“Attachment Parenting focuses on the nurturing connection that parents can develop with their children. That nurturing connection is viewed as the ideal way to raise secure, independent, and empathetic children. Proponents of this parenting philosophy include the well-known pediatrician William Sears, MD. They make the case that a secure, trusting attachment to parents during childhood forms the basis for secure relationships and independence as adults. AP families believe that certain methods increase the bonds between parent and child and thereby set the stage for secure relationships later in life. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common practices among attachement parents.” – WebMD
“Attachment Parenting incorporates the “golden rule” of parenting; parents should treat their children the way they would want to be treated” – Attachmentparenting.org
Babywearing – Increased concern that babies spend too much time in car seat carriers, strollers, portable playards, has prompted attachment parenting advocates to investigate the importance of carrying your baby in your arms as much as possible. Slings and front carriers are common accessory to those practicing attachment parenting.
Breastfeeding: Attachment parents acknowledge the known benefits of breastfeeding. They believe that, in most cases, breastfeeding encourages healthy physical, emotional, and mental development.
Positive Discipline: Positive Discipline involves using such techniques as prevention, distraction, and substitution to gently guide children away from harm, understanding developmentally appropriate behavior, and tailoring loving guidance to the needs and temperaments of the child. It uses techniques such as time-in rather than time-out, natural consequences & modeling positive actions rather than physical discipline techniques, such as spanking.
First off, I want to say that parenting is an extremely personal thing. What works for me and my family may not fit another family’s dynamics, preferences, or convictions. That is the beauty of the uniqueness of each family relationship. When we had our first baby, I remember someone older and much wiser than myself asking me why I was reading books on how to take care of my baby. She said she was pretty sure people had been raising kids long before other people felt the need to write books on how to do it. Her confidence in my mothering ability gave me a renewed hope to follow my maternal instincts and thus, unknowingly, our family was lead down the road of attachment parenting. I have to admit that it was a gradual process of which I can take no credit for. I spent a lot of time asking God for guidance and A LOT of time reading the Bible. I really longed to know how He designed the parent/child relationship to work as a whole and also individually how He wanted this sweet girl He gave us to be raised. In His graciousness and in more than any other time in my life, He lovingly came and He patiently taught me how to be a mom to our precious little girl. (Not to say that I didn’t screw it up here and there)
Were you planning to use this approach in parenting or did it just happen naturally once the baby arrived?
I was NOT planning on using AP. Our first born was a very high need baby. She cried constantly and would not sleep on her own very long. The only way to appease her was to hold her A LOT and nurse her on demand. I was very resistant to that at the beginning. As a brand new mom, I wasn’t quite ready to let go of my freedom yet. I longed for personal space. God led me to Psalm 22:9- “Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.” (NLT) The nursing experience was a place of comfort for King David where he first learned to trust The Lord. Geez. That spoke volumes to me. I wanted that for our daughter. I also wanted to respect her and listen to her when she called for me. I know when I cry out to God He is near. He’s near and He answers my cry. If my husband and I are the earliest examples of God’s love and character in our kids’ lives, above all else, I want them to know that He loves them beyond measure and cares about their every need.
How did others respond to seeing you using AP?
We are very fortunate to have an amazing group of close friends and family who were gracious enough not to impose their thoughts or opinions on us about our parenting style. They asked questions and were supportive of our choices. Hopefully they feel that we gave them the same respect as well. We got some flack, of course, but not everyone is going to agree with your parenting. That’s no big deal. Because we had sought The Lord and followed His guidance, we honestly got all the approval we needed from Him. As we followed Him, we were amazed at what He was doing in our family.
What are the benefits?
There have been so many benefits. AP has really taught me to relax and enjoy my kids. It has eliminated the guilt that I felt in not being able to get my kids to do what I wanted them to do and allowed me to enjoy them for who they are. Personally, it has made being a mom so fulfilling.
I ditched the stress of scheduling feeding and nap times
(which for me was miserable, but I know for others is right up their alley). My kids could eat when they were hungry and sleep when they were tired, where ever we happened to be…at the beach, on an airplane, overseas, on a boat, hiking a mountain, whatever.
Can you give some examples of AP in response to scenarios where more mainstream discipline is used?
AP seeks to discipline with respect for your kids. It utilizes the close bond that parents have with their kids in order to correct them in a loving way. Here is a resource for “Positive Discipline” according to Attachment Parenting International: www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/disc.php
I find in my own life that a loving rebuke speaks volumes more than a harsh one. We really try to remember that when we are correcting our kids. A loving relationship is vital to have before you bring correction. We are very often apologizing to our kids about our mistakes in the way we have treated them. This humility (by none of our own doing) has brought such a sweetness in our relationship with them that they feel respected and secure enough to admit when they’ve messed up too (most of the time 🙂 ).
What material/resources do you recommend?
I really like Dr. Sears and his wife Martha. I respect their medical advice and I really admire their parenting and faith.
What are some myths you would like to clear up regarding AP?
It can feel like you’re the only one in the world doing AP. I have felt like this so many times. It’s funny to think that a large portion of the world actually practices it and it just seems so foreign to us in Western countries. There are many myths out there about it, but the most important thing about any parenting style is that if you feel at peace with your choices and you feel like you’re parenting your kids in the way that God wants you to…who the heck cares what anyone else thinks! God’s opinion is the only one that matters.
Lizzy and her husband Mike with their daughters Quin and Finley