Attachment parenting; not just for babies

May 18, 2012

Enough has been written about TIME magazine’s cover, and the service, or disservice it did to promoting attachment parenting. I feel anything I add would be mere minnows in an already raging sea of debate. 

But I will add this: What bugs me, aside from all the other issues with TIME magazine’s choice of cover, is that attachment parenting is, as seems all too common, made out to be all about breastfeeding. 

One thing I personally would like to shout out to parents who wish to know more about an attachment based parenting approach is that it is not just about breastfeeding, co-sleeping and baby wearing. 

OK, attachment theory informs us of how vitally important those first few years are.  How a child’s early life experiences can wire their brain, and form the basis of their social and emotional development, really cannot be over-estimated. So it’s essential that parents get this. But get this too; there’s still plenty of opportunity to screw things up after those first few years. 

It doesn’t matter how long we breastfeed or co-sleep for, or how secure our child’s attachment to us is, if we then go on to make poorly informed parenting choices as our children get older, this too has the capacity to do lasting harm. If a child is consistently subjected, day in, day out, for years, to parenting methods that harm self-esteem and parent/child relationships, and fail to meet their emotional needs, this too has far reaching effects. And even for the many children who emerge from it all OK, how much better could we have done? Better than just OK. 

Attachment parenting is for life, not just for babies. So let’s promote attachment parenting beyond infancy. I wonder what TIME magazine would come up with as a cover photo for this. Any ideas?