Some parents breastfeed, some don’t, and for the most part, kids turn out fine. Some parents stay at home with their kids, some parents put their kids in daycare, and for the most part, kids turn out fine. Some parents enroll their children in public school, others homeschool, and for the most part, kids turn out fine. There certainly are parenting styles that are in need of improvement, to say it lightly, such as those that tend to be so strict that they could be labeled as abusive or those that are permissive enough to border on neglectful. But there is no one right way to parent, if your goal is to raise children who are functioning members of society.
That said, there are certain parenting goals – and therefore, strategies – than can give a child an edge as a functioning member of society, and secure parent-child attachment is one of them. Secure attachment, or the bond between a parent and a child that is wholesome and, well, secure, offers an advantage to a person by helping them handle stress, from everyday garden variety to major adversity, easier. Essentially, secure attachment lends a good self-esteem. Couple this with problem-solving skills and a general knowledge of healthy versus unhealthy coping skills, and you’ve got an excellent set of stress management skills. Good stress management is helpful not only for mental health but also physical health, and just plain overall well-being.
Parents who are passionate enough about a certain approach to parenting to try to spread the message, either through advocacy or through parent education, tend to come from two schools of thought: They may be those who found a certain approach to parenting to work well for them and their family, and want to share the good news, so to speak; or they may be those who believe that their approach to parenting, which obviously worked well for them and their family, is the one right way for all parents and children, and who then pass judgment on families who are different than they are. Most parents, though, I believe, I hope, understand that all families are different and that every parent is just doing what works best for them with what knowledge they have at the time and that sometimes we are all just trying to keep our heads above water and that, other times, we have wonderful moments of clarity and childrearing ease.
It is true that I practice Attachment Parenting, but do not see that any formula to parenting – even the particular parenting choices I use – to be “the” way to parent. I breastfeed, but I do not think that if a child was not breastfed, that that child was neglected. I use positive discipline, but I do not think that if a child is spanked, that that child is abused necessarily. I use daycare sparingly, but I do not think that parents who use daycare regularly are shirking their responsibility as parents. I see us as all on the same side: We’re all trying to do the best we can with what we got. And every family is different. Certainly, I cannot judge anyone unless I have literally walked in their shoes.
Yet, my views of inclusive parenting certainly don’t mean anyone shares this idea. I have encountered both friends and family as well as strangers trying to persuade me that my parenting approach is wrong with arguments that, during the conversation, increasingly “reach the realm of the ridiculous,” as I like to call it. One woman, in trying to convince me that I was holding my baby too much, told me…
Read more: Psych Central