What is Attachment Parenting?
In continuation of the topic of parenting styles, I want to talk about Attachment Parenting. It has become the new “it” parenting style for many new parents. Let’s talk about what Attachment Parenting is and how it gets implemented.
Attachment Parenting – focuses on developing a secure connection between parent and child through being responsive towards the child’s needs. This parenting style primarily focuses on caring for an infant but I think that when you look closer at it you will find a similarity with it and one of the classical parenting styles I talked about in the previous post.
Attachment parenting was based on the “attachment theory” brought forth by a psychologist John Bowlby’s studies on animals and maternal deprivation. In a nutshell, Bowlby theorized that infants instinctively seek closeness to a “secure attachment figure”. However, that figure does not necessarily have to be a mother but any caregiver capable of providing this security. Dr. Sears was the one who popularized modern day attachment parenting and came up with the “7 Baby B’s” or “Attachment Tools”.
- Birth Bonding – if a child doesn’t have a good attachment at birth, not all is lost. Sears believed that kids that go into the NICU, foster or adopted kids can form healthy attachments later in life.
- Breastfeeding – the preferred way to feed a child as it provides benefits for both mother and baby. It may improve bonding by producing prolactin and oxytocin.
- Baby – wearing – is highly encouraged to promote attachment, allow for frequent touching, and help parents become more sensitive to their infant’s needs
- Bedding close to babies – Dr. Sears encourages parents to sleep close to baby but also acknowledges the parents’ need for sleep.
- Belief in the language-value of your baby’s cry – Dr. Sears strongly advises parents to respond to their baby’s cries and not let them “cry it out”
- Beware of baby trainers – Dr. Sears is strongly against “convenience parenting”. He believes that convenience parenting puts the parents ease above the needs of a baby for food or comfort. For example, he advises against scheduled feedings.
- Balance – Dr. Sears advises parents to focus on balancing their roles as parents, partners and also their own physical and emotional needs
When you really look into it, Dr. Sears advocates for parents to take the time to learn about their children and create an environment that is responsive to their children’s needs. It’s not an easy task but a very important one. Even though we grow these beings inside our bodies and care for them long before we meet them,they are strangers to us when they emerge. We know almost nothing about them and in order to succeed long term, the onus is on us to get to know them.
You may disagree but I think a family is a team. There is a team leader or two and there are team players. Our children are the players and need to learn to be on this team. That however, doesn’t mean that their views and opinions don’t matter. As the team leaders, it is our job to know everything we can about our team and ensure our team’s success.
Take the time to get to know your infant and it will become second nature to keep getting to know them as their grow into being a child, then a teenager, then an adult. I hope that even if you find that you can’t do everything that Attachment Parenting advocates for, that you are able to take away the main principle of it: listen to your child’s needs and be sensitive to them. This does not mean you have to cater to them all the time. Just keep this in mind: when you operate within their limitations, everyone’s life will be much easier.
Quote of the day:
“I don’t think it matters how many parents you’ve got, as long as those who are around make their presence a good one” – Elizabeth Wurtzel
Mental Health Tip of the Day:
The early days and months of parenting are hard and demanding. Finding balance will be next to impossible, so stop beating yourself up about it. Find something you really need to do to make yourself feel human and do it. If it’s a nap, a shower, a conversation with a friend – ask your partner to watch the baby and give you some breathing room. If it’s some alone time with your partner, then get a babysitter or ask someone you trust to watch the baby for a few hours.