Attachment Parenting

The term, attachment parenting, is attributed generally to pediatrician and author (The Baby Book, Nighttime Parenting) William Sears. Although there is no clinical definition of attachment parenting, this parenting orientation/style focuses primarily on noticing, appreciating and satisfying children's needs, especially the needs of babies and young children.

The family bed
A good way of understanding 'attachment parenting' is to look at the issue of the family bed. Those who believe in attachment parenting consider it a wonderful opportunity to bond with kids and to teach them good sleeping behavior. This practice differs from renowned pediatrician Richard Ferber's opinion that, "Sleeping alone is an important part of (your child's) learning to separate from you without anxiety and to see himself as an independent individual." Ferber and Sears have long disagreed on the benefits and the drawbacks of the family bed as it applies to successful childhood sleeping behaviors, as well as overall healthy child development.

'Attachment parenting' means that parents follow the individualized developmental schedules of their children, as provided by the cues that their children give them. This needs-based philosophy often flies in the face of mainstream parenting advice that gives parents specific schedules and rules for child-rearing practices (such as weaning babies from breastfeeding, sleeping in their own cribs and setting up nap schedules based on parents' work schedules.)

A cue for comfort
Attachment parenting advocates would never let a baby "cry it out" in her crib during the night. They would respond immediately to the baby's cry, always assuming that the baby's cry was a cue that comfort, reassurance and the parents' presence were needed. Spoiling a child is not possible in the child rearing view of the attachment parent. Children should be picked up, held, and nurtured as much as they need to be, not as much as the parents feel like doing these things. Babies and young children will detach or wean themselves from breastfeeding when they are ready, not when the mother wants to stop.

Attachment parenting sees kids being separated from their parents too often and too soon due to an unwarranted and unhealthy belief that children should not become too dependent on their parents. Attachment parenting states that it is both normal and healthy for a child to be dependent upon her parents until she, not her parents, feels safe enough and independent enough to separate, be it a separation from the breast or the family bed.

Read Carleton Kendrick's bio.

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