Attachment parenting gets a lot of attention in the media, and is often called everything from trendy to extreme. In reality it is neither. Attachment parenting is actually a parenting style that has stood the test of time and is practiced by more parents than you might think.

Attachment parenting is a parenting style that promotes seven principles:  birth bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, bed sharing, belief in baby's cries, beware of baby trainers, and balance and boundaries. Of all of the ways to raise children, attachment parenting is among the most misunderstood. Contrary to what many believe, attachment parenting is not an all-or-nothing approach, and it can be used in whatever way works best for each individual family.

Anyone can practice attachment parenting

Many people assume that attachment parenting is limited to stay-at-home moms. The reality is that the parenting style can be practiced by anyone. This includes working moms, dads, grandparents, childcare providers and anyone else in a caretaking role in a child's life. The increased bonding and closeness created by attachment parenting can be particularly valuable to working parents because it can help mom and dad reconnect with baby after being apart during the day.

Attachment parenting does not create overindulged or self-centered kids

Attachment families have rules and boundaries to be followed just like every other family. Just because a family practices gentle discipline with their children does not mean that their children are overindulged. Consequences exist for bad choices even when gentle discipline is used. Additionally, attachment children do not become self-centered children. Attachment parenting is about responding sensitively to your child's needs, not catering to their every want. For the first six months of life a baby's wants are a baby's needs. As the child grows, attachment parents learn to distinguish between a child's wants and a child's needs -- and respond accordingly.

Attachment parenting is not new or difficult

Attachment parenting is not a new fad parenting trend. It is actually a style of parenting that has been practiced for centuries in traditional cultures. Only in modern (and typically Western) society do we see methods of detachment parenting so often encouraged. Attachment parenting is also not more challenging than other styles of parenting. Being attached and closely bonded to your baby can make you more attuned to baby's needs, which actually makes parenting easier.

Attachment parenting is about balance

Balance is perhaps one of the most important principles of attachment parenting. It is a family-centered approach to parenting, not just a child-centered approach. The needs of the entire family need to be met in order for this parenting style to work. If needs are not being met, then something is out of balance and changes must be made.

There are no rules to attachment parenting

The seven principles of attachment parenting should be seen as a set of tools rather than a set of rules. Some women find themselves unable to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, but these mothers can still practice attached bottle feeding (holding and making eye contact while feeding) with their babies. Other families find that co-sleeping does not work for their situation, but they are not excluded from practicing the other elements of attachment parenting that do work for them.

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