a Homebirth Couple Said No to Attachment Parenting
by Josh Day
see the world in black and white. There is no room for compromise.
Problems are seldom discussed. Dissenters are pacified. You take the
whole package or none at all. Either you're with them, or against
not talking about a certain executive government administration, but
the alternative parenting style known as attachment parenting.
turn to Wikipedia to get the basics on attachment parenting.
parenting describes a parenting approach inspired in part by attachment
theory. Attachment theory, originally proposed by John Bowlby, states
that the infant has a tendency to seek closeness to another person
and feels secure when that person is present. In comparison, Sigmund
Freud proposed that attachment was a consequence of the need to
satisfy various drives. In attachment theory, children attach to
their parents because they are social beings, not just because they
need other people to satisfy drives and attachment is part of normal
ideals of attachment parenting are:
Preparation for childbirth
2. Emotional responsiveness
5. Co-sleeping safely
6. Avoiding frequent and prolonged separations between parents and
7. Positive discipline
8. Maintaining balance in family life
values are interpreted in a variety of ways across the movement.
Many attachment parents also choose to live a natural family living
(NFL) lifestyle, such as natural childbirth, home birth, stay-at-home
parenting, homeschooling, unschooling, the anti-circumcision movement,
the anti-vaccination movement, natural health, cooperative movements,
and support of organic food. (Attachment
surface, attachment parenting sounds quite reasonable and viable.
In fact, we follow some of the eight tenets with our infant. Yet,
like everything in life, we've found a need to compromise and not
swallow the entire pill.
the largest reasons we were drawn to attachment parenting is because
it ostensibly seems to go hand-in-hand with our natural health lifestyle.
However, the more we interacted with attachment parents on various
Internet message forums, the more we started to question the movement.
taken to an extreme is a bad thing. This includes a style of parenting,
be it attachment parenting, the Ferber method, or one of the more
zany "Christian" parenting schools of thought. The more
I learned, the more extremes I saw cropping up.
disturbed me the most was the idea you had to be part of some quasi-activist
movement to be a true "Attachment parent." Many attachment
parents are pushing a cultural agenda on top of raising children --
indeed, some of the more radical ones use their very children to reach
would be flaunting a fussy baby in a crowded restaurant or store and
refusing to take the baby outside because the parent wants to cause
a scene to show how "unfamily" general businesses are. Or
breastfeeding not for the sake of the baby but to draw attention to
the act itself in the hope of raising ire simply for "cultural
awareness." Verbally lashing another mom for her choice to bottle-feed
and criticizing anyone who doesn't employ "the family bed"--(where
the entire family sleeps together like so many sardines)--are a couple
more illustrations of how extreme some attachment folks are.
my wife and I embrace some small aspects of attachment parenting,
the underlying "with us or against us" mentality, self-centeredness,
and phony martyrdom was more than enough to get us to coin the term
"Moderation parenting," which is what we proudly employ
as new parents. We pick and choose from the attachment parenting style,
as well as traditional family practices and even the controversial
Ferber method,* which has been so maligned in popular culture lately
that very few people even understand what it's truly about.
I can't stand attention-getters, rude people, and individuals who
blindly accept an unchanging doctrine. Unfortunately, many of the
people I saw within the attachment parenting movement were like this,
while parents in the so-called "mainstream" line of parenting
were much more open to new ideas, even the ones that at first seemed
radical--like co-sleeping and refusing all vaccinations as well as
skipping the often bogus "well baby" exams.
note: As of mid May 2007, it's been two months since I wrote
the above. Our opinions on attachment parenting have changed drastically.
our baby is three months old, we have discovered that almost every
aspect of attachment parenting does not work for us. Indeed, the constant
breastfeeding (or "breastfeeding on demand," as AP practitioners
call it) was in fact causing our baby's afternoon and evening
all three of us suffered through the turmoil and tribulation of colic.
Attachment parenting's only answer was to hold him through the colic
by "babywearing." The answers furnished to us by attachment
parenting books and websites strictly toed the party line of staying
"attached," "feeding on demand," and never leaving
your baby alone.
what was startling and slightly insulting was AP's underlying assertions
we were bad parents for having this problem and that we were doing
parenting offered us no real solutions.
to "embrace" the tenets of attachment parenting--being attached
to a writhing, screaming baby, no matter what--while struggling through
colic was nothing short of maniacal. Holding him to us or trying to
feed him through the colic episodes was an exercise in futility. We
hated what we were doing, our baby hated what we were doing, and it
didn't take long for us to realize it was time to make the switch.
we stopped the grueling breastfeeding on demand and got the baby on
a feeding and sleeping schedule, his colic stopped immediately
and has not returned. He is much more alert and happy and he never
cries like he used to during the terrible days of "breastfeeding
original version of this article, I wrote:
do not misinterpret my words. There is nothing wrong with
attachment parenting. Nothing at all. Despite the smear campaign
and the never-ending spew of unscientific garbage coming out of
the AMA's mouth, co-sleeping with your baby is as safe as crib sleeping
and very well be better for your child.
our experience has shown us there is indeed something wrong
with attachment parenting, especially with child-centered feeding.
For some parents, it's a fact it works wonderfully. And I'm not here
to take that away from you... if the program worked for you, fantastic!
AP did not work for us; AP caused a host of problems that we've now
I'd like to share a few books we've found quite helpful with having
a new baby.
Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better
as Your Family Grows by Cockrell, O'Neill, Stone.
I haven't read this one, my wife swears by it. Full of pragmatic
info and humorous. A great book for "moderate" parents.
to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor by
Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn
heretic gives the lowdown on the so-called well baby exams and offers
information that can help you care for your child, along with correcting
loads and loads of misinformation dumped on you by pediatricians.
Written in 1984, Mendelsohn was warning against vaccines and correlated
SIDS to the DPT shot. And this was more than two decades ago. Sadly,
nothing has changed and things have gotten much, much worse.
just like to add a little bit of information on the Ferber method
as it's so misunderstood. The following is from an article entitled
Ferber Method Demystified" and discusses changes in the newest
revision of Ferber's book.
Cry it out. In the preface of the new book, Ferber takes pains to
clarify his position: "Simply leaving a child in a crib to
cry for long periods alone until he falls sleep, no matter how long
it takes, is not an approach I approve of. On the contrary, many
of the approaches I recommend are designed specifically to avoid
unnecessary crying." Ferber's "progressive waiting"
technique encourages parents to frequently comfort their child during
the sleep training process.
Sleep sharing. In the original edition of the book, Ferber was firmly
opposed to the concept of parents and children sleeping together,
saying, "We know for a fact that people sleep better alone
in bed," and arguing that learning to sleep alone is an important
part of a child's healthy development. In the revised edition, Ferber
is far less rigid on the subject. Children who co-sleep, he says,
"are not prevented from learning to separate, or from developing
their own sense of individuality, simply because they sleep with
their parents. Whatever you want to do, whatever you feel comfortable
doing, is the right thing to do, as long as it works."
me to reiterate Ferber's words in regards to parenting: "Whatever
you feel comfortable doing, is the right thing to do, as long as it
cogent, practical, and moderate approach.
Note: Leah is my daughter-in-law and an award-winning quilter.
She shares insights almost daily about quilting and art and life on
her very popular blog, The
Free Motion Quilting Project. To see Leah's gallery of beautiful
quilts that she's created, click
here. If you're a quilter, both of these sites require a visit
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