Pediatrician William Sears coined the term “attachment parenting,” a theory that explains how a child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood and this bond has lifelong consequences. Sears also recommends that sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child’s socio-emotional development and well-being. Sounds great, right?
On the surface this approach seems very beneficial for the baby. The principles of attachment parenting outline that parents should prepare for pregnancy and birth, feed their child with love and respect, respond to their child’s needs with sensitivity, use a nurturing touch, ensure safe sleep by allowing the child to share sleeping quarters with the parents, practice positive discipline, and strive for balance in family life. Some parents try to keep their baby with them almost 24 hours a day.
However, it is probably very difficult to achieve family balance when a parent solely focuses on their child’s needs, at the expense of their own. With this method, the baby’s wants and needs always come first, often regardless of what is practical. And what about working mothers? Sociologist Sharon Hays argues in her book Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood that the “ideology of intensive mothering” imposes unrealistic obligations and perpetuates a “double shift” life for working women. In addition, parents may lose out on quality time together, which could affect their sex lives and social lives. Many people who question this parenting style claim that too much attachment could also create a child who is spoiled, demanding, and disrespectful.
Parents who want to be attached to their children as much as possible may agree with the next type of parenting style as well. But is doing what’s best for your baby at the complete and total expense of everything else, always the right thing to do?