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Are You An Attachment Parent? . . . You May Be Surprised.

Until I was pregnant, I hadn't ever heard of the term "Attachment Parenting". It actually did not dawn on me that I fit into a particular style of parenting at all.  I just knew that I REALLY did not agree with certain things. Honestly, I don't recall the first place I heard the term being used, but the more and more I read and learned, the more I realized that I just might be an AP parent. 

Attachment (noun) - A feeling that binds one to a person, thing, cause, ideal; devotion; regard

 I think that we can all agree that MOST parents only want to do what is best for their children. On the other hand, there never seems to be a shortage of conflicting information coming at us from all angles. Friends, family, doctors, and even strangers all seem to know the "right" way to do things, and aren't afraid to share.

Okay... Back to the basics. In the midst of my confusion, I stumbled upon Dr. Sears, and his website really helped me realize it doesn't have to be so complicated.
I don't know about you, but I felt pretty attached to my little guy, long before we physically met. I never could have imagined feeling more attached to him than I was on the day he was born. . .
then the next day came.

If it actually physically hurts to hear your baby crying. . . you are attached to your baby.
If you want to comfort him when he is fussy. . . you are attached to your baby.
If you can tell by the look on his face, that he is getting ready to cry. . . you are attached to your baby.
If you respond to your baby BEFORE his cues turn into cries. . . you are attached to your baby.
When you feel right about responding to your baby, instead of questioning if you are doing the wrong thing. . . you are attached to your baby.

One of the analogies that I stumbled across really resonated with me. 

"Attachment parents become like gardeners. You cant control the color of the flower, or the time of year that it blooms. . . but you can pick the weeds and prune the plant, so that the flower blooms more beautifully."

Now let's tackle those nasty myths about Attachment Parenting.

You are going to spoil that baby - Babies do not spoil. Babies are not capable of manipulating you. Practicing AP involves responding appropriately to your baby's needs. Their needs, not  their wants. In the first six months, a baby's needs and wants are one and the same. Once they get older and grow into toddler hood, it is up to the parents to distinguish between the two. That being said, parents need to strive for balance in attending to their baby, without being indulgent or permissive. Both research and experience have shown that attachment fosters independence. Food spoils when left alone on the shelf, would the same then go for babies being left alone? Hmmm. . . 

This AP thing is just a fad - Intrinsically, we are all attachment parents, and have been for centuries. Then came methods and trainings. Without any modern conveniences, we would have to rely on parental instinct. Luckily, we all have that. . . we just need to listen to it :)

I didn't breastfeed, so I can't be an attachment parent - Breastfeeding happens to be one element that can breed a strong attachment, mothers who choose not to, or are unable to breastfeed are by no means excluded from the world of AP. Attached bottle feeding is extremely effective as well. Holding, cradling, skin to skin contact and eye contact all help the bonding experience, whether feeding from breast or bottle. 
This is NOT attachment parenting.

Only moms who stay home can practice AP - This is a myth that I can dispel from experience. I work full time, and when I am able to be home with Jackson, he and I are pretty attached. When we go shopping, I wear him. When he is hungry, I nurse him. When he is tired, we bed-share and co-sleep. When he cries, I go to him. The best thing is that when I am unable to be with him, our nanny helps raise him the same way. We are very lucky to have her. :)

Attachment Parents don't have any time to themselves - Au contraire mon frere. While in the midst of packing for a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's farm, I found myself being pulled from one side of the room to the other by my lil' monster. Play with this, chase me, look at this, I'm hungry, help me with this, watch me do this . . etc. (I'm sure we have all experienced a day or two like this) Then I remembered. . . If he is ATTACHED to me, he can't go far. Thank God for the wrap!

Once I remembered . . . the packing was able to commence. :)

Parenting in general is not black and white. AP is not a one size, fits all guide to parenting, it is just a guide. As always, I stress that it is up to each of us as a parent to do some research and inform ourselves.  

If something resonates with you, USE IT. If it doesn't quite sit right with you, LEAVE IT. It is really THAT simple. As with anything else, if you don't know your options . . . you cannot possibly make an informed decision about anything. 
This reminds me of a song I grew up with. 

"You've got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything.
You've got to be your own man, not a puppet on a string.
Never compromise what's right, and uphold your family name. 
You've got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything"


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