Attachment Parenting

The attachment parenting theory explains that the overall parenting should aim to promote the attachment of parents and children not only by expressing empathy and responsiveness but also by continuous physical closeness and touch.

The debate surrounding the perfect form of parenting is always prevalent. Parents often seek ways to indulge emotionally with their children to provide necessary assistance throughout their growing period. Many parents in Western countries treat their children like adults, whereas, most Asian parents treat them like children throughout their life.

Although there isn’t a hard and fast rule about parenting, we can all agree with the fact that parents must understand and support the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual developmental needs of a child.

Amidst this debate, an improvised form of parenting came into existence which highlights the fact that the parents should be willing to provide constant bodily touch and closeness along with the maximum parental empathy and responsiveness i.e. attachment parenting.

What is attachment parenting?

The term “attachment parenting” first came to be known in 1985 by the American pediatrician William Sears and his wife Martha Sears. Although he referred to his new philosophy as “the new continuum concept” and “immersion mothering” in his 1982 book about Creative Parenting, it wasn’t until 1985 he began to link the concept with attachment theory. In 1993, the Sears couple published The Baby Book which became the earliest comprehensive manual for attachment parenting.

When we talk about Attachment Parenting, we must also include the 7 Baby Bs

Yes, William Sears opined seven philosophies that are based on the child’s “biological needs”. He called them the 7 Baby Bs.

  1. Birth bonding
  2. Breastfeeding
  3. Baby wearing
  4. Bedding close to the baby
  5. Belief in your baby’s cry
  6. Beware of baby trainers
  7. Balance

Attachment parenting focuses on the nurturing connection between the parents and infants through seven different philosophies, where missing even one of them can hamper the positive growth of the child.

Like authoritative parenting, attachment parenting focuses on high responsiveness and high expectations. The parents in this relation must provide enough emotional, physical, social, and intellectual developmental needs of a child.

Parents practicing attachment parenting rely on positive discipline when it comes to punishing their children. Positive discipline follows a series of techniques that help to guide children to forgo their misbehavior by instilling a strong sense of responsibility and respect.

The famous actor Mayim Bialik from Big Bang Theory is a strong advocate of attachment parenting, where she has authored a book based on her parenting experience. ‘Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way‘ is something every parent to read and know about.

The Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting

Attachment parenting definition advocated eight different principles regarding the best way of parenting. Introduced by Attachment Parenting International (API), a worldwide educational association, these eight parenting principles talk about different stages of pregnancy, birth, and parenting.

  1. Attachment parenting helps to prepare mothers throughout pregnancy. It’s believed that preparing for parenting throughout pregnancy will help to eliminate negative thoughts and feelings which will ready the mother for their emotionally demanding job.
  2. Breastfeeding is the major criterion of attachment parenting. It’s the ideal way to create sync between mother and her child by building a secure attachment. It allows parents to comprehend their cues and fulfill their needs.
  3. Whatever the child does, the parent must respond to it sensitively. They must consider all expressions of emotions, good or bad, as real efforts at communication. If need be, parents must practice positive disciplining.
  4. Touch is the major factor in attachment parenting. It encourages parents to use nurturing touch through maximum skin-to-skin exposure while feeding, bathing, and sleeping.
  5. Bed-sharing or co-sleeping is another major factor that helps to build the nurturing engagement between the parent and child. With co-sleeping, an infant can experience the fulfillment of their emotional need.
  6. Provide constant care and love by indulging with them during playtime, walking, sleeping, or even work. It, however, advocates against childcare for more than 20 hours a week for babies younger than 30 months old.
  7. Positive discipline is the key to eradicate negative behavior in children. Parents practicing attachment parenting always practice positive discipline methods by communicating with their children rather than physically beating them or reprimanding them.
  8. Find a balance between personal and family life. Parents must create a support network, live a healthy lifestyle, and prevent parenting burn-out.

Pros and Cons of Attachment Parenting

Although a popular form of modern parenting, attachment parenting often faces slack from many child development experts. However, many people support attachment parenting too.

Pros of attachment parenting

1. It creates an environment that emphasizes mutual giving

Mutual giving is also known as the art of receiving where both parents and children receive from each other. When parents attend to the emotional, physical, and social needs of an infant, the infant gives back to the parents by being obedient. The mutual giving is ever-present in the attachment parenting that encourages the sharing of both happiness and pain. It promotes a homely environment.

2. It shapes a positive personality for parent and child

In attachment parenting, a parent helps shape the personality of the child and vice versa. In an environment where communication is the key, parents often indulge with their children and share each-others feelings. Parents would always want to do the best for their kids. This encourages them to begin thinking, talking and acting in ways that create a positive atmosphere for the children. As a response, the child will react in a way that reflects the nature of the parents.

3. It allows parents to comprehend non-verbal communication

During infancy, most of the communication between the child and parent happens non-verbally. The physical actions and cues help the parents to understand if their child needs something. Attachment parenting encourages stimulation and awareness between parent and child to open up ways to understand each other without speaking a word.

4. It ensures comfort to the child

The comfort of the child refers to the fulfillment of emotional and intellectual needs. A child lacking emotional and intellectual needs can often be clingy and fussy. It is more common in kids raised in passive parenting culture. Kids grown in attachment parenting tend to be less clingy with their parents. This offers ample time for both the parent and kid to enjoy their chores.

5. It encourages higher IQ in children

The human brain grows exponentially during the few years of life. The infant’s brain size grows more than double its volume within a year, reaching almost 60% of the adult brain size. An infant’s brain is capable to learn lots of things during this time which elevates their IQ and improves memory.

Cons of Attachment Parenting

1. It limits the self-exploration and reasoning of the child

Attachment parenting encourages constant support, either physical or mental. This prevents children from exploring answers by themselves. The over obsession with a child’s constant care can often lead the children to rely entirely on their parents. This can increase the issues of over-dependence.

2. It can lead to disciplinary issues

The over-obsession with care and nurturing of the kid often makes parents turn a blind eye towards the children’s mistakes. As the child grows older, he or she is more likely to develop disciplinary problems. Child development experts opine that parents should constantly practice positive disciplining methods at home.

3. It creates over-dependence

As mentioned above, constant caring and nurturing often makes the children dependent on their parents. Children may find it difficult to complete tasks without the assistance of others. While growing up, they become hesitant to make simple decisions that can alter their adolescent years.

4. It limits skill development

Most of the time, children learn skills by either copying or training. When children depend on their parents to learn new skills, they often find themselves limited in many areas because the parents themselves aren’t skilled in different areas. It can hamper the child’s development stage when they step into school.

5. It may destruct other relationships

The strong bond between the parents and children offers less space for either to explore new relationships. The co-dependence can cause other meaningful relationships to degrade. The children after growing up will seek similar relationships with other people. This can lead to unhealthy relationships in the future.

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