About attachment parenting

Pols

She says, by @pols80:

I’m writing this in anticipation of the discussion on Attachment Parenting due to take place on ITV 1′s This Morning, starring none other than Katie Hopkins. Now Katie may well surprise us all, but I’d bet my quid that she’s going to go on there and slate the “bonkers Attachment Parenting brigade”. Call it a hunch but I reckon she’s going to make anyone who practices any form of AP to be a bit of a wet lettuce, someone whose life is completely dictated by their little cherub, and who lacks the wherewithal to say “no”. Let’s not forget Ms Hopkins was even prepared to slate the origins of her own daughters’ names in pursuit if controversy, attention and – dare I say – cold hard cash.

So I decided I’d throw in my own tuppence worth. Unlike Katie, mine is free gratis and hopefully won’t leave you wondering what life did to me to make me so bitter and cynical.

So, Attachment Parenting. As I said in our recent Breastfeeding post, I’m not in the business of judging other people’s parenting. That’s not my style. I don’t even like these labels, but they exist and often people will identify loosely with one particular style. So, I’m going to share my experiences of Attachment Parenting (AP) with you, and hopefully bust some myths at the same time.

For anyone unfamiliar with AP, the phrase “Attachment Parenting” was first used by Dr William Sears more than 60 years ago, based on the psychology theory of attachment. Attachment Parenting International sum up their interpretation of the principles of AP nicely here http://www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/principles.php

The theoretical concept of AP might be relatively new, but I think it’s fair to say that the practices date back much further. Some of the core practices associated with AP – baby wearing, bed sharing and breast feeding – were the only ways to parent before the advent of prams, formula and homes with enough bedrooms to facilitate a nursery for baby. You could go as far as to argue that these practices were how parenting began. That’s not to say it’s the only way to parent, or the best way to parent for everyone, but AP certainly isn’t some new fanfangled theory developed to start a trend.

So, why did we choose AP? The honest answer to that is that we didn’t. We parented this way long before I’d even heard of Attachment Parenting. If you asked me to choose one word to define parent, the word I’d choose would be “nurture”, and the practices of AP fit that for me.

When Boy 1 was born 10 years ago, it drove me bonkers that the midwives insisted on moving his crib to the bottom of my bed. It was like a battle of wills – I’d haul myself out of bed and move it so Boy 1′s jaundiced little nose was only inches from mine, and the midwives would move it back as soon as it as asleep. The day we got home, I brought our boy into our bed and there he stayed until he happily moved into his Big Boy Bed, about 18 months later. I wanted him near us. He appeared comforted by the close proximity of one or both parents.thus made perfect sense to me – he’d been snuggled up in the dark warmth of my uterus for nine months with the reassuring sound of my heartbeat

When Boy 2 was born, I discovered what’s commonly known as “baby wearing”. Carrying him in a sling seemed a natural progression from bed sharing, and once more my baby seemed happy and content to be near me. I loved the intimacy of having him close to me, his beautiful little head placed perfectly for me to shower kisses upon. We continued to bed share and breast feed, and he was never left to cry because I couldn’t bear the thought that he’d be lying there in his crib (we did have one, it was handy for when I was showering etc) just desperate for comfort or reassurance. We picked him up when he cried because it felt natural, not because it was part of some theory we decided we were going to adopt.

By the time The Girl came along, we’d fine tuned what worked for us. Born at home, she was in our bed from the day she was born. We were fortunate enough to. Both be at home until she was five months old and she napped in our arms, was nursed or cuddled to sleep fed on demand, carried in her sling and generally a happy and calm baby. It worked for us, and that’s what mattered. When I started a new job after just five months, those precious moments cuddled up in bed, or carrying her in the sling and feeling her near me were what kept up our bond. Still breast-feeding at 19 months, it’s allowed us both to have time together no matter what else is happening.

“You’re making a rod for your own back”, they said. “You’re pandering to them”, they said. “They’ll be clingy”, they said. “They have to learn”, they said. That last one particularly irked me, like I was failing my children by not insisting they learn to stand on by their own two feet before they could… Well, stand on their own two feet!

Except I wasn’t, and they’re not. I brought those babies into this world and I was going to nurture them the best way I knew how. I couldn’t understand why people were so desperate for me to teach my babies to be independent. They were babies, we were their parents and for us our primary job was to make our children safe and secure. The term “hold them close to help them fly” was one that really resounded with me. That’s what I was trying to do, teach my children that we would always be here waiting for them. They can go off in search of adventure and fun and life’s lessons and know that we are here for them regardless, whether that’s into the ball pit at soft play or off round the world when they are older. We’ve always been here. On those dark nights when all they wanted was a cuddle, we were here. When they had wind pains in their tummy but were too tiny to explain, we were there. When they opened their eyes in the morning, we were there. When they closed their eyes at night…. Yep. We were there. Of course it goes without saying that AP isn’t the only way to raise happy, confident children. It’s the method that worked for us and our children, and if other methods work for you then that great too.

There seems to be a bit of a misconception that AP parents are simpering wet lettuces whose kids rule the roost. Yes, we say no to our children. Yes, we have boundaries. Yes, we have a love life thank you very much (the fact we had two more children kind of testifies to that!). Our children don’t wear flowers in their hair, walk around barefoot and eat organic lentils fresh from the ground. Attachment Parenting isn’t weird, elite, or a means of trying to be different. It’s the way we raise our children because it’s what works for us… No matter what Katie Hopkins might say.

 ***

Peaches

He says, by @adadcalledspen:

*Sounds the Katie Hopkins on ITV1′s ‘This Morning’ klaxon.*

If form is anything to go by then Katie’s gonna say something controversial, as is her modus operandi, and my Twitter timeline is gonna go off like a frog in a sock. She’s had a bit of a spat with Peaches Geldof so the two went toe to toe on telly to discuss attachment parenting.

Ach, Katie Hopkins. She’s employed to do this innit. Be a voice of controversial opinion. The pantomime villain. Drive people to watch the show and generate discussion in social media about her views. It’s a cynical ploy from the producers but it seems to work. She’s harmless enough I guess. She’s no Myra Hindley or Rose West, let’s face it. She’s just, as her Twitter profile says, ‘telling it like it is.’ But this vexes me a bit because, for me, ‘it’ isn’t quite like that. And neither was it for Peaches Geldof.

Today she’s been debating attachment parenting. And, as a parent to two children and having been a stay at home dad for 3 years, I don’t actually know what this means. What is attachment parenting? Am I one? *Gulp*

So I looked it up, and it’s interesting as… well. It suggests approaches that, to me, seem fairly commonsense and results in something all parents strive for. A stong emotional bond between parents and their children. Or is it children and their parents? Depends on your point of view I guess. Who drives this? Is it us as parents or children who we as parents must respond to. Learn to know their cues and signs and signals so we know what to do with them.

For example. Child cries because child falls off a slide. Parent should give cuddles and love in order to provide a long-term emotional foundation for the child. That’s what attachment parenting suggests I guess. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PUT CHILD IN THE CUPBOARD UNDER THE STAIRS. That is not attachment parenting. The cuddles and love are needed so the child doesn’t become… oh I dunno. Katie Hopkins? Or Damien from The Omen maybe.  I can imagine he didn’t have a strong, established attachment with his natural father.

When the bairns were babies we had a cosleeper cot attached to the side of the bed. They slept with us. I wore them both in slings and in baby carriers. Quite often they fell asleep when I put them in the contraption on my chest and walked around with them. Quite often they were alseep before I got them in as I couldn’t work out where my arms went or if I’d got it on correctly. My ex-breastfed when they needed it, when she wasn’t at work, because, actually, she had the milk and it kinda hurt if she didn’t. So, we slept with our babies, wore them and fed on demand. Kinda. Did that make us attachment parents? Have we, as Katie Hopkins suggested, added to this nation of brats that attachment parents are raising?

I know I’m simplifying things a tad, but I am a bear of little brain and something in the reading around this subject, which I had to do to try to work out what this term actually means, made me sit up and pay attention. Attachment parenting is often called ‘instinctive parenting’ or ‘natural parenting’ which begs the question, what is unnatural parenting?

And what are these labels? They’re coined by behavioural psychologists, sociologists, child development experts and suchlike. One person’s attachment parenting might be another’s ‘helicopter parenting’ and some may just say sit the fuck down and let child explore their world. Let your child climb the climbing frame and if they fall off give them a cuddle and help them get on. Don’t help them up onto it. Don’t be too intrusive. For intrusive see encouraging. For encouraging see mollycoddling. Depending on your viewpoint.

My aunt made a comment which made me angry once. My son is a soft and gentle lad, rambunctious and boisterous yes, but has his moments of quiet reflection and his moments of need as we all do. We were at a bus stop and he complained about a car that went past quickly, noisily, and it made him jump. To be honest it made me jump too but he was the one who didn’t like it, and he was the one my aunt called ‘a big girl’ for reacting to this unpleasant surprise. I asked her not to say that again and got a look, and I talked to him. I crouched down at his level and said “It’s gone now so it’s all okay. People shouldn’t drive so fast and make so much noise should they?”

“Oh how is he ever gonna toughen up if you treat him like that?” I was told.

I guess my way of being a parent isn’t seen by those closest to me as what they would do. Thing is, my son is tough in his own way. His parents are divorced, daddy doesn’t live with them any more, and that’s a shit load to go through and understand when this happened when he was 3 years old. That makes him tougher than me in lots of ways. He doesn’t cry when I leave the house any more. Hopefully because he’s emotionally secure enough to know I’ll see them soon and that I love them both. He’s not crying but Daddy is the one with tears in his eyes.

There are lots of buzzwords, terms and labels around parenting which make my shit itch a bit, but they’re useful in research, I guess, and also handy so people like Katie Hopkins can go TV and talk about it in some way. Boo, it’s bad. Yay it’s good.Up, or down with this sort of thing.

All I know is that I practice parenting, and that’s a term I’m very happy with thank you very much. I practice it and one day I’ll be very good at it, but each day I’m learning something new. And today I’m learning that such terms mean very little to me. What counts is if my children are happy and emotionally secure. If they know they’re loved and  know that if they feel upset they will get that which they need to make them smile again. And if I or their mummy, or both of us, manage that then we’re all doing okay.

*Sounds the Katie Hopkins ALL CLEAR* klaxon. It’s okay team, she’s gone now. You can put your TV’s back on.

Don’t have nightmares.

***

What are your views on this? Do you, like Katie Hopkins, feel that this is all a bit ‘knit your own baby’ and a way to raise a nation of brats or do you, not like, Katie Hopkins… erm, just not like Katie Hopkins? Please put all and any comments, stories, experiences and views in our comments box. And thanks again for reading.

7 thoughts on “About attachment parenting

  1. I apparently also practise AP but I had no idea it was called anything – I just thought leaving a helpless newborn alone and/or crying when it could be snuggled in our bed or in a sling being comforted by my heartbeat sounded like common sense.

    I came slightly unstuck when baby 2 turned out to be twins but put it this way, housework has always come last in my list of priorities, and one of my five children is now an independent adult so the dust and chaos might have strengthened her immune system.

    I am a Peaches Geldof fan – OK she comes from a showbiz background but I think Bob was a loving and nurturing parent as far as I can tell, and she seems to be bringing up her boys with all the security and love that they need.

  2. I think it’s often seen as fair game by some sections of the media to criticise any form of parenting. Some can be seen as too tough. Some can be seen as too weak, as has been levelled at me in the past. Attachment parenting, as I kinda said above, has been called instinctive parenting and when you act on your instincts, what feels right, then you’re right. Right?

    Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment. :-)

  3. I sleep trained mine. A bedtime isn’t revolutionary. I also home birthed and breast fed. People need to stop getting so annoyed with how other people parent. I’m not any less “attached” to my children because I don’t have them in my bed. Just get on and do what you think is best, stop being so bothered about other people…and that goes to both types of parenting groups.

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  5. I think the problem is with all the labels, not the approach. My problem with “attachment parenting” as a concept or a doctrine is the implication that if you make certain choices, that are best for you and your family, that you will be less “attached” to your children and it will somehow harm them.

    For example – I couldn’t co-sleep with my kids. One wriggled so much I couldn’t get any sleep if he was in bed with me, and the second just never went to sleep if I was around – she would poke/ pull/ chew at me for hours. It was very endearing, but got neither her nor me any closer to the rest we both desperately needed. So they were both in their own beds from the beginning and their own rooms from around 5/6 months. With the first, we also ended up doing a bit of sleep training, as he ended up waking up every 45 mins just needing to have his dummy replaced, and I ended up getting migraines from exhaustion. But I also breastfed on demand, carried the second one loads (avoided the cost of a double buggy!) and gave them heaps of love, cuddles, encouragement, tickles, chat and play when they needed it, not when told to by a routine made up by someone who has never met my kids. I also went back to work when each was 1 year old, leaving them in the very capable and loving hands of a fabulous childminder (also against some schools of attachment parenting who believe there should be only one primary attachment figure or kids won’t be sufficiently secure.

    I’m fairly confident that they are both are very well attached and secure in the love they receive from me, my husband, my parents, our lovely group of friends and their wonderful childminder. They are happy, loved, loving and inquisitive children, who are more than ready to take on the world, secure in the knowledge that they have a whole load of people cheering for them and ready to pick them up if they fall off the climbing frame. But they also get taught to share, and told off if they push someone else off the climbing frame. Attachment parenting? Not by the book, no. Attached children? Yes. We should just stop labelling approaches and acknowledge that we all want the same end goal – kids who are happy, secure, and able to operate in society without stealing the other kids’ toys. AP is a natural approach for many to get there (as for you two) but shouldn’t be a prescription. But neither should routine and strict discipline.

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  7. I saw the show and I could have just hugged Peaches. I could be called an attachment parent also.. But it wasn’t a thing I did to be trendy or cool. I just like having by boys close when they were tiny. I breastfed, coslept and used babycarriers when indoors. Outside I’d use a buggy as I have a bad back and abuggy hurt me much less.

    Apparently thats AP, I just thought I was a hugger! Who knew?! ;-)

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