Attachment Parenting Decoded
By Tiffany Tuazon We have all heard about this new parenting style called attachment parenting. You might have wondered what it actually is. Based on your assumptions about the word attachment, it is easy to misunderstand the root concept of attachment parenting.
Having a store called “an attachment parenting hub,” I often get comments from parents that they cannot practice attachment parenting simply because they have 9 to 5 jobs or that they are serious in disciplining their children. Those comments alone are big misconceptions. But it is fortunate that they voice out their concerns so that I can explain to them exactly what attachment parenting is not.
For Filipino parents, attachment parenting is very natural because most of its beliefs are inherent in our culture. Actually, you might be practicing it already. For those interested in attachment parenting, let me make it easier by giving you a list of what attachment parenting is NOT.
1 It is NOT a checklist of rules to follow. Basically attachment parenting is about the 7 B’s: birth-bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, bedding close to baby, belief that baby’s cries are cues, beware of baby trainers, and balance. So what if you weren’t able to continue your breastfeeding journey? Does it mean you cannot practice attachment parenting anymore? Not at all! Attachment parenting is inclusive. It is not a club nor an exclusive award that you get for ticking off all the B’s. Attachment parenting is merely a guide for you to practice any of the B’s you deem suitable or feasible to your lifestyle.
2 It is NOT just about “attachment.” Although attachment parenting wants you to form a bond with your baby through skin-to-skin contact, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are supposed to be attached to the hip all the time. Attachment parenting believes that giving your children personal time and space to explore and discover things on their own are crucial parts of development. So no, attachment parenting doesn’t encourage you to be a Tiger Mom. Just be there for your baby when they need you without imposing schedules.
3 It is NOT a lazy mom’s excuse. While attachment parenting concepts are easier to execute and live by, compared to sleep and feed scheduling, it still takes a lot of conviction and sacrifice on the part of the parents to be able to practice attachment parenting. Take breastfeeding for instance, it can be deceiving when you see breastfeeding moms take their boob out whenever baby is hungry. However, I don’t know even one single mom who didn’t go through challenges in their breastfeeding journey especially in the early stages. How about babywearing? I salute parents who choose to babywear even when I see multiple caregivers following them around readily available to carry their babies for them. I also admire fathers who are proudly babywearing their babies and toddlers with gusto like rock stars. Well, have you seen mothers babywearing number two while taking care of number one? Look at them and you will know that attachment parenting is not a lazy mother’s excuse.
4 It is NOT about spoiling your child. When sleep and feeding schedules are introduced as parenting tools, some think these are the only way to practice discipline in babies. However, letting a baby cry out his hunger is not just an ineffective discipline tool, it also makes building trust between the child and his parents or caregivers difficult. Attachment parenting teaches us that spending more time together inevitably makes you better attuned to your baby’s cues. You are thus able to attend to his needs before he even cries. This results in a calm and content baby with no trust issues who eventually grows up to be an independent individual. Giving your baby’s basic needs is not spoiling. It’s parenting.
5 It is NOT meant to divide. It is natural for individuals to connect with others who share the same culture and preferences as they do. However, this doesn't give them license to look down on others who don't share their perspective, specially when it comes to raising children.
Whatever your circumstance or chosen situation, remember that attachment parenting is not meant to divide mothers. If you're a parent who believes in attachment parenting, please spread the love and don’t look down on other parents who don’t practice the same parenting style as yours. 6 It is NOT about putting your children first over your marriage. What is the seventh B of attachment parenting? Yes! It’s balance. Balance keeps everything in check. The Lord’s scripture clearly tells us to put our marriage a priority. Attachment parenting does not contradict this important fact. Make sure you and your spouse are on board the commitment to practice attachment parenting and which B's you are comfortable with or not. Maybe after six months of co-sleeping, you prefer to have more privacy in the bedroom. Well, then, go right ahead and do that! Express some milk so that you can take the time off parenting and go out on a date or an out of town trip once in a while. Doing this will make you even better parents.
So while you decide if attachment parenting is for you or not, remember that it isn’t an all or nothing concept. You can choose which concepts you want to follow. You don’t even have to label yourself as such. Do your research and see the benefits what of each B does for you and your baby, and take it from there.
To all pregnant mommas out there, you don’t have to decide now. Talk it over with your husbands. Or you can just wing it when baby comes and do what feels natural for you. Lastly, for parents with babies and toddlers, cheers to us while holding a real glass of red wine, not grape juice! I’m sure you're all doing a great job!
Featured image by Stanley Ong