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Before I start, let me make the disclaimer that this is not about which parenting style is best or better, let alone how any one family should parent. I will not be making any judgements on other people’s parenting choices, instead choosing to believe that people make the choices they make of their own volition. Some people choose to research various parenting options, some people just wing it, some people blend many different ideas about parenting together in any singular situation. All in all, most every parent hopes to do what’s best for their child/ren, at any given moment in time. Most all parents don’t desire to hurt their children or cause them undue stress, pain, heartache, trauma at any point in their child’s life. I also say most, because unfortunately, I have seen and experienced awful things parents/caretakers have done to children. Arguments can be made regarding those situations, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Honestly, I choose the label ‘attachment parenting’ because sometimes it’s just easier in conversation with others (yes, family is included here) for there to be a term, label if you will, for the decisions we make with our child. Does that mean I am or am not an ‘attachment parent’? I don’t know, that’s for someone else to decide. If I could have it my way, there’d be no label other than parent.
As if parenting isn’t tough enough in its own right, as parents new or old, we are judged in our parenting choices. I won’t go into some of the parenting choices that parents make prior to the birth of their child/ren today. I do though, want to discuss this idea of attachment parenting, or natural parenting as it’s sometimes called and how in our family many of the principles are also our personal ideals.
Attachment Parenting as defined by Attachment Parenting International is: “forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children”. There are 8 principles of Attachment Parenting, listed here, along with a synopsis of each principle. None of these principles, nor any information contained on Attachment Parenting International’s website states that in order to be an attachment parent one Must follow All of the principles, unyieldingly. Despite this, there are people out there who will judge other parents based on their choices, whether they follow any or none of the Attachment Parenting principles. To this end, a quick search of the web will uncover many topics, discussions, books, and yes judgements about attachment parenting. Some are for it, some are against it, some don’t understand it, some have suffered, and some have thrived. No matter what, someone has something to say about someone else’s parenting sytle.
Where are we on this pendulum of information? Not in any one spot all the time. We simply choose what works for us. Sometimes that means I get frustrated with our son and put him down in another room until I get it together again (mere minutes people, calm down). Sometimes I can’t wait for my hun to get home so I can pass him our child for a little while. Sometimes I wear him around the house and outside, sometimes he’s in the jogger outside. In other words, things are different every day and no similar situation is handled the same each time either. In my opinion, all of this is simply parenting. Simply put, I am a human before I am a parent. This means that I have faults and I make mistakes, sometimes I have moments I want to take back, other times I applaud myself.
Our take on the principles of Attachment Parenting:
1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting – For us, we made informed decisions about our pregnancy care and birth experience. Much of our decision-making was influenced by our beliefs, but there’s great evidence-based information out there for the taking.
2. Feed with Love and Respect – We chose breastfeeding exclusively and, once again, did the research on what this meant and located resources that may prove helpful if we needed them. Typically, I try to stop what I’m doing to take the time to feed our son. If I don’t stop completely, then at the very least I give him some time before continuing with my tasks, if need be.
3. Respond with Sensitivity – My general rule of thumb, is to keep him near and provide for his needs. Most of the time, I know that whatever it is he’s doing is because it is a need he has right.that.minute, thereby making it a tad easier to let be.
4. Use Nurturing Touch – Always we touch his softly and lovingly. When he’s upset we hold him, rock him, say gentle words or sing silly made up right that minute songs to help soothe him.
5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally – Again, we did our research about safe sleeping and chose to family bed. This is what works for us for many reasons and we have none of the risk factors regarding such a sleeping arrangement.
6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care – See above ‘respond with sensitivity’ and ‘nurturing touch’.
7. Practice Positive Discipline – As it stands, since he’s only 3 months old, we don’t have any “formal” discipline in place. We do talk to him as if he were older and let him know what’s ok and what’s not, as we believe essentially that babies are smaller adults with the ability to learn, think, etc.
8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life – And this is where it all comes together. This is the principle that “allows” us to parent as we see fit at any given moment, no expectations, just what works for us and the decisions we make.
There are some days in which all seems right in the world when it comes to parenting and other days in which I just want to curl up in a ball. Either way, I do the best I can at any given moment in time. As our son grows and subsequently, we continue to grow into this role of parenting, things will change. As it stands, we breastfeed exclusively on his schedule not mine, babywear in public and sometimes at home, have a family bed, cloth diaper, choose not to vaccinate, include him in all things, do our best to eat only real foods, and overall simply do what we think and feel are “right”. We are doing little that’s even a tad similar to how other children in our extended families are being raised. So, see, it’s really very simple – we live our life and leave the others’ lives up to them, no labels needed.
What are your views on Attachment Parenting? Do you use another parenting style? How do you feel about judgements people make upon others and their parenting style?