There’s nothing quite like giving parents labels. It seems to be a popular thing in the media – from Mummy Bloggers to Permissive Parents, from Free-Range to Helicopter Parents. Earlier this year it was time for the Attachment Parents to be highlighted and (in some cases) ridiculed. From time to time I have people lower their voice, lean in closer and ask The Question – Are you an Attachment Parent?
The easy and quick answer is yes.Of course, the longer one is much longer than that. Attachment Parenting seems to have become very stereotyped – think militant breastfeeding (thanks Time Magazine), co-sleeping, dreadlock wearing hippy. Well, although I own a skirt with bells on it, I’m not actually a hippy. And although we have co slept, we also put Squirm in a cot. And funnily enough, the Attachment Parenting spectrum is as broad as any other group – parents or otherwise.
The easiest way for me to explain attachment parenting, as I understand it, is by using the word Respect – in that, I mean respect for our children, ourselves and our environment. There’s a number of activities which then come under this banner, but without that respect you really have nothing to work from. In each house, that respect will be shown in different ways and activities.
In our household we respect Squirm by breastfeeding him exclusively (since it is possible for me and this is the best way we can feed him), by responding to his cries, by showing him love. We are trying to avoid gender stereotypes which can lead to male babies getting less attention, eye contact or speech – all important parts of respect, love and learning. We baby wear him because he likes to be close to us. We don’t refer to him as naughty or bad.
In our household we respect each other and ourselves by baby wearing so we can use our hands! We co sleep at times, when we’ve grabbed Squirm from his cot and we’re too tired to get up and put him back. We share parenting when we can and we talk about it. We try to eat healthier foods that will allow us to feel good.
In our household we respect the environment by looking for cleaning alternatives. We cloth nappy and line dry when possible. We try to limit our consumption of goods and only buy things we need.
We’re not perfect, and we never went into this thinking we were. We’re finding the style which works best for us and Squirm. And we’re sure that we’re going to keep learning for a long time. Sometimes I don’t feel very ‘Attached’, but then I remind myself that I’m doing the best I can to create respect between myself and my son. And when I feel like I’m really going off track, I head to the Dr Sears website and read this again.
My favourite part from that article is this:
AP is an approach, rather than a strict set of rules. It’s actually the style that many parents use instinctively. Parenting is too individual and baby too complex for there to be only one way
Do you have a key value to guide your parenting?