Before I had my babies I did not have a parenting philosophy or style in mind. I didn't even think about what kind of parent I would be. Many women research and figure this out ahead of time and that's great, but I really did not. I guess I believed I would figure it out as I went along.
I was open to whatever parenting techniques worked for me. I wanted to find what works for me and take what I can from it and leave what does not. Sure, I had heard of attachment parenting but I thought it was just this weird hippy thing. Ha. While I did prepare during pregnancy for the birth of my first baby I was not set on having a specific type of birth. I was definitely of the 'as long as the baby is healthy' mind set when it came to my birth experience.
I never planned to follow attachment parenting, but as I have found out who I am as a parent I find I relate to it the most. I mean two kids later and I write a breastfeeding blog because I am passionate about breastfeeding; what does that say?
Even at this point in time I have never said "I am an attachment parent," but I have come to the conclusion that I am definitely pro attachment parenting.
How did I come to this conclusion? It's simple really, by following my instincts.
What does attachment parenting mean?
It means nurturing a connection between yourself and your children. It means raising them to have empathy and a connection to others. It also means treating them the way we would like them to treat others.
Attachment Parenting is rooted in attachment theory and has been studied by psychologists and child researchers for many years. This has revealed that infants are born with strong needs to be nurtured and need to remain physically close to their caregivers. When our children's needs are consistently met during their first years of life they are then better able to grow and develop healthy relationships in their lives.
Attachment parenting principles
While I came to my conclusion simply by following my instincts; reading the official attachment parenting principles sealed the deal for me. Below you will find the eight attachment parenting principles:
Preparing for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
Yep, I did prepare for pregnancy. I took my prenatals and I was healthy. I went to the doctor and looked at my options. As far as birth? Now maybe I did not prepare the way most think of attachment parenting (I was not set on a pain relief free birth, but I definitely did not want a C-section if possible). I thought I was prepared and I took a birthing class so I think that counts. And I prepared for parenting the best way I knew how at the time...reading everything I could find.
Feeding With Love and Respect
I knew I wanted to breastfeed and obviously I have been successful with that goal. My reasons for wanting to breastfeed were really because I had heard the "breast is best" mantra and figured I was going to do what is recommended. I can't say I had any other strong desires or reasons to breastfeed. It's not something I actually knew anything about before becoming a parent. Oh how enlightened I have become!
Responding with Sensitivity
I have always responded to my babies with sensitivity. I do not let them cry or believe in things like "self soothing" for them. In my opinion they have always needed me and they will move on to the next stages (like sleeping all night or whatever goal it is) when they are ready.
Using Nurturing Touch (such as skin-to-skin contact and babywearing)
I definitely follow this. It's the only way to keep a newborn happy in my experience. I spend as much time as possible holding and carrying my babies. I love baby wearing.
Ensuring Safe Sleep (primarily co-sleeping), Physically and Emotionally
The big one-sleep. Well, I went into this parenting thing expecting to room share/co-sleep with my babies for at least 6 months since that is what the AAP recommends. Attachment parenting recommends a safe sleep environment and being able to meet the needs of your child immediately from what I can tell.
From the Attachment Parenting International website: Babies and children have needs at night just as they do during the day; from hunger, loneliness, and fear, to feeling too hot or too cold. They rely on parents to soothe them and help them regulate their intense emotions. Sleep training techniques can have detrimental physiological and psychological effects. Safe co-sleeping has benefits to both babies and parents.
I did move my daughter out of our room much sooner than my son but the time felt right for both kids. From what I can tell attachment parenting principles do not have a specific age that you should keep your child with you or move your child.
Providing Consistent and Loving Care
This is pretty obvious and I think most parents try to follow this.
Practicing Positive Discipline
So far, this is the way I parent. As my toddler gets older she is becoming more defiant and testing my limits. I try to keep in mind that she is just learning and expressing her independence. It is definitely challenging at times.
Striving for Balance in Personal and Family Life
I think most parents follow this and would love to have a balance between personal and family life. It's not always easy but most moms agree it's pretty important to carve out some time for ourselves.
And this is what led me to my conclusion..
Being an attachment parent does not mean you have to actually follow a set of rules when it comes to raising your children. AP recommends using your own judgement to create your own parenting style that works for you, while using the AP principles as a guide. Attachment Parenting International has a motto, which I believe I have seen Le Leche League use as well - "Take what works for your family and leave the rest."
With any parenting philosophy I believe this is the best advice. I certainly follow this myself.
So..let me know, are you an attachment parent or do you have a specific parenting style that you relate to more than others?