Attachment parenting involves cultivating a close bond between the baby and the parents. The phrase 'attachment parenting' has been coined by the American pediatrician William Sears. It is a parenting philosophy based on the premise that during the course of childhood, the child forms a very close and unbreakable bold with his/her caregivers, which has a lifelong consequence for him/her. It calls upon parents to be more sensitive towards their child's needs and be emotionally available whenever needed. Neglected children tend to have an apprehensive mind, which results in insecure attachments as adults. The basic objective of attachment parenting is to foster the development of a child's secure attachment.
Principles Of Attachment Parenting
The eight principles of attachment parenting, crucial to a secure bonding with the child, as propounded by Dr. Sears are:
- Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
- Feed with Love and Respect
- Respond with Sensitivity
- Use Nurturing Touch
- Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
- Provide Consistent Loving Care
- Practice Positive Discipline
- Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
One can interpret these principles in one's own way. A lot of attachment parents live in natural family lifestyle, such as home birth, natural child birth co-sleeping, breastfeeding, baby wearing, home schooling, un-schooling, natural health, cooperative movements, stay-at-home parenting, naturism and support of organic food. However, these rules are not mandatory for parents. It is more important that the parents be creative in responding to child's needs.
Friendly Child Care
A crucial aspect of attachment parenting is providing friendly care to the child. A healthy and secure attachment between the primary caregiver (parent or guardian) is the crux of this parenting philosophy. The aim is to promote a normal socio-emotional development of the child. According to German-American psychoanalyst, Erik Erikson, infancy is the first stage of socio-emotional development. Consistent and sensitive care from the same parent or guardian is essential to achieve a functional balance for a healthy development. According to Magda Gerber and Allison Johnson, in order to develop trust and attachment, infants should receive respect and freedom from their caregivers, to actively explore their immediate environment. Restrictions and boundaries need to be limited.
Criticism & Drawbacks
- Attachment parenting has been criticized on grounds of being over demanding on the parents. It can be too strenuous and unrealistic, without a support network, say in the form of family members and friends. American writer Judith Warner contends that attachment parenting leads to anxiety in mothers.
- Another criticism hurled at attachment parenting is that there is no conclusive or convincing body of research to back the claims made by the theory. The reliability of the theory largely rests on the testimonies given by parents. There is no concrete evidence to establish its superiority over mainstream parenting in the long run.
- Doubts have also been raised on the feasibility of co-sleeping aspect of attachment parenting. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has also warned against co-sleeping and so does the American Academy of Pediatrics. Sharing the room, however, has been recommended.