Every now and then, a frustrated writer will put pen to paper and create an article that sets Attachment Parenting aside as being truly evil. These articles are full on, bearing titles such as "Attachment Parenting Ruined My Life" and invariably, they tend to get a lot of hits.
It seems that there are many moms out there who identify with this line of thought, which assumes that Attachment Parenting is a pre-determined list of unbending rules about breastfeeding and babywearing and nothing more.
Don't get me wrong, breastfeeding and babywearing are great methods of connecting with our babies, but by no means should they define Attachment Parenting. What about, for instance, the adoptive mother who cannot breastfeed? Is she not "AP enough"? And how about the loving mom who chooses her stroller above her woven wrap? Does she not score on the "AP scale"?
I read a while ago about a new mom who was chatting with her dad about how she was choosing to parent her baby... it went something like this:
Mom: "I'm doing Attachment Parenting. It's all about meeting baby's needs and being connected. It even encourages breastfeeding!"
Her dad: "Attachment Parenting? They just called that Parenting in my day."
Because Attachment Parenting in its truest form (prioritizing connection and treating our children with respect) is really pretty simple. Our ancestors, for instance, knew that leaving an infant to cry alone in a dark corner of the cave wouldn't have been a sensible survival strategy... but way back then, the buzz term "Attachment Parenting" didn't exist.
While I can see how lucrative it is to design a "system" -- a tick-boxed "how to" guide for any theory or construct -- and how satisfying it is for those moms who score highly at the Attachment Parenting Game, it does nothing for The Cause.
The Cause? That would be respecting our children, connecting with our children... loving our children.
So when I read articles entitled "Attachment Parenting Ruined My Life," I have to fight a knee-jerk reaction to protest, because Attachment Parenting certainly didn't ruin my life -- far from it! I have to look past my own understanding of my own type of Attachment Parenting and see a stranger's version. It is only when I see this other mother's version of AP... the version with tick-boxes and rules... that my protest morphs into empathy and I want to offer her a hand. I want to tell her that Attachment Parenting is so much more than just a few specific boxes to tick.
For me, Attachment Parenting is not just one thing or one set of rules. My family's AP is different to your family's AP and so on.
Because my Attachment Parenting has actually been many, many things over the years:
It dressed up as Knowledge, and taught me things I had never even considered learning.
It dressed up as Growth, and forced me to look inwards before looking outwards... inevitably causing me to grow alongside and in tune with my daughter.
It dressed up as Ease, as I followed my daughter's lead and pace for milestones such as potty learning; ignoring externally contrived expectations.
It dressed up as Spirit, and taught me to be the change I want to see... even when my voice is small against the loud majority.
It dressed up as Openness, when the world was telling me to shut down toddler inconveniences... because there are lessons to be learned from slowing down.
It dressed up as Friendship, and opened the door to a community of like-minded moms who walk this road beside me, with open hearts, open minds, open eyes and open arms.
But perhaps most noteworthy, my Attachment Parenting is a signpost, pointing towards connection above all else.
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This post originally appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.