Thursday, October 4, 2012

Attachment Parenting: More Than Breasts, Beds, and Baby Slings

Babies needs haven’t changed much over the past thousands of years, 
but cultural practices of meeting those needs change every generation.
—Judy Arnall

I'm growing weary of the number of articles and blog posts flowing through my newsfeed that completely misrepresent what attachment parenting is and what it is not

It's not just news magazines. Or other supposedly serious publications. Or the French.

Somehow it has become almost trendy in the parenting blogging world to mock any semblance of attachment (attentive, intentional, involved) parenting and instead glorify so-called "detachment" parenting as the cooler, hands-off option.

Want examples? You'll have to Google them yourself. I refuse to link to this rubbish.

Sadly, for the most part these writers have about as much knowledge of attachment parenting as I do of say, open heart surgery.

I find myself especially annoyed when these anti-AP rants come from a parent blessed with one compliant child who hasn't even reached preschool age yet. But I digress.

Remember, you are not managing an inconvenience;
you are raising a human being.
—Kittie Frantz

The thing is, the power of conventional wisdom is so strong, we've convinced ourselves that our current cultural view of raising children is the only one there is. Babies have bottles. Sleep in cribs. Need to learn to self-soothe. Should sleep through the night by [insert random age]. Need to eat pureed foods. (Because, as we all know, immediately following the invention of the wheel, Cuisinart was founded.) Must learn independence as early as possible. Need to learn they aren't the center of the universe. Shouldn't be coddled.

Shall I go on? Folks do realize we're talking about babies here? (Although, it's not just about babies.)

Want to know what attachment parenting really looks like? 

It looks like the way people parented for generation upon generation upon generation until a few outspoken, self-proclaimed "experts" came along and mucked everything up.

It's about a developing a relationship that is respectful, sensitive, and positive. It's about principles: guidelines, ideals perhaps, but not rules. (You can read about each of the eight principles in more detail here.) It's about the connection you have with your child. It looks like parents and children on the same team instead of us versus them. It looks like teaching your children through example, not fear of consequences.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
—Dalai Lama

You might notice that nowhere in the eight principles does it mention cloth diapering, circumcision, vaccinations, homeschooling, homeopathy, or any other topic that for some reason people love to "add on" to the concept of attachment parenting. Granted, a lot of AP-ers likely have strong feelings about these issues, but the issues themselves are not AP.

One of the best ways I've seen attachment parenting described is as a frame of mind. It's not a competition to see who can apply the most principles in the best way. 

Personally, while I love breastfeeding and co-sleeping I couldn't get on board with babywearing at all. We strive to always use positive discipline but that doesn't mean we live in a zen world where everything is kitty cats and daisy petals and I never get angry at my kids. And that whole balance thing? Let's just say it's a work in progress.

Do you consider yourself to be "AP"? Why or why not?

Thanks for reading and have a blessed day.

Did you know that October is Attachment Parenting Month? Check out this link and the other wonderful resources at Attachment Parenting International to learn more.


Peter and Nancy said... [Reply to comment]

Hi! I jumped over from FriedOkra. We are parents via biology and adoption, and there is so much great attachment parenting information in the adoption world. It did really help to have read Sears books for my first two home-grown kids, but the nice thing about the adoption material is it doesn't focus on some of the "optional" but often-associated practices of AP such as cloth diapering, etc. It has been interesting to see how different parenting communities address AP as our family has grown and changed. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

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