Friday, September 12, 2008


October is Attachment Parenting Month.

For many of us in this part of the world, Attachment Parenting isn't really a new concept. How we care for our children, like breastfeeding, swaddling, co-sleeping and maintaining close contact are part and parcel of our heritage. It is deeply ingrained in our society that still sustains extended family ties and caring for our elders in their twilight years.

It's a little jarring then, and very humbling to learn that other countries don't do it like we do and take this kind of upbringing far less for granted. Since it's almost second nature for us, we tend to overlook just how valuable our customs in raising our children are.

In other countries, especially the US, there is a resurgence of this kind of parenting, which they call Attachment Parenting, a term coined by Dr. William Sears (yes, THAT Dr. Sears!).

According to Dr. Sears' theory, groups like the Attachment Parenting International (API) promote the development of a secure bond with children through eight principles or goals for parents.

These are:

  1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
  2. Feed with Love and Respect
  3. Respond with Sensitivity
  4. Use Nurturing Touch
  5. Engage in Nighttime Parenting
  6. Provide Consistent Loving Care
  7. Practice Positive Discipline
  8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

These are naturally subject to personal interpretation. Attachment parents can also choose to have a natural family living (NFL) lifestyle.

According to Wikipedia, the NFL lifestyle ascribes to practices "such as natural childbirth, home birth, stay-at-home parenting, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling, unschooling, the anti-circumcision movement, the anti-vaccination movement, natural health, cooperative movements, and support of organic food."

The good thing about Dr. Sears is that he doesn't require any strict set of rules, instead he 's encouraging parents to creatively respond to a child's needs. Attachment parenting, in a nutshell, really focuses on the responses that help develop secure attachments.

I really think it's just getting back to our roots. That primeval bond between parent and young that gets lost in the modern day grind of work, career, material comfort and their accompanying results. Childhood is today's greatest casualty.

From the API website:

About AP Month

What: Attachment Parenting International (API), along with the Sears family and other prominent AP supporters, have declared October to be Attachment Parenting (AP) Month.

The AP Month vision is to create one strong voice for AP through activities, events and information and to celebrate what we believe in — the value of “Giving Our Children Presence” for our families and for our communities.

Who: All parents, AP partners and like minds around the world are invited and encouraged to join with us in “Giving Our Children Presence” during the first annual Attachment Parenting Month.

Why: “Giving Our Children Presence” is the theme for AP Month 2008 and an antidote to the upcoming holidays so often filled with the giving of material presents. During AP Month, parents are challenged to incorporate more family time into each day and AP Month partners will offer resources to support and sustain these efforts all year round.

Key AP Month Goals include unifying the AP voice to:

1. Offer parents and adults support and confidence in “Giving Our Children Presence” to last a lifetime
2. Promote awareness of AP
3. Educate about API, other AP Month sponsors and their services
4. Provide a source of funds to support the API mission

Resources: The AP Month Central website is the gateway to information about AP Month. It includes a calendar of activities in which to participate and the AP Month Toolkit as resource for you to use to plan and promoting your own events and activities for October.

Our love, our presence, our time and attention are the most important things we can give our kids.

I'm glad the other half of today's culture (the "westernly" half) is becoming more involved with this kind of parenting. I'm also hoping it's not just a fad or a novelty for them, as with most movements that start out with good intentions. And for us who already use this kind of parenting style, may we learn to appreciate our parenting heritage more, value it and affirm its benefits through our own kids.