The truth about dads and Attachment Parenting

by Alexis Schrader on January 16, 2015

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alexis schraderLike many bedsharing parents, I’ve had conversations where I let people assume my daughter sleeps in a crib.

While I love our family bed, sometimes I just don’t want to get into the details of why I’m not afraid of suffocating my child and when and where I have sex. So I smile and nod when strangers refer to a crib that does not exist.

My husband doesn’t do this. Anyone who assumes our daughter sleeps in her own room gets immediately corrected and, if they question our choice, engaged in a lively debate.

I love this about him. It’s dads like him who break down misconceptions about Attachment Parenting (AP) and gender.

One of the most common criticisms of Attachment Parenting is that it undermines women’s place in society by demanding too much of mothers, forcing them to abandon any interests and identity outside of motherhood. But women who self-identify as feminists are more likely to practice Attachment Parenting than women who identify as non-feminist. The disconnect between criticism and reality comes from critics’ own assumptions about AP families: They assume Mom is doing it all.

Enter the AP Dad.

Maybe he is feeding the baby a bottle of pumped breast milk, with love and respect of course, while mom is at work. Maybe he’s running errands with an infant cuddled up to him in a sling. Or maybe he’s snuggling up with a toddler in bed at the end of the day.

When Mom is out of the house, he’s not “babysitting” — he’s parenting.

The assumption that he’s not, hurts all of us. This misconception about Attachment Parenting leads families away from a parenting approach that may be better for their children. It places undue pressure on mothers through a societal assumption that they are doing all the parenting. And it’s disrespectful to dads who take on their fair share of parenting responsibilities.

Even those of us in families where fathers pull their own parenting weight expect other people to assume that they’re not. As an API Leader, the most common question I’m asked is, if dads are allowed at API Support Groups. Dads need parenting support, too, but the societal expectation that Mom is doing all the parenting is so strong that we hear “parenting support group” and think “mothers’ support group.”

It is within this zeitgeist that my husband is brave for being a proud bedsharing dad. When people hear a man sleeps in a family bed, there’s often an assumption that his wife made him do it, that he was against it and that he’s never going to have sex again.

They discount the possibility that a father-to-be would research parenting options, discuss them with his partner and together they would make a decision on the sleep arrangements that they feel are best for their family.

In reality, this is how almost every family I know operates. The more apparent it becomes that a couple operates as a team, the less Attachment Parenting appears to put an undue burden on mothers.

So be proud, AP Dad! You’ll be helping out AP families everywhere. Plus, you get to end your day with snuggles.

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Alexis Schrader (6 Posts)

Alexis is a recovering litigator, stay-at-home-mom, API Leader and API's Media Partnerships Coordinator. When she's not busy with one of those things, she enjoys baking bread and attempting yoga while her toddler climbs on her.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Philip Dunn January 17, 2015 at 3:57 am

I am a prod dad, and we coshare a bed with our 12 week old daughter. I stand up for a choice in what we decide to do. My wife breast feeds, we don’t smoke and won’t drink while sharing a bed. I do agree with what you say about people thinking of it’s just the mother and not the father as well. But I do also.feel that there is a deep root also in profession services of not interacting with the father and just the mother and if the father is involved along the way there must be something wrong, ie demestic abuse or alike. I found the bit about your artical fun about family meaning mother and the 2 pictures that show on the page are mother and daugher. The arrival is on family and dad and child.


Mama Bear January 17, 2015 at 12:40 pm

This is a beautiful article. You and your family are blessed to work so cohesively together. I hope you will, however, write more about the stereotypical family society expects regarding AP, as it does accurately describe my situation. I am a co sleeping, nursing, cloth diapering, homeschooling mom to 2 toddlers. My husband has placed the entire burden of raising them on me. He does not appreciate them co sleeping, as it may mean they might soil his luxury mattress if they aren’t feeling well. We don’t have sex anymore because, among other reasons, I am simply too touched out to have anything to do with an emploring adult who doesn’t physically share in my burden with the children and is not truly open to learning AP methods (we used to try to be creative about sex, but being the stereotypical overtaxed matriarch comes with its bitterness).

Additionally, the rest of my family thinks AP methods are silly, ineffective, and offensive, so we spend little time around them to minimize unsupportive treatment. I feel quite ostracised for my parenting choices. Yet, I find the results in my children to be fulfilling and rewarding enough to keep going. I always feel like doing the happy dance when I meet like minded families (many whose husbands also seem as supportive as yours), and I look for these opportunities.

I must reiterate that even though I don’t find being the stereotypical American Mother a flattering description, i do find being a mother as one of the dearest and most fulfilling seasons of my existence. While I might trade in my husband (we are now separated), I would not trade the communication I have with my children. It does demand a lot of me, but if not me then who? So, I gladly humble myself.

I appreciate your articles, but what words do you offer the “Traditional American Mother” who dares to practice AP alone? Keep writing. Warm regards to you and Yours <3

I should add that I have started the divorce process


kayceeintx January 19, 2015 at 12:26 am

My kids were born in the 80s, so we were attachment parenting before it had a name. My husband was so in to the family bed concept that he literally wrote poetry about it.


Laura Wagenaar January 19, 2015 at 9:41 am

Recognition in every paragraph. It was my husband who convinced me to bedshare and helped me see how much sense it made. He lovingly raises our daughters while I run around to get a career going and finish my Master degree. Our 5 yo now sleeps in her own bed, but we often sit by her side until she’s sound asleep. And our youngest of 2 years? She cuddles up with me at the end of the day, gets in a few sips of breast milk and we happily dream off.


SleeperMan March 28, 2016 at 6:12 am

We never co-slept but then again we did bedshare, just not for sleeping. Just resting. My wife and I were really worried about SIDS.


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