The Problem With ‘Attachment Parenting’ and How to Really Change the World

“One generation of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world”. (Charles Raison).

I really believe this, I truly believe it is possible to change the world in less than one hundred years.

The recent rise in coverage of attachment parenting by the mainstream media however leaves me cold. I can’t help feeling frustrated that all it really achieves is highlighting how misunderstood attachment theory is in mainstream society. Most media coverage makes AP look like a parenting cult whose  strict principles must be religiously followed – an alternative to the strict regimes of Gina Ford et al, but still something that is confusing to follow and even harder to ‘do’.

I am crying out to be given the chance to get attachment theory (not AP) some proper airtime, because if there is to be a global consciousness shift in parenting it HAS to come from the science, not celebs, or passionate mums coordinating breastfeeding or babywearing flashmobs. It has to be black and white. It has to be independent of social class and eco campaigning and “8 principles”.

Instead the way to really make a change is to present cold hard facts that nobody can pick apart because of carying babies in “15 metres of Indian fabric” or natural yoghurt consumption. It needs discussions of hippocampal volume and the true meaning of independence, with reference to the developing brain and neural connections and the myth of self soothing. It needs discussions of neural pruning, of the long term effects of premature separation of mother and infant. We need to discuss oxytocin and empathy and altruism, we need to discuss the science of maternal instinct.

We need to make the neuroscience of attachment theory as well known in society as the Baby Whisperer’s EASY and ‘pick up and put down’ and Gina Ford’s crazy routines. Because then, when this information is disseminated in a way that *everyone* can understand it, then there is no debate, there is no ‘war’ to win. There are only cold hard facts and the glaringly obvious fact that we have got this parenting thing all wrong.

The irony that it will take this critical, analytical, rational approach – the domain of the neocortex – in order to help mankind to realise that they need to parent in a more instinctive, mammalian way and drop the over analysis and reliance on experts and routines to tell us how to parent by numbers is not lost on me, just as the fact that I write books with almost the sole aim of getting parents to realise that they know best after all is not lost either. But this is the ONLY approach that will work – however much airtime AP gets from the latest news story, it’s just not going to cut the mustard.


Am I the only one that can see this? Surely I can’t be?

PLEASE let’s pick this movement up a gear. Revolution usually means war, but it really doesn’t have to – we can do this quietly, we have the biggest ‘weapon’ of all on our side – SCIENCE – and we don’t need to insult or harm anybody to use it, but right now I feel it has been forgotten in amongst the swathes of indian fabric and birkenstocks getting themselves in a tizzy (yes – how ironic that is the Christian name of Ms. Hall!). What these passionate mothers don’t realise is that by doing so they are creating even more of an ‘us and them’ divide, which may reach a few thousand other parents, but it’s not going to score big, it really isn’t anything to get excited at in the grand scheme of things. I’m not interested in changing things one family at a time anymore, I want to change MILLIONS, because only then will we really change the world.

….and you know what the first step is? It’s acknowledging that the phrase ‘attachment parenting’ is holding this back. It is too full of cliches and inaccurate ideas of keeping babies attached to mothers 24/7 to fulfil their own needs and creating mollycoddled monsters. It is too linked to henna, eating placentas and natural living, it’s just not scientific enough. Language is powerful and in this case it is preventing the change that needs to happen in society.

What should we call it? Personally, I think just ‘parenting’ suffices, after all that’s what it is, but sadly that has been monopolised by the likes of Ms. Ford and Supernanny. ‘Natural parenting’ doesn’t appeal to those who are not interested in a a natural lifestyle, who want to use disposable nappies, buggies, cots and Johnsons baby bath or formula feed (because you know – those people can be great parents too!), ‘instinctive parenting’ sounds too “Ohm” and alternative. The only other phrase that I am comfortable with is ‘gentle parenting’, it’s far from ideal – but I think it’s more ‘there’ than AP.

It’s for this reason that myself and two close friends  launched a new gentle parenting movement – starting with a mainstream, non crunchy, science rich website (featuring real experts) to rival the big parenting websites we all know of. You can find us at:

Please, we need your support, if we are going to try to change things, we need to be shared, we need to be as well known as BabyCentre or Mumsnet, we need to reach those parents that AP is not currently reaching and we need to ‘talk’ to them.



p.s:  Did you like this post? Want to read more similar content and receive weekly top tips, reader Q&As, hear my take on current parenting research and enter the odd competition? Then why not sign up to my new FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER and get the latest in gentle parenting delivered straight to your inbox. I promise I will never share your email with anybody else and if you don’t like what I send you can unsubcribe straight away!

Sign up to my FREE weekly newsletter

About SarahOckwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Parenting author and mother to four.
This entry was posted in Babies, Birth, Mothering, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to The Problem With ‘Attachment Parenting’ and How to Really Change the World

  1. Jo says:

    I agree, I don’t think labels or names for parenting styles are helpful. They imply a set of rules to follow, a cult. I’m tired of hearing people say, ‘Dr Sears advises time out so it must be AP’, for example.
    It’s frustrating that the science isn’t out there. It needs to be somehow made accessible for all. I think many people are ‘turned off’ by scientific terms and the mention of studies and research.
    Keep up the good work! Your determination and passion are inspiring.

  2. bethbone says:

    I am so with you Sarah and just wish I’d known sooner that there was a different way – a way I could have known that my instinct was ok. My son will be 3 in January and is fantastic, not sure I could be prouder. Only last night though I was talking to a dear friend about how if you take one path can you change to another – I’m devouring your book – change is possible! You are inspirational!

  3. vanessa says:

    A very good friend once ‘labelled’ me as an Involved Parent. I love it since it’s self explanatory yet sneaks the concept of gentleness and being child led 🙂

  4. Beth says:

    Great post Sarah, thank you. I am concerned though that informing parents is not enough, it’s a societal issue, one that doesn’t support spending more quality time with your children. It came up in the many debates yesterday about the proposals for ‘paying’ mothers to breastfeed, the fact is breastfeeding, baby wearing and gentle/positive parenting is time consuming and exhausting but mostly requires being home, not at work.

  5. Carina says:

    I disagree completely, attachment parenting is not a western fad it is how people in the east have raised children for centuries and they dont have all our mental health problems so go figure

    • I agree entirely, however it wasn’t called ‘attachment parenting’ back then, it was just ‘parenting’ – but now ‘attachment parenting’ means something entirely different to 99% of society!

      • John says:

        Actually, “attachment parenting” means *nothing at all* to probably 90% of society, because most people don’t read articles and blogs and books about parenting styles.

      • Do you really think so? I’d love to do a straw poll of people on the street – I’d imagine the answers would be things like “oh, that’s like feeding kids til they’re 8 isn’t it?” or “oh, the crazy people that never put their babies down or let them grow up” or “the weirdos and the earthmothers”..

      • petra says:

        i’d agree with john on the percentage of people who read parenting guides. i remember reading, years ago, a few pages from ‘what to expect..’ at a friends home, one my first child was an only child. quickly chucked that tome as far from me as possible! what a scary book! i think if i’d kept going my first would have remained an only. yes, i know ‘what to expect…’ is about before and during birth things but it certainly dampened my interest in reading others guides.
        it would be accurate to say we parent our kids in an attachment way; hard rules and definitions have never sat well with me. we don’t need labels to do the right things for children. caring for the helpless and soothing the needy is a 24/7 human response, does it need a tizzy fit debate?

  6. Sally says:

    I’m totally with you on this. As a mother of 3 children it would appear I practice AP. I read Dr Sears and found a few groups on here and realised what I did had a title. I have also come across the Little a Heart books and realised myself and my husband strive to be ‘gentle parents’. I am currently involved in all aspects of parenting as I now have a newborn, a 3 year old boy and an 8 year old girl, no adolescents yet!
    Professionally I am an early consultant for the local authority. I deliver training and support to daycare, children’s centres, schools and childminders on child development, nurturing under 3s, brain development research for emotional, cognitive, physical and language (currently on mat leave). I would love to be part of this!

  7. Kate says:

    I like the sound of involved parenting! Love the article just not sure gentle parenting is quite there either as sounds a bit like a group who will never discipline their children which of course all children do need boundaries and must be redirected from time to time. It’s rubbish that we have to live in a society where everything needs labelling and everyone feels they have to compete with each other and this constant you should reclaim your independence as a women, well no actually my life has changed I am a mother I always will be and nothing I can do would turn me into the person I once was (even if I wanted to!)

  8. Can we please rename it ‘instinctive parenting’?? This is what I have called it for a long time and to me it makes the most sense…..

  9. Beatrice says:

    As much as I agree with what you write about the labelling having a negative effect and that the AP label is completely misunderstood, I think you are creating a new new in gentle parenting. It’s a name that could set you to feeling like a failure because everyone has their moments.

    I am very much looking forward to your website and will be following the development until then with great interest. A source with all the scientific knowledge about early years development sounds great. And I do believe in the power of fact (being a scientist myself) but as with breastfeeding, presenting someone with the facts is often seen as not politically correct because you wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
    So I worry that as amazing as your idea is and as helpful it will be to all open-minded parents, it will immediately have defensive people up in arms because as we all know: the truth hurts.

    Good luck with your website.

  10. Leanne Ashmead says:

    Just WOW! I’m totally with you on this!!!

  11. Anna prior says:

    Just loves this, couldn’t agree more with every word.

  12. Karen says:

    I instinctively parent my children. I don’t need to give it a title. I do what is physiologically and biologically the norm. I learn as I go. I’ve made mistakes, I’m not perfect. But I respond to them, and they are not at all clingy. The fact that they are totally secure means that when my daughter started playgroup she told me to “go away, mummy” as I was trying to say goodbye. I didn’t get upset when they started school, or when my son moved out to go to Uni. I feel this means that secure attachment works both ways.

  13. Agena says:

    How about naming it ‘responsive parenting’? Isn’t that what it’s about?

    • Christie says:

      Yes! I like that name a lot! You are responding to each child’s individual needs. “Instinctual Parenting” can be off putting because you may feel that your instincts are under fire because you are not responding appropriately.

  14. I would love to see AP getting more airtime and like you say to lose this us against them link to it. As a scientist I also like the idea of getting more out about the science and studies that are now available to us. Its so sad to see mums going against their own instincts and not having the confidence to trust how they feel and listening to bad advice around them to ignore their baby. I think major canvassing would help, if you could get some science shows or magazines on board, which as its such a hot topic with such a baby boom on I think they would be happy to cover it. Imagine Prof Brian Cox and Dara Obriain covering it on BBC 🙂 A horizons episode etc

  15. sheffieldslingsurgery says:

    Love this article. And completely agree. I’d call myself a peaceful parent, but gentle sounds fab too. Have contacted you via the form on here 🙂

  16. sheffieldslingsurgery says:

    Love this article. And completely agree. I’d call myself a peaceful parent, but gentle sounds fab too. Completely agree about the science aspect. Have contacted you via the form on here 🙂

  17. Celeste says:

    I totally agree. I saw the interview last night and I’ve been thinking about it all day. I’m glad the first things she said was she didn’t like the phrase, but mentioning the 7 B’s (which I’d never heard of) puts people of.
    I fall into the AP camp but I loathe the phrase and never use it. I parent instinctively and follow my gut feelings. (In fact I’m thinking of coining the phrase gutsy parenting.) With my first these feeling were swayed more by other people’s opinions, so my daughter was in a cot most of the time in our room and I only carried her in a carrier occasionally and I’d make sure she had regular naps at set times. By the time I had my son 4 years later I’d discovered slings properly, I made my own and I rarely use the pram. He’s 2, we’re still breastfeeding he co-slept for about 14 months, then we realised we were waking him, so he’s in his own room now… most of the time, and his naps fitted in with whatever we, or more accurately his big sister was doing.
    I haven’t done any of these things to follow any particular rules. I’ve done them because they’ve worked well for us.
    Where we live it’s hilly, a sling is more practical. We’re still breastfeeding because it’s the quickest and easiest way to get him to sleep at night, he also won’t drink cows milk. Co-sleeping meant I got more sleep and could function during the day and hold down a job.

    Although I call it instinctive parenting I think too many people don’t have the confidence to trust their instincts. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking all children fit into neat little boxes and routines and if they’re doing anything differently to what the books say then we must be doing it wrong. (I never read any baby books, I did read Mumsnet lots where you get all kinds of opinions so soon realise every child is different.)

    As for Katie Price’s opinion that children parented in this way rule the household; we are a family, we all have opinions, and we all have to give and take. My son is ridiculously easy going and happy, so he’s usually the last in the pecking order for getting a say.

  18. Dear Sarah,

    I have just read your post and agree completely with what you are saying. I do think, though, that by using the term gentle parenting as the name for the site that, in a way, it could end up being used the way the term attachment parenting is now.

    By using the term parenting it implies that there is a style and set ideals that the site advocates. While this may be true, it can put people off or cause them to make a judgement about it before they even take the time to know what the content is. Others may also attach themselves to the terminology and be tempted to create the same kind of ‘rules’ and ‘cliches’ that they have regarding attachment parenting.

    One of the reasons that mumsnet and babycentre are so successful is because they have neutral names. There is nothing in the name that would make anyone feel prejudged by their choices or jump to any conclusions about what the content or ideological stand of the site will be, therefore people are more inclined to visit the site and look around.

    These are just my immediate thoughts on what you were saying and I don’t know whether they are useful, or indeed if anyone else would think the same, but I felt that it would be worth sharing them as I too want the same outcome as you.

    Sincerely Sarah

    Sent from my iPad

  19. Emma says:

    I agree with you. But am put off by gentle parenting as a title still too hippy for me. And also I find it still suggests a conflict with well I don’t know what to call it unnatural parenting? I don’t tend to read parenting stuff and certainly not gina ford yet I find if ever I stray onto a site or article or group about slings or breastfeeding etc I feel immediately judged by it or the comments for doing the wrong things. Yet I would say I was instinctively parenting so are my instincts wrong?
    In which case then we are telling people they’re not doing things right.
    Also again gentle parenting implies that every other type of parenting is harsh. But this isn’t so not everyone smacks or is verbally harsh even if they set boundaries or use the naughty step once in a while. Likewise not every bottle feeder is a feckless lazy layabout who can’t be bothered to feed her child herself. Some people just can’t eg a friend who had to have major heart surgery immediately post delivery. I just findit all too much. Why can’t we all just do our own things without so much comment. I don’t mean stuff that social workers are involved with. Just all this middle class angst.

    • travelstogether says:

      instinctive parenting! as much as i’m not comfortable with labels, this might sit ok with me.

    • meg says:

      Perfect. There is certainly a culture of parents out there who may look at you sideways, or judge you and your parenting style because you don’t subscribe to whatever parenting style they are into. Do I look at some parents and think to myself, are you really making that choice? Of course, I am a human being, but what it all boils down to is that you can parent your child however you see fit, and I’ll parent mine how I see fit. There is no ‘right way’ if there was people wouldn’t constantly be coming up with ‘the new way’. Sometimes people just need to focus on themselves and what they are doing unless someone asks you for advice.

  20. carrie says:

    hello. I like this article. I believe raising children without dependence on diapers, breastfeeding on demand for as long as the child wants and co sleeping, at least in a bassinet with your hand on the baby as it sleeps are the most important parts of how to raise children that are not part of the insanity, however. As hard as it is for some to hear, there can be no compromise with formula, because the poison GMO ingredients in the formula is clearly part of the big picture and must be removed from the diet entirely.

    • Emma says:

      No we should be thankful that we can breastfeed ourselves and that there are safe alternatives for those who can’t. If formula were really poison then most of the adult population would be dead. This attitude doesn’t help people in any way. In the 70s my mother was told not to breastfeed by her midwives etc so she didn’t and now feels guilty despite having 2 children who are healthy and have degrees. She feels she failed us even though it was not her fault. I don’t feel that she failed me in any way and it was just what happened then. Similarly my friend could feel really bad about not feeding her baby but then again she was on itu and nearly died. So is it better for the baby to be breastfed or have a live mother?

      • rinoa127 says:

        i agree. One of the biggest problems we have as mothers is competition with each other. What is important is we love our babies to the best of our abilities, and understand that others do as well. There are cases where breast milk is not the ideal situation, it doesn’t work for some families. What we need is more information and better education on feeding our babies, whether it’s breast milk, donor milk, or formula. People should not feel judgment over feeding their babies, no matter what method is right for them. I know moms that switched to formula because they didn’t respond well to pumps, or they didn’t have the support they needed to continue breastfeeding. Judging is the last thing we should be doing.

      • I can assure you there will no judgement on our new site, you’ve hit the nail on the had – what parents need is information and then support, no matter what their choices.

  21. angelsammy says:

    Good morning and thanks for your post. I’m a psychology masters graduate and a fan ( well I studied it) of mr B’s attachment theory. I am on baby number four and have only just realized I am using ‘AP’ or ‘AT’ in my parenting. However that for me is the key, I’m not following any rules or method as babies don’t work like that. I’ve never left a baby crying, always fed when hungry and always kept them as close to me as I can for as long as I can to give them comfort and love. This makes sense to me, I’m a mummy and I’m human, im pulled into responding to my baby’s needs. No baby is capable of manipulating an adult, they can’t even sit up or smile so pretty sure they are dilliberately manipulating mums by been greedy, crying fOr attention or refusing to sleep without a parent… A baby works on instinct alone and we as parent must provide the care in which they need. My children are ranging in age from 15 years to three months old and I have four well secured and happy children.. Why? Cos they feel safe and lived and never felt ignored or abandoned. Labeling is weird isn’t it.. All of a sudden my parenting skills have a label and it’s all hippy and new age.. But really? Is it? I’m just been a mum and responding to the baby that cried out for my love xxxxx

  22. Sharee says:

    I think this is a wonderful idea…. and if u really plan on changing the world start with yourself… make sure ur culturally open minded from ghetto neighborhoods.. to ethnic neighborhoods who.speak no english.. thats where the true start comes from.

  23. Paloma says:

    I don’t agree much with this debate about the name and why it is so important to change the name. The change that we are about to experience regarding this specific approach in parenting, that I would prefer to call it conscious parenting, it will happen regardless the name is being called. Our specie have gone through important milestones of development that in a long term has taken us to be a more evolved specie. It seems our next miles stone, as specie, is now very connected with how we are arrive here, how we are being born and how we are being looked after during our first years of life as that will have a huge impact in our lives and how we relate to ourselves, other and our environment. Regardless how we call it this change seems to be happening and it cannot be force and it cannot be denied. People will make the changes they have to make when they are ready, not before. So, if some parents find difficult to relate to this specific approach in parenting just because of the name, it seems to me they may not be ready to embrace it yet. Maybe they need sometime, maybe they need to go themselves in some specific inner learning to have the total understanding about what all of this it is about. I am sorry but I do not believe in revolutions they all have been associated with enormous violance and kaos but I firmly believe in the day to day practice and face to face connections. So, I think the work to do here is to spread the word with our near neighbours, friends and relatives and every of us will choose the words that are more related to us and I am sure that the people who will meet will be the people that are ready to hear those words or names, whatever they are…..conscious, gentle, attachment, loving………..but the most important thing is that people will see how different our children are and how confident, present, calm, happy beings are and the evidences will be more important that the words chosen. It seems to me too much energy is being spent in this “war name” which is not relevant, as in my opinion the walk has always being more important that the talk.
    Even though if still it is really important for you to have a name, you can have all of them, conscious parenting, loving parenting, attachment parenting, gentle parenting, natural parenting……let everybody know that all these names talk about the same thing and allow the individual mum and dad choose the name is better for them, allow us to be individuals meanwhile we are connected following a collective purpose and if some people get confused, allow that too as it may be part of the process.

  24. danallford says:

    Loved this article. Agree about the challenge to sell the science to the masses. Agree that for mainstreamers, hippy lifestyle gimicks are a big turn off.

    My friend is a midwife. They have the term ‘earthmother’ and it is derogatory. Backing up the good instincts with science pushes new age pretentions to one side. And if it becomes more rational, even the most emotionally challenged of us *cough* mr. average *cough* can get their heads around it and act on rationality if not on instinct.

    Like muchly.

  25. I like conscious parenting, I also like connected parenting. Gentle parenting already exists as a concept, it’s about non-punitive discipline rather than about responding to a baby’s cries specifically.

    What the concepts have in common is a foundation of trust. That attachment, or connection, is necessary for gentle parenting to ‘work’.

    Attachment parenting is an accurate description because it references attachment theory. If a change of terminology is warranted because the term has become too bogged down in misconception, then gentle doesn’t cut it. You can be gentle without being connected and that would miss then point entirely.

    Conscious parenting is good. It implies that we’re not just reacting, not just continuing habits without reason, but we’re deliberate in our choices. But one could still be deliberately disconnected if you’ve come to believe that’s what children need.

    So I prefer connected parenting. All the ‘rules’ of attachment parenting, of gentle discipline, come down to that foundation of connection. AP in infancy is about establishing that connection, and gentle parenting as they get older us about using that established connection as the basis for your interactions. The rest follow s naturally from that, and none of the ‘rules’ will be instinctive or easy without that connection in place. All the ‘gentle’based self-help parenting books begin with fixing the broken cconnection with your child.

    All this ‘connection’ is, is a layman’s term for the attachment of attachment theory. So, IMO, go with Connected Parenting.

  26. rinoa127 says:

    I love this. I think the science behind “attachment parenting” often gets over looked and is a very important part of the discussion. When my fiance and I discovered we were pregnant we were going to do all the things that you are “supposed” to do. When we had B, the internal urges we felt to do something different led us to the internet, where we learned our instincts were correct. We call it Scientific Parenting or Instinctual Parenting.

  27. Anjela kewell says:

    I am a total fan Sarah!!!!! At 63 years old I have bought my children up. I just called it parenting sensibly!!!!! Plenty of love and understanding, discipline when required, but all child led as each of our children have different needs at different stages of their develment. It is exhausting, it is always full on, it is a great responsibility. Actually it is being a parent!!!!!! The joy and pride comes when you turn around and look at your lovely grown up children parenting their own children responsibly.

  28. Bryan Gooden says:

    Dear Sarah,

    Firstly, thank you so much for writing “The Problem with ‘Attachment Parenting’ and How to Really Change the World.” It has become critically important, especially in western, post-industrial nations, but I would argue globally as well, to come to full consciousness about how to care for our children in ways that give them the best chance of optimally fulfilling their developmental potential.

    While indeed, “One generation of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world”, the deepening of love of parents for their children, while critically important, is not enough. Our children must also fall deeply in love, or into attachment, with us in order for them to have the best chance of optimally fulfilling their developmental potential.

    So, how best to go about achieving this? That is the $64,000 question for which there is no one right answer. In my view, the labelling of types or styles of parenting is not helpful and distracts us from the critically important task at hand. In some old European cultures as well as in some African cultures and I am sure in many other cultures that I am not aware of, there is not even a word for parenting, it is simply something that one instinctively and intuitively does – the act of caring for their young comes from instinct and a sort of parenting intuition that is also supported by the cultural context within which the caring for ones’ young is occurring. This context is critically important and frequently misunderstood or not even taken into account.

    In “the west”, the cultural context which used to be supportive of the attachment of children to their caregivers has been drastically eroded to the point where many parents have lost touch with their parenting intuition and feel largely unsupported in their parenting efforts. Western, post-industrialized and heavily individualistic cultures now turn almost entirely on the dollar not on the optimal development of children within the society. As such, the parenting unit has shrunk to the nuclear family and in many cases this consists of single-parent households with little or no extended family or community supports. Our children have been manifesting the impacts of these cultural and societal changes with a huge increase in mental health issues and diagnostic categories and labels being one result. Even children without this severity of challenges are in many cases much less securely attached than in the past with their development being extensively compromised if not arrested altogether.

    But the picture is not all bleak. Attachment theory and advancements in neuroscience and parenting practices that evolve from these theoretical advancements are coming to mainstream consciousness. Thank heavens! However, unfortunately when such advancements in theory and practice come into greater consciousness they often are misunderstood as well as co-opted by the egoic consciousness that prevails in present day society. As a result labels and groups come into being like ‘Attachment Parenting’ often with rigidified practices being identified with a particular group or followers of certain “experts”. Co-opted by egoic consciousness, followers or adherents become focused on belonging, fitting in, the “rightness” of the particular group they belong to and the “wrongness” of those who don’t belong or who practice differently. In the process the original spiritual, creative impulse and awakening of consciousness gets lost in the shuffle. We want our children to have the best chance of fulfilling their developmental potential whatever that might be. Period.

    Rather than focusing on groups, labels, rightness or wrongness of practices, the way through, it strikes me, is by “being the change” and connecting with others who support us in our efforts at being the change we want to see in the world however imperfect such efforts might be. Let us study the theoretical developments and practical advancements and put those that resonate most with us into practice and share our discoveries humbly with others so that we might all provide our children with the best chance of fulfilling their developmental destiny whatever that might be.


    Bryan Gooden, MA Counselling Psychology
    Bryan Gooden Counselling and Consulting Services

    *A source of theoretical understanding and developmentally-informed practical parenting support that I most value is the Neufeld Institute in Vancouver, BC, Canada – and Dr. Gordon Neufeld’s internationally bestselling book, “Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers” newly re-released in August 2013 with two additional chapters on parenting in the digital age.

  29. Claire Hogland says:

    I’m with my third baby at 5 wks old and I am learning not to be afraid to attach with my baby. It has been so ingrained in me culturally not to attach that I feel I’m fighting against myself at times. When I really want to hold n connect with my baby though hesitate as I’m afraid to as it will not be the right thing to do for baby. Yay I’m so over the moon that I have found evidence that attachment parenting and my basic instincts are right. I now feel normal and happy and right not disturbed, uncomfortable and wrong. I can love my baby and be attached to her and no one can stop me for I am right and there is evidence to say this!!
    I would love to show other women how to attach with their baby, who struggle with this inner conflict. Do you know of a course where I could learn to be certified inorder to do this?
    Thank you
    Claire Hogland

  30. Shana says:

    Perhaps the name “Positive Parenting” would convey the message we want without alienating anyone. Everyone strives to be positive, right? And so much of AP or instinctual parenting is about saying “yes” to your child, in the sense of, provide what your child needs. Clearly, we all know it is not permissive parenting (letting him do whatever he wants without guidance), but others don’t see it that way. Basically, Yes, I will hold you when you need to be held. Yes, I will find a way to wear you so I can meet your need to be held and still be hands free. Or yes I will sit you down if you want to sit. Yes, I will sleep near you so that I can meet your needs even when the sun is down. Or, Yes I will give you space to sleep if you sleep more soundly that way. Yes, I will provide you nourishment whenever you need it. Yes, I will let you play and explore safely. Positive Parenting.

  31. Tracey Stewart says:

    For want of a better term – we have ‘Attachment Parented’ our now 13 yr old daughter. There is so much to say that there isn’t room for here. Our daughter is one of the most thoughtful, gentle, kind hearted, level headed, free spirited, self assured, selfless people I know. Yes ok, this is coming from her own mother but I know plenty of parents who, without any shame, will rant on about how terrible their children are and lay the blame on everything and everyone around them without ever thinking that their parenting approach has possibly had an impact on how their children are behaving.
    Go to this website – brilliant.

  32. Karen Hill-Jones says:

    Love this writing. I remember the first time someone told me I was an attachment parent when my first child was about 18 months feeling utterly depressed by the box I’d been popped into. I then went and found out what AP was and it was interesting but ultimately disempowering. It was still someone else’s ideas. The moment they popped me into a box they made me a follower. We need a feminist revolution which empowers mothers to listen to their hearts and makes everyone else listen to them. Oh, and we need a much better understanding of attachment theory within the school system which currently legitimises every bit of behaviourist claptrap out there!

  33. ctefysunkiss says:

    I personally believe in intuitive parenting. Intuitive parenting is where the mother looks within, to her own spirit, and makes choices for her and her family based off of her own intuition. Not blogs and books and other ideas that innately block her own deeper intuition. I believe this change in the world happens when everyone stops looking outside, at each other, at blogs and in devices. The deepest truth for each family comes from within. When I have a struggle with my teenager I go within. Sometimes I meditate and speak to their spirits and ask them what they need from me. The biggest mistake I made with my younger children was get all caught up in AP. I lost my own knowing and my second set of children were not as happy or balanced as my first set until I realized my mistake and went back in. Mothers insecure about their parenting find an end all technique to attach to. It’s like religion, when one can’t live their own truth so they hide behind the truth of another. You want to spread the deepest message that will create the most change? Spread this… Don’t listen to me, listen to your own spirit. Go within. Look for the similarities in each other. Ignore the differences and go within. If your intuition says hey, time to move child in their own bed, try it out. If spirit says, keep baby closer, listen. Every balance of every family is different. Go within

  34. Marta says:

    I like the term ‘responsive parenting’ because we respond to all our child’s needs, the CIO parents are not responding to their child’s Needs, they are ignoring them literally… And following rules that the child doesn’t understand.

  35. Ashley says:

    Totally heard Sarah. The light of the new awareness will drive out the shadows of the industrial Parenting mythos.

    One thing, don’t forget about the fathers who are full time gentle parents. It is painful to read and article like this still constantly referring to the mothers being the ones struggling. The gentle/AP father is a quickly growing role that needs to be reflected in the pronoun language use of crucial theory articles. This is a gender equality issue i face often as a father, and it is an important aspect of the evolution of the new parenting perspective.

    Keep up the good work!!

    Peace and Love.

  36. katesurfs says:

    I hear you one thousand percent! The term ‘AP’ needs to be scraped! It should just be called ‘normal’ parenting.

  37. Sydney Steiner says:

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying. ‘Gentle’ or ‘Natural’ parenting has this weird reputation that it’s weak and will raise weak children into weak adults. I think in general acknowledging that forming attachment can go hand in hand with strict and firm boundaries is crucial for your ‘movement’. I wanted to be a gentle parent and was told by SO many that AP was how to do this. It took me awhile to learn that 1. My son NEEDED a strict and firm mom and 2. This would not impede our bonding in the slightest, but perhaps increase it because of my insight into what he needs. There’s a divide here that needs to be merged but it is so very tricky I think. Perhaps the best way to do this is to invent a new name for this that can be trendy and provide a box for people to fit into. For some reason people want to fit into little, nicely wrapped packages. Which is unfortunate, but rather than fight this which is not the point, go with this flow.

  38. Sheila says:

    The problem with relying on science is that science changes its tune so often. Margarine is good for you. No, it’s bad. Now it’s good.

    Science (some science, anyway) argues that vaccines are perfectly safe.

    There have been studies that show the value of breast milk over formula for years. People STILL argue that formula is just as good.

  39. Robin says:

    Wow, an AP site without all the sanctimony, woo-woo, and anti-science?? Sign me up!

    PS Sheila, vaccines ARE perfectly safe.

  40. mlesmile says:

    …I’ve just found out that nearly all vaccines are cultivated using egg-protein, so if you’re child is allergic to egg then vaccines are NOT perfectly safe. Or if you are vegan then it goes against the grain. I was not properly informed by health care professionals and only found this information out by reading a poster at the Childrens Hospital. Having concerns about medical matters as I’m worried people will judge my decisions in a negative light, and am now having discussions with my sons nursery over his behaviour. They are willing to mirror what I am doing at home.
    I have been on the Toddlercalm workshop and have read the book. Now am trying to educate the nursery staff about different methods of dealing with frustrations and poor behaviour!

    • Robin says:

      Good point – if you are allergic to eggs then some vaccines are not safe – but that’s even more reason that all the people who are not egg-allergic should get vaccinated, to protect those who cannot tolerate the vaccine. My point is, it’s very refreshing to come across a site that includes a gentle, child-respecting approach to parenting and discipline yet also believes in the scientific method and modern medicine.

  41. Cate says:

    I’m very glad you didn’t go with natural parenting but for different reasons! Natural parent is a term that has been stolen from the adoption community, and it indicates the natural parents of an adoptee. It is still the legal term in use today, and it’s so annoying that yet another adoption term has been co-opted by other people. So I’m glad you didn’t go with that, and I look forward to the launch of Gentle Parenting.

  42. loveparenting says:

    “I really believe this, I truly believe it is possible to change the world in less than one hundred years.”

    So do I Sarah. This is a great post and I totally agree with you. I meet many “AP” mama’s who label themselves as such because they use cloth nappies, or wear their baby or birthed at home. Many of them have never read the principals of API, and as such it is becoming a fashionable trend which focuses on the surface aspects without delving deeper into the all important connection and attachment our children so desperately crave. People create their own version of AP, falling into permissive and unsure parenting styles, and making the whole AP community seem incapable at best, unhinged at worst! I like to use the term “Continuum Parenting,” as for me it is simpler and focuses far more on the deep needs of the parent and child and is not yet a common enough phrase to have developed into a fashion or fad. I often use “Natural parenting” or “Parenting as nature intended” too.

Would you like to comment on this?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s