Sigh. Have you seen the latest Time Magazine’s coverage of the Attachment Parenting Movement? I just about spit out my cereal when I saw the cover.
Having a background in print journalism, I understand a publication’s temptation to sensationalize a story, but even I couldn’t have fathomed such a cover. It’s not so much that she’s breastfeeding, but the way it’s portrayed — very disrespectful not only to her but all breastfeeding mothers and all mothers who now question whether they’re “enough.” And many of the articles going into the package featuring attachment parenting, as well as the parenting examples they pulled from, are just as judgmental.
This is not what parenting with attachment is about. It’s not about having petty differences over specific parenting techniques. Breastfeeding toddlers versus not. Natural birth versus not. Homeschooling versus not. Not vaccinating, not circumcising, cloth diapering. None of that matters. Really, truly. It is not a requirement of parenting with attachment.
Certainly, the point of the Time Magazine package is to provide an overview of “extreme parenting,” but attachment parenting doesn’t have to be extreme. It can be mainstream parenting. Soccer moms and working parents and women who started out motherhood with a C-section can do it.
What attachment parenting is not – it’s not punishing and shaming and ignoring your baby and child. It’s lovingly and consistently interacting positively with your child, even in difficult moments. It’s understanding child development and adjusting your expectations, and to parent according to your child’s unique temperament and your own unique temperament, and not out of anger and frustration and desire to control and coerce but out of recognition that it’s influence over time that matters.
It’s parenting out of trust and empathy and compassion.
It doesn’t mean that you don’t discipline your child – of course you do! But it’s through example and loving discipline, modeling positive conflict resolution skills that you want them to emulate, because no matter how many times you tell your child that hitting or yelling is wrong but you do it yourself, your actions speak way louder than words.
And it’s enjoying your children – not in a “heal yourself through them” kind of way, but in a “we’ve built up this loving, trusting relationship” kind of way.
And it’s not just for babies and toddlers, either. The influence you have on your child only grows with time, not lessens.
Don’t get distracted by all the talk of extreme attachment parenting. Parenting with attachment is for everyone. Extreme attachment parenting works for those parents who choose it, of course, but it’s not for everyone, either. You can be an average parent and still creating loving, lasting, positive attachment bonds with your children.