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The Effects of Attachment Parenting on Parents

Babywearing is LoveMuch of the writing and discussion around Attachment Parenting focuses on the ways that AP benefits babies and children.  But attachment parenting is beneficial for parents too, in simple ways and complex emotional ways.  In Dr Sears’ article, The 7 Benefits of Attachment Parenting, he mentions the benefits of prolactin and oxytocin released during breastfeeding, which help mothers feel relaxed, fall asleep while nursing their baby to sleep, and promotes maternal instinct.  Dr Sears also discusses mutual giving, mutual sensitivity and mutual shaping, in which the flow of feelings and care between parent and child benefits both.  In 10 Ways Attachment Parenting Makes Discipline Easier, Dr Sears discusses the benefits of AP for parents and children, such as how a secure attachment promotes the state of quiet alertness in babies, which allows them to use their waking hours learning and growing instead of crying.  Other research shows that attached kids are easier to discipline when they reach prescshool age if they had a secure attachment with a caregiver as babies.

It is important to make parenting choices that will benefit our children, but it is also important that our parenting choices enrich our lives as parents.  Nobody should feel like they must be a martyr for the sake of their kids, or that suffering is an integral part of being an AP parent.  It might be hard work to be present for a colicky baby or wake up multiple times in a night to comfort a child who is afraid of the dark, but this work is part of a greater good for both parent and child.  Attachment parenting can benefit parents as much as it benefits kids, and I think everyone who chooses to parent in an attached way knows or experiences this somehow.  I’d love to gather together the experiences and knowledge of AP parents and create a list of ways we have benefited and grown as a result of being attached parents.  Feel free to add your experience in the comments and I’ll update the list!  Also, if you know of references to studies done regarding these benefits, please add those too.

What are the effects of Attachment Parenting on Parents?

  • Increased sense of closeness, understanding and intimacy with your child
  • Being motivated to grow, change, face your own personal challenges and heal past hurts from your own childhood.  Naomi Aldort’s Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves is a great book that discusses this.
  • Mothers who co-sleep and nurse to sleep get more unbroken sleep than those mothers who breastfeed but do not co-sleep (I know I read of a study discussing this but I can’t find it!)
  • Preparing for birth by learning about natural birth, choosing a midwife and/or home birth reduces your risk of cesarean birth and it’s associated complications. New Active Birth by Janet Balaskas is a great place to start reading about natural birth
  • Babywearing, breastfeeding and co-sleeping all reduce the amount of time a baby spends crying, which makes for a less stressed parent
  • A strong attachment created by providing consistent care, nurturing touch, respectful and positive discipline and responding to a baby’s needs at night all work to create a feeling of being genuinely needed by someone you love.  This strong interdependence and connection helps give life meaning and worth
  • Breastfeeding burns extra calories and helps mothers lose extra weight gained during pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding helps delay the return of ovulation, especially in mothers who co-sleep with their babies
  • Prolactin and oxytocin help breastfeeding mothers relax and encourage bonding and maternal feelings towards the baby

Image Credit: Pepper44 on Flickr

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Leslie July 10, 2010, 10:55 am

    Love this – and loving your articles about attachment parenting and infant care. I so agree with you!! It’s so interesting how this is such a topic of intense debate between moms!
    .-= Leslie´s last blog ..Paint bubbles =-.

  • Agree, agree, agree! We don’t need to feel like we’re martyrs, absolutely. But, parenting sacrificially gives us the ‘being blessed by blessing others’ high that is a core-deep kind of joy we just can’t get from anything we do to serve ourselves. And associating that joy with taking care of our babies creates a beautiful, sustainable virtuous circle.

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