Posted on | June 12, 2012 | 9 Comments
The issue of attachment parenting has been done to death recently on pretty much every parenting blog I read, but it occurred to me that I don’t necessarily have the same readers as the sites I follow. I know that a lot of Alternative Housewife readers don’t have kids, and my few offline mom friends don’t necessarily share my parenting philosophy. Whether or not you saw or had opinions about the Attachment Parenting TIME cover, I’d like to share the reasons I parent this way.
There is an episode of Sex and the City that was one of my favorites when I was 19 or so. The girls are at a baby shower and there is a mother there with her young son.
Mother at shower: I love my son. Andy is 11 months old. He is a god, and I tell him so every day.
Miranda: Thirty years from now, what do you think the chances are that some woman’s gonna be able to make Andy happy? I’m gonna go with zero.
Above: The way Janine @ 19 might have looked if you told her I was still breastfeeding my two-year-old.
I can still hear the snark in Miranda’s voice, and remember myself smirking and snarking along with her. I had just been burned yet again by my “mama’s boy” boyfriend, and it seemed obvious to me that being coddled as a child was surely what had made him such a non-committal partner and crappy lover.
Fast-forward a few years and here I am, parenting my own young son in the very way Janine @ 19 was convinced would ruin him for life. Those of you who knew me back before I wanted kids might consider it puzzling. But here’s the thing – Of all the things I put my trust in, two things are at the top of the list. Science is up there, and my own instincts are at the very top. And both of those things completely support attached parenting.
What is attached parenting?
Attached parenting works differently for different families. It is based on eight principles, although there are no hard and fast rules for parenting this way. You could easily be doing it and not even know it has a name. Here is a great post on what attachment parenting is by one of my favorite bloggers. She writes, “Mainstream parenting often involves using schedules and punishment, cribs and strollers, weaning and sleep training, etc. It is about the parents doing something to the child rather than with the child.” Attachment parenting is about working with your child.
For me, attachment parenting simply means attending to the needs of my family without question, and recognizing my child’s needs as needs and not something to be trained out of him. For a small child, those needs include lots of physical contact and on-demand comfort. I feel (as many others do) that AP can be summed up nicely by the Dr. Seuss line, A person’s a person, no matter how small.
What the science says
Science proves that attached dependence in childhood leads to secure independence in adults. “Attachment parenting” is a relatively new name for a centuries-old practice. Our ancestors breastfed and kept their babies close because it was a matter of survival. Breastfeeding, safe co-sleeping and skin-to-skin contact help decrease the risk of infant death even today. Children brought up this way are thought to be happier, smarter, more empathetic and able to form better relationships. It is obviously near impossible to conclusively prove that one parenting style is better than another, but I love this piece on how brainy women think about attachment parenting.
The science of attachment parenting is another great article which lists lots of sources. The end of the piece hypothesizes that mind-minded parenting (treating your child as a complete human being with their own thoughts and feelings) is really the key to the benefits of attachment parenting. I agree! Although I would insist that mind-minded parenting requires following principles of AP.
What my instincts tell me
I think that attachment parenting makes a lot of new moms breathe a sign of relief, because it tells us that our gut instincts are right! There is a reason, biologically, that our instinct is to respond to a crying infant as quickly as possible! There is a reason that our babies don’t want to leave the breast in those first few weeks, and why most don’t self-wean before two years old or frequently later. That overwhelming desire I felt, before my son was even born, to keep him sleeping safe against me in my own bed? Totally normal and purposeful from an evolutionary standpoint.
The online attachment parenting community can seem overwhelming, intimidating, and even snooty at times – even to me – but I hope that you don’t take that as reason to avoid the philosophy altogether. I truly believe that the mainstream take on parenting in our society is majorly flawed, and that attached parenting (even if you never call it that!) is a smart, real way that we can return to our roots (before people were selling baby-unfriendly products and methods) to raise healthy, happy families. ♥