Google+ Authentic Parenting: Attachment parenting for a happy few

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Attachment parenting for a happy few

This way of parenting my family has chosen seems only natural to me. In fact, we already did most of the things we practice before I even knew there were terms for it, let alone an entire community. But the non-violent, peaceful attachment parenting ways are not for everyone. That’s all too clear if you consider how few parents are in fact attached parents (in Western society). I had been wondering why so many people reject what comes so naturally to us. How this detached parenting can persist when it’s beyond reason or instinct.

So here’s what I’ve come up with, feel free to add to this in the comments below.

I think this might be the biggest reason why people steer away from attachment parenting. A lot of the discourse out there warns against the so-called dangers of attachment parenting. Every couple of months, another news topic pops up about ‘another co-sleeping death’ without mentioning the circumstances. And then there’s the false idea being spread that an attached child will never be independent. And so on… A lot of these ideas come from seemingly trustworthy sources, like governments, nurses and doctors; our own parents… so it’s quite normal that young parents are at least a bit confused.

Consumption society
Frankly, it doesn’t take a lot of stuff to be an attached parent, so you can be sure that this kind of parenting will not be promoted by companies which very goal is to be profitable.

Self reflection
Peaceful parenting makes you confront yourself all the time. Maybe this comes more naturally to others than to me, but I am always wondering why I do this or that, why I react this way, how I can avoid triggers etc.

Breaking with ‘tradition’
Even though detached parenting is a fairly recent evolution for mankind, being an attached parent will often mean you have to break with the way you were raised and the way your parents were raised. This in itself may already be a big step to take for some people, considering it is in fact acknowledging that the way you were parented as a child was inherently flawed.

Conscious parenting
Non-violent parenting is certainly not a thing for the mindless. Trying to avoid violence, scolding, punishment and reward, saying ‘good job’ etc, means you have to think about what you are doing and saying.

Taking the road less travelled
As I stated in the introduction, there are yet too few attached parents, so in choosing this course, you are ultimately setting yourself off against the way of the masses. And while for some this might seem a nice idea, for others this is just too scary a step.

Image problem
Attachment parenting, and a lot of the things it brings along (like baby wearing and cloth diapering) has a serious image problem. For a lot of people it is right along there with astrology, the esoteric, tree hugging, ghost whispering and other alternative dreadlocky things.

Criticism is something all parents come across, but attached parents even more so. ‘You’ll never get that kid out of your bed’, ‘Isn’t she to old for breastfeeding’, ‘You’ll spoil her if you carry her around all the time like that’ are just a few examples of ignorant remarks we deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes these remarks even come from the people closest to us. It can be a lot to bare, especially at times when we are tired and insecure. I’m not the one to go out of the way of a fight, but when each day is a fight for the smallest thing you do, it can become too much for some people.

At the end of the day, if there are no or only few of your friends taking this path, it can seem very lonely. Some people get so much negative reactions that they go underground, decide not to speak about their parenting choices, decide not to nurse in public anymore... and wind up feeling like there’s nobody on their side.
Yet all these reasons aside, when you look into your baby’s eyes and see all they want is to be held and loved, for you to nurture them and give them security, it all fades away and you just feel like this is the only way to go. So for parents still deciding, or a little lost, seek out information and join a community, there are a lot of ways to connect with other attached parents, IRL or virtually. You’re always stronger in numbers, and it’s nice to speak to people who think alike.



  1. I would definitely agree with this. I'm finding it a lonely journey, and I'm only just beginning! I think you're right about there being a lack of good information available. Unfortunately, when people find something unfamiliar, the response is often to attack it. That's why a good support network is so important.

  2. You are so right in saying people attack the unknown. It is so sad... If only people were a bit more open minded

  3. I am finding it lonely where I live (northwest Indiana) to try and find other mom's who don't want to spend all their time at the mall, at expensive classes, and don't have a house full to the brim with Chinese toys and closets full of frilly baby clothes. It seems like everyone lives to consume here and the six or seven full garbage cans everyone puts out each week in my neighborhood make me sick.

    What I am wondering is, how do I meet people like me? How do I affect change without being annoying and preachy? I pretty much keep my attachment, non consumerist style of parenting secret. I will occasionally make a comment like I don't really like to shop just to test the waters and the other mother's will laugh and talk about how much they love it! Do I move somewhere more like minded? That just seems like giving up.

  4. Hi Anonymous,

    The question you are asking yourself right now is something everyone who takes the path less traveled asks oneself sooner or later. It can indeed be frustrating to be confronted with people who are so utterly different from who you are.
    It all depends on how it makes you feel. We can all aim to make the world a better place, but not despite ourselves. If it makes us miserable and lonely to the point of being depressed, it might be a good idea to change the scenery. It's up to you to decide how it affects you. It is helpful to accept that some people are just not open or willing to change, and it is up to you to see how you handle that. If it is really affecting you in a negative way, making you think negative thoughts and feel bad all the time, change, that doesn't mean you didn't try hard enough, or that you have failed.
    The first thing we all need to do is take care of ourselves. We owe that to ourselves and our families. When you are happy and healthy, you'll be in a better place to help out others too.
    I hope this helps answer your question a little, sorry I can't be more direct, in the end, you are the one who designs your life, you have the right to choose your turf.

  5. I whole heartfelt agree with you - I find it so hard to AP without support. I have three under four (multiples) and find myself pulllibg my hair out from pressure and lack of sleep. My family are so critical it isn't worth the help because I feel so beaten down after a visit. "why aren't you controlling his anger?" "x is such a good mother, she's so firm and in control. She even leaves them to cry..." hint hint.

    So I am alone most days and that itself is unnatural right?

    Let's start an authentic parenting green community somewhere!

  6. I hear you Mama Verte! I have uttered the community idea more than once and at one time, we were actually seriously looking into it (we were indecisive between Dancing Rabbit and one in New Zealand). I think I might still one day take the plunge, but first to unhook my husband from his work!

  7. Mamapoekie: Child psychologists studying attachment have consistently found that approximately 70% of young children are securely attached to their parents. Yes, that's in Western society. In fact, I seem to remember reading that the percentage in more traditional societies is fairly similar. So, whatever you have in mind when you talk about 'how few parents are in fact attached parents', it doesn't seem to be supported by psychology or evidence.

    Parents don't just divide up neatly into 'attached parents' who do things the same way as you and 'detached parents' who do things differently. There are a multitude of different bonding experiences you can have with your children, and there is an entire spectrum of attachment.

    As for reasons why people do or don't practice any individual part of whatever it is that you're thinking of when you say 'attachment parenting', I suspect they're many, varied, and far more complex than you're making out here. For myself, however, I can tell you that one big reason why I have never wanted to identify as part of the Attachment Parenting *movement* (regardless of what choices I do or don't make with regard to parenting practices, which is another matter), is precisely the sort of attitude that you've displayed in this post - that you and a select few are doing things Right, whereas everyone else is a bad parent who's doing them Wrong. I know not everyone in the Attachment Parenting movement acts like this, but this sort of judgementalism and assumption-making is rife enough in the movement that I find it very, very off-putting.


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