The ins and outs of attachment parenting

Child's attachment to parents
Victoria Steiner, a licensed clinical professional counselor and parent

My latest series of posts, which began last night, is a vital part of the first days, weeks, and months, of a child’s healthy development.

In Our search for the “right” knowledge and resources, that best fit with Our Circle’s beliefs, values, and codes by which we live and pass down to Our Children, as they have been passed down from generation to generation, something happened which couldn’t be ignored.

With the realization that to be the force necessary to affect change in the world for every child, came the discovery of mountains of resources that would have to be approved by Our Circle.

What should have been apparent was the fact that the job had already been started, but wasn’t realized until we came very close to losing what means most to us.

This is what caused the problem, or should I say a part of the problem, something none of us had ever heard.  We now know few people know very little of this subject, if any at all, for we have baited conversation.  Although from this point on, that will not be the case.

Parenting is a journey filled with many ups and downs, challenges and celebrations, joy and love.

I remember the day I found out that I was expecting. We were not planning to get pregnant and it was not an ideal time for me career-wise, but nevertheless, I was over the moon with excitement. My boyfriend and I had been together for seven years and we became overjoyed at the thought of starting a family together.

The day of our first appointment was life-changing. We watched the monitor and saw a tiny speck flicker on the screen; a heartbeat. So many emotions coursed through us but most pronounced was love, love for this tiny little bean that was growing each day inside of me.

Throughout my pregnancy I read constantly about fetus development, pregnancy and birth. I watched television shows about birth and babies. I received parenting advice and became as educated as I could, and when the day came to meet our baby, I was ready.

I had an easy pregnancy and accomplished my goal of having a non-medicated birth. It was not easy but we had a wonderful doula to guide us through. In an instant, we became parents to a baby girl.

As a licensed counselor specializing in child and family therapy, I am no stranger to parenting practices. I have seen great parents and not-so-great ones. I have seen parents who were willing to make changes to fit the needs of their children as well as those who were not.

I knew what kind of parent I wanted to be long before my daughter was ever conceived. I knew I wanted to be loving, responsive, empathetic and a good role model. As a counselor, I knew of the importance that attachment has in the development of a child. I used Attachment Theory with my clients and, as time passed, I slowly learned that the type of parenting I used with my baby had a name, Attachment Parenting.

Dr. William Sears coined the term Attachment Parenting (AP), which places emphasis on the natural, biological instincts of mothers and fathers and is a style of parenting that focuses on the attachment between parent and child. It promotes the use of responsive, nurturing and empathetic parenting methods as a means to create strong emotional bonds that have long-lasting benefits to child and parent alike.

The organization Attachment Parenting International has outlined eight guiding principles for this style of parenting. Some of those principles include Feeding with Love and Respect, Responding with Sensitivity, Using Nurturing Touch, and Practicing Positive Discipline.

So what does Attachment Parenting look like in practice? The answer to that question is different for each family.

For me, it means educating myself as much as possible about pregnancy, birth and parenting. It includes breastfeeding, babywearing, and co-sleeping (baby sleeps in the same room as the parent). It means not leaving my daughter to “cry it out” in her crib.

Rather than saying “no” all of the time, I use preventive measures and redirection. I will never hit my child and I respect and empathize with her feelings.

It does not mean that I give in to her every whim or that I coddle her, and it does not mean that she will not be disciplined as she continues to grow and explore and learn as some people associate with AP. It simply means that I use a gentle, calm and understanding style of parenting in which I prefer to be her guide through life, not her dictator.

And there is a large community of like-minded parents in Nashville, you just need to know how to find them.

One avenue is through the API Nashville support group. There are breastfeeding support groups, babywearing groups and many more. And for those parents looking to learn more about Attachment Parenting, there also is now a class being held at Nashville Birth and Babies in Brentwood.

Visit for class information and schedule.

Victoria Steiner is a licensed clinical professional counselor specializing in child and family therapy and a parent educator at Nashville Birth and Babies in Brentwood. She has used Attachment Theory and AP principles in her work with clients as well as with her 1-year-old daughter.