Attachment Parenting

Attachment Parenting Is a Way of Life

7 Comments 11 May 2012

Attachment Parenting, often referred to as AP, is considered by many to be a parenting style.

I think of it as a lifestyle. It’s aligned with the way I live my whole life.

Attachment parenting is a way of mothering that nurtures my children. The daily practice of being an AP parent feels most natural to me.

While we’re talking definition, here it is:

Attachment parenting is a term coined by William Sears, meaning, “Attachment parenting is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of the attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences. Sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child’s socio-emotional development and well being.”

There are a few public figures that have normalized attachment parenting recently.

Mayim Bailik, wrote a book called Beyond the Sling, Angelina and Brad practice co-sleeping, Ricki Lake with home birth, Anne Heche uses cloth diapers and Alicia Silverstone considers herself a natural, attachment parenting mama (read her blog, The Kind Life).

I am so grateful that these high profile people have brought kind parenting practices into view.

Most recently, Time published a piece about AP, specificially drawing attention to extended nursing.

And the cover has everybody talking. 


This is my response.

What I like about the cover:

All in all, I am glad that Time Magazine is covering the topic of AP. I think more people and children can benefit from this simple way of life. Remember, the definition of attachment parenting is to be sensitive to a child’s emotions and needs.

I’m also thrilled that the cover has started a conversation about extended breastfeeding. The benefits of extended nursing are numerous. As someone who nursed one child until 3, two children for 8 months, and going strong with a 10 month old, I love to see breastfeeding in the news.

Now here’s what I don’t like about this magazine cover:

The title. Pairing ”Are You Mom Enough?” with a photo of a toddler nursing gives the impression that you must practice extended breastfeeding or you’re not mom enough. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Every mom is mom enough, no matter how long she breastfeeds her children, or if she is able to breastfeed at all. Two weeks or two years. Statements like this create a defensive, judgmental environment between women, that separates us instead of bringing us together. That’s the last thing mothers need.

At the same time, who is mom enough? What the heck does that even mean? We all have strengths and weaknesses.

You ARE mom enough.

‘Nuff said.

Okay. Back to attachment parenting.

How I practice attachment parenting.

Attachment parenting means something different to everyone.

I’m proud of the way my partner and I parent our children and hope you are too, with whatever style works for you and your kiddos!

  • I bedshare: Lucan and Ella sleep on either side of me in a twin bed. Eric has his own twin bed in the same room. Sometimes I start out in his bed and make my way over to the other when Lucan wakes up.
  • I babywear: I prefer to carry my children rather than put them in strollers. My favorite brand is Ergo. Although Ella is old enough to walk, we sometimes put her in the Ergo on our backs during long nature hikes when she gets tuckered out. We have a second carrier for Lucan, who rides on front of my chest.
  • I breastfeed: Ella nursed from day one to just over 3. We continued our nursing relationship through my second pregnancy as well as after Lucan was born, (Ella was 2 1/2). I tandem nursed them for 8 months before slowly weaning my daughter.
  • I follow my toddler’s lead: I see “acting out” not as a behavioral problem but as an emotional issue that my daughter doesn’t know how to speak with words. My children have never cried it out to sleep. My children have worn/wear cloth diapers.

I want to stress again that I believe each person needs to walk their own parenting path.

Maybe you don’t use cloth diapers, or perhaps your little one prefers sleeping in their crib. That doesn’t mean you’re not an AP parent. It’s not black and white.

Now I want to hear from you!

#1: What do you think of the Time cover?

#2: How do you, (or don’t you) practice attachment parenting?

Your Comments

7 Comments so far

  1. Angie L. says:

    I think the cover has brought an awareness to extended breastfeeding which is not white right. It paints AP parents as challenging everyone who doesn’t parent in our way, and in many cases it simply cannot be done. Also, the photo doesn’t show the tenderness and love which encompasses the AP lifestyle. It is cold, posed and the magazine chose a photo and caption which challenges parents instead of encouraging parents.

    How do I AP? I breastfeed full term, I birth out of the hospital, I selectively vaccinate, I babywearing, I cosleep, I cloth diaper, I choose not to hit my children and do my best not to yell at them. Being tender and loving is my goal.

  2. Sally says:

    Personally, I think the in-your-face nature of the photograph is what will draw attention albeit perhaps from those who consider attachment parenting, in any form, to be outdated and backwards. Perhaps they could have chosen to pose the mother and son in a more natural pose, but I believe the idea of the pose is to make a statement that attachment parenting, particularly breasteeding/extended breastfeeding, is not something that should be shunned, considered shameful, or limited to undeveloped countries and this picture; I think it depicts “taking a stand” against having our society look down upon families who choose to raise their children outside the realm of what is considered normal. Having nursed in both Europe and the states, I can honestly say that the US has a long way to go on catching up with attachment parenting, breastfeeding and homebirth included.

  3. MMQC says:

    I liked your thoughtful take on this issue Kaitlin. Personally, I fall into the “attachment parenting philosophy” because I had natural, home births, don’t vaccinate, breastfed, co-slept, wore my babies, and try to eat an organic, whole-foods diet. I probably do other things too.

    BUT despite this, I have sometimes felt that I am not “Mom enough” by some of the AP zealots out there. My children occasionally drank pumped milk from bottles. I pushed them in strollers when I got tired of wearing them. I “Ferberized” my twins which was the ONLY thing that worked after 18+ months of debilitating sleep deprivation. These things were often met with a sniff or outright declaration of disapproval by some APers. Granted, I think these folks were extreme but it’s ironic that a philosophy that promotes emotional closeness and nurturance can draw some really judgmental people. In that vein, I think the cover is right on.

  4. Sally says:

    I forgot to add that the whole “mom enough” thing is ridiculous because, as a the previous poster mentioned, some of the standards set by other AP moms would mean I’m not mom enough (our son is vaccinated, circumcised, and sleeps in his own bed). I just get so frustrated that people felt the need to berate this mother for nursing her son at 3. My 2 cents. :)

  5. I love the picture of you with your kids nursing, how adorable. And you look so happy. I wish that would have been the cover :)

    The cover was chosen to sell magazines, not to educate people about extended breastfeeding or attachment parenting, which is a shame.

    Here is my take on the cover:

  6. Jen says:

    I heard about the cover long before I saw it. While I, too, would like to have seen a more natural pose, I love that it has people talking. Many have asked my view on it, and I feel the conversations have been very positive- hopefully paving the way for when my own little one is considered “too old” for breasfeeding by US social standards.

    As for parenting- I breastfeed, and will for as long as I have a little one that wants to. We pump and bottle feed when I work. I home birth with a midwife (or I try to- first baby was hospital transfer; we pray the second is not). We bedshare, babywear, cloth diaper, and don’t vax.

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