If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have figured out that I am older than 20. That makes me older than Dr. Sears’s The Baby Book. I am older than the Attachment Parenting Movement. But guess what? The “official” AP style (Attachment Parenting) put together a bunch of ideas that a bunch of parents were already using. Including mine. I have been searching my soul, trying to figure out why hearing this parenting style labeled as “extreme” has made me so darn angry. It finally hit me today–I am an attachment parented child, all grown up, 15w5d pregnant and ready to Attachment Parent my own baby. My childhood was not extreme. Here’s my confession:
The first six years of my life were the only truly happy years of my childhood, and I credit my parents’ instinctual use of the basic tenants of Attachment Parenting with their early success. The only upsetting memory I have from those years (and I remember my third birthday party, of which I do not have a single photograph) is my grief at my maternal grandfather’s death. We lived in his house. He and I were very close, even though I was three or four when he passed.
My parents’ lives took them in a direction after 1991 that pretty much made taking care of themselves, their marriage and me all at the same time, well, impossible. My childhood quite often sucked after the first grade. But I have always had, in the way developmental psychologists use the phrase, a secure attachment to both of my parents. I credit their success during my earliest years with the relative success of my relationships with each of them today.
Despite a whole lot of “good” reasons to do so, I never gave up on my parents. At times, I used to think that I should just let it go and accept life without one or the other, that there was no way to bridge the gaps that had opened up between us. I now believe that I never gave up because, during those first six years of my life, my parents taught me that they love me and want to be close to me, no matter what. (“Close” is a relative term, but I am astonished and so proud of what we have achieved.) That bond is what Attachment Parenting seeks to solidify.
Here’s how Dr. Sears lays out the Attachment Parenting basics:
7 ATTACHMENT TOOLS: THE BABY B’S1. Birth bonding2. Breastfeeding3. Babywearing4. Bedding close to baby5. Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry6. Beware of baby trainers7. Balance
4. Bedding close to baby:
5. Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry:
6. Beware of baby trainers:
My parents did not have a guide to this. They just did what felt right. Which is the whole darn point of Attachment Parenting. When Dr. Sears and others say that it is “instinctual” they mean it. My parents followed their instincts! You don’t need an instruction manual to come across any of these seven ideas. In fact, if you lived in a country that was less obsessed with materialism and “independence,” you’d probably just do most of this automatically.
Can we stop pretending that AP is new and controversial? People practice the basic tenants of AP all the time without even realizing it. And who cares if it came about as a reaction to the parenting method of my grandparents’ generation? Would you rather be terrified that holding your baby would “spoil” her and that a well-behaved child was a child who did not speak unless spoken to? Um, I’m pretty glad I wasn’t raised that way, and I am not the least bit tempted to raise my kid that way.