It’s our great pleasure to have Dave Taylor featured in this interview. Dave is the owner of a wildly popular attachment parenting blog, APparenting. Apart from this, he’s also a business and technology blogger for The Intuitive Life and Ask Dave Taylor respectively. The father of three has authored numerous books, mainly on technical subjects.
In this interview, Dave is going to share with you his views on attachment parenting. Enjoy!
1. What is attachment parenting (AP) in a nutshell?
The core philosophy behind AP is that instead of trying to push your children away and make them independent beings as soon as possible, you hold them and nurture them instead. So while a typical American parent would have their newborn in a crib on night #1 and baby in a crib in a separate room within six months, an AP parent is more likely to sleep with the newborn or baby in the bed with them. Where a typical parent has babies in strollers an AP parent would hold them closer with a sling.
2. What makes you adopt this attachment style of parenting over the others?
For Linda and I it was a very natural choice because we’re both very devoted to our children and both know that they’ll be fine, independent kids when they’re ready. We easily adopted the basic tenets of attachment parenting, including cosleeping, extended breast feeding, using a sling rather than a stroller, and so on. Sleep-wise, even our 10yo sleeps in the same room as us much of the time (mattress on the floor), though she has her own bedroom where she spends lots of time with her thoughts, toys, journals, books, etc. It’s just not that big a deal to us – most of the time – as long as they get a good night’s sleep.
3. What are the top three biggest myths about AP?
Hmmm… That it’s unhealthy because it spoils the child (how can you spoil someone by loving them?), it’s dangerous because you can smother a baby when you’re cosleeping (do the research, the only time that happens is when the parent is very drunk) and that small children who have parents too omnipresent never learn to be independent (trust me, that’s not a problem).
4. Will your child become overly dependent and spoiled if we adopt attachment parenting?
A ha! See, you buy into this myth too. No. My answer is that you can be an attachment parent, warm, loving, and cozy with ’em, and still have discipline, expectations of behavior and so on.
5. How to instill discipline in children when attachment parenting is seemed to be on the “soft” side and no spanking is allowed?
Spanking isn’t necessary for any child. Helping them learn to work on solutions and recognize when their behaviors or actions are causing problems is far more important. I think that if you can differentiate between problems that are the children’s problem (like “no-one wants to play with me”) and those that are the parent’s problem (like “your music is too loud”) then you should then be able to help them work through their own solutions in the former case, and explain why you have a problem with their actions and ask for their help formulating a solution in the latter. It’s tough, I admit, but it works remarkably well if you can stick with it and respect the wee ones to come up with solutions that can work.
So instead of worrying about how to HURT them if they do wrong, it’s far more effective and frankly more pleasant to work out how to have everyone moving towards the common good in the first place.
6. Personally, what’s the biggest mistake you have done and you don’t want other parents to repeat your mistake?
To not respect my children’s voice and opinion all the time. It’s too easy to think of them as robots or as clay waiting to be sculpted, but that’s the path to fights, anger, and hurt. In fact, I know in my heart that it’s far better to ask yourself “would I treat a friend this way?” and adjust my actions to be more respectful and loving. In my experience, children respond wonderfully to this sort of approach and it’s far superior to either complete permissiveness (which DOES spoil children because it teaches them to ignore consequences) or strict discipline (which just drives everyone crazy).
7. How do you define “ideal parents”?
There are no ideal parents. There are only regular people struggling to be good parents in the face of daily situations that are new, confusing, bizarre, crazy, frustrating, and wonderful. Perhaps the ideal parents are those that are *conscious* about parenting and always trying to work out how to be the best parents they can possibly be for their children. An important part of that, however, is that they’re also working on how to have a good relationship as a couple too: parents who ignore their relationship to ensure their children are nurtured are on a slow path of destruction, unfortunately, and that’s far too common in our culture.
8. AP is all about mothers. As a father of three, what AP roles can you play?
Uh, no. AP is all about parents. I can’t nurse a baby, obviously, but I certainly cuddled with them until they were asleep, carried them in slings, and I am more likely to take our 3yo to bed than my wife is – in fact she usually asks for me because I like reading bedtime stories to her. I also love singing to my children, even in the car. They might cover their ears and roll their eyes, but, hey, how else will they learn the lyrics to all those great old Beatles songs? 🙂
9. After running an AP blog for many years, what’s the most frequently asked question from your readers?
Where’s the bathroom. 🙂 No, just kidding. I think that the most common questions are around whether what they’re doing is attachment parenting, and whether a particular element is or isn’t an approved AP approach. Lots of questions about bedtime routines and getting children to slow down enough to go to sleep at a rational time too. But we’re still a bit stumped on that one ourselves some nights, truth be told!
10. Can AP be applied to teenagers?
We’re not there yet, but I see no reason why you can’t be attached to your teens and kind, respectful and trusting of them. Of course, since there’s no official attachment parenting rulebook, it’s a bit hard to know which is and isn’t actually part of AP and which is part of another aspect of parenting.
Hope this is all helpful. I’ll say one thing in closing: parenting is a darn tough job, and parenting well even tougher. But there’s no greater reward than having your children pitch in, be part of the team, and be happy about it. That’s what it’s all about…
Dave Taylor runs the Attachment Parenting Blog with his wife Linda when they’re not too busy raising their three delightful children, 10, 7 and 3 years old.