Top 5 Myths About Attachment Parenting
Myths about attachment parenting are everywhere. They are spread by media, parents, and nonparents alike. But as with most myths, I find they are born of a basic misunderstanding of what attachment parenting is.
People misunderstand attachment parenting for a variety of reasons. Some people were raised in a very different time in which anything resembling attachment parenting was seen as “weak” parenting. Some people know an “attached parent” who rubs them the wrong way, so they automatically assume that attachment parenting is not for them.
Whatever your reason for reading this article, I hope you will consider that attachment parenting is not a dogma or a set of rules, but rather a different way of looking at children and parenting.
So let's do some myth busting. Here are the top 5 myths about attachment parenting, and why they are not true.
Myth #1 – Attachment parents must spend all of their time with their kids
Do you think that attachment parents never leave their kids? It's not true! In fact, attachment principle #8 actively encourages parents to find balance in their lives:
It is easier to be emotionally responsive when you feel in balance. Create a support network, set realistic goals, put people before things, and don't be afraid to say “no”. Recognize individual needs within the family and meet them to the greatest extent possible without compromising your physical and emotional health. Be creative, have fun with parenting, and take time to care for yourself.
If this means a break from your kids once in a while, that is great! Having some time for yourself can rejuvenate you and allow you to have more patience and energy for your children.
Myth #2 – Attachment parents must practice (insert stereotypical thing here)
Attachment parenting often has a stereotypical image of a home birthing, co-sleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding mother. But did you know that none of those things are required in order to be an attached parent?
In fact, attachment parenting isn't about these details at all. Attachment parenting is a set of principles that allow parents to raise securely attached children.
The Principles of Attachment Parenting:
- Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting
- Feed with love and respect
- Respond with sensitivity
- Use nurturing touch
- Ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally
- Provide consistent and loving care
- Practice positive discipline
- Strive for balance in personal and family life
So why do many attached parents practice these things?
These practices are merely ways of reaching the end goal of an attached family. Different families will have different ways of meeting these goals.
The important thing is that parents make choices that are right for them while keeping the attachment parenting principles in mind. Whether that means babywearing, co-sleeping, or breastfeeding is up to them, as long as they are keeping the emotional and physical needs of their child in mind, as well as their needs as parents.
Myth #3 – Attachment parents cannot work outside the home
Many attached parents work outside of the home. In fact, in some cases working parents may benefit from attachment parenting principles more than stay at home parents. Since working parents are away from their child more, practicing attachment parenting at home can allow them to form a secure bond when they are home.
Furthermore, caregivers can learn how to use attachment parenting principles in their care of children, bonding the child to not only his or her parents, but also to the caregiver.
It may feel strange at first to think of your child bonding to their caregiver, but who would you rather your child spend their time with? Someone who is basically a stranger to them, or someone whom they have formed a bond with?
Myth #4 – You must breastfeed to be an attached parent
If breastfeeding were a requirement of attachment parenting, then fathers would never be able to bond with their children. Of course, this is an absurd thought which proves that breastfeeding is not required for attachment parenting.
Don't get me wrong, breastfeeding is important and strongly encouraged by attachment parenting advocates, but if you can't breastfeed or choose not to breastfeed, you can still be an attached parent.
There are specific resources available for attachment parents who choose to bottlefeed. They can help you learn how to do so in the most nurturing way possible, strengthening your bond with your baby.
Myth #5 – Attachment parents think everyone should parent like them
As with any belief or lifestyle choice, there will always be those attachment parents who are judgmental and dogmatic about their way of doing things, even going so far as to shame parents who do not live the way that they do.
These type of people are poor representatives of attachment parenting. I hope you realize that just because these kind of people exists does not mean that they make up the majority of attached parents.
You probably know a lot more attachment parents than you realize. Some may choose to keep their parenting style a secret, and still, others may not even have a name for their style of parenting.
Sure, attachment parents want to spread the news about attachment parenting and why they love it so much, but most will also respect your decision to do what's best for your family.
No matter what you choose, I believe that everyone can benefit from attachment parenting principles. I hope you will let go of the myths that have held you back, and open yourself to the possibility of incorporating some of the attachment parenting principles into your life.
If you're interested in learning more about attachment parenting or how to form a better bond with your child, visit www.attachmentparenting.org or read Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik.