Today, Joella from Fine and Fair is gracing me with a post share from her blog that explains Attachment Parenting in a way I can understand!
If you're a parent on the internet, you've likely heard of a parenting philosophy called "Attachment Parenting" or "AP". You've also likely developed a strong opinion about it, one way or the other. Proponents of AP swear by its principles and credit it with fostering healthy, balanced, secure children; while its critics revile it as overly permissive, too difficult to maintain, and even anti-feminist. Allow me to reveal my bias: I'm a proponent. As with most aspects of the "Mommy Wars," there is little middle ground...or is there?
Let's start with defining Attachment Parenting. Contrary to a common belief, "Attachment" does not refer to literal, physical attachment, although it's true that AP parents are often within close proximity with their children in infancy. It refers instead to emotional attachment; a feeling of security, trust, and bonding between parent and child. While Dr. Sears (who I adore) and his "7 Baby B's" (which I, personally, find to be a bit too specific and restrictive in how they are interpreted) are often associated with Attachment Parenting, my preference is for Attachment Parenting International's (API) 8 Principles of Parenting. They are as follows:
That sounds pretty balanced, right? Pretty attainable? Pretty adaptable to the lives of most parents? But wait, what about the part where you MUST have an un-medicated birth at home? What about the part where you MUST exclusively breast feed? Or the part where you MUST use cloth diapers? Or the part where you MUST sleep in bed with your baby? Or the part where you MUST invest in an arsenal of slings, wraps, and carriers? Or the part where you MUST make your own organic baby food and sew all of your own clothes? Or the part where you CANNOT leave your baby in the care of anyone other than the mother and therefore CANNOT work outside of the home? Where are those parts of AP?
Those are not parts of AP. It is true that many AP mothers give birth at home and breast feed. It is true that many AP parents use slings and carriers. It is true that many AP families share a family bed. It is true that many AP families embrace more "natural" choices like cloth diapers or organic food. It is also true that many AP families have a stay at home parent. These are some of the specific tools and choices available that work for some families and help them to put these philosophies into practice. They are not the only way.
Am I watering down Attachment Parenting? Am I trying to make the label so free and easy that every parent can call themselves AP? No. There are certainly some choices that are not consistent with Attachment Parenting. Bottle propping? Not loving or respectful. Spanking? Not sensitive or positive. Putting your baby to bed in a place where you can't hear their cries and not checking them until morning? Not emotionally safe sleep. Staying home every second of every day, to the detriment of your personal interests, social life, or desired career? Not balanced.
Not everyone is an AP parent. But if you take a balanced approach to family life, if you strive to respond sensitively and positively to your children, if you seek to consistently meet their physical and emotional needs in a loving and respectful way, then you just might be more AP than you think.