Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do I Attachment Parent?

What a loaded question that is.  Dr. William Sears most recently made popular the term "attachment parenting". In his books Dr. Sears encourages 6 areas that make up attachment parenting. 1. Respond to Your Baby's Cries 2. Breastfeed Your baby 3. Wear Your Baby 4. Play with Your Baby 5. Share Sleep with Your Baby 6. Become a Facilitator.

I didn't discover the term "attachment parenting" (AP) until my 1st child was pushing a year old. It was in one of Dr. Sear's books that I discovered the term. It was actually his book The Discipline Book.  I was looking for a book with suggestions for toddler troublemaking that was geared for kids as young as toddlers, without spanking or other physical punishments. The book was great for me because it encouraged me. There were other people like me out there and what I was already doing worked for someone.

What I had been doing seemed, to me, like common sense. Though, since then, someone has actually written a book entitled Common Sense Parenting.  Attachment parenting gurus say what I was doing was following my gut or instinct.

Of course I responded to my baby's cries, why would I ignore her. I was always taught ignoring people was rude. Listening to my helpless baby cry, ignoring her, seemed downright cruel. I never ignored her. 

Breastfeeding was a whole different animal. It was a lot harder than it seemed. We had issues and I learned that pediatricians aren't experts on the subject.  It isn't so hard when you have the knowledge and preparedness.  I went on to breastfeed my next 5 children.  My 1st was not breastfed though.  That does not mean she wasn't held, cuddled and loved when I was feeding her.  I was completely shocked by the number of people that propped their child's bottle.  Feeding time was a great excuse to sit and cuddle her.  Why would I pass up the oppurtunity to spend undivided attention with her.  Bottle propping didn't even seem that safe to me.

Babywearing to me just makes sense.  Who wouldn't want to have their hands free yet still be able to snuggle with baby and keep them close.  When my babies ever sit in a stroller now I feel like they are so far away and end up checking on them so frequently or stopping to talk to them.  In the carrier it is easy to talk to them all the time.  I did not do that very long with my first because we had a modern type of carrier, like a Snugli.  She didn't fit in that very long.  It wasn't even that quick, easy, or comfortable to use.  I didn't use it often.  I always picked her up first when she cried, then I figured out what she needed.  She was still carried a lot, it just wasn't easy or hands free.  Since she was my first it wasn't as much a necesity to have my hands free though.  Now I have baby carriers that can easily carry my toddler even. 

Who else will the baby play with if not me?  What would the baby do all day if we didn't play?  How would the baby learn if the baby doesn't play.  I would think baby would even be fussy from boredom if baby wasn't played with.  Again, playing with baby seems like a natural thing you just do.

Sharing sleep with your baby, to me, is the lazy way of sleeping.  Who wants to wake up when baby is loud enough to have woken you up over a monitor or from another room.  Baby is now wide awake, you are now wide awake.  Then who wants to get out of bed at 2 am.  I happen to like my sleep, I am lazy at 2 am.  I cosleep because I don't want to get out of bed at any hour of the night.  I cosleep because I don't want to have to worry about how long my baby was crying alone in the dark before I woke up.  I guess I should also admit that cosleeping has made me a little paranoid.  Now when there is a storm I worry about my kids being so far away if I needed to get to them.  What if there was a fire and baby, who can't walk or talk, was stuck in a crib down the hall so she couldn't even get under the smoke.  I end up sleeping better knowing where they are and that they are safe.

A facilitator is a necesity to help a baby grow.  It helps a toddler overcome frustration.  It helps a child learn the ways of the world.  It encourages better behavior.  It is something we automatically do when we talk about what we are doing to the baby.  It is natural to explain why a toddler should or should not do something.  It is helpful to put a toddler's feelings into words.  It is setting a good example for our children.  Besides, facilitating gives me something to talk about and talking is what keeps me from losing my mind  (I know that's been the big question on everyone's mind).

I had been doing these things all along.  I just didn't know they were called "attachment parenting".  I didn't set off to "attachment parent" but I guess I did anyway.  In my mind I was parenting the way I knew.  We did not have a lot of rules growing up but the few things I remember is we were never allowed to hit or use the word "hate".  The rest of the rules depended on the circumstances of each situation.  It truly was a gentle household unless you count the sibling fighting.  I just couldn't purposely hit someone after a lifetime of hitting being wrong.  In my house there is no only 1 hard and fast rule.  Be respectful.  That means no hitting and no name calling.  Does the church not say to love others as God loves us?

Does attachment parenting raise obediant children?  Probably not entirely, though my children listen to my requests out of respect, just as I did my parents.  What attachment parenting does raise is loving children.  My children are empathetic to others.  My own children can't stand to listen to a baby cry.  If I have to use the bathroom and the baby cries while I am gone a couple sets of hands come to her rescue.  It is hard to explain to a preschooler why another baby is crying through the grocery store in the infant carseat, though, because I can't think of a good reason to give them.  I loved my parents and the biggest reason I didn't do some things (not that I was a perfect teenager) was not a fear of punishment but a fear of dissappointing them.  Today some of my children are so sensitive to this that we have to be very careful when we correct them.

When I started "attachment parenting" this is what it was, it was newer to popularity so Dr. Sear's version was what everyone meant when they said "attachment parenting".  Over the 15 years, since then, the term has changed.  There have been extreme versions of attachment parenting.  Attachment parenting is sometimes mixed up with natural parenting.  To me attachment parenting is just listening to and responding to what our children need.  This does not mean what our children want, but what they need.  This can be different for every child.  Dr. Sears explains the principals well while also making it clear that you do not have to use them all but instead use what works for your child.  This is the reason why I have stuck with Dr. Sears and not all the new attachment parenting books. 

If this is attachment parenting then yes I attachment parent, though I'd probably refer to it more as instinctual parenting.


  1. Well done... My youngest is almost 23 and I was an attachment parent way before I had ever heard the term. I have a Dr Sears Nojo sling 22 years ago.... long before baby wearing was common place.

  2. My babies are still in the "family bed"... I'll send them over to you for a while and you can take care of that for me :-)

  3. I'm in the same boat as you - I've raised my DD the same way because it seems natural to me. (don't get me started on how I almost lost my mind when a family member started lecturing my newborn "You need to wait to eat, your mommy needs time for herself too") I believe that my job as a parent is to make life comfortable and safe for my child, not vice versa. But I guess I like to view myself as a bt of a non-conformist as I tend to shy from any of the "lifestyle club" labels, but a rose by any other name, right? I suppose I'll have to say yes, I attachment parent.