If I had to tick boxes to categorise myself as a parent type, I’m almost certain I would fall under the ‘Attachment Parenting’ label. I hate labels, and the ‘Attachment Parenting’ label is one that baffles me – mostly because more often than not it is portrayed by the media negatively, or as controversial. Over and over again I’ve seen articles that state: “Attachment parents believe they should be with the child as much as possible” (Gosh, didn’t realise this was a bad thing? I actually quite like being with my children) and “Attachment parents could be doing more harm than good as they fulfil their child’s every need” (I can see where they are coming from – but really?)
I belong to an Attachment Parenting group on Facebook and I asked the lovely ladies and gents on there what their core beliefs were as ‘Attachment Parents’. Here they are:
- lots of communication
- reading together
- listening to them
- working hard to meet their needs
- understanding what your child doesn’t understand
- keeping them close and safe
- not using power or control methods
- not using manipulation techniques
- respecting they are independent and capable
- being responsive and respectful
- using intuition
- showing patience and comfort
- being mindful and aware
- being open to new or different ways of doing things
- being an informed parent
- going against your initial instinct and instead acting with patience and love
- treat them as you would like to be treated
Isn’t it strange that this ‘type of parenting’ requires a name? Showing patience and comfort, listening to them, cuddling – how on earth could any of those things be seen as controversial or a bad thing? To me it sounds like the type of parent most of us strive to become – more patient, more intuitive and open to new ways of doing things. I know consistency is key when bringing up children, but I am more than happy to admit when I could have handled something differently, and apologise to my two year old. I am already so different with our second and seem to have slowly drifted away from traditional techniques.
There is also the practical side of ‘Attachment Parenting’ which it seems I unintentionally subscribe to, not because I’m worried my children won’t connect with me, but because it just happened that way.
- I ‘baby wear’ a lot because it’s practical, I have two hands free and makes my life a whole lot easier, not because I’m scared by child won’t sufficiently bond with me if I don’t. I also use the buggy a lot. It just depends what is most practical at the time. I wish I’d worn Winston more when he was a baby. It would have made my life so much easier!
- Sometimes we ‘co-sleep’, sometimes we don’t. We just go with the flow on this one.
- I breastfeed because of the health benefits and because it works for our family, not because I’m worried my child won’t bond with me if I do otherwise.
- I try so hard to always respond calmly, with patience and with love but when I’m tired, fed up and ratty it can go terribly wrong. Horrendously wrong!
I feel like the beliefs of attachment parents can enable parents to steer away from competitive parenting, as they go with what they feel is right, rather than what others are doing. It can be difficult to parent your child exactly how you wish when you are surrounded by other parents of differing values. Jared and I tweak here and there, and are happy to grab any parenting advice with four hands!
It really does not matter what parenting technique we have, and we certainly should never label ourselves – every parent will take bits from their past experience, current experience, books, online forums, advice from family and friends to create a parenting technique that is right for them and their family. It’s about what is comfortable for each of us.
…and of course there are days (and lots of them) when we all wonder whether we are doing things right, as everything seems to be going wrong!