Attachment Parenting, Illustrated

Attachment Parenting is an approach to childrearing, independent of a parent’s lifestyle. What this means is that instead of centering on specific rules, such as that a mother must breastfeed or bedshare or stay-at-home, the Attachment Parenting approach shifts the parents’ focus to meeting the individual emotional needs of each child, interdependent with the needs of the parent and the family as a whole. It is a family-centered approach to parenting through which children are responded to consistently and sensitively, depending on their development, but treated with the same respect and value as an adult, yet without sacrificing the parents’ needs for personal balance.

Attachment Parenting is not a label for the specific tools that parents use to care for and raise their children. Rather, Attachment Parenting is the attitude parents take when using the tools. This attitude is based on trust, empathy, affection, joy, compassion, forgiveness, peace, nonviolence, acceptance, understanding, patience, love. There is no room for control, coercion, and punishment because Attachment Parenting requires a different lens through which to see our children, ourselves, and our interactions. This does not mean that children in “attachment families” do not cry, have tantrums, lie, cheat on tests, hit, or do other behaviors that require discipline. Attachment Parenting gives an alternate approach to how parents deal with these behaviors, one that is shown by research to be more effective in the long term of teaching children limits to their behavior while preserving their self-worth – and parents’ sanity.

In a culture with a heavy emphasis on behavior modification – in other words, how do we get our kids to do something we want them to do or to not do something they’re doing? – it can be difficult to wrap our minds around what Attachment Parenting is. But while multidisciplinary research shows some parenting tools to have advantages over others, attachment research demonstrates that it’s the thought behind the action that matters when bonding with our children. Read more on The Attached Family online magazine…

Author: Rita Brhel

Rita Brhel, BS, CLC, API Leader, lives with her family near Hastings, NE, USA, where she works as a WIC Breastfeeding Counselor. She also writes for Mothering and La Leche League's New Beginnings.

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