Almost one year ago, my good friend Daiane gave birth to her first son Rio.
A stunningly beautiful Brazilian who moved to Australia just a few years ago, Dai is used to standing out in a crowd: her crazy curls and South-American lilt has won the hearts of many since she landed on Sydney shores.
But what Dai wasn’t expecting to set her apart from the crowd, was her style of parenting.
Dai first became aware of what is popularly dubbed attachment parenting when her friend recommended The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff in the lead up to Rio’s birth.
For Dai, as much as the book was “life changing”, it wasn’t about adopting a label, or a trend. It was really just an affirmation of her existing beliefs and a common-sense way to raise kids in a modern world.
However, the fallout from her decision to adopt attachment parenting has been monumental, with close friends and even strangers buying in on her choice on how to raise her baby.
Bring up the concept of attachment parenting to most mums and dads, and their reaction will be to roll their eyes.
“Who has time for that?” one pal scoffed, “Just wait until she has more than one kid. Good luck attachment parenting then!”
It’s dividing the notoriously bitchy Mummy Groups online, with many questioning the effects constant attachment might have on the bub’s development and independence.
Articles like this one from The Atlantic call it ‘unsustainable’, and indicate it could lead to a breakdown of the mother and father’s romantic/sexual relationship, the baby’s feeding habits, and even the baby’s safety in co-sleeping.
So what exactly is getting everyone’s knickers in a knot, then?
‘Attachment Parenting’ is a term first coined by Dr William Sears in his parenting manual, The Baby Book, in 1992. The concept, however, has been around since the beginning of time – this style of parenting is basically trying to return to ‘natural’ instincts autonomous from the constructs of modern mothering.
Translation: no bottles, no prams, no toys, and definitely no Dora The Explorer iPad games.
It promotes a mutual respect between mother and child: the baby feeds on demand, is worn around the clock by mum and/or dad, and sleeps in bed with them too. Baby-led weaning (skipping the puree stage and feeding the baby solid food immediately after breastfeeding) is synonymous with the movement also.
“Attachment parenting is being sensitive and responsive to your baby’s needs, empathetic towards his emotions, and trust that he is doing what’s right for him at the time.” says Dai, outlining the major differences to ‘normal’ parenting as being “…a responsiveness to a baby’s cry, constant closeness, not forcing independence, and respecting their own time to do or learn things.”
I asked Dai why she chose to take the road less travelled.
“After plenty of reading I was certain all my baby needed was me. He needed to be close to me until he was ready to let go. It made a lot of sense. I needed to be there to help him regulate his emotions. Who wouldn’t want to be someone’s universe? It’s wonderful!”
And herein seems to lie the thorn that gets wedged in many a mama’s paw: being ‘someone’s universe’.