Attachment Parenting Pros and Cons: An Analysis and Possible Alternatives

There are multiple types of parenting styles out there and one is called attachment parenting. Research studies have shown that children thrive in a home with loving, supportive parents, so you want your children to become attached to you. On the other hand, can attachment parenting harm your child’s ability to develop independence down the road? It is important to take a look at the pros and cons of attachment parenting before coming to any conclusions.

Important Aspects of Attachment Parenting

Important Aspects of Attachment Parenting

First, attachment parenting abides by a philosophy that encourages close contact between newborn babies and their parents, usually their mothers. The goal is for mothers to carry their babies on their bodies as much as possible. William Sears, a pediatrician from the United States, coined the term and defined important aspects of this parenting style as:

  • Talking to your baby
  • Responding to your baby’s cry
  • Breastfeeding
  • Sleeping near your child (but NOT co-sleeping)
  • Physical contact with your child

The idea is that all of this will lead to a healthier relationship between you and your child. What are some of the pros and cons of attachment parenting?

The Pros of Attachment Parenting

Some of the most important benefits of attachment parenting include:

  • Attachment parenting creates a strong home environment. You will give your baby a place to learn and grow in a safe, secure environment that leads to better physical, emotional, and mental growth for both you and your baby.
  • Attachment parenting helps you learn the non-verbal communication of your baby. Prior to your baby learning how to talk (most babies learn about twenty words by two years of age), you and your baby are going to rely on non-verbal communication. The more time you spend with your child, the better you will learn his or her non-verbal cues.
  • Attachment parenting provides comfort to your child. Research has shown that children who experience attachment parenting are not as fussy. Children may go through fewer periods of colic, which also leads to more sleep for the parents.

These are some of the most important benefits of attachment parenting. Now, it is time to take a look at the drawbacks.

The Cons of Attachment Parenting

There are a few drawbacks of attachment parenting as well. These include:

  • Attachment parenting reduces freedom and exploration for your child. When you decide to use attachment parenting, you are with your child nearly all the time for the first few months of his or her life. As a result, you track every movement your child makes. While this is done for his or her safety, this also reduces freedom.
  • In addition, attachment parenting could create a feeling of dependence on the part of your child. Children get used to their parents responding to each need that he or she might have. This could make it hard for children to make decisions on their own, inhibiting the development of independence.
  • Finally, attachment parenting might also limit skill development. When children depend on their parents for their needs, they are not forced to develop their own skills. As a result, children who undergo attachment parenting might lag behind their peers in the development of certain skills.

These are a few of the biggest drawbacks of attachment parenting. What are some of the alternatives to attachment parenting?

Exploring the Alternatives to Attachment Parenting

Alternatives to attachment parenting, like positive parenting and permissive parenting

There are a few alternatives to attachment parenting that parents might want to explore. Some of these include:

  • Positive Parenting: Positive parenting focuses on providing positive feedback and encouragement to children no matter what. The goal is to build a child’s self-confidence and self-esteem no matter what. While this is great for self-esteem, it could lead to a shock if the child receives criticism from other people.
  • Permissive Parenting: Permissive parenting allows a child to do whatever he or she wants. While this does let children explore the consequences of his or her own actions, leading to quick growth and independence, it could also lead to legal problems down the road.

These are a few of the alternatives to attachment parenting. Parents should explore multiple parenting styles and find the one that is right for them and their children.

Attachment Parenting Is a Balance

In the end, maximizing the benefits of attachment parenting is all about striking a balance. Obviously, parents want to bond with their children. This is the biggest goal and greatest benefit of attachment parenting.

Children do well when they are raised in environments where their parents care about them. On the other hand, parents need to encourage children to make simple decisions for themselves as well. This helps children build key skills they will need to be successful as they grow.

Because every child is different, parents need to tailor their responses to the individual personalities, needs, and desires of their children. Parents with questions or concerns should feel free to reach out to healthcare professionals for assistance. 

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David R earned his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Washington University in St Louis before earning his medical degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. When he isn't treating patients he enjoys playing the piano, participating in sports, and traveling the world.

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