When I came across attachment parenting (AP) blogs and articles, I immediately knew that this was how I wanted to raise my kids. I was impressed with the child-centered approach and gentle methods used instead of spankings or punishments. At that time, I was struggling immensely with raising my strong-willed eldest daughter and attachment parenting seemed just the thing we needed.

 When I gave it a try, many things worked out perfectly: I could breastfeed on demand. We didn’t bed-share, but the children slept in our room until they were weaned off at 1 year of age. I often managed to stay calm and collected during temper tantrums. But soon my whole life was revolving around my children’s needs and I was feeling miserable. Soon I realized that AP wasn’t exactly the solution to my parenting problems and that I needed to find my own answers. 

These are the issues people haven’t been discussing when they are engaged in full-on attachment parenting: 

The pressure

Through reading all the attachment parenting books and articles, I got the feeling that I was not doing enough. I wasn’t properly bonded to my daughter or not quick enough to respond to her needs. I didn’t co-sleep or baby-wear because it wasn’t working out for me (so selfish!). I was afraid that I was saying all the wrong things and scarring her for life. The guilt almost crushed me and rendered me unable to function. It took a long time before I realized that I’m doing just fine and don’t need any prescribed parenting philosophy to be a good parent.

My marriage

I tried to explain the principles of attachment parenting to my husband because I thought that we needed to be on the same page. In reality, I was criticizing his every move. Also, I was so busy responding to my children’s needs that I started to ignore his. He soon began to withdraw from parenting duties, thinking that he really can’t do it right anyway. To be honest, I really wasn’t being fair. Now I say nothing when he uses a slightly stricter approach or gives rewards when I might do it differently. I know the children’s relationship with their father won’t suffer and he is more willing to help when he knows that I trust him.

The children

I really hoped that attachment parenting would teach my children to be compassionate human beings. In fact, it did just the opposite: they learned that it was fine for them to yell at me or even hit me because I took it without complaining. It taught them that my time didn’t matter and soon they started coming to me with things they could handle by themselves. Because I was so scared of not bonding with them properly, I parented them more intensely than was actually good for us. It all changed when I introduced rules and routines (which were not in the AP lexicon) and the interaction between us improved immediately.

The community

Looking for help and support, I joined some attachment parenting groups on Facebook. I was hoping to find good advice for parenting my rather strong-willed child without having to use punishment or harsher discipline. Instead I only felt judgment and contempt. In fact, I am also a member of other parenting groups and never was I judged so much as in AP groups who exhibit no understanding at all for other ways of thinking. It was like being in a cult!

I also started to notice that I was beginning to behave the same way: always trying to “educate” everyone and thinking I knew the answers to everything. In the end I left almost all the groups except where I felt the advice was more reasonable. I never looked back.

My needs

I worked so hard at meeting my children’s needs that I ignored my own. It happened so fast that I didn’t even notice! Only recently have I come to realize that detachment can be healthy sometimes because it teaches children to respect our boundaries and to be more independent. Taking time alone improved our relationship because I felt much calmer when I could take a break from being a mother.

The philosophy itself

Attachment parenting appears warm, cozy and fuzzy but in many ways, it is pretty tricky–if not dangerous! First of all, some Attachment Parenting doctors (like Jay Gordon, for example) are proponents of skipping or delaying vaccinations without any scientific basis for doing so. It has nothing to do with attachment theory it is purportedly based on, and the whole philosophy doesn’t appear very women-friendly to me. The truth is that AP is based on the idealized but false view of parenting in the “olden days.”


I’m not judging parents who follow this philosophy. In fact, many of my friends proudly call themselves attachment parents and it works for them.

It just isn’t for me.

These days, I prefer to choose whatever method fits my family situation. The truth is that I became an attachment parent out of fear of not being good enough. And that is never a good reason to follow any parenting philosophy.


Olga is a Polish woman, living in the Netherlands with her German husband and three children. On her blog, she writes about the challenges and wonders of the expat life, but on BLUNTmoms, you will read her musings on parenting, people and life in general.


  1. “These days, I prefer to choose whatever method fits my family situation. The truth is that I became an attachment parent out of fear of not being good enough. And that is never a good reason to follow any parenting philosophy.”—-SO true, Olga. You have to find what fits best for you and your family. I spent one night in the same bed as my daughter when she was a newborn and I quickly realized that wasn’t going to work out for her, my husband, OR me. No one was sleeping–it was a mess. She hating being wrapped up in the baby bjorn but loved laying on top of me. Babies are weird. You have to do what works best for ALL of you. I would also imagine that each child is different too. I have only one so I don’t know what would happen if I had another. Maybe that one would be like a baby kangaroo. Who knows. Good piece, Olga!!!

    • Thank you, Ashley! I’m glad this post resonated with you. We didn’t co-sleep for that very reason. I have three very different kids, so yes every child is different.

  2. This was an awesome post Olga. Very brave. I applaud you for doing what works FOR YOU, because that will be better for your family in the end. I did not choose AP, for many of the reasons that you state. It might work for some people, but I am afraid that I see the negative results way more often than the positive. But I don’t go around telling AP parents what they should or should not be doing (unless they are complaining to me that they can’t get their 5 year old to sleep in their own bed. Then they are asking for it…) Sadly, there are judgmental people *everywhere* and it certainly does seem to be heightened when people believe that they are doing things “for the good of the child.”

    • Hi, Ashley, thank you so much! I agree that everyone must find what works for them. And yes, when people do something “for the good of the child”, they seem to be very set on what they believe no matter whether it really is good for the child or not.

  3. In really sorry to hear you had such a negative experience!

    While I don’t call myself an AP parent, I probably overlap with the philosophy a great deal. I think it’s a relatively common trap to neglect your own needs. If done occasionally, no big deal, but when it becomes the norm, it’s not good for anyone. At some point, we all figure out how to meet both sets of needs.

    • Yes, it is such a huge trap, and I fell into it like a fly! But I only did it because I was afraid of not being enough and because everyone told me all the horrible things that will happen if I don’t take care of all of my kids’ needs.

  4. IMHO, it’s never a good thing to put a philosophy over your own good common sense when it comes to parenting.

    I came into this with very little “training.” With seven years of daycare under my belt, I figured I had it handled… and then I had kids. lol! I must’ve studied a dozen different parenting philosophies, but none of them prevented my kids from having the strongest wills of any child I’ve met, or my son from having behavior problems that caused us no end of grief. (Once he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, life got better for all of us, because we knew how to deal with it.)

    Having my kids completely turn my idea of parenting on its ear broke me of being a follower. The ONLY way to parent kids like mine is to go at it full on, to engage 100% in the fights and the love and to be there for them, every step of the way. Even when they’re driving you absolutely crazy and you just want to throw in the towel, you still have to be able to grab that glaring teenager and say hey, I LOVE YOU.

    Strong boundaries were a necessity, and so were natural consequences. I chose my battles. (still do.) They’re teens now, and we get along well. We have our days, like any family, but I think they’re well on their way to becoming successful adults. (One in college, one beginning high school.)

    All we can do is our best. Any parenting philosophy that makes you feel guilty is not one you need. You know your kids, and none of us have this whole parenting thing “figured out.”

    • Thank you! Especially for this: “All we can do is our best. Any parenting philosophy that makes you feel guilty is not one you need. You know your kids, and none of us have this whole parenting thing “figured out.””

  5. I initially identified as an AP parent, but that didn’t last very long. My son is 2 and I still abide by some of the underlying philosophies, but I can’t handle the sanctimony, judgment, and unspoken competitiveness of AP – or the antivax mentality prevalent among many AP parents.

    But I do want to clarify something. Dr. Bob Sears is indeed the dangerous author of the Vaccine Book. But it was his father, Dr. William Sears, who coined the AP phrase and wrote most of the books (with the help of his wife).

    • Hi Sarah, thank you for your comment. You are right and I apologize for the mistake. I asked the editor to change that and it’s now fixed.

  6. I’m sorry AP parenting didn’t work for you, but I always hate reading blogs about how attachment parenting doesn’t work, or doesn’t work long term for someone since we have found such joy with it. My child is 5 years old and very independent, considerate, caring and respectful. Attachment parenting does not mean allowing your child to misbehave, such as hitting you, without complaining, as you put it. Attachment parents use gentle methods of discipline, but do discipline, otherwise it falls into the category of permissive parenting (which many people mistaking think AP parenting is). AP parenting isn’t about letting your child get away with whatever negative behavior they are doing, but responding with respect, empathy and love… and being consistent in acknowledging and disciplining negative behaviors. In regards to affecting your marriage, I can see how if you are not on the same page and giving gentle advice on how to better handle a situation it would cause a spouse to back off of their responsibilities all together. My husband and I read many books on gentle parenting together. We agreed to tag team it when things got frustrating. Sometimes he is losing his cool and about to yell and needs a break and I’ll intervene and give him time to himself, and he does the same for me. Personally I have found that attachment parenting has strengthened our marriage. We talk at the end of the day on occasion about what we could have done better, discuss our views and concerns. No parent is going to be perfect all the time, no matter what parenting philosophy you adhere to, but it can take time to not have the mommy guilt, and realize you are only human and going to make mistakes. I can definitely agree with you though on the AP groups. Some have too many parents with superiority complexes who want to tell you what your doing wrong and how to correct it, even if your technique/action is not outside of AP parenting or related to it at all. With some time I found an excellent group I love that reminds parents to be gentle and respectful of all, not just their children. I think any parent can forget to take time for themselves. That’s where the tag team with your mate, or with a family member or friend to take an hour or two out can help immensely. As for the vaccine stance by some AP parents, as the mother of a vaccine injured child, and vaccine injured myself 6 months later from a forced flu vaccine, I’m not touching that with a 20 foot pole today other than to mention that there is so much science behind the rational for not vaccinating or using a delayed selective schedule. Vaccinating is my biggest parental regret, it almost cost us our child’s life, and that was using a delayed selective schedule, one vaccine at a time.

  7. This post is truly helpful to me. I guess I’m an “eclectic” style parent, but I have a family member using the AP style, though from the outside, things seem more like the picture you painted than the success stories. It’s difficult to know how to offer support or encouragement for a parenting style you don’t understand. Thank you for writing!

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