Long Term Attachment Parenting
By Lisa Poisso
Are AP groups and
ideas a thing of the past now that your little ones are big kids
(or even – gasp! -- teenagers) and you’re no longer
breastfeeding and diapering? Are you an attachment parenting graduate
is not just for babies – and you don’t have to stop
as your kids grow older!
Obviously, you only get one chance
for bonding at birth. Breastfeeding and baby wearing have their
own eras, as well. Those days may be gone, but those strategies
represent fewer than half of the seven
keys of attachment parenting cited by internationally renowned
AP experts Dr. William and Martha Sears.
Think you’re done APing when
your kids reach school age? Think again! Many older children still
want or need to sleep with a parent or sibling. You won’t
be responding to a baby’s cry anymore, but you’ll
always need to keep an open ear to the real messages your kids
fervently wish you would hear. You’ll want to continue to
avoid rigid approaches to parenting and discipline, especially
as your children approach their teen years, when striking a balance
between the parental “no” and “yes!” grabs
center stage once again.
Attachment parenting isn’t simply about breastfeeding and
holding your baby. It’s about trust, respect and deep commitment.
Early patterns of open communication, trust and mutual respect
play a vital role in your child's development all the way through
the teen years. "AP parents trust their children to grow
out of developmental stages naturally, when they are ready,"
Attachment Parenting. "Because children are allowed to
mature at their own pace, they have a secure base from which to
learn about their world. Emotional stability and independence
of both thought and action are possible as they age, because their
childhood needs have been met."
But what about the needs of everyone else in the family? Won't
all this intense attention spoil kids and chain parents to years
of servitude? Don't forget the seventh "Baby B" listed
above: balance. Effective AP families are family-centered, not
child-centered; they take into consideration the needs of everyone
in the family. "It appears that many parents of toddlers,
in their anxiety to be neither negligent nor disrespectful, have
gone overboard in what may seem to be the other direction,"
says researcher Jean Liedloff. The key to building a successful
family life is to include children rather than focusing
on them, avoiding what Liedloff calls "the
unhappy consequences of being child-centered."
So what about all this other stuff?
As you explore AP resources, you'll run into a host of other topics,
some closely related to parenting and others where the connection
is not so clear: cloth diapering, herbal and homeopathic medicine,
whole foods and vegetarianism, homeschooling and more. Many of
these areas could be categorized as "natural family living."
Are these all necessary ingredients of attached parenting? Absolutely
not! Many families who are attracted to attachment parenting are
also interested in natural, holistic lifestyles. However positive
their influence, however, these areas are not irreplaceable components
of an AP repertoire.
The key to successful
attachment parenting is how you and your children relate -- not
how "crunchy granola" your lifestyle may or may not
be. Natural Family Online advocates both attachment parenting
and natural family living, but we recognize that different degrees
of each work best for different families. Take the ideas and strategies
that work for you, leave the rest behind, and build a healthy,
vibrant lifestyle that fits your own family.
learn better, you do better
Parenting skills aren't something you acquire overnight. Parenting
is not a finite skill that you master and then equip in a belt
loop or pocket to whip out when needed. Parenting is a journey,
and attachment parenting is a journey that integrally involves
your children and family in the entire process.
As you learn and grow as a parent, you'll find yourself choosing
new and different paths. When this happens, it's important to
be able to let go of regrets over old choices. Allow yourself
the time to ripen as a parent. When you know better, you do better.
Reach out today and parent anew. Parent freely. Parent with love.
NFO’s Attachment Parenting channel
Lisa Poisso has performed in ballet
and musical theatre, edited magazines, slogged through the world
of corporate communications and run a home-based writing and editing
business while raising a family. A passionate advocate for attachment
parenting and natural family living, she is the founder and publisher
Dallas/Fort Worth’s online resource for AP and natural parenting.
She writes for publications and edits for authors specializing
in the natural family, attachment parenting, vegetarian and parenting