Attachment parenting is basically a parenting philosophy based on the principles of attachment theory in developmental psychology. Oddly enough I still have all my text books from college and my developmental psychology being one of them I decided to do some research. The book is called The Human Odyssey: Life-Span Development by Paul S. Kaplan. In the book it describes attachment as being the emotional bond between 2 people that forms over time. The importance of early parent-child relationship is how we base our basic attitudes towards people and learn to trust. Children who do not form secure attachment develop a foundation of later emotional issues and are not able to relate to others. Children create secure attachments with their primary care-giver by building trust over time. Primary care-givers of secure attachment children are more involved, more responsive, more appropriate with their responses, and show more positive behaviours towards their children. Attachment parenting is done by following the 7 Baby B’s these are:
1. Birth Bonding
4. Bedding close to baby
5. Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry
6. Beware of baby trainer
I don’t think I need to explain these, but if you want to read a description you can follow the link. Most of these are things we all do as parents or at least I do but yet I’m not truly considered an attachment parent. Any attachment parent that I have researched about takes these 7 Baby B’s to a whole other level. I’ve read about parents that wear their babies all the time and never sit them down in a bouncy chair or swing. Bedding close by means that parents co-sleep and belief in the language value of your babies cry means you learn your child’s cues to deal with your child’s needs before they cry. I have no problem with parents choosing to raise your children this way if that is how you wish to but it also doesn’t mean that children that aren’t raised exactly like this don’t also have secure attachment. Secure attachment is formed by showing sensitivity, being responsive and showing positive behaviours towards a child. There is no where in the definition that it says you can only obtain this by wearing your child on you 24/7 or choosing to co-sleep with your child until their 4 years old. I guess the extent to which you choose to follow the definition of secure attachment is up for interpretation but that doesn’t make one form more effective than another.
I actually think that the extent to which some of these are done can actually be detrimental to a child’s development. In my book it explains the importance of autonomy, which means as children enter toddler-hood they must develop a sense of understanding that they are individuals in their own right and have control over their own behaviour. If parents are to overprotective or don’t allow their children to do what they are able to it may cause a child to develop shame or doubt which in-turn effects their ability to deal with the world and people around them. I think that the extreme extent that some parents follow the 7 Baby B’s causes their children to never gain a sense of independence and hinders their ability to develop autonomy, and in saying this I mean more so the extreme extent parents are doing some of these into toddler-hood and childhood, not infancy.
This is where we get into my thoughts on co-sleeping vs. sleep training. I’m all for co-sleeping, I co-slept with Jellybean and I plan to do the same this time with Littlebean. I think there is an importance of a child being close to you not only for feeding but also for safety reasons, but I think there should be a limit on how long. I co-slept or had Jellybean’s bed right next to mine until he was 6 1/2 months old. He always slept better in his own bed next to me then he did laying right beside me in my bed. He started showing signs he was ready for the transition into his own bed in his own room so we decided to follow his cues and make the transition. I have no issues with co-sleeping or allowing your child to sleep in your room but once a parent is ignoring their child’s cues that they are ready or once a child reaches toddler-hood I think your hindering their ability to become independent and develop autonomy. When it comes to co-sleeping vs. sleep training there is so much controversy. The most common sleep training method is known as the Ferber Method aka the cry-it-out method. The cry-it-out method teaches a child to self-soothe by crying for a predetermined amount of time before receiving external comfort. The child goes through all of their regular bed time routines before being put to bed awake and left to try and fall sleep on their own without the constant soothing of a parent. The child is left for a short amount of time and then the parent is allowed to re-enter if the child is still crying and sooth the child without picking them up, then the parent is to quickly leave again and continue to re-enter at longer intervals until the child falls asleep. This is done every night until the child has learned to self-soothe, about 3 days, and the child will sleep on their own. Parents who choose to co-sleep believe that cry-it-out method causes brain damage and psychological issues with child. I have done some extensive research on the cry-it-out method and all of the information I have found have proven that to be false. The research I have found states that letting a child to cry causes them to be stressed therefore releases cortisol into the brain which causes brain damage. Now there is truth to the fact that cortisol is released when people are stressed but it is only damaging to the brain if the person is under extreme chronic stress. The data that was used to base this off of was of children in extreme situations and children left in homes with chronic neglect. There is no way that letting a child to cry for a few minutes a few nights a week is considered an extreme situation and it is definitely not considered chronic stress. When is comes to the cry-it-out method causing psychological issues I’ve debated with people who have said that leaving a child to cry-it-out causes them not to trust their parents. According to the attachment theory mistrust results in the child being hostile, non-accepting and unable to relate to others. Though it is true that children can learn to mistrust their parents but if a secure attachment is formed with the child that simply isn’t going to happen. Secure attachment is based on the cumulative effects of mother-child interactions, not on any single brief encounter. A child that is left to cry for a few minutes a couple times isn’t going to base their entire form of trust and secure attachment off of something so brief, the child will base it off of all the other times the parent was there being sensitive, supportive, responsive and positive. When the cry-it-out method is done correctly the child learns to self-soothe which helps the child develop their sense of independence and autonomy which is extremely important in their developmental psychology.
So all of that being said I guess my parenting style according to the real definition of attachment parenting means I’m an attachment parent, as I’m sure most of you are too and never realized it. I have a secure attachment with Jellybean as defined by the attachment theory and I believe in sleep training when done correctly. I do not believe that carrying your baby 24/7 or co-sleeping with your infant until they are well into childhood means that you have a better secure attachment or trust relationship with your child than someone who is treating their children with sensitivity, support, responsiveness and positive attitude as well as allowing them to become independent individuals. As I said before I’m all for parenting how you see fit as well I’m aware that all children are extremely different. This is just my interpretations of the information I have gathered and how I plan to raise and parent my children. If it’s something you don’t agree with then we can agree to disagree, I don’t plan to force my theories on anyone I just felt like voicing my opinions on the issues and sharing the information I have found.