One of the core tenants of my parenting philosophy is, "Whatever parenting style works for your family." That is to say, my philosophy is that there is no one right philosophy - but there certainly are several approaches claiming to be the ideal way to raise your kid! We even have processes to spur on development - The Ferber Method, the Five S's, and so on. But few outside the actual method-users venture to understand the details of each different philosophy. So I set out to understand their key components, starting with Attachment Parenting.
What Is Attachment Parenting?
Attachment Parenting is, at its core, a perspective on parenting focused on developing and protecting a nurturing relationship between parent and child. This thesis is built upon research that reveals parental attachment is a cornerstone of a child's early development in infancy. Psychologist Mary Ainsworth performed a "Strange Scenario" test in her lab. Babies and their mothers were brought into a strange room and then separated. When the mother returned, the baby's behavior was noted as one of three basic categories: Anxious/Avoidant, Securely Attached, Anxious/Resistant.
The details don't matter so much as the basic idea that Attachment Parenting is based on real science. It's not just reserved for New Age parents, and it's more than just "being in the groove" with your baby. Attachment parenting is a discipline for parents to attentively watch for baby's communicative signs and patterns. It's a form of parenting that demands a lot - physically and emotionally - as a parent. But many parents swear that it is creating well-adjusted young children, so it's well worth the work.
How Do You Use Attachment Parenting In The Real World?
When I started researching attachment parenting, I found the 7 Baby B's to be helpful. Dr. Sears, the long-renowned child development specialist, categorized these 7 precepts as the core of the philosophy.
7 Baby B's Of Attachment Parenting
- Birth Bonding - Sears encourages parents to play an active role in the birth experience and prioritize bonding time with the baby.
- Baby's Cries - Listening to a baby's cries helps parents understand their varied cues. It also promotes security in a helpless infant.
- Breastfeeding - Not only does breastfeeding carry health benefits for the baby, but it also promotes oxytocin production in parents, deepening the nurturing relationship.
- Babywearing - Again, keeping baby close - literally skin to skin - helps promote security and ease tension for both child and parent.
- Bedding Close To Baby - Cosleeping, or sharing the same sleeping space, helps parents balance attentiveness to baby's needs with a need for their own rest.
- Balance And Boundaries - Attachment parenting can be overwhelming, so it's okay to take a break. It's good for parents to get time without their children.
- Beware Of Baby Trainers - Anything too dogmatic in its approach makes Sears wary. Parenting styles should be more general philosophy than prescriptive doctrines.
So, on a typical day, an "attachment parent" would wear their baby, breastfeed them, sleep or nap near them, and be attentive to their cries as a form of communication. Doesn't that sound, in many ways, like the typical loving parent? Maybe breastfeeding is not an option for some, perhaps anxiety makes cosleeping out of the question. But generally speaking, the attachment parenting philosophy is easy to put into action.
Does Attachment Parenting Work?
Like any parenting method, the proof is in the pudding. We can't really know if this philosophy "works" until we see how it plays out in adults. Dr. Sears claims that he chose some of these concepts based on what he saw practiced by the parents of kids they liked and respected. According to Sear's The Baby Book, children raised under an attachment parenting philosophy will have increased independence, confidence, health, development of motor and language skills, social competence, good manners, sense of justice, conscientiousness, altruism, empathy, self-control....and more. I don't even know many adults who have all those traits, and they're saying that kid can have all of them from this parenting style? Sign me up! Unfortunately, there is, to date, no conclusive scientific evidence that supports Sears' claims. Despite this lack of scientific study, multitudes of parents swear by attachment parenting as the best decision they made in raising their children.
Do you practice attachment parenting? How has it helped your child? Share your story on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #AttachedParent.