February 24, 2014 at 9:47 am (Attachment Parenting)
I recently had the chance to fly out to New York to appear as a guest on the Lisa Oz Show. The topic was parenting, specifically attachment parenting.
I’ll admit this terrified me. Fly to New York City? By myself? Speak on TV? I’m an introvert who likes the comfort and quiet of my home and the few people who live in it. But beyond the initial fear of stepping outside my comfort zone, I did not really have a reason to say no. I love the concepts of attachment parenting, and if anyone wants to learn more about it, I’m a good person to help with that.
So I flew. I interviewed. I met Donna Karan in the greenroom backstage and talked with her about attachment parenting. The episode aired last week, and I was so proud to have done it. Yay for stepping outside comfort zones! As far as I can tell, there is nowhere online to view this episode nor any clip I can share with you. If I ever find one, you can be sure I will share it here. In the meantime, please enjoy a brief recap of my conversation with Lisa Oz (who, if you’re wondering, is married to Dr. Mehmet Oz of “The Dr. Oz Show” and is the mother of Daphne Oz, co-host of “The Chew”):
We’ve heard a lot about attachment parenting in the media lately…so, what exactly is it?
Attachment parenting is essentially about meeting a child’s needs. It’s about helping children develop a secure relationship with their caregivers by meeting their needs on a regular basis. When this happens, children develop a trust in knowing that they aredeeply cared for and their basic needs are consistently met. They form a strong trust and relationship with those who are caring for them. Attachment parenting is just a way of parenting that facilitates that connection.
What about when it comes to needs versus wants? If we give kids everything they want, we end up raising little tyrants…How do you draw the line?
It’s definitely not about giving kids everything want, but about meeting their basic needs–things like love, safety, connection, a sense of autonomy, as well as, of course, things like physical nourishment and adequate sleep. This puts you very in tune with your child. As you grow connected together, you have a good understanding of what is truly a need and what is just a want. A child may think they “need” some candy, but as a parent who is well attuned, you are able to recognize it as merely a “want,” you’re able to say no, set a limit and allow the child to have their feelings about that.
Have you found that attachment parenting has brought you closer to your children?
Oh yes! My children and I have a great relationship. We always find time to talk and connect. I love that my children are 7 and 9 years old and they still like to hold my hand. I love that they want me to tuck them in at night, lay together and have talks in the dark. I look forward to finding ways to keep our relationship strong as the years progress.
Are there certain practices of attachment parenting?
Typically, the ones that are most often associated with attachment parenting are breastfeeding, baby wearing, and co-sleeping…but these are not requirements. They’re just practices that meet a baby’s very physical needs and therefore help facilitate that sense of trust and security early on in the parent-child relationship. The tools you use to facilitate attachment with your child will change as your child grows, so it’s important to know that attachment parenting is not a checklist of dos and don’ts, but a bunch of tools you can use to strengthen your connection while meeting your child’s needs at any age. Parents should not worry that if they’re not doing certain things–that is, using certain tools–then they won’t have a good relationship with their child. So co-sleeping doesn’t work for everyone…that’s fine. There are other ways to meet your baby’s needs at night and find a balance that works for you. Keep in mind there are plenty of ways to meet your child’s needs, build trust, and strengthen your connection.
S0 AP is not about saying you can’t put your baby down?
No. You’re going to need to…and that’s not wrong! But when it works, it is so healthy to carry your baby close to you, wrapped snugly so they get that experience of touch, warmth and closeness. As often as you can do it, go for it. But [and this is what Donna Karan and I talked about backstage], everyone’s situation is different and it won’t be possible to embrace all of the tools of attachment parenting all the time. That does not mean you won’t have a strong relationship with your child. It’s about knowing how different parenting tools help meet a child’s need for security, trust, and basic care, and then finding a balance that works for you. The relationship is the “attachment” of attachment parenting, and there are many ways to develop it.
[Donna was feeling what probably a lot of parents feel when they hear about attachment parenting…guilt that if they didn’t do some of these practices when their children were young, they did something wrong and weren’t as good a parent as they could have been. She expressed concern that parents should know that it’s OK if you’re a working parent and aren’t with your child 24/7. It’s the interactions you have together–whenever you’re together–that are valuable and that work to develop a strong relationship.]
What can parents do if they’re interested in attachment parenting?
Read, research, understand what attachment parenting really is and how children develop. Talk with your partner about what works for you, what might not, what you want to try and why. Work together and communicate to find that balance. Remember, it’s not about dos and don’ts, right and wrong. It’s about meeting a child’s needs on a consistent basis. Understand what those needs are so your child will feel secure and connected to you.