Recently, I came across a clip of Dr. Phil stating that parents who use attachment parenting become helicopter parents. It angered me that over nine years after I started my attachment parenting journey, we are still hearing the same myths surrounding this parenting style. I decided that it was time to break down the myths about attachment parenting.
Attachment parenting was not something on my radar or an ethos that I had known about before or during my pregnancy. I accidentally fell into the rhythm of attachment parenting before I knew what it was. I lived in England when my daughter was born, and as my family lived in Ireland, I did not have thousands of visitors in those first weeks, who would tell me what was wrong and what was right. I just did what felt natural to me, and that included feeding on demand, soothing her when needed, letting her sleep when she needed, and wearing her on days when she was grizzly.
According to the National Childbirth Trust, “attachment parenting is about constant physical closeness and being very responsive to the baby. This includes carrying your baby in a sling or carrier, co-sleeping, and long-term breastfeeding. The thinking is that physical touch helps parents to nurture the bond with their baby and respond to their needs”.
I did not follow any specific attachment parenting rules. For example, I did not co-sleep. However, my lifestyle at the time allowed me to carry out this style of parenting. My husband traveled quite a bit, with no family close by, and being a stay-at-home mom, it was just my baby (or babies when her brother was born two years later) and me. It was a very liberating time for me, and I devoted all of my time to being a mom.
There is a lot of controversy about this style of parenting. So here are a few myths about attachment parenting I faced myself and how they have turned out for me specifically. This is not scientific research but real, lived experience with my now nine and seven-year-olds.
Your child will never learn to self-soothe
Neither of my children has issues sleeping, and both were self-soothing by age two. My daughter was sleeping more than five hours in a row at three weeks old and more than ten hours at nine weeks old. This was pretty consistent for her, bar the odd leap. My son, on the other hand, did not sleep for two years. He woke every hour of the night for 15 minutes and slept for 45 minutes. I was a complete zombie during that time. However, just after passing two, he began to sleep full nights practically overnight and is still a great sleeper to this day.
Your child will be spoiled
Giving your child attention does not spoil your child. Helping them to soothe and being there to listen when they need you lets them know that you are always there to listen. It gives them confidence and great self-esteem that you always have their back. Both my children are talkers (like their mama) and are never afraid to come to me when they are feeling down or need advice.
Your child will lack confidence and feel insecure when not with you
All babies are clingy. They need you. This is a biological need. Attending to your child’s every need as an infant will not make them clingy in later years. In fact, I have found the opposite. Being constantly there for my children in those first few years gave them the confidence to take risks and make mistakes, as they subconsciously knew that Mama would be there to dry their eyes if anything happened.
Only hippies practice attachment parenting
Yes, I heard this one a lot! I’m not going to lie; there were days when I felt like a carefree hippie, but unfortunately, I’m not a hippie. I’m a career woman with big ambitions, I like my gadgets, Netflix, and traveling in luxury.
It is a modern, passing fad
This has to be the most common and biggest myth. Attachment parenting is the original parenting style. Hunter-gatherers had no choice but to take their babies with them in case of danger. All the other parenting styles have come after to fit into our modern lives. To me, it felt instinctual. It felt natural and organic.
Attachment parenting is putting too much pressure on mothers
Any parenting style that does not feel natural will put pressure on mothers. Just because I practice attachment parenting does not mean we all have to. Just like everything in life, there is no one size fits all, and how boring would life be if we all did the same thing? Parenting styles are there to help us decide how we parent. There are no rules, and no one should feel pressure to parent in a way that does not fit into their life.
Parenting is individual to every family
Some people swear by routines, some by child-led methods, and some by playing. Some will be tiger moms, some will be authoritarian, some permissive; we all have to find our paths, and sometimes that can be a mix of all of them. A loosely-based attachment parenting style created my two very confident and risk-taking children. I’m grateful that I had the ability to have those close few years with them as they grow so quickly, and before you know it, they will be creating their own circles and driving to college. It’s important for me that no matter what, they know they always have me to fall back on.