What is attachment parenting, and is it right for you? There are a lot of different philosophies out there about how to raise your children. One of more popular parenting philosophies that’s been publicized in the past few years is attachment parenting. Many people don’t understand exactly what it is. Attachment parenting is when the parents try to form a close, special bond with their children. This strong relationship with their parents is said to help a child develop strong, healthy, secure relationships in the future.
While there are many ways to develop these strong bonds with young children, Attachment Parenting International, a major proponent of this philosophy, has released a list of 8 ideals for attachment parents. It is important to realize that these are something to strive for, not something most people can actually accomplish in their hectic lives. The ideals they give are:
- Preparation for Childbirth. This involves educating yourself so you can be an active participant in your pregnancy and delivery. An active parent should take classes and strive to make important decisions early. A mother should also try to keep stress on the baby low during pregnancy
- Emotional Responsiveness. This is probably the most important philosophy in attachment parenting. It involves being aware of and fulfilling your child’s emotional needs. It stresses comforting your baby when they cry instead of letting them “cry it out” on their own. A parent should develop the ability to interpret and fulfill your child’s needs by spending quality time with them.
- Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not only the most nutritious diet possibly for babies; it also promotes bonding between the mother and child through closeness and also hormonal reactions. Attachment parenting encourages breastfeeding until the mother and the baby are both ready to stop. It also advocates breastfeeding behaviors even if you’re bottle feeding your baby.
- Baby Wearing. Wearing your baby in a sling can have many positive benefits. It allows your child to feel safe and secure, stimulates their neurological development, and helps stabilize their biorhythms. It also brings a sense of closeness between the wearer and the baby.
- Shared Sleep. Sleeping in a bed with the parents can make a child feel safe and secure at night because their needs are being met. If a baby has to cry for a while before a parent arrives, it can shatter their feeling of nighttime security. With co-sleeping, mom is always there to respond to needs immediately. It also make breastfeeding easier and further strengthens that bond.
- Avoiding long separations from your baby. Try not to be away from your baby for too long. This can emotionally damage a child and the bond you have with them. If long absences are unavoidable, try to find one consistent caregiver who will treat your child as you normally would, ensuring continuity of care.
- Positive discipline. Attachment parenting stressed forming a strong bond with your child which helps them to trust you. If they have this trust, you can guide them to make good choices by making them yourselves. You should keep this trust by trying to understand and empathize with your child’s point of view.
- Balance your family life. This involves not only being there for your family, but also being there for yourself. Someone who has a solid support structure and cares for themselves will be better equipped to care for their family as well.
While it times it may be difficult to follow all these ideals, if you strive to reach at least some of them, you will likely have a happy, independent, and well adjusted child.