Attachment Parenting Nazis – And Why I’m Not One of Them

The way we choose to parent our children can be a fraught subject. The way we choose to parent can bring us closer together, or drive us apart.

It’s understandable that clashes between the closest of friends (or even total strangers) can occur when discussions about parenting start. After all, we are all just trying to do the best we can for our kidlets, and by slamming someone else’s methods we automatically slam them as parents.

Image courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt

Of course, there are some things (in my opinion) that should be slammed – baby sleep training and circumcision are two examples that come to mind. However, it seems to be a common trend amongst passionate proponents of attachment parenting to be very judgy about how others choose to raise their kids.

Now, I am not saying that it’s unnatural or even wrong to judge others. It’s human nature to make snap judgements, and I am the first to admit that sometimes I jump to unfair conclusions about people. Furthermore, when you are informed and educated about gentle, attached parenting and its benefits (and, almost more importantly, the damaging effects of methods involved in more mainstream parenting styles), it’s hard to wrap your head around why somebody might choose to bottlefeed their babies from birth, push them around in pushchairs rather than wear them or have them sleep in their own room from a young age.

However, I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the out-and-out mummy bashing that happens on AP facebook pages, forums and real-life groups alike. There seems to be a breed of parent –and to avoid getting slammed myself, I must point out that there are plenty of non-AP parents guilty of this, too – that seem to believe that their way is the only way. Just the other day I saw on an AP-orientated facebook fan page that a mama had asked a question about her 5-month-olds sleep. She was simply asking for some advice on gentle ways to help her daughter settle at night (she was waking 3 or 4 times each night), and was met with a barrage of judgement from other mamas telling her that she shouldn’t expect any better and to man up and ‘just deal’ with her sleep deprivation.

Since when did we all become so mean? Would it not have been kinder and more productive to have offered this mama the support and understanding that she clearly needed? Could these women not understand that full-time co-sleeping isn’t an option for everybody? Is wasn’t an option for me for a long time due to physical issues (which have since resolved thank goodness); did it make me a bad parent to seek gentle, no-cry solutions to get a little more rest?

A very good friend of mine has a year-old baby. Due to some issues and a lack of adequate support for mama, he was bottlefed from a couple of days old. He is rarely worn, and has slept in his own room from a couple months old. He first spent the night at his granny’s when he was 5 weeks old, and he regularly sleeps at her house now so that mama and papa can go out, or simply enjoy an evening to themselves. He is also a very happy, settled, confident and well-adjusted child with strong attachments to his parents and his grandparents. My friend and her husband parent very differently to my husband and I, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we (or they) are doing a better job. We both have happy, healthy kids who want for nothing, physically and emotionally. Whether we AP mamas would like to admit it or not, attachment parenting isn’t the One True Path that everyone must follow in order to be good parents.

Of course, I believe that attachment parenting is a great way to raise children. I also believe that you don’t have to co-sleep, breastfeed, be a stay-at-home-mum or wear your baby constantly in order to be an attached, loving and conscientious parent (as Joella so eloquently discussed in her guest post ).

It’s high time that us mamas started supporting each other, rather than slamming each other for ‘crimes’ such as rejecting cloth nappies at night-time in favour of freakishly absorbent disposables, or for using a pushchair on occasion – lets face it, sometimes it really is easier. I refuse to be so hypocritical as to suggest that non-AP parents are bad parents by proxy, and to whine in the next breath that I feel judged by so-and-so who thinks co-sleeping is dangerous. Give me a break.

Comments

  1. Mojoleonie says

    Absolutely… Can’t agree with you more, there seems to be a lot of negativity around some days & it is time people started to support each other. Being a parent is hard enough without being criticised for your choices, we parent mostly ‘attached’ but not 100% I wear my baby but still have a pushchair, didn’t intend to cosleep but kinda do at 3am think that is mostly through tiredness, use disposables at night, unfortunately will b going back to work part time & bring my baby up vegetarian… But those are my choices not anyone elses to make, We all need support.

    • says

      thank you for commenting! Yes, you’re right, there is way too much negativity around. I mean, lets face it, being a parent is tough enough at times without having to defend yourself against others. we’re all in the same boat, after all!

  2. Gemma Sidney says

    Very good article. It is all too easy to look down on other mothers who bottle feed and make their babies sleep alone. Parenting methods are usually passed down from generation to generation and busy mothers may not have the time, or the inclination to research alternative ways of parenting. It is usually a lack of knowledge or support that leads parents to choose to parent in less attached ways. I believe in attachment parenting but yes I do have my baby in a pushchair on the odd occasion, such as when it’s pouring with rain. Sometimes practicality has to come first. @GemmaSidney

    • says

      absolutely. the bottle feeding point is one i struggle with. I have a good knowledge of breastfeeding so i cant understand how anyone could choose formula over their own liquid gold, but not everybody is as clued-up about how important breastfeeding is. indeed, when i was expecting my first, i considered formula feeding from birth.

      thank you for commenting:)

      • Gemma Sidney says

        It can be so hard for some people to breastfeed due to lack of support. I found it extremely tough in the week after my baby was born, especially after getting comments from lactation consultants in the hospital about how my baby had a high palette and wouldn’t be able to feed properly. Plus I was constantly being asked if I was sure she was getting enough milk. Shockingly the lactation consultant in the hospital asked if I had a “back up plan”! We got there in the end (and are still breastfeeding 9 months later) but it was through the amazing support of my partner and not because of the so called “support” from the health care professionals. If I had not had the support from my partner (who had taken the time to read up about breastfeeding) then I might have considered formula too, especially as my mother formula fed me. You can see how other women end up formula feeding their babies. I could never understand the women who don’t even try to breastfeed though.

        • says

          i completely agree, it can be so tough especially at the start. i was lucky enough to have fantastic practical help from our local birth centre but i know not all women have that luxury. I’m sorry you had such a hard time, kudos to you for sticking with it :)

          I agree though, i find it hard to understand those who don’t even try.

  3. Emma says

    A good article, but I think you are missing the point. If AP parents don’t passionately spread the word then nothing will change. Sometimes you do need to say it how it is, and for the sake of the children sometimes their mums do need to ‘man up’.

    • says

      I do see where you are coming from Emma, for sure. Yes, it’s important to spread knowledge of gentle parenting practices because, as another commenter pointed out, some may just not realise how damaging certain methods are. I will always speak out about the dangers of letting babies cry it out, for example, but that is a completely different kettle of fish than someone not co-sleeping or choosing to use a pushchair instead of a sling. One can still be a connected parent that way. And, quite frankly, if the AP community alienates itself from the mainstream, people are less likely to listen. Thank you so much for commenting! :)

  4. says

    I just stumbled upon this article and i LOVE it. I am a green momma with a great attachment to my child. I still after 17 months feel huge guilt because I could not breast feed and I can not baby wear (due ot physically limitations). I don’t think those parents being judgemental realize the pain and guilt and hours and hours of crying some women go through, before accepting that they can’t do breast feeding/ baby wearing/ co-sleeping. I am so happy to read something postive about this subject!!!!

    • says

      Thanks so much for your comment! I’m sorry you had a hard time with breastfeeding; I can imagine how gutted I would be if I was unable to. AP guidelines are just that – GUIDElines. co-sleeping, babywearing etc are great tools for fostering attachment but they certainly aren’t necessary for a great parent-child bond.

  5. Lisa says

    Yeah, I don’t understand why so much judgmentalism. As a single mum without a car, I defy anyone to try to grocery shop and carry groceries or other shopping home without a stroller (“pushchair”) where the bags can be stowed/slung. I intended to BF until at least 6 months, but my daughter began refusing to eat close to 4 months. The only way she would take milk (pumped BM at first) was by bottle – which she had not previously been exposed to. I had to follow her lead. She also co-slept with me until shortly after a year when she clearly began to prefer her own cot. Again, I followed her lead. Am I a “bad” mum? That’s just crazy talk. But I do get judged by other mums who think every baby is like theirs or who don’t understand being a single mum. My daughter is the happiest little girl, always smiling and friendly. Thanks for this post.

    • says

      Absolutely! Every single baby is different, as are the families that raise them. I honestly have SO much respect for single mothers such as yourself, I cannot imagine what it must be like to raise a child in a one parent family. Kudos to you. You sound like a fantastic mum.

      Thanks so much for commenting!

  6. chris says

    I’m sorry. But I have to say woman are terrible to each other. As a stay at home dad who’s has been involved in many ‘mommy and me” classes, I’m shocked at how you speak about each other, how you judge each other, and how you ignore your own faults while practily sky writing the faults of others. Every single baby is different, they each have their own needs at their own time. A good parent pays close attention to their babies and responds accordingly.
    I’m currently working and a daddies only group to avoid the drama that pops up everytime a group of 3 mothers or more gather.

    • says

      I agree completely, mummy competitiveness and judginess is rife. Good on you for setting up a dad’s group, there’s not enough of them! There’s one in our town but the turnout is fairly poor.

  7. says

    Thanks so much for these posts. I’ve been on the other end (being judged) although I do think that I parent my son with compassion, love and respect.
    We were both quite ill when he was born and he wouldn’t latch. He had to be fed with tubes for a while, cups and the dreaded bottle. I had loads of milk, so I did express and we did that for the first six weeks but my expressing schedule fell out of sync with his feeding desire and in the end I was doing nothing but expressing or feeding. I was really on the brink of getting severely depressed, so I made the decision to give up and formula feed. It was breast milk and crazy mama, or happy relaxed parents and formula.

    I’m part of a green community movement – Transition – and so I come into contact with a lot of Mums who are APing. I think it’s great but I dare not tell them that I formula fed, nor that we only rarely co-sleep. I did wear my boy a lot – I found it easier than push chairs, although we do own one.

    He’s a happy, well attached little boy, confident around others and very loving. I feel huge guilt for my choices, although realistically, they were the only ones for me in my situation.

    I think there really is a place to share things you find are really good, and have had a positive effect on your life. But if you pre-judge someone’s choices without first stopping to find out their motivations, you may turn off people who could hear the message you’re spreading by starting off by telling them they’re crap people. I would have loved to have had support in those early days to carry out the choices I wanted to make (breast feeding, terry diapers etc) but what I needed was support not to feel rubbish about the choices I had to make. Anyone coming from a fundamentalist position ON ANYTHING is not going to be helpful to the interested but slightly abashed outsider.

    Thanks again.

    • says

      Thank you so much for your comment!

      I find it such a terrible shame that you (and many others in your shoes, I’m guessing) feel such guilt for your choices when, like you said, they were the only options available to you at the time, and despite the fact that your little boy is happy, healthy, attached and loved. There really isn’t One True Way to raise kids, and you are clearly doing a fantastic job. I know I am very pro-breastfeeding but frankly the whole vilification of formula really, really bothers me. I think a lot of people choose to ignore the fact that formula fed babies (at least in the western world) aren’t dropping like flies due to poor health. Comparing breast milk to formula is like comparing apples to oranges. They are both perfectly reasonable sources of nutrition, just very different. Please don’t beat yourself up; you clearly did the very best you could, and the way you feed your baby is just one teeny tiny part of mothering.

      Sorry, lol, I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent. It just makes me sad to think of such a clearly loving, caring, intelligent mother feeling guilty about something that was beyond her control <3

  8. Sally says

    I am a grandmother of a beautiful 6-month old baby who is being attachment parented. I actually just figured out that what it is called and have been looking on-line for some information. What strikes me is how difficult and draining this is on the parents, especially the mother. I know there is supposed to be “balance” – whatever that means and aren’t we all trying to find that? But newborns are not by nature “balanced.” They need you 24/7. So yes, it is difficult, but it also not possible for everyone, as I can see from your post and the comments above. But it has ever been that mothers are hardest on themselves and on each other. No wonder we get blamed for everything! But I have yet to know a mother who took it seriously who wanted anything but the best for her child. So, now its a new generation and it seems like that is the one that hasn’t changed. Be kind to each other and to your own mothers, too. Yep, they didn’t do attachment parenting because it wasn’t “invented” yet. But they held their babies, fed them, jumped when they cried, were broken hearted when they were hurt, and everyone turned out fine. In fact, I think this generation of parents is awesome. I know my son and his wife are. Take care of your babies and take care of yourselves.

    • says

      Thank you so much for commenting, it’s wonderful to hear about AP from a grandparent’s perspective!

      It’s true that AP is not often the easiest path to tread especially in the early days, but I think most of us would agree that it’s worth it – and there are a lot of things that are made easier by AP, too.

      Like you said, the important thing is that we meet our babies’ needs and love them wholeheartedly. Everything else is just semantics ;)

  9. Lisa Card says

    I understand what the author is trying to say but as a child care provider and a “mainstream” parent I have to say that attachment parenting makes very little sense to me. Kids thrive on structure and schedules. It is our job as parents to teach our children values and social cues. I have run across some products of AP and I have to say they are not welcome in my day care. The kids I have seen have no attention span. No independence. No self control. My poor kids end up with bruses from the AP kids cause the parents are terrified to say no to them as it will crush their souls. Give me a break. You are not doing your children any favors by attending to their every whim and not teaching them how to control their impulses. When these kids hit school I pity the poor teacher who will have to deal with them. Do you think the teacher or later on their boss is going to stop the world cause jr has a paper cut? My kids get all the hugs and love they want. But if they start yelling for this or that or ordering me to fetch them something they are quickly informed that I am not a servant and that it is important to think of others needs and feelings to. This is lacking with AP kids. Their needs and wants come before anyone else. My kids get plenty of my undivided attention but they are also taught that they must play independently. The AP kids I have run into cannot seem to function without an adults undivided attention and they end up very limited in their creative free play. I am sorry but the kids I have seen that have been APed have many levels of behavioral problems. Breast feeding is always a good idea if possible and kids should have a certain amount of undivided attention from parents each day. Aside from that, they rest of the AP philosophy is just plain nuts.

    • says

      I think you are getting attachment parenting confused with permissive parenting. Lots of AP children have routines and schedules, and they certainly have boundaries and rules. Mine do. AP isn’t about pandering to kids and letting them do whatever the hell they want whenever they want. It’s about treating them as individuals, as human beings, and about allowing them to develop at their own pace. My kids do not hit, they are not brats, they are empathetic and conscientious and yes I put that down to AP. I appreciate your input but I find it rather odd how you have come across a couple of kids who have been UNparented (not attachment parented) and lumped them in with kids who have been raised conscientiously and respectfully.

    • says

      I second the possible confusion between AP and permissive parenting. According to the basic AP philosophy, it focuses on healthy communication and interactions between parent and child which includes setting adequate boundaries. When a relationship is based on trust and respect, discipline comes naturally by way of emulation and gentle correction when mistakes are made. In a healthy relationship, both parties are being respected and having their needs met. This is true for the parent/child relationship as well. Both children and adults must learn to work together within their family unit to ensure harmony. This is a learning process. If a child acts out their difficult emotions aggressively and displays poor empathy, this is a sign that they are not observing proper behaviour within their family and are not being guided into developing emotional intelligence. This occurs in both permissive and authoritarian families, not attachment-type ones as it counters the very core of this parenting style.

  10. says

    Yes, I agree with the last two comment, those were NOT AP kids you were dealing with. Those were the unfortunate product of permissive parents. As an AP mom and staunch advocate, my kid has/does/always minds. He was not only welcomed into preschool with open arms, he was a star pupil based solely on manners, ability to follow directions and how well he got along with other children. He not only gets told no, but, has a strict mom depending on the subject. Ever other AP set of kids I know also have the same homelife as well.
    Permissive parenting is NOT one that I cannot get behind if the kid has never been told no or to stop bad behavior. So, with that, I’d appreciate if I was not lumped into the same category with EVERY other parent with unruly kids that you find just because you are confused on the subject. If I were you, I would actually LOOK for ANY AP kids I could get my hand on to be in my care. instead of pushing us away.

  11. Lisa Card says

    The parent I came across specified to me that their philosophy was AP one mother who interviewed for a spot with me had a child completely out of control. Her son smacked my daughter in the face, hit my cat and pulled its hair, fell down my flight of steps, ran through my entire house rummaging through out things. When it was time to do the tour we all had to stand around and wait till her son decided he wanted to go with us. What a joke! Three people waiting on one kid. When it was time to leave he didn’t want to go so we had to wait another 20min before she tried to pick him up and carry him out. The kid went ballistic! He punched her in the face, kicked her, and tried to rip out her hair. I have never seen a more angry, aggressive, or unhappy child in my life. There was not one word of reprimand from her. When children hit in my care they receive an immediate time out. I am quite sure that they are not traumatized by the experience. In fact many parents have noticed a big improvement in their kids behavior and have adopted my way of doing things. I understand about not spanking kids but this whole anti-time out philosophy is silly I have gotten to the point with my daughter and some of the daycare kids where I don’t even need to use time outs. They know the rules and abide by them. I don’t understand how people expect daycares and schools to deal with their children when they are dealing with a group. Children need to be guided toward school and that means that sometimes they have to sit and listen to a story when they may feel more like running around. But you know what? That’s life. We don’t always get to choose what we want to do all the time. Childhood is about having time to be free and have fun but also to learn skills that will help them in school.

    • says

      Again, that is not an AP family you were dealing with. Maybe they THOUGHT they were, but they weren’t. And besides, surely it’s possible to do AP things- cosleeping, babywearing etc- as well as being permissive with regards to guidance and discipline. What you are talking about is a product of a guidance-free childhood, not an AP childhood. I’m sorry, but you’re missing the point.

      I find your claims very offensive, Lisa. My children know the rules. They abide by them. There are consequences when they don’t. We are a team, navigating the world together. To make a blanket statement that AP produces little horrors after having met a couple of families who are supposedly practicing AP is ridiculous. And on a post that’s about tolerance and respect of others parenting styles, too.

    • Leslie LeCompte says

      Wait a minute, you are basing your ENTIRE prejudice against AP and this WHOLE onslaught of rudeness based on ONE no minding child merely because that mom claimed AP although incorrect? Ha! Well, I suggest you take your prejudice self back to you well-behaved non-AP kids and never come near mine then. Mine might pick up on quick judgments and learn to make snap decisions about whole groups of people based on one bad encounter. And our home is NOT about that.

      BTW, My AP kid was spanked on the butt if the time called for it. So, how does that fit into your little tiny AP box you’ve built?

  12. Lisa Card says

    I am not trying to be offensive I just have a different opinion than you. AP parents all claim that they are doing it the “right” way. Its like claiming yours is the only true religion. There are so many interpretations of AP no one can claim they follow the “true” version and everyone else is wrong. There have been no successful studies of AP results as there have been with normal parenting techniques. I have met more than a few APers I just gave you one example. I have as of yet seen it work for either the parents or other care givers or schools. I do resent the disruption it causes in school and social settings especially when my kids are physically hurt. I got sucked into one aspect of AP which was breastfeeding my first daughter. I made myself, my husband, and my daughter terribly unhappy because I felt the pressure that breastfeeding was the only way. I was almost always feeding or pumping, my daughter wasn’t gaining weight properly and I was taking a dangerous amount of a breastfeeding pill that could cause seizures. I should have breastfed when I could and given formula. But I listened to all the bs and ended with an underweight child, a strained relationship with my husband, and a sever case of PPD. I find it hard to be tolerant of a philosophy that infringes on my children’s right not to be beaten and to learn in a public school system. It also makes me mad when I look at AP message boards and see young mothers telling people they are seriously depressed and that AP is not working for them yet they are told to stick it out or they are bad parents. In the end I really think this is just a fad and will die out. When people see that it doesn’t work for the majority.

    • says

      I am sorry you had such a hard time with breastfeeding. I know many, many AP parents who do not breastfeed. It’s not a requirement, believe it or not.

      Again, True attachment parenting has zero to do with allowing your kids to get away with murder and has everything to do with love, respect and guidance. Boundaries etc are part of respecting another.

      It makes me sad that your view of AP has been skewed by a few parents who have declined to actually parent their children.

      And I am still very confused as to why you chose this post to attack the parenting choices of others.

  13. says

    Lisa, after reading through these last few comments, I can only say this: I’m so very glad my kids are not in your care. You paint a very poor picture of yourself as one with a myopic mindset and extremely narrow values. Do you expect respect from the children in your care? I wonder how well they manage that when the respect you show your fellow mothers/carers is so limited. I would suggest in future you have a clue what you are talking about and dealing with before embarking upon such outrageous commenting. And even then, have a thought about the effects of your rudeness upon others. It’s called common decency, and just because you may think you don’t agree with another’s idea does not give you the right to be abusive. Perhaps you have some issues with your own parents which need to be sorted out?

  14. Lisa Card says

    Leslie, you are judging me and not really waiting to listen to a full explanation. I am not judging every single APer but the general concepts allow for little flexibility. It promotes fanatics and condemnation within the general movement. I personally don’t think it is healthy for anyone to have a baby strapped to them 24-7. I think it is ok to feed some or all formula as the case maybe. I also think co sleeping is just nuts and also it has been PROVEN dangerous. I don’t think it is healthy to give a child 100 per cent undivided attention because it is not practicle and it is smothering and limits independence. These are my opinions and I am willing to have a constructive conversation about them but it seems that you don’t want to without insulting me. That’s fine. I am not really shocked. It is what I have found with people who are indoctrinated in this “movement”.

    • says

      Since when did anybody say that you have to breastfeed, cosleep, spend every waking moment entertaining your kid in order to practice AP??? I think you need to research and find out what AP actually is.

      And by the way, co sleeping IS safe. When safe sleep guidelines are followed there is no elevated risk of suffocation or SIDS. Check your facts, see studies by McKenna.

  15. says

    You are still not getting it. You are STILL claiming that ALL AP parents let their kids do whatever they want and that we are ALL staunch in our beliefs.

    I AM AP!!

    My kid is well behaved.
    He had formula mostly.
    Was spanked occasionally.
    NEVER has hit another kid.
    Has NOT been a disruption at school.

    So,again I ask, how is it that YOU get to decide that ALL AP kids are bad?

    And NO, AP is NOT a fad. It is the biological NORM for kids since caveman times. Therefore your way of raising kids is a “fad” that was shaped by society.

    Also of note: Breastfeeding is NOT strictly AP.

    This is AP:
    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 Your Personal and Family Life

    Pretty sure if you bothered to pull your judgmental head from your nether region you’d find that AP is NOT what you are thinking it is. Also that YOU yourself actually used some AP raising with your own kids.

  16. Lisa Card says

    I am not attacking anyone… I am discussing. When you wrote this did you not want to hear any other opinion? What is your take on AP disaplin? What I have read and seen so far is no time out, no spanking, no yelling, no telling them no, just mostly redirection. How do you enforce your rules and what are your rules?

    • says

      The boundaries we have in place are those that most parents do. We behave in a manner that is conscientious and respectful to others and to each other. Consequences are logical – if my son, age 3, is throwing toys in the house (something that happens from time to to time) it is usually due to frustration or just plain old overexcitedness. He is given guidance and an alternative – “we don’t throw toys in the house. Why don’t we go throw a ball in the garden?” – if not heeded, the toy is removed. Not as “punishment”, but to keep us and our possessions safe from harm, and this is explained. Rarely do we have to take things away.

      The feeling in our home is one of a team, not us the parents vs the kids. If there is an issue (snatching, throwing, etc) we find solutions together. This promotes critical thinking and problem solving. As of yet we have never encountered a situation in which anything harsher than this has been needed, and I don’t believe that is down to luck.

      Of course I don’t expect everyone to agree. I appreciate polite discourse. However this post, summed up, is saying “I believe this to be a great way to raise kids, but I realize that it’s not the only way, let’s be more respectful of others choices”. Are you not basically saying the same thing?

  17. Lisa Card says

    Leslie, if that is your situation then all I am saying is that from people I have met and what I have read you are not the typical APer. I am really quite sure we don’t know how caveman society has run in the past. We really don’t have a great deal of info about that and what we do know is that one society was vastly different than the other. It varied depending on circumstances and environment just like our societies do today. Besides just cause something was done historically doesn’t mean that it is the best way to do something or that they were practicing the biologically innate way of raising children. They did what worked for their culture, society, and situation at the time. I do hope we have learned a thing or two about child development since then. The structure and current movement of AP in General is a fad. There are certain practices that have been used over time but are not exclusive to AP. The movement in general is a fad as is the term AP. What I am saying is that it is best to pick and choose the concepts that work for you and not defend to the death a philosophy that you yourself claim to not follow in its entirety.

  18. says

    Um…I DO follow it in it’s entirety. Read what I posted again.

    I agree that you should pick what works best for you. So, my question is: If you are SO against this “fad” style of parenting, why come on here and belittle it in a way that you KNOW is going to get negative responses? Why not stop reading this page and go onto a “normal way of parenting that isn’t a fad” blog and exchange ideas and poo-poo AP parenting there where it will be better received?

    Your post in NO way came off as merely “discussing” like a civilized adult. It came off as better than thou and as looking down on ALL AP parents and children and making it seem as though ALL of the kids are bad and ALL the parents are spineless nincompoops.

  19. Lisa Card says

    Imogen, I can see what you are saying. I have a feeling that genetics/personality play a role with your success with this method. You sound very laded back and so do your kids. I am surprised you have never had to deal with a hitting phase as most people go through that at age 2. I think that I tried an approach like yours with my daughter in the beginning but it didn’t fit her personality. She had extreem colic from the moment she was born. No one could figure out why. If she was awake she was crying like she was in pain. There were only short periods where she wasn’t crying. I carried her everywhere because I felt so much guilt that I could not get her to stop crying. I was exhausted and nothing we tried worked. Her extreme personalitiy is something that we continue to deal with today. We have found that we need to have a firm set of rules and back them with time outs very consistently. If we wavered she would become more erratic. We also give a lot of positive reenforcement for good behavior. We really thought we were bad parents. We read and tried every method we could. Then my son was born. Calm, happy, occasionally has a temper but nothing like the extreme reactions we get from my daughter. My mother in-law tries to use a problem solving type method with my daughter but she becomes in such a state you cannot reach her. My son just looks at her like she is nuts and ignores her. I am glad that you can see that AP might not translate to every child or family. I am glad it has worked for you. Thanks for sharing your point of view. I hope that the people it is not working for don’t remain a slave to any particular method and just keep trying till they find out what works for them.

    • says

      Thank you for your reply. I am a very intense, sensitive and highly strung person, as is my oldest son, but for us this is the way to go. It forces me to tame my quick temper and the gentle way we (try to) interact is soothing for us both.

      I hope the same as you do, Lisa. I just want people to follow their instincts when it comes to their kids, not do what they feel they should if it doesn’t feel right for them. For us, AP is not a rigid set of rules and regs. It’s an instinctive way of parenting. We didn’t really do anything AP-like with our oldest (until he was about 4 months old) and he is a much less confident chap than his brother, who has co-slept pretty much from birth (save a couple months when physical issues prevented it), been carried constantly and has had little to no separation from me. He is such a different baby, far more laid back and secure. It probably helps that I haven’t got raging PPD this time around, either.

      Tl;dr : AP works for us, I love it, the boys love it, my husband loves it and we can’t imagine it any other way. I want everyone to feel that way about their family dynamic, no matter what they do.

      I appreciate the debate here, Lisa. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  20. Lisa Card says

    Leslie, so I am only allowed to comment on info that I agree with and I am not allowed to discus a conflicting view? How would anyone ever learn anything by doing that? Are you that unsure in your philosophy that you cannot tolerate anyone disagreeing with you? I have explained many times to you that I was referring to people I had personally met, info I had personally read, and discussions I had observed on line. I cannot claim to know how every family conducts themselves. I guess I will go back with my “own kind” and not try to expand my view. Like I said, this kind of attitude is mostly what I have encountered from people who buy into AP.

  21. says

    Wow, phew, that was intense!! What a debate.

    Lisa, I too am an AP mom but I also follow RIE (http://www.janetlansbury.com/2011/07/rie-parenting-a-respectful-debate/) which involves a lot of free, self-directed play and I find really helps increase my kid’s attention span, focus and independence (which was one of your initial points against AP). I agree with the others that you have met some *bad* examples of AP and jumped to the conclusion that all AP parents went that way… but the more I hear of your personal story the more I see why you are anti-AP. It didn’t work for you. It REALLY didn’t work for you and you were afraid, it would seem, that if you followed it, it would ruin you. I get that. You are here, at least in part perhaps, to stand up for young mums who might feel bullied into following the letter of Attachment Parenting ‘law’ (in the 5 B’s kind of way: birth-bonding, breastfeeeding, bedsharing, baby-wearing and balance). You are right this is a very intensive and demanding approach that will NOT work for everybody. But as Imogen points out not all AP parents are crazy-rule-obsessed-zealots. You do what works for you, as a family.

    On a very different note, have you read ‘Our Babies, Ourselves’ by M.F. Small? That really goes into the parenting practices of many different cultures across the world helping us separate fad from human biological needs. As Leslie pointed out, breastfeeding, co-sleeping and baby-wearing are as old as the hills; it is strollers, cribs and bottles that are new. And in fact, as someone who studied anthropology, I would add that we do know quite a lot about how people have lived throughout history and we know what they didn’t have: home-heating, baby-monitors, cribs and other things that would be needed if co-sleeping weren’t happening. Just sayin’…

    On the topic of studies and books, another excellent read which really goes into the RESEARCH of what works and what doesn’t in disciplining kids is ‘Unconditional Parenting’ by Alfie Kohn. Actually, you might be disappointed to find out that though time-outs, for example, do work in the short-term, in that the offending behaviour ceases, they do not work in the long term: they often lead to increase incidence of misbehaviour in the future + it leads to a slow erosion of the closeness of the bond between child and parent. That is what the research has shown. Not to say parents who use time-out are bad, not at all – they are caring parents doing the best they can with the knowledge they have – but often when they grown up these same kids report feeling loved only ‘conditionally’ (even though the parents never meant the discipline to be seen as withholding love… that is just how it was felt).

    So, my message is just this (joining the chorus above) do not tar all of us with the same brush. Sorry you had such a horrible experience with that AP kid. Sounds dreadful, really… but I am sure you have met some non-AP kids that were terrifying, too, no? Did that mean you no longer accepted any non-AP parented kids ‘cos one or several were bad. There are ‘good’ AP parents and sloppy, permissive ones, just like there are effective mainstream parents and less effective ones. Whether we sleep in the same room or not does not say much about how strong, responsive or effective we are with discispline, which seems to be the main issue you have with AP children. I hope you will take the time to meet some other AP kids, maybe even come to an AP parent meeting or two so you can see that, like with any group, there is a whole range of both parents and kids to be found there – some, also, quite stellar!

    Nobody wants an unruly kid – so thanks for your thoughts and pushing me (and others it would seem) to really thinking about what we do and how we do it so that, as AP parents (or not), we can be great moral and civic guides to our children.

  22. says

    its sad that in a blog post about not judging others, there is stil judgement. These commments keep showing up i my email and i have had some of the replies going through my head for a while now. It’s so easy for us to jump on the ‘bad mother train’ when we aren’t sitting in her shoes. I feel for the poor woman who came to your child care centre and had such an awful experience with you. How can we sit here and say shes a ‘bad mum’ when we don’t know what she is going though? You saw a sliver of her day. Perhaps her child has a very strong personality (An indigo child or an orchid for example) perhaps her child has undiagnosied autism or adhd. Maybe the both of them were having a off day and what usually works for her wasn’t working that day. Haven’t we all (I’m sure you have lisa) had days where we think ‘What am i doing wrong?’. MAYBE just maybe, this woman was NOT a bad example of AP parenting but just a human example of someone having a bad day. I can just imagine how much worse it was made by having someone with their nose in the air judging every move her child made.

  23. Hayley says

    Lisa. i wanna ask why are you here to slam attachment parenting. i attachment parent both my children my 2 nearly 3 year old is not some out of control child that hits other children you may be suprised but she does have time out when i see she needs it. attachment parenting isnt some fad it is natural. dont slame co sleeping i co sleep have you read the new reasearch indicating it is actully safer that crib sleeping when following the guidelines?? no i dont carry my children in a sling 24/7 i do it at times in the day when they unsettled or overstimulated, my son and my daughter are actully exstremly independent. i have to ask what brought you to this ap site when you are so opposed to it/

  24. sploop says

    I have to say, I’ve seen some crazy-dysfunctional AP family relationships that’d turn about anyone off AP-as-a-philosophy, too. (the woman who admits at LLL that she and her husband haven’t had sex in THREE YEARS because her kid can’t sleep alone, ever? where do I go to not sign up for THAT? lol)

    There IS a fine line between being responsive to a child’s cues, and just letting him turn into a mini-tyrant. Some people are more adept at discerning this line than others, but AP has a tendency to poo-poo people who don’t find it self-evident. (usually either by telling a young parent, “oh, mama, it’s just a phase, be patient!” or in the case of outsider criticism like Lisa’s going, “well, that person was just PERMISSIVE, not really AP.”

    As to “why are you painting AP as some tiny box?” the truth is, AP groups themselves so often paint the boundaries of that box as restrictively as possible!

    I remember when my oldest kid was little, there were constant discussions of what behaviors might “disqualify” a person from being considered a REAL attachment parent. If you didn’t do XYZ, you were a poseur, if you DID QRF, you were a child abuser. It sucked.

    Shrug. If that’s AP, I’m pleased to be counted out these days.

    Basically, I think you can be a good parent using a variety of schools of thought. You can also be a bad parent using a variety of schools of thought. AP does not corner the market on either good or bad parenting.

  25. Shay says

    I loved this article! I’d consider myself a ‘mainstream’ parent (by choice, not ignorance) but I do have some alternative tendencies. I find there is little place for me in the online community when it comes to parenting because it is almost always about extremes! I have been told that my child will grow up feeling abandoned and resentful because we don’t share a bed, which is just ridiculous. I have only ever on rare occasions slept with my baby but I don’t believe my bond with him has suffered. I listen to his cries before I respond and if he needs me I know it. Otherwise he has the room to figure stuff out in his own. I don’t even have a carrier for my son because I have back and neck problems but he never misses out. Because I am well rested and relaxed I have the energy and patience to get on the floor and play with him. He is also very confident around other people because he has learnt that I am not then only source of comfort in his world. My son has a semi flexible routine which worked so well for me because it took sone of the guess work out of being a first time mummy. When my bub was unhappy I knew more accurately why depending on where we were in the routine, and therefore I could respond quickly with little stress. I have been cussed out and abused in many forums because I am apparently neglectful of my babies needs and selfish for taking care of myself as well as my son. I have never judged anyone else’s style, nor am I against any other type of parenting. I just know how I want to parent and am confident

  26. Shay says

    in the way I do things. I love scrolling the net for new idea’s and methods but I rarely comment because I don’t find any value in the judgement from other parents. The only person who view matters to me is my son and he is one happy little chappy, who loves and is loved unconditionally!

  27. Emmy Daniels says

    Great post! I posted a similar article on my blog, but didn’t convey it nearly as well as you did! I get so saddened by the hateful judgement of how other people parent. Gently cautioning and giving opinion is one thing: accusing someone of being a “bad” parent because they co-sleep or because they don’t use a sling often enough is another. Thanks for you balanced view: I respect that you can be “all for” a method without having a self-righteous or hateful spirit. Motherhood is hard–let’s encourage each other instead of tearing each other down!

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