Those of you who are parents have probably heard of the "attachment parenting" philosophy. Many parents who proudly proclaim that they raise their children in this way are parents who do some or all of these things: breastfeeding, for over a year and sometimes as long as the child wishes to continue; cloth-diapering or even elimination communication (infant potty training; no diapers or few diapers); bed-sharing, or sometimes just room-sharing, and not in a situation where there aren't enough rooms to go around; baby-wearing, frequent (as many parents use a baby carrier of some sort at some times; delayed vaccinations, or selective vaccinations, or none at all; responding to cries, refusing to let babies "cry it out" and not hesitating to pick up a baby or carry him around if that's what he needs; gentle discipline, with no spankings and natural/logical consequences.
AP followers frequently earn the label of "raging hippie" to those who may not agree with the philosophies.
Attachment parenting is the basic idea that a child should form a secure attachment to his parents. A child who is securely attached to his parents will grow up to be a strong, independent person. He knows that his parents will be there for him and, thus, can venture out into the world (or the playground, or Grandpa's house) without being afraid. In his own time.
So what does that have to do with all of that stuff that I mentioned in the first paragraph? Very little, to be honest. Parents can do most of the things on that list, even all of the things on that list (and there are some that I might not have even mentioned), with the intention of doing what is best for their child, and not necessarily do so for the purpose of forming an attachment. Parents can also do very few of the things on that list but still set out to raise children who are securely attached to them.
I did read a blog on BabyCenter where the mother wrote about "detachment parenting" and I just don't think that she actually meant to raise children who are detached from her and don't care about her; she was trying to rail against her perception of the hippies with their attachment parenting, which to her means everything on the list above. She made a good point, saying that she could still be an attentive and loving parent even if she did not do those things.
So where do we stand on that list?
Breastfeeding--all for it, as long as the child wants. Children transition from milk nutrition to food nutrition at their own pace (which is why I'm not a fan of scheduled milk feedings or baby food). Even though I was relieved when The Boy was able to stop nursing after that horrible stomach virus we all had and with me being pregnant. If he wants to start again when Baby Bear is born, I probably won't say no.
Cloth-Diapering--love it. It's not that hard, and the diapers are so much cuter, not to mention that you don't generate so much nasty garbage. And The Boy doesn't get a nasty rash. That said, I don't think that cloth diapering does anything with regards to our bond with The Boy. He wears diapers. He does his business. We change them. No different than a parent who doesn't use cloth. Some say that children who wear cloth diapers potty-train faster and that it's better for them to do so. I wore cloth diapers as a child. We had diaper service. And I was about 3 before I was potty-trained. I know that the plural of anecdote is not data, but I don't necessarily expect The Boy to train faster.
Bed-Sharing--whatever works for your family. Whatever gets you all the most sleep. We started having The Boy in bed with us so that we could get more sleep (so *I* could get more sleep because he was nursing a few times at night), and it worked. He naps with us during the say and it is lovely. He starts the night in his own bed, usually, and then comes in with us. He loves the companionship. If he disturbed us at night, or if it were impossible for us to stay together in the bed, we'd be doing something else.
Baby-Wearing--I don't think I did this as much as many other parents did. I would sometimes put The Boy in the sling when I went to the grocery store because he'd get fussy in the cart. Now that he's older, he enjoys the grocery store because there is so much to look at and point at and talk about. When he was very little, sometimes we'd put him in the front carrier and just walk him around the house when he really needed it. Musical Daddy would sometimes mow the lawn with The Boy in the carrier. I never really tried to nurse him in the sling even though many moms swear by it. This is another example of something that we did that isn't necessarily about the attachment but that it just worked for us when we needed it.
Vaccinations--we planned to vaccinate The Boy on the standard schedule. We can't, of course, because of his immune system and the cancer treatment. Baby Bear should (hopefully) have no problems. I don't think that it's up to parents to decide that it wouldn't be so bad if more kids in the developed world got the measles. Perhaps disease occurrence declined because of overall better health. As the parent of a healthy food loving cancer baby, I'm just not buying it. Vaccines worked.
Cry-It-Out--I don't agree with leaving a child alone to cry for no reason. If a child is throwing a fit after misbehavior and it is clear that they are otherwise safe and fine, I see no problem with leaving them to calm themselves down if they are old enough to understand that that is what is going on. If The Boy is fussing in the carseat and I know that there's nothing otherwise wrong, generally we just keep on going and he gets over it.
Discipline--We're all about the love and logic. We don't yell at The Boy. It doesn't work. We move him away from things that he shouldn't have. We anticipate when he's going to get upset about things. We don't leave the house without a snack and a drink if there's any chance he might get hungry. We pay attention to him. He's a good boy. When he's older, hopefully he'll stay a good boy but he won't be perfect, so he'll receive logical consequences.