Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Unexplored World of Attachment Parenting

After showing The Business of Being Born last night at the Women’s Resource Center’s first program of the Spring 2010 semester, I was encouraged by a knowledgeable attendee to research attachment parenting (AP). Confused, but curious, I proceeded to conduct a bit of preliminary searching into AP, a term and philosophy coined by physician William Sears that is based on the principles of attachment theory in developmental psychology. reports that:

“The long-range vision of Attachment Parenting is to raise children who will become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection. It eliminates violence as a means for raising children, and ultimately helps to prevent violence in society as a whole.

The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children. Attachment Parenting challenges us as parents to treat our children with kindness, respect and dignity, and to model in our interactions with them the way we'd like them to interact with others.”

The eight principles of this philosophy are as follows:

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

These principles help craft a better understanding of the parenting tactics employed by those who practice AP, such as natural childbirth, home birth, stay-at-home parenting, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling, un-schooling, the anti-circumcision movement, natural health, cooperative movements, naturism and support of organic and local foods. While many of these terms were familiar to me, many more were not. For the purposes of this brief exploration, I was most interested in learning more about babywearing.

Babywearing, the practice of “holding or carrying a baby or young child using a baby carrier,” is universal despite not gaining mainstream acceptance in the United States. There are many different types of slings available on the market, as well as those which can be made at home so that parents may choose one that best suits their needs. I stumbled across this lovely story about the benefits of babywearing, in addition to this super adorable babywearing doll, check it out here.

While there are many criticisms (encouraging children to be needy, etc) to the AP movement, I can’t help but think it’s worth a bit of consideration since the benefits (father can be more involved with childrearing) seem to be more plentiful. However, personal research and education are the only way to truly determine if AP or other parenting methods are best for you and your family.

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