Stumbling Towards AP

The Attachment Parenting International blog, API Speaks, is hosting a blog carnival about Attachment Parenting. Since I'm already in the groove of talking about labeling this week, I thought I'd share a little bit about how we stumbled our way towards becoming an AP family and what that means for us.

In the seven years that Steve and I were together before we became parents, we had lots of conversations about kids. To an outside listener, I'm sure it sometimes seemed as if our future children were actual children; we talked about them in the present tense. Watching our siblings and friends parent their children gave us so many opportunities to formulate ideas about what we thought might work for us. There were many late night conversations, lying in the dark, in which one of us would whisper, "Did you see such-and-such? What do we think about that?"

Slowly and organically our parenting "philosophy" emerged without the influence of expert opinions or stacks of guides on what we "should" do. We knew that our opinions might change once we were in the trenches, as it were, but we felt pretty confident that what we were building was a foundation of key beliefs that were strongly held and on which we could develop a working plan of how to parent. At the very core of this was a desire to treat our children with the same love and respect that we afford each other and the acknowledgment that while this person was very small and helpless, that didn't mean that he didn't have a voice that needed to be heard, listened to, and responded to in a manner that was timely and appropriate. It wasn't until later that we learned that our collection of ideas had a name and it was AP.

As parenthood drew closer and I started to do more reading and research, I became pretty good at parsing through information to glean what was useful for us and to discard the rest. These decisions were based on three criteria: what made sense biologically, what things were embraced cross-culturally and across time, and what fit with our own lifestyle and values. Extended on-cue breastfeeding, and the close bonding that entails, hit all of these marks and it increasingly became the cornerstone of our parenting plan. Everything else -- babywearing, co-sleeping, delaying the introduction of solids -- although each discussed and decided in their own right based on their own merits, were ultimately embraced because they facilitated breastfeeding and bonding.

There have been many moments throughout Silas' first year in which I have felt like an AP failure: when we decided to put him to sleep in a crib for the first part of the night and our late start with elimination communication to name a couple. But these moments have helped me to realize that Attachment Parenting isn't a set of boxes to check on a list. The definition of "attachment" is "affectionate regard; devotion" and that really is the key. I believe Attachment Parenting is an attitude and a way of communicating, rather than a rigid set of practices. The day-to-day reality of Attachment Parenting looks different for each family and even for each child within a family, but an underlying regard for our children and approaching every interaction with them in a way that is mindful and with the goal of honoring them as individuals is what ties us all together.

This post is part of the Attachment Parenting Is For Everyong blog carnival, hosted by Attachment Parenting International.
Learn more by visiting API Speaks, the blog of Attachment Parenting International.


  1. Thank you for posting this.
    I am at work today and was just cornered by a coworked her waged her finger at me and told me I would "be sorry" that I don't practice CIO with my 6 month old son. I had to turn and walk away. At times I feel like AP is really taboo to people, but I shouldnt have to explain myself. I sometimes need to know there are other people out there who don't think this choice is crazy. None of my friends have chose to parent this way and in my opinion it takes ALOT of work, but it is so worth it. And, by the way, we do the same thing with the crib at night, so you arent alone! Thanks again for the post :)Much needed.

    1. Jennifer,
      I'm so sorry that you had that moment at work! It's always so tough to know what to do in those situations. No one in my family has taken the AP route, but I've been very lucky to find a few close friends who have. I don't know what I'd do with out them!
      Hope you have a better day tomorrow! :)

  2. You nailed it on the last line, being mindful and honoring each child as an individual is what attachment parenting is all about. We, like you, instinctively were drawn to the principles of AP, but didn't really know what AP was at the time. We waited a long time to have a child, hopefully I can say children in the next year or so :), and by observing, listening to our guts, a little reading and lots of discussion we picked a path that worked for us, and it turns out it was pretty close the AP.

  3. i love your thoughtfulness on this subject, courtney. so often AP is taken as a subject that divides, when that is so far from the point. it's about connection, and about what brings us together. you are so right about our way of parenting not being a set of boxes to check. you can even do away with the breastfeeding, in my opinion (consider adopted attachment babies or mamas with medical issues preventing bf, etc) and still practice AP by being focused on the connection and the equal dignity of children.