Attachment parenting: The new fad
Trends in parenting come and go as quickly as the latest fashion trends on the catwalk. One consistency with each new trend is the burden of guilt it places with the mother. Am I doing this right, should I do it this way, do I control crying, do I feed on demand, do I go to work or stay at home? The list is endless, and no wonder we are left with a feeling of self doubt and questioning our abilities as parents.
The latest craze sailing its way across the Atlantic is Attachment Parenting or AP as I shall refer to it. The basic principles would surely rile Ms Gina Ford and those that sit in her camp on no nonsense parenting, sending them into utter fits and possibly breaking out into hives.
At its very simplest, Attachment Parenting is based on several principles; breastfeeding a child until the age of three or beyond, having your baby sleep in your room, if possible in your bed and ‘baby wearing’ where you carry your baby with you at all times.
In an ideal world it sounds fantastic, but in modern society, just how practical is AP?
Let’s break it down and see. Firstly, keeping your baby with you at all time, I can’t help but think of a kangaroo carrying it’s baby around in its pouch and hopping around. AP suggests that carrying a baby in a sling at all times, promotes attachment, frequent touch, and parental sensitivity to an infants needs. But what if, like so many parents, you have to go to work? Realistically, and despite of the latest documentary on taking your baby to the office, it just isn’t practical.
Women have the constant battle of deciding whether they should stay at home after maternity leave and be a full time parent or go back to the rat race. Normally, this decision will be based on financial motives and they often have no choice but to return to work in order to make ends meet.
I fall into a separate camp as I am lucky enough to work from home. However, I can safely say, breastfeeding a baby and typing an email with one finger is a true challenge.
Mum to two boys, Danielle Grant from Southampton told me: “I think it has a place in some degree, but think it could be problematic logistically and socially for the infant and mummy. I think Mummy would suffer from never having a break. We all know we parent better when we are calm and collected and I don’t think it is possible to maintain that level headedness if you have had no time away to reflect, rest, recuperate and re-address important issues.”
What’s more, does this style of parenting restrict our children by not allowing them time and freedom to gain their own independence and self identity?
Hannah Llewellyn, mum of two thinks: “You are responsible for teaching your child to be independent and ready for whatever life throws at them. I believe attachment parenting is quite cruel as for the first three years you are teaching them that the only safe place to be is with you. Then they are off to nursery and what are they then suppose to think?”
However Cath Jevon believes AP is all about: “creating a safe, secure base for them to move from and come back to when they are ready. If you want a loving and kind world, with a loving and kind next generation then that’s how you treat them.”
Secondly, breastfeeding to the age of three and beyond. The recent cover of Time magazine which depicted such an image sparked controversy and many an adverse reaction. The theory behind this with AP, is that breastfeeding is the ideal way to create attachment, a fair point. However it states that it also teaches infants that parents will listen to their cues and fulfil their needs. Surely a cup or beaker past a certain age would do the same thing?
Again, and besides the social stigma attached to extended feeding, comes the practicality of actually breastfeeding if you go back to work. Expressing and storing milk requires a lot of organisation. I have expressed milk in the toilets of Waterloo station before a meeting and I can say it was one of the worst experiences I have had – and not one I would care to repeat. This places a lot of pressure on mothers, who have not only given up their bodies during pregnancy but now have to continue to grow a person from their body for the next three years. If everyone thought they were expected to feed for three years, how many people would just opt for the bottle at birth? Surely some breast is better than none at all.
Finally, when it comes to co-sleeping or bed sharing, AP theorists argue that it promotes attachment by being able to soothe and feed your baby during the night. But there is of course the fear that one parent could roll over and squashes the baby ending in tragedy?
One mum who follows the AP style of parenting said: “Co-sleeping has amazing benefits for your child – regulating body temperature and breathing when in close contact with mother being two. Aside from the physical benefits, it’s the most wonderful time to reconnect with your child. We bed share with two of our children and have no intention of changing our situation anytime soon. ”
In fairness to Attachment Parenting, many of its techniques have been around for years. The basis is that we listen to our children and help them form attachments to others and ourselves. The problem arises, as with any parenting method, where aspects of a techniques are taken to the extreme.
I had intended to disregard the method and its extremeness but there are some aspects of AP that don’t get mentioned and some things many people do which are part of of the AP practices.
Using my own personal example, I am still breastfeeding my eight month old, I carry him everywhere because he cries when I put him down and he occasionally sleeps with me because he won’t settle. Parenting really is a minefield and instinctively as parents we do what is right for our baby and because of that, how can we place one parenting technique above another?Tagged in: Attachment Parenting, breastfeeding, children, Co-sleeping, gender, maternity leave, motherhood, parenting, time magazine, women
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