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What is Attachment Parenting?

When my youngest was born I knew that certain common parenting practices did not fit my way of thinking of about my child and my role as his mother.  I researched different parenting philosophies and one that made sense to me was Attachment Parenting.  I have been very pleased with the results of AP, though I have to admit, in my most selfish moments I’ve wished that it didn’t require us as parents to step outside of what society and culture has programmed us to believe is right.

Here are a few things you should know about me as a mother:

  • I’m still learning every day.  I learn through life experience and through research.  Yes, I’m still learning, but I’m well-rounded in my methods of collecting information about parenting.
  • I am not perfect.  I think that yelling is the new spanking and should be shunned in the same manner.  Still, when I allow myself to lose my cool in times of stress and frustration I can behave just as immaturely as my children.  Except they are supposed to behave like children.  I’m not and I know better.
  • When I do something that is against my beliefs about how I should parent my children, I apologize to my children, make amends and then I move on.  Self-flagellation and and guilt are pointless and can further interrupt my relationship with my children.

What You Should Know About Attachment Parenting

  • Attachment parenting was not invented by Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician and father of eight,  although he did coin the term and has provided parents with essential information about the subject.
  • Attachment parenting starts with the 7 Baby B’s which are birth bonding (staying close to baby after birth–rooming in at the hospital, for instance.), breastfeeding, baby wearing, bedding close to baby (co-sleeping or at the least sleeping in the same room), belief in the language value of your baby’s cry (no crying-it-out, attending to crying baby, toddler, child any time of the day or night), beware of baby trainers (sorry, Ezzo, you’re wrong.) and balance (A very important part of AP.  I’ve seen many mothers lose balance while trying to follow the “rules” of attachment parenting.  The results are never good.)
  • Attachment parenting eventually turns into gentle, or positive, discipline.  Another logical discipline method which follows the AP’ing of babies and toddlers include Grace Based Discipline for Christian parents.
  • Despite its name, one of the main goals of attachment parenting is to foster age-appropriate independence in children.  This age-appropriate independence happens more slowly and more completely than the rushed, or even forced, independence of mainstream parenting practices.

What Attachment Parenting is Not

  • Here is what Dr. Sears has to say about what AP is not.

Here are my own thoughts on what AP is not:

  1. AP is not a list of rules that a mother must follow in order to be part of the Cool Moms’ AP Club.  Membership to that club is difficult to maintain and once you’re inside, you’ll realize that no one has all the answers or is a perfect mom with perfect children.  AP is not about what other moms are doing but instead about doing what is best for your child.
  2. AP is not  list of rules that a mother must follow in order for her child to grow up perfectly emotionally and physically healthy.

“None of us escape childhood unscathed.” –Dr. James Masterson.

I’ve seen too many mothers lose themselves to attachment parenting in an attempt to adhere to every single one of the guidelines.  I’ve seen mothers shun attachment parenting completely if they find that one or two of the guidelines don’t work for them.

3.  Attachment parenting is NOT permissive parenting.  Permissive parenting is as damaging  as authoritarian parenting. (Some would say it is more damaging. I say they are equal in their devastating effects)  If you know a parent who subscribes to the AP philosophy but appears to be parenting permissively, you either have a misguided understand of what permissive parenting actually looks like or the AP parent you know is doing it wrong.

4.  In contrast to Dr. Sears, I believe, dependent upon how you were raised, that AP is not easy.  There is a paradigm shift that can be scary if you’re a skeptic or have little support.  While there is more support for the practice now than there was 13 years ago when I was a new mom, many parents who choose to AP in a small town may feel quite alone in their parenting methods.  Unfortunately, this is especially true of more religious areas of the country.

5.  AP is not spoiling a child.  Forced or rushed independence spoils children and their ability to function well with their independence.  Attachment parenting allows a child to seek and experience independence at a pace that is child-led.  This relaxed approach to independence in children leads to to more confident children who have been allowed to experience independence when they are ready for it, therefore leading to greater success with independence.  (source)

Attachment Parenting Resources

If you are new to attachment parenting or are struggling with the practice, here are some great resources to help you on your parenting journey.

Best Books About Attachment Parenting

Best Attachment Parenting Websites

Ask Dr. Sears
Kelly Mom
Aha Parenting
Parenting Science

What is Attachment Parenting

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