Lately, Ryan and I have been thinking more about the way we approach parenting – it is called Attachment Parenting because the primary focus is on forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children. Why do we like the principles of Attachment Parenting?  What does it mean?  I wanted to write this out just to get it straight in my head, so I hope you enjoy the thoughts as well!

Attachment Parenting, International’s website describes eight principles that describe the beliefs behind this style of parenting.  Here they are, and what I think about them…

  1. Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting: I love everything about pregnancy (beautiful big bellies, the waiting, the birthing, and the unique time of connection with the parents and a newborn).  So, it made sense for me to research everything I could think of about pregnancy and birth.  We chose the birth center to give birth to Selah because it provided the most natural, relaxed environment that allowed us to connect to her in the way we wanted right away.
  2. Feed with love and respect: I really enjoy breastfeeding!  But, I wasn’t able to breastfeed Emma, so I love what the AP website says about “bottle nursing” – you don’t have to breastfeed to connect to your child during feeding.
  3. Respond with sensitivity: Actively respond to your child’s emotions of hurt, sadness, anger, or joy in a way that validates their feelings.  We have noticed that, during temper tantrums especially, Emma can have some strong emotions that even she doesn’t understand.  We try to react in a way that shows Emma that it is ok to feel angry, but then help her deal with the emotion in a non-violent way.
  4. Use nurturing touch: Babies love to be held…in carriers, slings, backpacks, or however.  Selah was such a sling baby – it was a wonderful way to ease her to sleep while still being able to chase after and take care of Emma.  Also, hugs are amazing.  Sometimes, in the midst of an escalating tantrum, a hug is all Emma needs to calm down and feel relaxed.
  5. Engage in nighttime parenting: I like how the AP website explains, “Babies and children have needs at night just as they do during the day; from hunger, loneliness, and fear, to feeling too hot or too cold.” We co-sleep with our babies, and we love it…I’ll soon be writing more about this!
  6. Provide consistent and loving care: Babies and children thrive on having consistent people in their lives, who they can count on to be around and respond to them.  Looking back, we can see how it took Emma months and months of consistent care before she fully attached to Ryan and I as her parents.  This is a foundation for the child’s future emotional health, as well as their relationship with the parents.
  7. Practice positive discipline: Now that Emma is well into toddler-hood, we are really learning a lot about loving discipline.  The main thing we are realizing is that children need respect and grace in their discipline, just as we expect those things to be given to us.  One great book we have found on this subject is Raising Your Child Not by Force, But by Love by Sidney D. Craig.
  8. Strive for balance in personal and family life: This can be really difficult to do in our busy culture.  We have created a really neat, unique situation where both Ryan and I work at home, so our children are involved in our life all the time.  Our girls are so close to their daddy, and they know he is available to them.
Another great book that relates to Attachment Parenting is The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff.  I’m finally reading this one all the way through right now, and I found this amazing quote:
The growth of independence and the power to mature emotionally spring largely from the in-arms relationship in all its aspects.  One cannot therefore become independent of the mother, except through her, through her playing her correct role, giving the in-arms experience and allowing one to graduate from it upon fulfillment.
Here are some websites I’ve found about Attachment Parenting:
Well, I definitely recommend reading these books and doing some research for yourself.  I will write more about co-sleeping and other ideas soon!  And, please let me know if you have comments or questions, or know of any great AP resources.