Parenting is one of the most essential and timeless human activities, and yet the variety of parenting models and theories are shifting and changing at dizzying speeds. We all want what is best for our children but how do we decide which parental style is the perfect match for our children? Should we be authoritarian, permissive, or authoritative? How should we deal with issues of discipline and technology? As every parent searches for the best way to nurture a well-adjusted and loving child, he or she should consider carefully the benefits of attachment parenting.
The Tenets of Attachment Parenting
Much of today’s principles of attachment parenting originate in pediatrician Dr. William Sears’ extensive parenting guide, The Baby Book. Much of Dr. Sears’ advice and theory in that 767-page work boils down to a fundamental concept: the more time a child spends in his mother’s arms, the better adjusted he will turn out to be. This concept becomes 3 basic tenets in practice: breastfeeding, “baby-wearing,” and co-sleeping.
How Attachment Parenting Tenets Are Applied
Exclusively breastfeeding an infant and continuing to breastfeed into toddlerhood provides perfectly balanced nutrition to a baby and requires constant physical interaction and bonding between mother and child. By wearing a baby in a sling or front pack, the mother is literally attached to her child throughout the course of the day, even when she is not nursing the infant. And co-sleeping, by either inviting a child into the parents’ bed or pulling an infant’s bassinette up to the side of the bed, extends that prolonged physical contact with parents into the nighttime.
Some Problems in Practicing Attachment Parenting
Although the emotional bond established between mother and child in attachment parenting is deeply fulfilling, this theory can be physically challenging in practice. Many mothers and fathers may feel torn by pragmatic concerns, such as household chores, caring for other children, or commitments to work or community. Others may feel judged or criticized by friends and family for a seemingly radical parenting approach.
Detractors Call it Misogyny in Disguise
Some detractors have labeled attachment parenting as misogynistic, tearing women from the workplace and forcing them into 1950s stereotype. Many critics of attachment parenting point to seeming fanatics who take part or all of this parenting theory to the extreme, such as a recent cover story about breast-fed preschoolers and kindergartners. Others suggest that attachment extremists propose that any time a child is not in immediate physical contact with a parent he or she is doomed to lifelong negative consequences.
One Size Does Not Fit All
There is no perfect parenting theory for all situations. Each family—each parent and child relationship—is unique, and we must use trial and error to find what works. Evaluate your core values; consider the needs of your family and your child. If establishing an emotional bond through constant physical intimacy is important to you and your family, then modify the tenets to work for your personal situation.
This guest post was written by a proud father, Peter Wendt. He is always looking for ways to bring his family closer together. Although he eventually opted against a strict Attachment Parenting style, Wendt still supports and utilizes some of the parenting model’s strategies. With the help of his family’s pediatrician, Dr. Peter Kangos, the Wendt family was able to adapt their own parenting model to perfectly fit their kids.