When people meet those who practice attachment parenting, they think of spoiled, whiny children who never are disciplined. Or they think the parents are Hippie or liberal. I should know; I used to be one of those judgmental people--until I became a parent and learned the truth about attachment parenting.
So, what is attachment parenting? Let's begin with what it's not, adapted from an article by Dr. Sears:
1. Attachment parenting is not new. It isn't something born from the 70s or liberalism. "In fact, it's the way that parents for centuries have taken care of babies, until childcare advisors came on the scene and led parents to follow books instead of their babies." It is also called natural parenting because it feel natural and instinctive.
2. Attachment parenting is not indulgent parenting. "Attachment parenting is responding appropriately to your baby's needs, which means knowing when to say 'yes' and when to say 'no.' . . . Attachment parenting is a question of balance –not being indulgent or permissive, yet being attentive."
3. Attachment parenting is not martyr mothering. In the beginning you give a lot of yourself and time, but as Baby gets older, your response time lengthens and response frequency lessens. This principle I also learned from Elizabeth Pantley. Co-sleeping, night nursing, and no crying-it-out don't mean you have to sacrifice sleep and be miserable. It just means you approach the problem patiently and compassionately.
4. Attachment parenting is not hard. "Attachment parenting may sound like one big give-a-thon. Initially, there is a lot of giving. This is a fact of new parent life. Babies are takers, and parents are givers. One of the payoffs you will soon experience of attachment parenting is one we call mutual giving – the more you give to your baby, the more baby gives back to you. . . . True, this style of parenting takes a tremendous amount of patience and stamina, but it's worth it. Attachment parenting early on makes later parenting easier, not only in infancy but in childhood and teenage years. . . . When you truly know your child, parenting is easier at all ages."
5. Attachment parenting does not spoil your child. "Attachment parenting implies responding appropriately to your baby; spoiling suggests responding inappropriately. . . . There was no scientific basis to this spoiling theory, just unwarranted fears and opinions." Read the conclusions of research studies here.
Then what is attachment parenting? Dr. Sears sums it up in the 7 Bs:
1. Birth bonding
4. Bedding close to baby
5. Belief in the value of Baby's cry
6. Being aware of baby trainers
For more information check out "Attachment Parenting" on the Ask Dr. Sears site and the Attachment Parenting International site.