Are Gentle Parenting and Attachment Parenting the Same?
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Attachment Parenting and Gentle Parenting are two different popular parenting styles you might start to hear about as a new mom. They have a lot of similarities but you might start to wonder what their distinctions are. Attachment Parenting comes up a lot during the baby years, but Gentle Parenting is mentioned more during the childhood years. Both parenting styles take the child’s point of view into account.
Before I was pregnant I had never heard of attachment parenting
Nor had I heard of gentle parenting. I was familiar with positive discipline since I am an early childhood educator. But these parenting “styles” were completely foreign to me.
Then even before I was pregnant I started making decisions about my future pregnancies and how I would want to take care of my babies. I am a big fan of both Wellness Mama and Mama Natural, so I had been using their natural minded tips for a while.
I bought my BumGenius cloth diapers and my Ergobaby Carrier (which comes in lots of fun patterns and styles but I went for the basic look). I knew I would breastfeed for a year if I could (and now I’m 25 months going strong). I also knew I wanted a natural childbirth if safe to do so, and I did!
After my daughter was born there seemed to be a lot of trial and error and I discovered what was going to work for us and what wouldn’t. Crying it out was spoken so widely of but I quickly realized that was not my cup of tea, and before I knew it I started to hear more and more about Attachment Parenting and I would think – hey that sounds like me!
Have you gone through a similar experience of learning what kind of parent you are?
I used to think I fit perfectly into Attachment Parenting, but as I learnt more about it and more about Gentle Parenting I realized that I wasn’t 100% Attachment Parenting and was more of a GP kind of gal.
So I’m going to share with you the basics of each to help you understand what kind of parenting style you naturally sway towards, or which one you might want to try out.
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Attachment Parenting and Gentle Parenting aren’t actually very different, but there are some distinctions. The emphasis of Attachment Parenting is, well, attachment. That the mother and child would develop a strong bond in the first few years of life using certain methods like co-sleeping and babywearing. And Gentle Parenting’s greatest emphasis is on the discipline, which is used to teach children (as it’s the literal meaning of the word).
Attachment Parenting promotes the bond between parent and baby through immediate bonding at birth (think skin to skin for the first hour of life before any other medical procedures), breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping (or some form of close sleeping), avoiding “training” the baby, responding to their needs quickly, etc.
As you can see, a lot of this certainly has to do with the baby or toddler age.
I think attachment parenting is pretty great! As long as parents can be understanding that not all moms are able to follow Attachment Parenting closely, even if they desire to. For example, some moms have to go back to work, and that may make it difficult for them to implement all aspects of Attachment Parenting and so they should not be judged for that.
If you’re in that sort of situation I think it’s just important to always consider what you can do to continue to encourage the bond you have with your baby when you are together. Maybe some cuddles when you get home, or even taking a bath together can be an enjoyable and comforting time for the both of you.
Attachment Parenting does not have to be complicated and it has a lot of benefits for both mother and child. I feel that the label doesn’t accurately encompass my parenting style though, which led me to Gentle Parenting.
As mentioned earlier, Gentle Parenting’s main emphasis could be said to be discipline, although it may be more accurate to say that the main emphasis of Gentle Parenting is kindness and respect.
The discipline strategies used by gentle parents consider the feelings of the child and honours them. Gentle Parenting does not endorse spanking, time out, rewards, etc. because these practices are considered unkind, disrespectful, or overall will not benefit the child in the long run.
Unlike mainstream parenting, Gentle Parenting is intentionally looking towards the entire future of the child’s life, not just trying to make them a more “tolerable” child who does not cry, complain, disobey, etc. Gentle Parenting is a long term approach to parenting.
For the most part, Gentle Parenting endorses the same principals as Attachment Parenting, since many of their practices are considered gentle, but it goes far beyond the baby and toddler years. I think that Gentle Parenting is a style even parents of adult children can use because a child will never be too old for kindness and respect.
I advocate for the Know-Yoke-Grow System to implement Gentle Parenting, it’s not just about how you interact with your child and what you do for them, but also about learning to regulate your own emotions so you can handle your child’s difficult behaviour.
Attachment Parenting and Gentle Parenting aren’t that different
As you can see, they’re really not that different, but Gentle Parenting is a style of parenting you can use from the day you become a parent until the day you die.
I feel like Gentle Parenting is a great fit for me because kindness and respect have always been very important to me when it comes to dealing with children. I like pretty much all the aspects of Attachment Parenting, but Gentle Parenting includes them and more!
What kind of parent do you want to be?
Maybe reading some of these descriptions you can tell that you already are an attachment parent – how cool! But would you be interested in using Gentle Parenting strategies in your home as well?
Gentle Parenting can change the entire “vibe” in your home. Yelling and bargaining will go down, and respect and love will go up. It won’t happen overnight though, and it takes a lot of effort for a parent to change their parenting style, especially if they were raised in a more authoritarian sort of household.
If you want to get started with Gentle Parenting today either download the 2 week challenge or enroll for the free Gentle Foundations for Parenting Course.
I would encourage you to learn more about Gentle Parenting and any other positive parenting styles so you can make an intentional decision to do what is best for your child. It’s easy to raise our children exactly how we were raised (or exactly opposite if we don’t think we were raised well) but it is difficult to determine all the different options and intentionally choose the one that we believe is best for our child.
Parenting is messy, and it’s hard. Sometimes you might be embarrassed at the grocery store, or wonder what that sticky thing is on your shirt, but as parents, we can make decisions that will positively impact our children for the rest of their lives, and quite likely even our grandchildren. Whether it’s Attachment, Gentle or Peaceful Parenting that sits best with you, I hope you will make a choice that honours your child and honours your abilities as a parent.
To get started with Gentle Parenting, check out the two week challenge or scroll down to enroll for the free course.
Have a wonderful day mamas,
Make Your Home a Happy Home
The Moving Mama
Lizzy Mash is an experienced early childhood educator now living in Africa as a missionary working with children and families.
She teaches Christian moms how to take a more respectful and Christ-like approach to motherhood by using Gentle Parenting strategies.
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