Friday, December 18, 2009

Attachment parening

So I often feel like I have to justify my decision to use attachment parenting(AP) to those around me. In that light I have decided to explain a little bit about it so that people can at least understand (if not accept) my decision.
There are eight basic principles in AP. They are
  1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
  2. Feed with Love and Respect
  3. Respond with Sensitivity
  4. Use Nurturing Touch
  5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
  6. Provide Consistent Loving Care
  7. Practice Positive Discipline
  8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
This seems like a rather broad description. Most people interpret it in their own way, but a lot (read me) take it to mean :

1. Don't drink, smoke, eat unhealthfully while pregnant. Take childbirth/parenting classes.
2.Breastfeed if possible, on demand preferably.
3. If your baby needs something, figure it out. DO NOT let them cry it out. Be sensitive to the fact that you are your baby's sole source for everything. Learn your baby's different cries and respond in a way that is natural and instinctual.
4. Ensure adequate skin to skin time, adding in plenty of hug and cuddle time. This can be accomplished with breastfeeding, baby massage and baby wearing.
5. Many, MANY people who practice AP cosleep, or at least sleep in the same room as their baby. It is important to respond to what works best for your baby. If that is sleeping in a crib, then fine. If that is sleeping snuggled with mommy, that's fine too.
6. Number 6 is pretty self explanatory, emphasis on the consistent part. Baby's like ritual.
7. No spanking, yelling, ect. Discipline should be a natural and logical consequence of the behavior, not controlling and illogical.
8. Number 8 can have a lot of meanings, and is actually the one I struggle with the most.

To me the most important thing about AP is that you do what feels right. If letting your child scream at the top of his lungs in a crib in another room away from you feels right, be my guest. But no matter how much you tell me my life will be better if I also let him "cry it out", it doesn't feel right to me. I shouldn't be made to feel guilty for doing what feels natural and good. When we have a bad night and Z doesn't sleep well, and I complain, this is not an invitation to say "I told you so". Not only is this not constructive, it doesn't serve any purpose. Even babies who sleep in a crib have bad nights.
Babywearing is one of the best choices I have ever made with Z. He cries less, learns more, and my back is much less sore. Someone told me "You'll spoil him if you put him in that too much." I disagree. He is happy, I'm happy so where is the spoiling? When he is older he'll be off running around and won't want me to hold him, and I don't want to regret missing out on time when we both would have been happier with him in my arms (or sling!)

Like I have said before the thing I struggle most with is balance in my life. I do think that I need more time to myself, but our lives are a work in progress, an unfinished mosaic of happy times, sad times and I cherish every moment because it is with the two loves of my life.
I am starting to let Z and Elliot find their own way together, their own dynamic. It is important for them to have a relationship that doesn't include me for many reasons, not the least of which is their future interactions should I die. I want them to find a relationship with one another that works for both of them, and to do that I have to remove myself from the picture from time to time.

Even though we are a work in progress, I am very tired of people judging the way I raise my son and live my life, and it's only been 6 months! I have made a pact to stop judging others in the hopes that they will do the same. Because no one knows what it is like to be me- to live in my shoes and with my family.
Whew! That was a bit of a rant and probably not intended for the people who are reading this blog. Anyhow, back to AP.
That is a link to a list of benefits of AP.

  • is more trusting
  • feels more competent
  • grows better
  • feels right, acts right
  • is better organized
  • learns language more easily
  • establishes healthy independence
  • learns intimacy
  • learns to give and receive love
  • become more confident
  • are more sensitive
  • can read baby's cues
  • respond intuitively
  • flow with baby's temperament
  • find discipline easier
  • become keen observers
  • know baby's competencies and preferences
  • know which advice to take and which to disregard
Parents and baby experience:
  • mutual sensitivity
  • mutual giving
  • mutual shaping of behavior
  • mutual trust
  • feelings of connectedness
  • more flexibility
  • more lively interactions
  • brings out the best in each other
The opponents of AP cite the amount of work and energy this type of parenting takes as one of it's biggest flaws. To be honest, if I wasn't prepared to give all of myself 100% to someone else, I wouldn't have had a baby. I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I welcome it and I would give everything I had if I thought it would make Z's life even a little better. To me there is nothing more rewarding than being tired at the end of the day because I have done my best, given it my all and played with and held Z as much as he needed.
Another thing many people ask is "How do the kids turn out?" Here is a site that gives some info
Granted this is just observational evidence, and not empirical data based on a double blind study, but it makes sense since kids mirror and mimic what adults around them do. The kids who are raise with AP tend to be more caring, sensitive, connected, confident, intelligent children. I am happy with my choice and the way my life is. I just wanted everyone to understand why I made the choice to parent Z the way I do and let them know that it is well thought out and researched. I have not meant this post to be offensive to anyone, and truly feel that each parent has to do what feels right for them, so if you raise(d) your kids differently and it works for you, great job! This is what works for us and we love it! :)


  1. regan this is pretty awesome. i've been studying a LOT about attachment theory and whatnot in my master's classes this semester and what you're doing is something i think more people should do. i am constantly BLOWN away by research, studies, and my own observations of how the littlest things affect children over the course of their lives, and what happens from 0-5 is SO important. good for you, and don't worry about what other people think. it's your kid. :)

  2. ps that comment was from me. dunno why it was listed as anonymous!