What is Attachment Parenting?
“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 International
Attachment parenting has a mission: to create strong, healthy emotional bonds and connections between parents and children. Simply put, children have needs, and it is a parent’s job to fill them. When these needs are met, babies neurological development is enhanced.
To help families fulfill these needs, Attachment Parenting International has created a guide called The Eight Principals of Parenting:
- Prepare for pregnancy, birth & parenting
- Feed with love & respect
- Respond with sensitivity
- Use nurturing touch
- Ensure safe sleep, physically & emotionally
- Provide consistent & loving care
- Practice positive discipline
- Strive for balance in your personal and family life
Attachment parenting sounds really nice!
Without delving deep into the explanation of each category, I could say I would like to be that kind of parent to my child. These guidelines seem to be coming from a good-hearted place (for the record, I don’t think we need “guidelines” to know how to parent – go with your gut!).
Upon steeping in the attachment parenting community, I quickly found categorizing types of parenting isn’t very realistic.
While the premise of AP regards parenting as loving and
nurturing,the mothers who diligently practice, (and I mean to the T) attachment parenting do not always come across as such to other mothers in the community.
To put it bluntly, I have often wondered if I, or anyone for that matter, is practicing attachment parenting well enough. Based on my experiences, and the first hand accounts of friends who have felt the AP wrath, here is a different version of the eight principles.
The Dark Side of Attachment Parenting – Eight Rules to Live By (or else):
- Prepare for birth by planning to give birth naturally. Millions of women have done it before and so can you. Don’t be a wimp. A real attachment parent gives birth naturally in a hospital, birthing center, at home, or unassisted.
- Circumcision is not attachment parenting. In fact, it goes against everything AP stands for. You cannot expect a child to feel nurtured when such bodily harm is inflicted. Even if you practice other attachment parenting habits, one of the first crucial bonds between mother and child has been broken.
- Breastfeed you child. Breast is best! If you can’t, (which isn’t likely as breastfeeding is what we were designed to do next to give birth) rather than use formula, go to a milk bank. Or better yet, find a wet nurse. There are plenty of women out there who will gladly donate their milk or feed your baby for you.
- There is no need to ever become frustrated, irritable or impatient with your child. They are new to this world after all. If you find yourself losing patience, take a small time out. But remember, this is your duty and they are only young once. There is no time for negativity. p.s. time outs are bad, as is telling your child “no,” or turning on the TV for any amount of time under the age of 2.
- Hold and wear your child as much as physically possible. Your child doesn’t need a swing, your child needs you. So drop everything and pick that baby up. It’s the healthy thing to do.
- Cloth diapers are the only way to go! You care about the environment right? Our Mother Earth? Then don’t ditch your nappies! Cloth is easy, affordable, and you’ll be doing plenty of laundry anyway. What’s another load (or two)?
- Sleeping with your baby is safe and natural. Your baby wants to sleep with you! Bed-sharing enables a quicker response time to baby’s needs. Dad/partner may have to sleep on the couch or in the guest bedroom for a while, but trust us, you will all sleep better this way.
- Eat organic food whenever possible (meaning all the time). If you cannot afford organic baby food, make your own, and when baby moves on to solids, explain to your partner how important organic food is and suggest they find a way to make a second income (because you are a stay at home mom, isn’t that correct?)
Is a less “attached” parent a detached parent?
The funny thing about that list I created is, I fall neatly into each category.
I birthed at home, breastfed without difficulty, slept with my daughter since night one, have always carried and worn her, fed her organic food and I’ve stopped working to be a stay at home mom.
Time and time again, friends have shared horror stories of condemnation from those who proudly wear the “attachment parenting” label.
They have been virtually harassed for being half-assed AP by evangelists. So much so that those mothers have decided not only to skip the joining the AP group all together, but remove themselves from several crunchy online “communities.”
The difference between how I live and the way I described, (with sarcasm) in the list above is: I don’t judge other mothers for choosing differently. And I don’t think I am better than them for what I have chosen!
Not all women who consider themselves attachment parents are critical.
I wouldn’t dare to lump everyone together in one big category (ha!). I know several lovely “AP moms.”
But in all seriousness, a few rotten eggs have nearly ruined a community that could be very beautiful.
Imagine mothers who believe in informed, gentle birth and practice positive parenting. The fact that AP isn’t that is downright sad. I don’t think it would be like this if we were face-to-face with each other. I never hear such snarky and demeaning remarks in public as to the degree that I read online.
I am SICK & TIRED of the mommy wars!
We’re talking about battles within our own self-prescribed tribes.
If we cannot find unity within our own circles, we have no hope for spreading the love and positive change to the rest of the world. We will only be seen as we are: a group of petty, critical moms.
How did this happen? I understand parenting is a serious game, and we do have a great duty as parents to try to do right by our children, but why are we so harsh? Why such anger?
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What are your thoughts about the attachment parenting community? Have you felt judged for not practicing AP “well enough?” I would love to hear your thoughts – please comment below!