What is Attachment Parenting?

Submitted by Courtney on Sat, 01/30/2010 - 15:21

You’ve seen it, heard about it and read about it: attachment parenting. “Attachment parenting” is a parenting style that, when coupled with an authoritative parenting style, is said to be the best way to parent a child.

Throughout the decades there have been several different theories on what is the best way to raise your child: hug them when they cry, ignore them when they cry. Offer choices, or instruct your child on what to do without explanation. Most recently it is agreed that “attachment parenting” will lead to the most productive and stable children, with their socio-emotional maturity developing properly and their sense of well being coming to fruition.

How it Works

So just what is attachment parenting? Dr William Sears began to use this phrase to describe a set of 8 childhood developmental stages. The easy definition is simply being sensitive to your child’s needs and being emotionally available to them. Should your child bonk their head, fall down, or ask for more food, you are right there to comfort, console, and offer food choices. Ignoring your child’s cries and demands is the opposite of attachment parenting.

The eight principles of attachment parenting are:

  1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
  2. Feed with Love and Respect
  3. Respond with Sensitivity
  4. Use Nurturing Touch
  5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
  6. Provide Consistent Loving Care
  7. Practice Positive Discipline
  8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

Does It Work?

Just as with any theory, however, this one has also been met with controversy and disagreement. Perhaps the biggest case against attachment parenting is that there is no empirical evidence that shows that children raised with these eight guiding principles are more ‘successful’ or ‘better off’ than those who are raised otherwise. Some parents also argue that attachment parenting is OVER-parenting, and fear that this parenting-style will lead to co-dependent children. However, as with the theory itself, there is no conclusive evidence which proves these arguments to be true.

What it comes down to is that you develop a parenting style that works for your child, you, and the rest of your family. No two parents “parent” alike (which for my husband and I has lead to an argument or two) but the ultimate goal of parenting is to do so with love and respect. As long as you hold love and respect in your heart while parenting, you are doing the best for your children.

photo by KS Vignette

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