Is Attachment Parenting Bad?

November 13, 2023

Attachment parenting emphasizes the loving bond that may form between parents and children. This nurturing relationship is regarded as the optimal method for raising secure, autonomous, and sympathetic children. The well-known doctor William Sears, MD, is one of the proponents of this parenting style. They argue that a solid, trusting attachment to parents during childhood provides the foundation for stable adult relationships and autonomy.

The Roots of Attachment Parenting

Attachment theory is at the foundation of attachment parenting. Attachment theory derives from the early 1950s investigations of maternal deprivation and animal behavior conducted by psychologist John Bowlby.

Attachment theory asserts that infants intuitively desire intimacy with a trustworthy "attachment figure." This proximity is required for the newborn to feel emotionally secure as well as for survival and feeding. Early animal tests revealed that infant monkeys preferred a warm terrycloth "mother" doll over a food-dispensing wire doll that lacked warmth.

Attachment parenting is founded on the premise that infants learn to trust and flourish when their early needs are routinely satisfied. According to proponents, children who never experience this stable connection early in life do not learn to build healthy attachments later in life. In severe circumstances, they suffer from insecurity, lack of empathy, rage, and attachment issues.

Why Attachment Parenting Is Bad?

No one would deny that a close emotional connection with a newborn may be negative. But can too much of a good thing be bad? Yes, assert attachment parenting detractors. Attachment theory is still surrounded by controversy. In part, this is due to the fact that early research relied on animal studies. Here are some of the critics' statements:

Co-sleeping and newborn mortality. Critics are concerned about the association between bed-sharing and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Attachment Parenting International attempts to mitigate this danger with safe bed-sharing guidelines.

Changes in attachment as a result of experience. Attachment is no longer considered a "trait" by many developmental psychologists. A trait is a more or less fixed, lifelong characteristic in psychological terminology. The ability to create healthy, intimate bonds is influenced by social pressure, relationships in school, dating, and marriage, as well as early childhood experience, according to recent studies.

Numerous caregivers and varying times. Attachment theory emerged in the 1950s, prior to the emergence of child care. Then, psychologists debated whether mothers should raise their children at home. Due to childcare, many children have been exposed to multiple, relatively consistent caregivers since then. Critics want the research on attachment parenting to be updated to reflect this altering reality.

Overstressed parents, overdependent children. Constant attention to a child's every mood and tantrum, according to attachment parenting detractors, can result in overly reliant youngsters and very stressed parents. Or, children learn to manipulate and intimidate their well-meaning parents.

Scientific evidence. If children fail to form secure attachments, proponents of attachment parenting assert, they will be severely maladapted. They point to a mental disorder known as reactive attachment disorder (RAD). However, the American Psychiatric Association's diagnosis of RAD implies significant physical and emotional deprivation, such as those experienced by orphans who are mistreated. Even so, research has shown that attachment problems may be resolved through therapies like counseling.

To get more information, you may check our article on the importance of parenting styles.

Annie Archibald has a PhD in Family Studies from York and has taught in universities for decades. Along with her professional career, she also is a mother of five and now a grandmother to two loving boys.

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