What is Attachment Parenting

Many developmental psychologists identify five powerful parenting styles based on research of successful parenting. Attachment Parenting is the second of five different types of the powerful parenting.

Developmental psychologist, Mary Ainsworth conducted a famous lab research study, “The Strange Situation” experiment. This experiment led her to identify four infant attachment styles: secure attachment, avoidant attachment, ambivalent attachment and insecure attachment. This experiment revealed that secure attachment had positive long-term outcomes.

There is also a term coined by Jim Fay and Foster Cline in their book, “Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility”. This is attachment parenting gone wrong. The popular term, “helicopter” parenting, describes parents who hover over their children at close range. Helicopter parents micromanage every activity; not allowing the children to face any challenges. Introduction to helicopter parenting is necessary because some people confuse “helicopter” parenting with healthy “attachment” parenting.

The term “caregiver” is used when discussing the emotional bond that grows between the child and his/her primary caregiver. Traditionally this means the mother and child. Diverse families recognize the designation, “caregiver” to include other relationships: grandparents who become primary caregivers, adoptive parents (both gay and straight), and foster parents.

The purpose of attachment parenting is to strengthen bonds between caregiver and infant. The bonds are intuitive, psychological, and emotional.

The main focus of attachment parenting is that an infant’s emotional and physical needs must be met quickly and consistently. This gives baby a positive outlook on the world. An infant does not cry because he/she is spoiled. It is the only way an infant can communicate his/her needs. Research studies on infants show that the unconditional love a caregiver gives allows the baby to become independent as a child and adult.

Attachment parenting gives the caretaker a greater understanding of the child and his/her emotional make-up. As a result, a parent can guide a child to independence naturally by recognizing the essence of the child.

Dr. Sears disagrees with the traditional view that meeting a child’s needs leads to spoiling and dependent behavior.

It is essential to differentiate between “helicopter” parents and “attachment” parents. Helicopter parents do not want their child to go through any challenges and overprotects the child. The attachment parent who wants their child to cope with challenges. The attached child knows that the parent is there and will guide him/her through difficult times. The attached parent “knows” their child. A helicopter parent’s child becomes dependent on the parent to “solve” their problems.