It’s important to remember that the relationships established and maintained through Attachment Parenting are healthy parent-child relationships; any relationship based on secure attachment is healthy, but it can seem to require more energy than a relationship developed out of unhealthy patterns.
A common misconception of Attachment Parenting is that it is time-consuming and a child-centered approach that neglects the needs of the parent. In fact, Attachment Parenting may be different, sometimes very different, from other approaches to childrearing, but the level of difficulty is a matter of subjectivity.
Providing for a child’s emotional, as well as physical, needs requires time and energy as any healthy relationship does. The difference between a parent-child relationship and an adult-adult relationship, such as marriage, is that the child is at a dissimilar developmental stage and is psychologically unable to provide equal relationship give-and-take.
For this reason, Attachment Parenting can seem more intense than other parenting approaches.
Attachment Parenting May Be Different, but Not Necessarily Difficult
Most parents who incorporate attachment-orientation into their parenting style comment that Attachment Parenting actually makes their lives smoother: Attachment Parenting requires more time and energy than other parenting approaches during the infant stage, or the initial period of time if this approach is introduced to an older child, but the results are actually an easier relationship long-term because the parent and child are cooperating rather than engaging in power struggles.
Even with infants, many families report more sleep and less crying – without sacrificing a parent’s sense of satisfaction – with breastfeeding, baby-wearing, and co-sleeping. When it comes to a parent’s happiness, the role that parenting plays is a matter of subjectivity as well: attachment-minded parents are happy to give their children more attention than not, whereas parents of other parenting approaches may argue that a child seeking attention is being manipulative. Attachment-minded parents simply do not view children, or their choices, in this way.
There is a wide spectrum of what Attachment Parenting looks like within each family. Attachment Parenting International encourages parents to embrace all of the tools, but there is no one way to apply the attachment concept. Parents are advised to “take what works and leave the rest,” meaning that not every attachment-minded family must choose all of the parenting practices.
For example, some families may prefer home births and midwives; others, birthing centers or hospitals and obstetricians. Most families strive to breastfeed, but there are fortunately alternatives when this option cannot happen. Many families enjoy baby-wearing, and others would rather forgo the sling. A lot of families fight for the right to co-sleep, but for others, other sleeping arrangements work best.
Many families prefer to have one parent at home full time, but others rely on Attachment Parenting as beneficial family supports when both parents are employed full time. Some families are more structured than others.
What differentiates Attachment Parenting from other childrearing approaches is the parent’s desire to treat children with equal dignity, love, and respect as he or she would afford an adult. To put this in everyday terms, parents treat their children as they would a new coworker or employee, a new member of their church or community club, or their friends and adult family members – they would come from a place of great compassion, forgiveness, and patience as the child is learning about their place in the world.
There are some parenting choices that Attachment Parenting International does not take a stance on. Vaccinating, cloth diapering, circumcising, educational choices, elimination communication, and others are often quoted by some parents as part and parcel to Attachment Parenting. Attachment Parenting itself is not a checklist of practices, but encompasses parenting that promotes and is most likely to positively influence the parent-child attachment quality.
Ways to Incorporate the Benefits of Attachment Parenting
Attachment Parenting practices can be incorporated by any parent. Here are 10 ideas to incorporate more attachment-minded principles into your home life:
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Last reviewed: 17 Jun 2012