Frequently asked questions about Attachment Parenting.
The kind of parenting that my husband and I choose is not main- stream in our country (the US is unique in this) and so I am often asked lots of questions out of genuine curiosity. I am not an expert on Attachment Parenting (AP). I can only speak to how this works within our tiny family unit, and how we have applied it. Here are some of my answers to specific questions generated from my last post: (Please note that this post was written over a year ago and our parenting has evolved. Some answers have been updated and are noted in italics).
“Do your children have an alternative to your bed? Do they have their own beds/rooms where they can sleep if they choose?”
This was my answer when I originally answered this question over a year ago:
My children each have their own rooms with all of their own toys, clothes, books, and yes- a bed, in them. Every couple of months we encourage my oldest child to try sleeping in his own room, and for a short time he even started the night out in his own bed, alone. The reading that I did predicted this would happen, and stated that the transition to independent sleeping is gradual.
Nope. We are officially a one bedroom/one bed family. The other rooms in our house that others might use as bedroom are used for other things, like a cuddle corner, movie area and extra toy and art room. It works for us and the only change I see coming is asking my dad-the-carpenter to fashion our dream bed that will allow all of us to sleep in the same room for as long as we all want.
“How long do you intend to sleep with and nurse your children? Is it their choice (assuming they have been given one) or yours?”
While we all enjoy and benefit from both sleeping together and nursing (research now suggests for example, that the longer a woman nurses, the less likely she is to develop breast cancer), it truly is a mutual decision. We (no longer) encourage my son to try sleeping in his own bed every couple of months. Updated answer: Every once in a while I ask Owen if he is interested in sleeping in his own bed. To which he always answers; “not really”.
My children nurse when they want to, as long as it is also convenient for me.
“In what ways do you reinforce independence and growth socially?”
The reading that I did when Owen was first born suggested that because a child’s needs are being met consistently through attachment parenting, energy typically used to repeatedly express their needs to caregivers is redirected to achieving other developmental milestones. And, that because they are able to trust their parents to meet their needs (even needs like loneliness) completely, they possess a high level of emotional intelligence.
Because their needs are consistently met, and their requests are always valued and heard they have a high level of self -confidence, which of course increases independence and sociability.
Additionally, the literature predicts that AP children have a high level of independence, compassion and empathy. My husband and I are finding these predictions to be accurate so far. My oldest is only three (now four) and admittedly, this could be coincidence. Also, Owen presents his own unique set of challenges for my husband and I to figure out how to parent.
“When one child becomes ill, does the whole family stay awake with the coughing or throwing up, or does one parent care for that child so the others can sleep?”
When one child is sick we make the whole family stay up to support the one who is ill. The children are very tired after week- long illnesses, but we feel that it’s worth it.
Gotcha! One parent sleeps with the sick child in another room. (We keep a mattress in the attic that we can pull down if necessary).
“Will your children be able/do they attend sleep-overs at friend’s homes?”
Yes, of course.
“You say that you run upstairs over a crying child, what happens when the child cries because he/she didn’t get their way, or due to parental reprimand? Do you still hug their tears away?”
Yes, of course. If my child is sad, even if it’s because he didn’t get his way, or was reprimanded by my husband or me, and wants a hug, I will give him one. I will hug him or let him sit on my lap for as long as he wants. It does not change the consequence or reprimand though.
“Look, if you can stand never having a single moment of privacy, alone-with-your-husband time or truly free time for yourself, go for it.”
Attachment Parenting is a demanding parenting style, because your children are with you/on you throughout most of the day and night, and “burn out” is easily achieved. I have followed some practical suggestions on how to avoid this, such as having a babysitter twice a week for a couple of hours, which I use for any purpose I choose. My husband and I also have a weekly date night. This is time that is really important for me.
Updated Answer: I lost the babysitters and date nights are now only done when a grandparent or aunt/uncle is with the kids. And we are always home in time to put the kids to bed (yeah we often get the early bird specials). It has been an adjustment, and my husband and I both feel grateful for choosing to continue to connect with our children.
Do you have question about the practicalities of an AP family? Are you often indirectly or directly asked questions like this? What do you wish others knew about your AP day to day?Thank you for spending some time with Our Muddy Boots.
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