Parenting Styles: Attachment Parenting
Posted on: September 6, 2019.

This article informs you what Attachment Parenting (AP) is, how it came to be, its typical characteristics, the various experiences shared by mothers about AP, and the view and opinions on the pros and cons of this style of parenting, shared by mothers of different geographies and occupations…

It was in the 1980s that a healthcare industry couple, Mr. William Sears, a paediatrician, and his wife, a registered nurse, co-developed “Attachment Parenting” based on the principle that a child would, inarguably, benefit from loving parental interaction. The Attachment Parenting Book authored by Mr. Sears, states: “Babies who are deprived of secure attachment do not grow well. They seem sad. It’s as if they’ve lost their joy of living.”

Modern life, misguided experts, and selfishness. These three strong influencers result in children getting emotionally detached from their parents. Thus, attachment needs to be consciously—and conscientiously—rebuilt by the parents. Contrastingly, being “caring and empathetic” were typical characteristics noted in children reared in the AP style of parenting.

Attachment is, “a special bond… the mother feels complete only when she is with her baby”. Parents and children can develop a nurturing connection with each other, and that is the focus of AP. It is essential for children to be raised feeling secure, independent, and emphatic, and the ideal way to do this is nurturing connection. This, furthermore, also forms the basis for secure relationships and independence as adults.

Characteristic practices in AP typically includes “baby-wearing” (carrying your baby in a sling or holding them as much as possible), “co-sleeping” (sharing the parental bed with your baby), and always responding to your baby’s cry, no matter how tired you are.

Following are the “7 Baby B’s” put forward by Mr. Sears:

  1. Birth Bonding: For adopted children, foster kids, and infants in intensive care to learn to form healthy relationships as adults later in life, bonding with them at birth is indispensable.
  2. Breastfeeding: Benefits both mother and baby, by producing increased levels of the mother’s “bonding” hormones, prolactin and oxytocin.
  3. Bedding close to baby: With co-bedding or parental bed-sharing, parents comfort and emotionally soothe the child during the night. However, the American Academy of Paediatrics currently advises against this, as it may increase the risk of a terrible syndrome called SIDS.
  4. Belief in the language-value of your baby’s cry: Strongly advises parents to not let babies “cry it out”, but rather, respond parentally to their babies’ cries.
  5. Beware of Baby Training: Discredits “convenience” parenting, which puts a parent’s ease and convenience above an infant’s feeding cues or emotional bonding needs.
  6. Balance: Strongly advices parents to balance parenting, marriage, and their own health and emotional needs.

McHale, a full-time mother, discovered attachment parenting in 2007, when her first daughter was born. “She wouldn’t go down [to sleep] and I researched baby-wearing and found it soothed her.”

Julie, Sylvie and Martha are members of an AP group in north London, whose loving bond with their babies is obvious. For Martha, who did not have a close relationship with her parents, AP helped form attachments with other people. For Julie, who co-sleeps with her eight-month-old son, it was because she likes hearing him breathe and knowing he’s safe. For Sylvie, it was simply because the alternative was undesirable to her.

For Dr. Amy Tuteur, obstetrician-gynaecologist and a mother of four, “There is nothing wrong with wanting to be around your children. But there is something very wrong with making your children your identity. That is not healthy for anyone, and it appears we are raising a generation that is helpless—‘their mother did everything for them, because that was her identity’.”

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