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Unknown territory: how to help not hinder when offering support to attachment parents

21 Feb

imageSince becoming a mummy and walking the path of attachment and progressive parenting I quickly learnt that  no matter what style of parenting you choose, it is not a one, or even a two-man show. The people around you most likely wanting to help support you may not have trodden this path so need it lit up a little in order to be part of your tribe.

The core differences between attachment and conventional western parenting style are exactly as it says in the title, the level of attachment parent has with the child. This is to say the  issue of separation. A common way to offer parents support is to give them a ‘break’ with the offer of babysitting. For many this equates to taking the child away from primary caregiver. For the attachment tribe  a break can only be truly enjoyed if the attachment is not severed. Breast feeding and co-sleeping are two major practices which mean baby and mum want to be kept at short distance for optimum comfort and peace of mind.

So just how can you offer external support without interrupting the bonds? Come round and visit the famIly’s house and take the weight off them in other ways, helping with cooking, cleaning or playing with the child whilst they take time to have a bath, read a book or maybe have a little sleep. Knowing the child can still reach you is the best recipe for relaxation!

Patience is the key when integrating with attachment parenting families. There is often no set time, age or routine for accomplishing tasks. It is ultimately a very instinctual way of living so your flexibility will be much appreciated by the family. Where possible don’t hold families to strict times when arranging events and always expect the child’s needs to be put first, remaining open to changes of plans dependent on such factors as sleep, unexpected illness or a strong will against cooperation!

Respect the child’s personal boundaries, often attachment parenting child can be cautious of anyone other than their immediate family, especially during the first two years. It is usually best to allow the child to come to you to initiate physical contact.

And finally, if you’re unsure about what’s appropriate and helpful behaviour to support the family then ask first. If in doubt, check it out. There are many fascinating books you can read to get to know the ins and outs of this parenting style. The continuum concept by Jean Liedloff is a concise and fascinating book with a view into the world of tribes who use attachment parenting practices. Another modern-day insight into this parenting style is portrayed wonderfully in the book ‘Beyond the sling: A real-life guise to raising confident, loving children the attachment parenting way’ by Mayim Bialik.

There is also now a vast array of Internet support and information on attachment parenting including attachment parenting international and attachment parenting Uk websites. With all this information freely available there really is no reason to stay in the dark, remember the worst possible action to take is to withdraw support completely. There is always something you can offer to help out.