I have always been interested in parenting, and raising children gently. I was a nanny and preschool teacher before having children of my own, and I always naturally used attachment parenting techniques. It’s what always felt right to me, and what I thought was best for the children.
When my husband and I had our first child, our daughter, I was really interested to learn more about the style of parenting I felt comfortable with: attachment parenting.
At first, I didn’t even know that it was a particular style of parenting. I was reading about gentle parenting when I came across a Dr. Sears book about attachment parenting. It was amazing, and I realized that I agreed with everything involved and wanted to learn more. Knowing that there were a lot of other parents out there that wanted to raise their kids the same way I did was comforting. I reached out on social media, and found a ton of people and groups supporting and discussing attachment parenting.
From the moment our daughter was born, I knew I never would want to leave her with anyone other than my husband. I also knew that I didn’t know how long it would take for me to be able to leave her with him. I was immediately attached to her, and never wanted to be away from her. The first time I really left her with him was about 4 hours one morning, and she was 17 months old.
It was hard for me, but she did really well. So many people do not understand this. Especially because my husband is such an involved and wonderful father. I just wasn’t ever ready to be away from her for real, and honestly nothing ever came up until then that I wanted to do that she couldn’t do with me or as a family. Many people don’t understand that either, but my husband and I both love sharing everything with her, and we could not imagine doing something without her there to enjoy it as well.
In fact, people have told us both that it's “not healthy” that we don’t leave her. They have told us, “You need to leave her! She needs to adjust to life without you!”
First of all, this is the most blood-boiling thing ever, and I will never understand how people think that it is any of their business to give us their opinion on how we have chosen to raise our daughter. It’s bewildering to say the least.
My response to these people is always the same: She is a baby, still. We have no desire or need to be away from her. She is happy, and so are we.
And what in the world is this business about her needing to adjust to life without us? Again, she is just a little girl, only 19 months old! She needs her parents, not anyone else. She needs to feel secure, loved, and nurtured by us. These are the things that will make her feel safe and secure without us, when she is older.
There is no reason for babies, or young children to have to be without their parents and "adjust" to that. Of course, if both parents have to work outside the home, that is another story, and totally fine. I would never talk badly about parents who choose to leave their babies or children to go to work, so why do they feel they can comment on us NOT doing it?
We all have varying opinions on how a child should be raised, and that’s okay. For us, attachment parenting works perfectly. We love being together all the time, and doing things as a family. But that’s not all that attachment parenting is about. It’s really just gentle parenting. Treating your children with respect, love and patience. I believe so much in this.
Attachment parenting is all about love and kindness. It’s also about forgiveness. Forgiveness that no parent is perfect. It’s about embracing each child’s unique personalities. Identifying them, and adjusting your parenting to fit their needs, rather than fitting the child into your parenting style.
Not every child will respond well to one form of discipline, and it’s important to know that and accept it. Attachment/gentle parenting is against any form of hurting a child. So, no hitting, yelling, or anything like that. These things are seen as abuse, emotionally and physically.
I also don’t believe that time-outs work or are good for all kids. I think they can be very damaging. What I do instead is talk things through, allow for natural consequences, and so on. Some children, however, do need breaks sometimes. Adults do, too!
I think it’s important that we do not ever hold children to a higher or same standard as an adult. It’s important to never expect a child to act the same as an adult would. For example, if you go to dinner with a three-year-old it is necessary to accept that the toddler is going to act like a toddler. They’re going to be loud, make a mess, and get bored. So many adults hold children to standards they hold to other adults, and that isn’t fair to the child.
It’s important, in my opinion, to talk about various parenting styles and alternatives that aren’t mainstream. Many people don’t even know about them. There are so many aspects of attachment parenting, and everything is different for each child and parent. You just have to find what works for you and your family.
Raising our daughter in this manner has given her the best environment to thrive in. She is only 19 months old and is the most amazing person you’ll ever meet. I know all parents would say this about their children, but we are told this by people every single day. Our daughter is outgoing, and friendly. She is incredibly sweet, thoughtful, and better at sharing and being kind than most children three times her age. In dance class she is always so patient while waiting her turn, and when hers is up, she immediately wants to be sure that the next person gets theirs. She is incredibly helpful but also so independent, too. She is more maternal and caring than most grown adults.
I know some of these things are just who she is as a person, but I truly believe that raising her with tenderness, patience, kindness, and respect for her has taught her to treat others this way as well. It’s an amazing thing. I’ve even noticed that my husband and I are both better, nicer people because of attachment parenting as well. We are more conscious of our actions and words than ever before. And we have gentle parenting to thank for that.