough ‘unknowns’ in parenting. Attachment Parenting practices help to develop a consistency of practice and behavior that you can both count on.
Said Lisa, a Welcome Baby Care postpartum doula and experienced AP mom: “Attachment parenting let me be comfortable with doing the things I wanted to do but was afraid someone would look at and criticize… ‘holding baby too much will spoil her’, ‘sleeping with baby creates too much dependence’, ‘feeding on demand means she will never have a schedule’. None of those things made any sense to me. So when I found attachment parenting, I realized that everything my brain and body were telling to me to do—to RESPOND to my baby—were the right things to do!”
Likable Kids. Take a look when you’re out at a mall or restaurant. You’ll see that there are a lot of parents who simply do not enjoy their children. Attachment Parenting helps cultivate mature, independent, secure children—and that’s not just a benefit for them. These are children you want to be around. Well-behaved children are a blessing to their parents…and the rest of society.
“I loved being an AP parent. What it let me do was be the kind of parent I wanted to be. Attachment Parenting is not a parenting style so much as it’s a set of parenting tools. Babies don’t come with instructions, so AP lets you know you already have all the tools you need to figure this little baby out, and lets you be confident in using them. Happy babies make happy parents make happy babies!” Lisa (see above).
Resources. To learn more about Attachment Parenting, check out the following articles and websites:
- Attachment Parenting International. Click HERE.
- Dr. Sears article “What AP Is: 7 Baby B’s.” Click HERE.
- Dr. Marti Erickson of Mom Enough article “Separating Fact from Fiction about Parent-Child Attachment.” Click HERE.
How has Attachment Parenting worked for you? What practices have made a difference for you as a mom?