Attachment parenting is a child-rearing method emphasizing the physical bond between parent and child (especially a nursing mother and her child). It generally entails sleeping with the child, breastfeeding until the child chooses to wean, and remaining in physical contact with the infant as often as possible ("babywearing").
There are, in general, two groups of people who practice attachment parenting. The first consists of highly-educated moonbats in developed countries who practice it as a fad theory; the second, of poor people, many in the Third World, who make a living by farming and have to tie their babies to them while they work in the fields, and who own only one bed that they have to share with their children.
No studies have been done to determine if the theories behind attachment parenting have any validity or are just made up; the likelihood of any studies being done is low due to the fact that the claimed benefits of attachment parenting are very subjective in nature and not easily quantifiable.
The term itself was coined and popularized by pediatrician Dr. William Sears. The "attachment theory" in developmental psychology, along with the psychological condition of reactive attachment disorder (specifically a child's inability to make strong attachments with a trusted caregiver), underlie his basic premise, which is that the longer and closer a child is able to bond with a single caregiver, the more secure that child will be in adulthood.
 Canonical, from Dr. Sears
- Preparing for pregnancy, birth, and parenting. This part is fairly reasonable, insofar as it is possible. It consists of steeling oneself and one's partner emotionally for the process; researching available birth facilities, methods of delivery, and postnatal procedures; being alert at all times during the birth; and being as healthy as possible, specifically in dietary matters.
Many parents take this general guideline to the extreme with "natural birth," including water births, home births, and midwife births; eating only natural foods while pregnant; forgoing most medical practices done on newborns from unnecessary (and even dangerous) practices like circumcision to the everyday "eye drop cleaning method" to critical things like vaccinations.
- Feed with love and respect. Or, in translation: Breastfeed! Breastfeed!! Breastfeed!!!
Dr. Sears repeatedly states that breastfeeding is the only way a child can apparently bond with its mother. Attachment parenting involves feeding a child the second it begins to fuss—not waiting until it is convenient for you—and giving in to a child's need to suck, even when the child is not hungry. Dr. Sears advises breastfeeding well beyond one year, or the child, who has come to associate breasts and food with love, will not understand why said love is being withdrawn.
Practitioners of this point often take it to somewhat creepy lengths; as the May 12, 2012 (Mother's Day) edition of Time pointed out, many mothers breastfeed their children until age 5 or 6—years, not months.
- Respond with sensitivity. While some parts of this principle are also reasonable (respond to your child with soothing sounds, attempt to be aware of their needs, and give comfort rather than anger to a child throwing a tantrum), other parts are less so.
Attachment parenting calls for schedule your day around your child's needs and inner rhythms, providing constant physical contact if your child wishes, and also this gem: "High levels of stress, such as during prolonged crying, cause a baby to experience an unbalanced chemical state in the brain and can place him at risk for physical and emotional problems later in life." Apparently, if one lets a baby cry too much, the poor little thing is going the right way toward becoming a wheelchair-bound version of John Wayne Gacy.
- Use Nurturing Touch™. Attachment parenting places great emphasis on skin-to-skin contact, which is one of the reasons why breastfeeding is so important. Additionally, attachment parenting calls for children to be carried at all times, next to one's body (babywearing); swings, jumpers, and strollers are all to be avoided (although not carseats—advocating against them was probably too much of a lawsuit risk). One's children should be allowed to sit on one's lap any time they want, even if they seem heavy or it is inconvenient.
- Ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally. Apparently, if a baby wakes up at night, and no mommy is around, the baby gets scared and is promptly put on the psychopath career-track. Attachment parenting advocates co-sleeping (sleeping with the child nearby in the same room) or (better yet) bed-sharing, which is to continue until the child asks to have his/her own bed/room.
Of course, Dr. Sears is well aware of little problems like child sexual abuse, and consequently covers his rear with many "suggestions," "rules," and "disclaimers" for "Bed Sharing Families."
Attachment parenting also prescribes the use of a regular nighttime routine for older children that often takes over an hour; it is supposed to be pleasant, relaxing time that focuses on the child's needs (and if the mother would prefer to have a nighttime routine of her own, tough).
- Provide consistent and loving care. This is interpreted as meaning that children should be with the parent at all times, only separating when the child wishes it. Consequently, attachment-parents are not permitted such things as "alone time." It is even advised to take one's child along for dates, which ensures that the divorced attachment-parent will be unlikely to find a new partner who is not also an adherent of attachment parenting.
- Positive discipline. In matters of discipline, attachment parenting advises the use of empathy, respect, preventative training against bad behavior, and the creation of a "'yes' environment."
- Strive for balance in personal and family life. This is attachment parenting's major cop-out and defense against concerns that attachment parenting turns parents into non-entities whose existence is subordinated to their children's, by nominally acknowledging that parents also have needs, and that their personal lives must balance with their family lives.
Of course, the previous seven principles having detailed how parents must live on their children's schedule, keep them attached all day and all night, and give in to their smallest emotional demands, the next question is, "What f***ing personal life?"
There is a significant overlap between the attachment-parenting and neo-hippie communities, with attachment-parents frequently living more "off the grid" than usual, homeschooling their children, and following "Natural Living" lifestyles, including anti-vaccination, and other "modern society is bad, let's head back to nature and traditional societies" woo.
 Studies and criticisms
There are no studies indicating that attachment parenting is any more effective than mainstream parenting. Furthermore, Dr. Sears's work does not suggest what factors one could actually use to identify (or, even better, quantify in order to prove) a "successful" child rearing experience, since each child, if raised in this safe way, will be able to grow into a healthy adult. Bill Clinton, as a workaholic, would not fit into that concept of "healthy" (and Chelsea Clinton is doing fine so far); nor would the vast majority of artists and mathematicians.
There are plenty of studies demonstrating that certain of the more reasonable parts of attachment parenting do help children avoid reactive attachment disorder and feel more confident about themselves. For example, holding a crying child is important, as is gentle comforting. Dealing with a child's fears and negative emotions with love rather than reproach can help that child recognize her emotions and deal with them on their own. A regular nighttime routine can give a child a sense of security, even if it is not the elaborate, lengthy sort prescribed in attachment parenting. Attachment Parenting International has been heavily criticized for using a nonstandard definition of reactive attachment disorder that produces many false positives.
However, the theory also includes some objectionable and non-evidence-based components. For starters, the early stages of attachment parenting seem to define bonding as almost exclusively between a mother and child. For example, Dr. Sears states that if bottle feeding is necessary, it should still be only the mother who feeds the child. This seems to suggest that a father cannot (or should not?) bond with an infant the way a mother can; a suggestion that runs counter to modern theories indicating that there is no meaningful distinction between father and mother in this regard.
 Feminist criticism
Elisabeth Badinter, a French feminist scholar, argues that attachment parenting and similar approaches to child rearing have had the effect of preventing the women who have to perform most of the tasks required "from reaching their full potential....and making women feel guilty, stressed and exhausted." Or, in other words, the female practitioners of attachment parenting are not living the kind of lives that attachment parenting is supposed to secure for their children.
Badinter also argues that these intensive approaches to child-raising have scared some people away from parenthood altogether. 
Attachment parenting includes some good ideas. In our busy lives, we may be more likely to neglect the importance of bonding with our kids. We might be too quick to put our kids in a play pin, or to yell at them for something they are too young to understand. But then it goes all wakadoo and pushes these ideas to their extreme.
Looks like a cut to the umbilical cord is long overdue.
- ↑ http://www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/intro.php
- ↑ Although Dr. Sears never explicitly says so, this is interpreted as "no drugs" by most attachment parents.
- ↑ One's daddy, it would appear, is useless as a tree-stump for delivering Nurturing Touches.
- ↑ "Unschooling as a Political Activity"
- ↑ "Peachtree Attachment Resources", cited as "Based on the DSM IV"
- ↑ Chaffin, M. et al. (2006) Report of the APSAC Task Force on Attachment Therapy, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and Attachment Problems. Child Maltreatment 11, p. 76-89.
- ↑ "Bringing up baby," Vancouver Sun, 12 May 2012.