Parenting with attachment, whichever label you choose to use (I use Attachment Parenting), comes in all shades. Just because some parents use techniques that you wouldn’t necessarily use doesn’t mean that they aren’t creating a secure parent-child attachment.
The truth is, the majority of parents do at least a little attachment parenting already. They just don’t call it that. Parenting advice, for the most part, is slowly evolving to include more attachment-minded principles.
For example, years ago, the mantra for caring for babies was scheduled feedings, cry-it-out sleep training, and warnings that holding a baby too much would spoil him. It’s well accepted now that babies should be fed when they’re hungry, it’s OK if you want to hold your baby, and even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rooming in with baby so that parents can attend to them quickly.
These are all ways parents use attachment parenting without even thinking about it!
And if you do think about it, parents naturally gravitate toward attachment-minded childrearing. That’s what relationships are – attachment-based. And certainly a parent and a child are in a relationship. Attachment is the glue that holds any and every healthy relationship together, so if you’re striving to have a positive, emotionally healthy relationship with your child, you’re parenting with attachment.
The flip side of the coin – the “glue” that holds unhealthy relationships together is obligation or fear. There are some parenting philosophies that advocate that children should obey their parents for the sake of obedience. That they’re obligated. Or that it’s good that children fear their parents. But children are naturally inclined to draw close to their parents emotionally – they are wired to seek approval and acceptance.
Attachment-minded parenting brings up children who are motivated to make good, loving choices because they care about their parents and because they trust their parents. Parents who use obligation and fear as discipline tools for their children bring up children who are motivated by obligation and fear. So what happens when this child enters the world?
Supporters of parenting with obligation and fear say it prepares them for real life. And I suppose that’s true – if we want a world of people who will only care for one another if they’re obligated to or if they’re trying to avoid punishment. Both motivating factors create people who are not caring for others because they truly care, because they are truly compassionate, because they truly empathize. That’s what attachment-minded parenting does.
Parents aren’t necessarily thinking about more peaceful communities of the future, generations from now. Parents want to raise happy, healthy, smart and successful kids. And they want to enjoy their children more and hand out corrections less. Attachment parenting is a way to do both – it IS backed by more than 60 years of research that shows the benefit to children, and it DOES make parenting easier.
Children act out when they feel misunderstood or are confused about expectations or when they have an unmet need. Love begets love.
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Last reviewed: 18 May 2012