The wiki definition of Attachment Parenting says:
“Attachment parenting (AP) is a parenting philosophy that proposes methods which aim to promote the attachment of parent and infant not only by maximal parental empathy and responsiveness but also by continuous bodily closeness and touch.”
I believe that Attachment Parenting does a disservice to mother.
Pause. I feel the need to state that many moons ago (the time before Facebook and social media) I was an Attachment Parenting International Leader. I went through the process of becoming one (which took me nearly a year to do so) and continued on to lead attachment parenting groups that had over 100 families. I held monthly meetings and family gatherings to build community and create a like-minded tribe. I followed attachment parenting for years. In fact, the basis of how Granola Babies began was through the concept of this same community building.
So, what changed in the last 5-10 years to now being someone that would write a blog post to state that attachment parenting is a disservice to mothers? Observations. Conversations. Life.
As I studied more about supporting mothers (becoming a Childbirth Educator, a Postpartum Doula, a Certified Lactation Educator and a Positive Parenting Educator, among other certifications), as well as running what was the largest natural parenting store in Orange County, and in continuing to teach prenatal and postpartum classes, I’ve seen (and experienced) the results over and over of a mother who forgot herself for the sake of following attachment parenting.
How does attachment parenting not serve the mother well?
Co-sleeping past a time that the mother can’t sleep well herself. The pressure to breastfeed always and at all times. Babywearing to the point that her body hurts (yes, despite having a good carrier) because it’s been hours and hours of carrying a child on her body -- while also trying to be the ideal attachment parenting mom. Feeling the guilt that she should be the only one that cares for her child, hence doesn’t take the much-needed time for herself, such as getting a sitter so that she too can have her vessel filled. Entirely forgetting that balance is also an aspect of, though not nearly as pushed as the other principles, of attachment parenting.
That last part alone is enough to make a new mom feel that no one, other than her, is good enough to care for her child. Should she use someone else she may not be providing “consistent, loving, responsive” care.
Parenting with Attached Theory is different.
While I no longer promote attachment parenting and feel that it can be bad for mothers. I do believe in attachment theory. An important theory that states that a child is born with the innate need to form an attachment to a primary care provider (usually the mother) and that a quality secure attachment is achieved through responsive caring, including physical touch and emotional responsiveness. If the attachment is secure – the child will feel valued and cared for. And in turn will be able to form secure attachments with others. The primary attachments determine the child’s emotional wellness and exploration. Side note, this concept and studies showing the importance of emotional responsiveness in a young child is why my sleep coaching does not include crying-it-out.
Here’s the key difference between attachment parenting and attached theory. This level of emotional and physical responsiveness however do not need to include breastfeeding, co-sleeping and/or babywearing. It doesn’t have to do with any of these. Physical and emotional responsiveness can be equally secured with bonding bottle feeding, sleeping close to parents in the early months (not necessarily co-sleeping) and touching the child in loving ways throughout the day. While things like breastfeeding, co-sleeping and babywearing can also achieve this – the takeaway is that they are NOT the only way to provide a secure attachment to a child.
Attachment parenting would serve mothers better in guiding them through realistic and balancing ways to provide the physical and emotional response to their child, while also reminding them that a child is in fact capable of having that secure attachment with others without it negating from the attachment it has with its mother.