Attachment Parenting – the mere mention seems to divide parents. Those that firmly believe in its benefits, and those that think it’s developing a generation of molly-coddled kids who will grow up into prima-donna adults.
It’s a common misconception that this form of parenting (referred to as AP) is the newest parenting ‘fad’ on the block, and means never leaving your child’s side, and spoiling them with every whim or desire. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. AP isn’t actually ‘new’ at all when you consider much of what it promotes (breastfeeding for longer periods, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, not using ‘controlled’ crying) is the ‘norm’ of parenting in other parts of the world. For some reason, it’s the modernised, Western world that seems to be most surprised by these techniques, and it often comes in for some criticism, as do the parents that use them. There are still debates about breastfeeding in public (why?), co-sleeping is a taboo lots of parents don’t want to acknowledge or admit to and baby-wearing (although becoming popular again) often still has ‘hippy’ connotations.
So why the gain in popularity again? Why are parents ‘coming out’ and admitting to using AP techniques? Well, it could be because of the celebrity ‘support’ from the likes of Kourtney Kardashian, Mayim Bailik (Big Bang actress, author and one-time member of the cast of ‘Blossom’ – does anyone else remember that?) and Pink (read more about celebrity APs here) that we feel ready to admit that we pick our babies up when they’re crying (how else are they supposed to express that they need you?), ‘wear’ them in a sling to keep them close, breastfeed (if you could, because let’s face it, it isn’t always as easy as you’re told it is), pop them in bed with you because you want some sleep and cuddles (and what’s wrong with that?) – you might have even had a homebirth! The UK Attachment Parenting website can be found here https://attachmentparenting.co.uk/
So what about those who don’t fit all the criteria? What if the ‘label’ can’t be pinned on you? This is one of the issues with a one size fits all approach, particularly to parenting styles. If you bottle fed, are you automatically not an attachment parent? And as AP is so aligned with bonding to your child, if you don’t ‘wear’ your baby, or they settle in a cot and you prefer not to co-sleep, are you banned from using the term ‘AP’ parent? I don’t think so. As with all of these things, most of us dip in and out of parenting styles for what fits you and your child at the time and we shouldn’t allow anyone to assume that because we only did 9 out of 10 tasks that correctly fit the bill, we’ve failed or are somehow lesser parents – having said that AP is all about building a strong connection and bond with your child from infancy and so of course some of the approaches that AP advocates can boost these.
Ultimately AP is a really nice way of developing your parent/child relationship, and as a ‘gentle’ approach to parenting, be gentle on yourselves too – if 4 out of 5 of the techniques work for you, use them and call yourself an Attachment Parent, or if you tick every single AP ‘box’ but hate using a term to describe your parenting style, don’t adopt it – whatever works for you – that, in essence, is what gentle parenting is about after all.
Find lots more information on AP on the international site here http://www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/principles.php
by Fiona Brown