Do you ever feel like "Attachment Parenting" is misnamed? - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-02-2007, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Let me preface this by saying that I understand where the "attachment" part comes in. However, I do have some issues with saying I'm "AP". I personally think if my parenting style (and honestly, the parenting style of most of the people here) more as "responsive parenting" or "engaged parenting".

Now, what I mean by that is AP comes with this big checklist of stuff that lots of parents, especially those starting out, feel they need to meet in order to be an AP parent. But reality isn't taking everyone & making them all little mini-me versions of some imagined AP icon. To *me* it seems like the focus of AP parenting is simply to be engaged & responsive to YOUR child's needs.

So while EBF was my ideal, I had to deal with the reality of low supply & supplementing/bottle nursing/etc. And while co-sleeping is my ideal, DD2 is NOT a co-sleeping baby now that she's older. I just kept trying & trying to *make* her co-sleep. She'd be frustrated, I'd be frustrated (and angry), and we'd both be exhausted the next morning. Now I just get up, rock her for a bit, and she blissfully goes back to sleep in her pack n' play.

Now when I talk to expectant or new parents instead of focusing on the list of AP stuff I think they should be educated about I just try to get across how important it is to: (1) Educate themselves really well about all their options for stuff like birth, feeding, circ'ing, discipline, sleeping, etc. (2) But mostly I try to stress how important it is to just take the time to get to really KNOW their kids and base their decisions on that. Not on what some random parenting philosophy says is or isn't best for them.
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Old 11-02-2007, 06:22 PM
 
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I think you're right on. I tend to label myself AP just so people can quickly 'judge' me- not in a bad way, just like it says that we babywear and co sleep, don't mind us, we don't plan on fitting into mainstream any time soon

But 'attachment' seems to be kind of weird. Responsive I like better. And it seems funny to say we're 'attached' when my child absolutely loves being held by strangers and doesn't care if I'm in the room or not.
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Old 11-02-2007, 06:25 PM
 
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I totally understand you!
I think a lot of people get can get caught up on the 'list'...everybaby is different so that 'list' may not work with everybaby.... just because you dont do 'a,b and c' doesnt mean you are not 'ap' - and the other way around as well!...you can do 'a,b and c' and be totatlly 'un-ap'! lol
I do like to use the term though. I use it loosely. For those who dont know me, it can sum up what kind of parent I am to them without getting into specifics - or help me find like minded mothers as well!.... You have to be careful with how you word things though. I think 'ap' is just widely accepted. But if I said I was a 'responsive parent' (which really does better sum it up doesnt it!) - people can get all hung up on that like you are making out that they are not. (even if they really arnt! lol...I mean...how is CIO responsive? lmao....)...

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Old 11-02-2007, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I do like to use the term though. I use it loosely. For those who dont know me, it can sum up what kind of parent I am to them without getting into specifics - or help me find like minded mothers as well!.... You have to be careful with how you word things though. I think 'ap' is just widely accepted. But if I said I was a 'responsive parent' (which really does better sum it up doesnt it!) - people can get all hung up on that like you are making out that they are not. (even if they really arnt! lol...I mean...how is CIO responsive? lmao....)...
Yeah, I use AP too for the same reason.

I've had several people get offened though as if I'm saying they're not attached to their kids. Honestly, most of them were pretty great parents so I didn't think that at all, but I could see how it struck them that way....
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Old 11-02-2007, 06:50 PM
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i totally get it. never imagined it'd be this way but DS used to like the swing when he was little. he liked the sling and being rocked too but sometimes he'd cry and cry and only stop when i put him in the swing. i quickly learned that he liked his downtime so i'd usually rotate through rocking, slinging and swinging and stop with the one he wanted at the moment. lord, did i encounter people onlinine who thought i'd already damaged him by making him into the kind of child who would enjoy a swing. :
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Old 11-02-2007, 07:06 PM
 
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I totally agree. I've never labeled myself "AP" .. and in fact, I probably don't meet the whole checklist!

I consider myself more of an instinct parent. From the start, I did what felt right. Sure, that included holding my baby often, keeping him close (even at night), feeding on cue and not letting him cry. But we did also use a stroller a few times, I put him in a baby swing in the bathroom while I showered, and at some point I started putting him to sleep in his own crib, then moving him to bed with me later. So I may not really be "AP".

But parenting by what felt right has thus far grown a very attached, connected and independent almost 5 year old. So I don't care what it's called!

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Old 11-02-2007, 08:08 PM
 
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I think whatever term gets used, there are always going to be some who legalistically miss the big picture, and define you by which tools you do or don't find useful in your particular parent-child relationship.

To me, it's all about listening to our children, and building a trusting, empathetic relationship from day one. I think "most" parents are going to find "most" of the AP tools helpful toward this end, "most" of the time.

But if you're hearing your 5-month-old communicate that she wants to spend a good part of each day on the floor, figuring out various ways to mobilize herself and get to where she want to go -- by all means you should go with her signals: it truly wouldn't be AP to make her spend her whole day cuddled against you in the sling, if that's not what makes her happy.

I think the more we're willing to call ourselves "AP," while celebrating the uniquenesses of our children, families, and situations, the more we'll spread the awareness that AP is truly about the attachment, not the "tools" or "checklist."

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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Old 11-02-2007, 08:12 PM
 
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I honestly despise "AP". I don't even use the initials any more. I figure people who understand how important it is to be reponsive and attached to your child will understand why I co-sleep or whatever, and so why give it an 'exclusive' name?


Attachment parent just sounds soooo...smug to me.
It always has.
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Old 11-02-2007, 08:18 PM
 
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I find the term "attachment parenting" especially problematic because there is a psychological problem that children who have experienced extreme abuse, neglect, abandonment sometimes (although not always) go through with their foster or adoptive parents called "reactive attachment disorder" or just "attachment disorder." And people get really confused, thinking that if they don't co-sleep or breastfeed or use a sling, their child will be damaged in this way. Fact is, most children with parents who love them but use techniques of parenting that would not be approved of on these forums are still "attached" to their parents. And to top it off, many of the parenting strategies you need to use with children with attachment disorder are not at all the same as things you would do with a child not affected; in other words, many of the standard "attachment parenting" practices don't work because there is no trust on the child's part.

I like "responsive parenting" - thanks for sharing that term.
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Old 11-03-2007, 01:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by darsmama View Post
Attachment parent just sounds soooo...smug to me.
It always has.
:


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Originally Posted by Diane B View Post
I find the term "attachment parenting" especially problematic because there is a psychological problem that children who have experienced extreme abuse, neglect, abandonment sometimes (although not always) go through with their foster or adoptive parents called "reactive attachment disorder" or just "attachment disorder." And people get really confused, thinking that if they don't co-sleep or breastfeed or use a sling, their child will be damaged in this way. Fact is, most children with parents who love them but use techniques of parenting that would not be approved of on these forums are still "attached" to their parents. And to top it off, many of the parenting strategies you need to use with children with attachment disorder are not at all the same as things you would do with a child not affected; in other words, many of the standard "attachment parenting" practices don't work because there is no trust on the child's part.

I like "responsive parenting" - thanks for sharing that term.
Wow, I hadn't really thought of it in those specific terms, but I think you're onto part of why I'm uncomfortable with the term as well. Glad you like "responsive parenting"....it's something that I've really been thinking about a lot lately. Having my second child has really led me to a place where I appreciate more each day how varied & difficult parenting is.
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Old 11-03-2007, 01:09 AM
 
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I honestly despise "AP". I don't even use the initials any more. I figure people who understand how important it is to be reponsive and attached to your child will understand why I co-sleep or whatever, and so why give it an 'exclusive' name?


Attachment parent just sounds soooo...smug to me.
It always has.
That was my answer, too

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Old 11-03-2007, 02:30 AM
 
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I was thinking about this earlier today. DH and I practice most of the "principles" of what some people call attachment parenting. But we have THE most independent children I've ever met - dd mostly, as ds is only six months old. I guess their independence comes from a strong sense of themselves and a really secure bond with us, but sometimes it seems ironic to me that in all our efforts to keep them close, they don't seem to need us quite as much as some kids need their parents. I like to think that they just know, instinctively, that we will always respond to their needs - physical and emotional.

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Old 11-03-2007, 02:37 AM
 
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My mother didn't do ANY of the things on the AP list (she CIO, slept separately, bottle fed, etc etc -- it was what she felt was expected of her) and yet we have always be very closely attached. So yeah, I don't like the term either. Even "responsive parenting" is problematic to me because my mom was responsive to my needs and desires, especially during the school years. I know we need some kind of term to use to define ourselves, but I wish we could find one that didn't imply that people who parent differently somehow have inferior relationships to their kids.

Maybe "continuum concept parenting"? Isn't that where the framework came from?
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Old 11-03-2007, 12:31 PM
 
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I like to say that I practice "mindful" parenting.

This is in opposition to the mindless way my parents did it. They just did without thinking, and what they did happened to be very suited to me, but not to my sister. But even though things were not working, instead of re-evaluating their behavior, they just assumed their parenting must be good because I was turning out fine, but my sister just had problems inherent to her nature.

My intention is to think about each of my actions, and the outcome I am trying to produce. I don't want to just act out of impulse or just react to my child's behavior based on some pre-formed habits I may have.

Leigh, mama to Rostislav homeborn Aug 9 2007, and Oksana homeborn Feb 24 2011.
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Old 11-03-2007, 02:41 PM
 
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Maybe "continuum concept parenting"? Isn't that where the framework came from?
Well, as there are some MDC parents who can't stand TCC, I don't know how they'd feel about switching from AP to CCP.

I do like the terms "responsive parenting" and "mindful parenting" -- but honestly, I don't see how those terms sound any less critical of "other" parents than AP does. Or any less "smug."

To say I practice "responsive" or "mindful" parenting, instead of calling it attachment parenting, just makes it sound like "other" parents are "unresponsive" or "mindless" -- does it not? How's that any better?

Also, I love The Continuum Concept, but I find it hard to duplicate some essential parts of Continuum Concept parenting while living in modern society. To me, AP is more inclusive of people in a variety of different lifestyles.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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Old 11-03-2007, 03:47 PM
 
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I think the word "attachment" focuses so much on the relationship between mother and child. "Mindful" focuses more on how we go about parenting.

Also, "mindful" doesn't require that the parents do a certain list of things. All it requires is that we think about things, research, weigh the options, and make a choice. All of us here can be described by this. Not all of us do all of the things on the list of what AP is about.

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Old 11-03-2007, 05:21 PM
 
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I think the word "attachment" focuses so much on the relationship between mother and child.
Maybe that's partly what I like about it. Not that I think fathers should be left out in the cold -- it's just, in the early months, I think a big part of the father's role should be supporting the mother-baby attachment. This honestly hasn't got in the way of each of our girls getting super close to Daddy as they moved into older-babyhood and toddlerhood.

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"Mindful" focuses more on how we go about parenting.
Well, I think "Attachment" also focuses on how we go about parenting -- because, from the primary attachment, our children's worlds expand to include other attachments. And the basis of all the relationships continues to be trust.

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Also, "mindful" doesn't require that the parents do a certain list of things. All it requires is that we think about things, research, weigh the options, and make a choice. All of us here can be described by this. Not all of us do all of the things on the list of what AP is about.
I guess I just have a different "list." Although I've been able to breastfeed, baby-wear, and co-sleep -- I think if there were some reason why I couldn't do one or more of these things, I would still be AP because I'm listening to and trusting my children, and showing them that they can trust me.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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Old 11-03-2007, 05:30 PM
 
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I like to say that I practice "mindful" parenting.

This is in opposition to the mindless way my parents did it. They just did without thinking, and what they did happened to be very suited to me, but not to my sister. But even though things were not working, instead of re-evaluating their behavior, they just assumed their parenting must be good because I was turning out fine, but my sister just had problems inherent to her nature.

My intention is to think about each of my actions, and the outcome I am trying to produce. I don't want to just act out of impulse or just react to my child's behavior based on some pre-formed habits I may have.
: My parents also more or less did what they had been raised to do, without really considering whether it fit their own children. Then, any falling short is viewed as a failure of the child, because others who were raised the same way turned out fine. Whatever you want to call it, understanding and listening to my child's unique and individual needs is the core of my parenting approach, although I may fall short in practice.
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Old 11-04-2007, 06:45 PM
 
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Labels have a tendency to turn people off. Personally, I find the term "attachment parenting" overly twee, and I'm glad I read about the principles before I learned the term. I fully understand where it comes from and do use it in conversation both here and with DP. But if I were to talk about the principles to someone who was not familiar with AP, I'd probably not use the term. I'd rather go about it in a different way, as in "Have you read this study/book regarding bf/co-sleeping/babywearing/whatever AP practice". I don't have kids yet, so I haven't had to describe the kind of parent I am to anyone. I'm sure it would be easier to just say "I'm AP" than go through a list of things I do or don't do. But I'm not sure how descriptive the term would be for people who aren't too familiar with it. Not to mention that I've never heard anyone else use a label for their parenting, and I'd probably find it strange if someone did.

Now, maybe I simply don't know enough people with kids, but are there other labels that people who practice different types of parenting use? Because seriously, the only one I've heard of is AP (and the subcategories, like CC, PP, TCS, all that). I'm just wondering if there are terms that non-AP parents use for their parenting style.
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Old 11-04-2007, 07:51 PM
 
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What's PP?

In answer to your question: I've heard some parents say they follow the Ezzo's Babywise. Others "Ferberize" their babies.

I guess you're right that most of us don't go around "labeling" ourselves. I think the terms can be useful, though, in helping someone get connected to a wealth of information.

For instance, it was at my second LLL meeting, when my oldest was 6 weeks old, that a friend said after watching me with dd, that she thought I'd really love Attachment Parenting and to look it up on the internet 'cause I'd find a ton of stuff that would explain it better than she could in our limited time. I'm so glad she turned me on to it!

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Old 11-04-2007, 08:01 PM
 
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Labels have a tendency to turn people off. Personally, I find the term "attachment parenting" overly twee, and I'm glad I read about the principles before I learned the term.
I totally agree.

Even though we do/did many things on the "AP" checklist, I would never, ever describe my parenting as "AP" when talking to someone else. First of all, not everyone knows what it means (particularly those without kids), but more importantly, I think it's an annoying, condescending label that implies that anyone who doesn't follow a particular set of rules is somehow not attached (or imperfectly attached) to their child.

Now, there are people who believe exactly that, but I'm not one of them.
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Old 11-04-2007, 08:04 PM
 
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What's PP?

In answer to your question: I've heard some parents say they follow the Ezzo's Babywise. Others "Ferberize" their babies.

I guess you're right that most of us don't go around "labeling" ourselves. I think the terms can be useful, though, in helping someone get connected to a wealth of information.

For instance, it was at my second LLL meeting, when my oldest was 6 weeks old, that a friend said after watching me with dd, that she thought I'd really love Attachment Parenting and to look it up on the internet 'cause I'd find a ton of stuff that would explain it better than she could in our limited time. I'm so glad she turned me on to it!
PP is Playful Parenting, which might be more of a parenting tool than a philosophy (I'm not too familiar with it, so don't quote me on any of that I'm sure someone who knows more about it can explain it better than me).

I do see where using the term might come in handy, but I'm also fairly sure that most of the people I know would just roll their eyes at me if I were to use it in their presence. I guess it's a case of knowing your audience and putting it in a way that the people you're talking to find appealing.

Ah, and of course there's the Ferberizers and the Ezzo lot, I completely forgot about that. I must say, though, that around here (UK) those terms are also pretty much unheard of. That's probably why the thought of calling myself AP or whatever seems a bit uncomfortable to me. It's a shame in a way, because it would be nice to have a simple way of describing your parenting beliefs. But in a way, it's also a blessing that people don't seem to subscribe to a set of rules as strictly and might sometimes be more open to different suggestions.
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Old 11-04-2007, 08:42 PM
 
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Mindful parenting, responsive parenting, continuum concept parenting, natural, crunchy.... No matter what term you use, it isn't going to fit perfectly, and it is going to be a stereotype, because you can only have a few words. I mean, in a discussion, if asked, you can't always answer with a paragraph of explanations, so you have to streamline it, and an unfortunate side effect of this will be some stereotyping.

I think the question to ask is: does anyone here refer to themselves as mainstream?

Do mainstream people refer to themselves as mainstream? The ones to the right of us, and to the left of Ezzo. I doubt it.

And who is left of us? And then we come into the whole stereotyping thing again, as I sit here and type "us" and "them." This is tough!

I personally don't mind the term attachment parenting, but I also don't really use it. Because I don't fit the mold, probably not even half of it. If asked, I often say I am crunchy. People get that - sort of granola, natural, tree hugging. And I'm not even that crunchy - for example, I don't cloth diaper. But I am natural in the way I react with my children - I read their cues, their needs, and go from there, not from some book that says I should do X, or my DC should walk at Y age or eat so much of Z food.
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Old 11-04-2007, 10:42 PM
 
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MIL loves to be mainstream. She is so go-along-with-the-crowd that it is amazing.

One day she was on her way home from work when she realized a candle-light vigil had started: all the neighbors had put a lit candle on their front steps. She ran home and lit a candle and put it out there, and then breathed a sigh of relief. And she had no clue what the candle was for!

She bought me a specific model of stroller, not the small one I had wanted because I could fold it and put it away, because that is what she saw everyone in central park using with THEIR babies. Even folded, this monster is huge. I can't put it away anywhere. It sits like a piece of furniture. It is only used by the cat as a place to sleep.

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Old 11-04-2007, 10:43 PM
 
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Allison, why the left-right scale?

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Old 11-05-2007, 10:25 AM
 
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Allison, why the left-right scale?
I dunno. Maybe because there are elections here and I'm in a political mood. It was just to try to explain mainstream in the middle (hence mainstream) with other methods overlapping, but out of the sides, so you may have AP / NFL on one side, touching mainstream, and Ezzo on the other, also touching mainstream, but because they are opposite sides, Ezzo and AP / NFL don't touch much.
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Old 11-05-2007, 11:12 AM
 
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I think the question to ask is: does anyone here refer to themselves as mainstream?
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Old 11-05-2007, 11:26 AM
 
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Interesting which side you chose for AP

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Old 11-05-2007, 11:36 AM
 
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I really don't care for labels, since there are few things I can follow a checklist down and say I do everything. Especially when it comes to working with people, one size doesn't fit all. I do know a lot of the things I believe in fall in with AP, I don't believe in anything vehemently opposed to it, but there is that wonderful grey area which occupies pretty much all of life as I know it and I can't be black and white. I can't even tolerate too many people who think in black and white and tend to tune them out.

I don't know whether it's just the group of people I've managed to come across, but most people I know are pretty much on the same page of parenting. Responding to our kids physical and emotional needs asap, nursing, no hitting or yelling, slinging, etc. Maybe a lot of parenting philosophies that people have here are more mainstream in various areas than they think.

Don't trust anyone under 5! Mom to 3 boys under 5. Blogging to save my sanity.
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Old 11-05-2007, 11:56 AM
 
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Originally Posted by darsmama View Post
I honestly despise "AP". I don't even use the initials any more. I figure people who understand how important it is to be reponsive and attached to your child will understand why I co-sleep or whatever, and so why give it an 'exclusive' name?

Attachment parent just sounds soooo...smug to me.
It always has.
Good point. I have seen the phrase "gentle parenting" and I like that better. I know parents who BF (even EBF), use cloth diapers, are fairly crunchy etc., don't spank BUT are not particularly gentle with their kids.

I also know plenty of "mainstream" parents who are very gentle with their kids and very respectful in how they treat them.
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