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Attachment Parenting

March 15, 2012


You may have heard the term Attachment Parenting thrown around here and there. You might know what it means already but I have to tell you (for the ones that don't know) that's it's a pretty interesting point of view on how to raise your child. Attachment Parenting was created by Dr. William Sears to help mothers bond with their babies and stay connected. His theory is that there are eight principles to parenting. Here they 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

In other words, Attachment Parenting strives for a natural birth, skin to skin contact with your baby immediately following delivery, breast feeding, co-sleeping or sleeping close by, keeping your child in a sling most of the time, and a gentle approach when it comes to discipline. His theory suggests that the child's emotional and physical needs be met almost immediately forming a secure attachment and bond.

So what is the down side of Attachment Parenting? While this theory may work for some parents, others are use to a more traditional approach and argue this round the clock parenting isn't necessary. Since there isn't enough evidence to support Sear's theory, many people argue that Attachment Parenting isn't the correct way to form a bond with their child. Not only that, many people believe that co-sleeping is dangerous and should be avoided completely. As many of you know, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly urges parents to not co-sleep due to an increase in SIDS.

How do I feel about Attachment Parenting? While I think some of these principles are correct, I feel that this theory is a little too strict in my opinion. I think as a mother we know what's best for our child. When they are hungry, we know because we feed them. When they need to be soothed, we rock them. When they have a problem, we address it. I for one think that a child should never co-sleep with their parent especially when they are infants. There also needs to be a separation from parent to child so a child can gain independence and self esteem. My problem with Attachment Parenting is that if you are constantly at your child's every beck and call, it doesn't give the child enough space to thrive and grow. Not only do I think it isn't healthy for the child, I think it's unhealthy for your relationship with your spouse. Yes, I'm a big believer in breast feeding and skin to skin contact. I am also the type of parent that likes to have their newborns close by when they sleep. Many of these parents who live by these rules don't have a cut off on age for co-sleeping which means their child or children are still in bed with them! If we try to constantly protect our children by keeping them by our side at all times, how do we let these children "go" when it comes time for school or social settings?

How do you feel about Attachment Parenting?



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by Jessica G


Linda on 03/15/2012
Reactive Attachment Disorder is the most severe childhood psychiatric disorder(not to mention rare) and is ONLY linked to severe abuse and/or neglect and NEVER to any step, theory, or belief that is a part of Dr. Sears Attachment Theory. You included a Wikepedia link that clearly described this disorder (though a more detailed and clinical one may be found in the DSM if you need it) and it's root causes and there was nary a mention of Attachment Theory as a potential cause for RAD, with the exception of mentioning it as a POSITIVE intervention strategy/treatment for children that suffer from this disorder. As a licensed psychotherapist (and mom) I feel that your blog is clear that you are not in favor of Dr. Sear's theory and it is your right to have this opinion, (I would never tell another mom how to parent unless asked my opinion in a professional context) however it is incredibly irresponsible to link the attachment style of parenting to a severe (and rare) psychiatric disorder to which it is is in no way related, regardless of how negatively you may feel towards "Attachment Parenting". Also, there are no shortages of studies that support both the pros and cons of this style parenting so I am not at all sure why you state that there is not enough evidence to support his theory because there is certainly enough written about it in scholarly publications.

Jessica on 03/16/2012
Linda, while I understand your concerns regarding Reactive Attachment Disorder, I did state there "could be" a negative result. What I really would like to know is how the children that were raised on this theory are today. I don't see any evidence that this idea is the ideal way to raise a child. In my own opinion, I don't feel it's healthy for the child or the parent but again, it's just my opinion.

Jessica on 03/17/2012
Since this topic is touchy, I've decided to reformat my post.

Jake on 07/02/2013
The books by Drs Sears are awesome. The thing to reemmber, though, and that Dr Sears has tried to make a point of in recent years, is that the most important thing is that parents baby family are all doing what makes them feel comfortable, happy right. Don't get too wrapped up in trying to do *everything* that sits under the attachment parenting' umbrella. Attachment parenting is about creating a strong trust bond with your child, not following a set of instructions. The ideas presented in any attachment parenting book or website are just ways that some people have used to help create that all-important bond. And, you'll find, if you follow your heart, most of the ideas presented are pretty much what you'd do, anyway, whether it was AP' or not. What I love best about the Sears books, myself, is the one anecdote that they told about their older son, hearing their baby crying going in to comfort it on his own. I love that the AP ideas that they used to raise him made him confident caring enough to naturally want to use them himself. Was this answer helpful?

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