I would call myself an attachment parent. We as a family do certain things that are often associated with being “AP” – Co-sleeping, breastfeeding, baby-wearing – but over the course of my journey as a parent I have met a lot of others who are also attachment parenting, who do not always do these same things. The families I have met vary wildly in their choices. Some make the decision to home educate, some avoid punishment and rewards, some practice elimination communication. Some have firm boundaries, others prefer a more permissive approach.
These decisions may be a big part of their parenting approach, but they are not necessarily part of being an attachment parent. When I first learned the term attachment parenting and realised that it described what we were doing, I though it was almost like a tick-list of things. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping baby-wearing were all a must, I thought. But then as time went on I found more information and noticed more differences within the families I observed. The Attachment Parenting International principals of parenting are as follows –
Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
Feed with Love and Respect
Respond with Sensitivity
Use Nurturing Touch
Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
Provide Consistent and Loving Care
Practice Positive Discipline
Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
Within these headings, there is a lot of room for flexibility, which is why you will find such differing families, all flying under the label of “attachment parents.” I will be honest here and admit that as much of an attachment parent I may be, my core parenting decisions are based far more firmly within Continuum style parenting, and this influence is what makes my style so different from other AP Mama’s who do not follow this same approach. That doesn’t mean my way is the right way for every family, only that it is right for us and I feel happy that we are making the best choices for us as a family.
For me, the most important aspect of attachment parenting is trusting your child. Forming a bond so strong that you are united in your goals, living together in harmony, able to be honest and fair with your child with regards to your choices, your feelings and your love for them. There is no one right way, our children are all unique little beings and our parenting choices often have to be made on the spur of the moment as situations arise. We have to be creative and open to meeting their needs.
So I want to turn the question back to you. What in your mind does attachment parenting look like? Do you consider yourself an attachment parent and if so, what is it that you feel makes you one? And alternatively, if you always thought you weren’t an AP family because you didn’t “fit” into the criteria, has this article made you realise that you are in fact an attachment parent?
Labels are not necessary in life, and if you don’t feel like defining yourself please don’t feel like you have to!
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