Attachment parenting refers to a philosophy that encourages maternal empathy by promoting contact between mothers and their newborns. It is a parenting style which encourages mothers to carry their baby on their body as often as they can. The term was first coined by a U.S. pediatrician named William Sears.
Additional aspects of attachment parenting including believing in the language value of a child crying, breastfeeding, and bedding close to the baby. By spending extra time in close proximity to the child, with as much touch as possible, the relationship which forms leads to a healthier parent-child relationship.
It is equally important to follow the principles of attachment parenting with a touch of common sense. There must be moderation within the relationship for a healthy bond to form. Children who feel smothered may wish to avoid the parent-child relationship at all costs.
Here are the pros and cons of attachment parenting which are worth considering.
List of the Pros of Attachment Parenting
1. It creates a home environment which emphasizes mutual giving.
From a parenting standpoint, giving yourself to a baby as a parent means the baby will give more back to you. That makes it possible to enjoy the stresses of parenthood more often. There are physical benefits to mutual giving as well. When mothers suckle their baby, for example, it allows the body to produce more prolactin. That promotes more sleep for the baby and encourages the mother to go to sleep as well.
2. It helps to shape a positive personality for mother and child.
Mothers help to shape the personality of their child. In attachment parenting, the child also shapes the personality of the parent. Many parents meet their children and want to do what is best for them, so their child can lead a good life. To encourage this process, mothers begin to think, talk, and act in ways that create positive changes for their baby. As the child learns this language, they will begin to think, talk, and act in a way that is reflective of the parent.
3. It allows parents to understand the non-verbal communication of their children.
More than 70% of the communication we have with one another every day comes through non-verbal actions and cues. Even when words are spoken in a conversation, the cues given out non-verbally shape the meaning and context of what was spoken. Attachment parenting increases the sensitivity and awareness between parent and child, providing communication opportunities that are more accurately understood. Each can understand the desires of the other.
4. It provides comfort to the child.
Young children who are exposed to attachment parenting are often less fussy. Many experience colicky behaviors with less frequency. They also tend to be less clingy with their parents. A state of quiet alertness tends to be what is normal for children through attachment parenting. That allows them to use their energy for learning, instead of using it to have certain basic needs met on a regular basis.
5. It may encourage higher levels of child intelligence.
The human brain grows more during the first years of life than at any other time. An infant brain will more than double its volume in the first 12 months, reaching about 60% of the adult brain size. Attachment parenting allows children to make more connections within their brain as it develops, encouraging infants to learn faster and more efficiently. Over time, that can result in children who retain and recall information more readily compared to children not exposed to attachment parenting.
List of the Cons of Attachment Parenting
1. It reduces the amount of exploration freedom a child receives.
Attachment parenting requires children to be with their parents almost all the time during the first weeks and months of life. This requires parents to be “obsessed” with their child, keeping track of every action or movement to ensure their safety. There are times when children need their own space to explore independently. There are also times when parents need to take a little space for themselves. Attachment parenting does not usually encourage this.
2. It can lead to disciplinary problems.
Many parents who practice attachment parenting will sacrifice the need for discipline for the sake of the attachment they have formed. As children grow older, this can lead to disciplinary problems with the child. Older children realize that their parents will not discipline them, so they take advantage of the need to stay connected. In the end, it creates a lack of a relationship because the child is doing things outside of the scope of the parent’s knowledge, while pretending everything is fine between the two.
3. It can create dependence.
Children who are used to their parents helping them with everything because of their attachment parenting practices may find it difficult to complete tasks on their own. They may be hesitant to make simple decisions, such as what to eat for breakfast before school, because they are so used to having their parents make a decision for them. Over time, children exposed to attachment parenting may not develop an independent sense of self, relying on the opinions and observations of family members to define their own self-worth.
4. It may limit skill development.
Children that are dependent upon the decisions of parents may also lag behind the skills developed by other children in their age group. Without a sense of independence, there is no desire to learn something new unless the parent wants them to learn something new. In extreme circumstances, some parents may decide that they need to complete tasks for their child, including homework, for the sake of their attachment. Although children may be more intelligent because of the attachment, they may not know how to use their intelligence.
5. It can lead to the destruction of other relationships.
Parents who focus on attachment parenting place the priority of their child above the other relationships in their life. That can cause other meaningful relationships to begin degrading, including intimate relationships. Attachment parenting works best when the entire family is involved in the process. If only one parent is practicing this form of parenting, then the other parent will often feel neglected, ignored, or abandoned. Over time, all other relationships for a parent may disappear except for the relationship they have with their child.
These attachment parenting pros and cons show the importance of moderation. It is important to connect with children on a personal level. It is important to have personal contact with young children during their developing stages of life to help them understand how to form healthy attachments. It is also important to allow children to have some space, explore the world on their own, and discover who they are.