By Jo Bealey
In my therapy practice, I can decipher what the client sitting in front of me did or didn’t receive as a child. Through their environment, or circumstance, or parenting styles, what needs didn’t get met?
Attachment parenting can come with a ‘crunchy parent’ stigma but essentially it is an approach to parenting that emphasises a strong emotional bond between parent and child.
This approach involves responsive, sensitive caregiving to meet the needs of their children. Attachment parenting can be associated with baby-wearing, co-sleeping, and breastfeeding but the core of attachment parenting is attuning to your baby’s cues and providing comfort and reassurance when they call for it. Stepping into their world to appreciate what they may be experiencing. Understanding their cry is not a form of manipulation but communicating a need. For many cultures, this is the norm, but in western society, it can be difficult and sometimes controversial for parents to practise this approach.
- The return to work: We are needing to return back to work quicker than before, leaving the baby earlier than we would like or is beneficial. Running and working on little sleep whilst managing day-to-day tasks can leave little time, energy, and patience for the kind of hands-on, responsive caregiving that attachment parenting requires.
- Lack of support: Many parents today lack the support they need to practise attachment parenting. A lack of access to education, or resources such as lactation consultants or baby-wearing groups. Sadly, this includes a lack of knowledge and understanding from many healthcare providers and professionals or acceptance from family members.
- Cultural norms: In western society, practices such as co-sleeping or extended breastfeeding are not widely accepted. This can make it difficult for parents who want to practise attachment parenting to do so without facing criticism or judgement from others.
- Societal pressures: Sadly, modern society often places a high value on independence and self-sufficiency. Some view attachment parenting as overly dependent or “spoiling” to the child. ‘Making a rod for your own back’. This can create pressure for parents to adopt more hands-off parenting approaches, even if they would prefer to practise attachment parenting.
- Baby gadgets: The market is flooded with baby gadgets and equipment which encourages a ‘hands-off’ approach. Outward-facing prams, electronic toys, and bouncing chairs are used as a replacement to soothe and comfort a baby. Whilst they are handy to get a few jobs done, they can limit emotional interaction and physical contact between the parent and baby. Interfering with their natural curiosity to communicate and ability to learn about the world around them.
Attachment parenting can be so rewarding, and children will reap the benefits for a lifetime.
Fortunately, we live in an era where there is a huge amount of evidence-based research to support parents on their journey and help them overcome any judgement or misunderstanding from others – helping you to surpass the modern societal pressures which many parents face and enable a strong, healthy attachment with your children.
Jo Bealey is a counsellor and parenting course creator. She runs her private therapy practice in Perth and holds virtual sessions. She has a special interest in attachment and runs pre-natal and post-natal parenting courses. Find out more at www.jobealey.com and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.