Attachment Parenting is great for kids, but pop culture tells us that dads are uninvolved and unsupportive.
I asked some dads to tell us what they really think of this unique parenting approach.
So often men are portrayed as inept, bumbling fathers or glorified babysitters. What’s worse, in the natural parenting world we often hear complaints from mothers that their spouses are not supportive of their parenting choices.
Stereotypes tell us that some fathers think full-term breastfeeding is weird. They think co-sleeping will result in dependency. They think spanking is essential for raising respectful children. They think hands-on parenting is for mothers, not fathers.
Some of these stereotypes are rooted in truth. Research shows that mothers tend to do the bulk of the domestic work, including hands-on involvement with child-rearing. This isn’t always the case. One of the best things about attachment parenting — aside from the fact that it’s proven to foster long-term mental wellness — is that the parenting style comes with suggestions, which work as a guide for new parents.
Experienced parents say there is no manual for raising children, and while that remains true because kids have different needs, the basic needs are the same: healthy attachment.
Healthy attachment is nurtured when a parent is responsive to their new baby, meeting their cries in a timely manner, responding with gentleness and love into the toddler years and beyond. Attachment parenting meets each of those needs, nurturing empathy and trust while also inspiring independence.
Here are some sentiments dads shared about why they support attachment parenting:
“I support breastfeeding because it is the healthiest way to feed our children. It’s nature’s body armor against disease and infection, and best of all, it’s free. It’s all the good without any of the bad, it’s healthy, it’s full of love and nourishment, and it has helped our kiddos grow to be strong and healthy little dudes. I support babywearing for many reasons. For me it has been a great way to help soothe my son when he is tired or restless. It is an incredible way to bond, having your child so close to you, and it can also help with productivity. Being hands-free, I’ve been able to do dishes, vacuum the house, go for long walks, and even cut the grass. For me, it has been one of the best ways I’ve found to connect with my son, and I feel that our relationship is stronger because of it.” -Chad
“Ultimately, one of the reasons my wife and I are so compatible is because we both have a desire to analyze things without placing too much value on the status quo, and certainly to try to understand where the status quo unnaturally deviates from the healthiest behavior. I think we both do this for everything, not just parenting. Parenting is a natural avenue to apply that razor. Many of the trends in attachment parenting fit our personalities and fit how we view the best way to raise our children.” -Craig
“Really it comes down to the frame of reference for me… I ask myself ‘What have humans done for thousands of years?’ I just want to support the biological imperatives of my children.” -Tyler
Some dads talked about the trust and safety nurtured by Attachment Parenting.
“I support: Co-sleeping because it creates and maintains trust and closeness. It makes me feel better because they’re safe and it makes them feel safe. Babywearing because you should always hold your baby and sometimes you need your hands. Breastfeeding because it’s the most beneficial and nutritious thing you can give your baby and it helps create more of a bond between mother and child. I also feel that if for some reason you CAN’T do any of those things, you should not be shamed or made to feel like a failure. The more you know…” -Andy
“They don’t respect you out of love [with spanking], they respect you out of fear. I don’t want my kids to be scared of me.” -Greg
“I want to raise good and kind humans. I want them to feel safe and loved.” -Brian
“I really enjoy co-sleeping because I like to be close to my daughter and have peace of mind in knowing I’m right next to her if something is wrong. Plus waking up to her giggles in the morning is the best! Also, there’s nothing wrong or inherently weird with feeding or comforting your child by breastfeeding — it’s biologically normal, I don’t really know why this is controversial.
Spanking and other physical abuse is so obviously wrong, especially with children. It doesn’t make any sense that it’s acceptable with children but an outrage when those children grow up and hit another adult; it’s all outrageous. As far as attachment parenting as a whole, I’d just say that babies aren’t capable of manipulating their parents. It also doesn’t make your child stronger by depriving them of love and attention, since that’s what babies and kids need!” -Maxwell
“Being violent towards children, yelling.. spanking… manipulating… is a total lack of control on the behalf of the adult, not the child. It’s easy to spank… but parenting isn’t supposed to be easy, so it’s important to use frustration as teaching moments for parent and child.” – Rob L.
Some dads referred to the science which supports Attachment Parenting.
“The only person who has the right to decide how long you breastfeed for is the person breastfeeding.” -Cameron
“I support co-sleeping because we do what nature does. Most animals sleep together like cats, foxes, bears, etc. I feel it creates a stronger bond and better sense of security. When he has a bad dream I can just roll over and rub his face or back and calm him down. A lot of times he will roll over and touch to see if your there. The best part is when he rolls over and cuddles just makes your heart melt.” -Andreas
“The science is on our side. Plus, it just feels right.” -Tyler
“I support gentle parenting because I believe children have bodily autonomy and I want to teach them about consent.” -Aaron
“Best way there is, no closer bond. It’s amazing. Just seeing the closeness and trust our daughter has in both of us is overwhelming. And that’s down to that level of closeness.” -Chris
“Breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for the babies and I’m proud of the nursing relationship you guys have. Another cool thing about nursing is breastmilk has so many benefits AND you can just squirt it on stuff like eyes, ears, noses, bottoms… We co-sleep because P was in her mom’s belly for 9 months. She sleeps better when she can smell her and hear her and feel her. Babies need to know their moms are there. It doesn’t bother me any. However they are both sleeping I support.” -Bo
“[Breastfeeding] is best for our kids’ nutritional and emotional well being, and spanking does nothing but break kids down and teach them to wallop whatever doesn’t go their way.” – Jason
Some dads mentioned how breastfeeding and cosleeping are the healthiest choices for their family.
“Best part of co sleeping: sleeping. Everyone… sleeping. Best part of breastfeeding: Confident and healthy children, nutrient-specific food for my babies.” -Joshua
“I’m glad you breastfeed as long as you do, it saves us a pile of money and we have the healthiest and most intelligent girl because of it.” – Chris
“I love co-sleeping so much! Makes you feel like you are always there for your little one no matter what they need. I would never force him to go be in a room all alone so I can be selfish and get better sleep. And asking why I support breastfeeding is like asking why I like air… um because I need it to live and thrive. Breast milk is the best thing a baby could ever have and in my opinion he should have it for as long as he is willing to take it. Shout out to by wonderful wife for being a mother willing to give it all to make sure she could breastfeed because that is what is best for our baby!” -Josh N.
“[Breastfeeding is] better for them! It helps build good gut flora. I like having two free hands [while babywearing]. I like knowing they are close to me and safe. I feel more in control of the situation.” -Drew
“I have supported these parenting choices for a wide array of reasons. But the key for me, has been the fact that I feel like it has created a better dynamic within the household, which will ultimately lead to my children growing into more successful adults.
I believe that when people feel supported, and loved, there is less fear of failure and more room for personal growth. And what does any parent want more than their children to be well adjusted, and happy adults?
On a more selfish note, I think co-sleeping and breastfeeding has contributed to a household that is getting more sleep. Without, I think our children would wake more fully in the night, which of course would lead to mom and dad waking more fully. And what parent doesn’t want more sleep?! We choose to parent the way we do, because it works, and has always felt natural. It may not be for everybody, but it works for us.” -Brendan
Plenty of dads support cosleeping because it’s easy and everyone gets to sleep!
“Co-sleeping: waking up with the baby and kids. Seeing them peacefully asleep Extra time together. Easier on everyone for bedtime. Breastfeeding: because it’s natural and better for the kids immune system. No spanking: there’s better ways to teach a child than spanking and hitting. Common sense stuff.” -Alexander
“I support breastfeeding because it gives life, I support co-sleeping because it allows closeness, I support non-violent parenting because I love my children more than myself.” -Dan
“I must admit that doing a 2nd family means that you can learn from past mistakes. Things that have worked better the 2nd time from my perspective: 1. Co-sleeping is the best! I am writing this while lying next to my 4-year-old camping on the floor of his room and I love the cuddles I get when sleeping with our 18 mth old. 2. Treating the boys as mini-adults and realizing that they can actually think for themselves.” -Tony
“Why make mom get out of bed to breastfeed. She’s already exhausted enough. Let the babe snuggle it doesn’t last forever. It’s great bonding although our youngest usually freaked out if I touched her she only wants mom and the boob at night ” -Jamie
“You’re providing the best for our babies and I think what you do is amazing. It makes me really proud of you to see how naturally you care for our children.” -James
“We never intended on co-sleeping. I was completely against it before she was born. I’m so glad we do though. I love cuddling my little girl & comforting her when she wakes. I love wearing my daughter. She’s getting so big, but I know I’ll miss wearing her once she decides she’s done being worn.” – Leeds
“Breastfeeding just makes sense; you make food specifically for our baby… and it’s free.” -Randy
“I support babywearing, attachment parenting, breastfeeding, and cosleeping because the health and happiness of my children is not a convenience. I also understand that to do this requires more energy an attention from us, especially from their mother at times, and I do whatever I can as her husband to support her and care for our children so that she is not overwhelmed by the extra time and care it takes. We don’t just want to raise our children, we want to raise them to be the healthiest and happiest they can be. For us that means working together and supporting this lifestyle, and I believe I am incredibly lucky that my children have a mother so dedicated to this above all else.” -Yale
These dads talked about the harms of spanking and punishment, as well as the benefits of parenting from natural instinct.
“[Spanking] doesn’t teach kids problem solving skills. It teaches them that you can bully someone to get your way.” -Scott
“I don’t believe in punishment. I have no right to inflict pain of any kind on anyone. Much less the tiny little people who trust in me to keep them safe and happy. Co-sleeping is a wonderful thing that has bonded my youngest and myself more than I believed possible. I’d recommend both to anyone. I’m all for breastfeeding until the child weans himself.” -Johnathan
“I like having my child know I am there for her. Also her waking me up in the morning.” -Wajahat
“[Breastfeeding is] better and healthier for them and it’s cheaper!” -Mark
“It’s all one answer as to why, because it’s just what feels right and natural. You don’t have to learn how to do these things you just have to stop listening to everyone else and trust your parental instincts. That’s what leads you to be caring and protective and nurturing of you children.” -Lorin
“I love the feeling that he knows we’re right there when co sleeping and he is safe. Breastfeeding full term gave him and you a great bond! And again he felt safe and it would calm him down when he was upset. And peaceful parenting gives him support and will eventually help him know he has a good family life.” -Chris
“I support you breast feeding because it’s the best thing for him. He’s been sick maybe two times. I sleep with Canaan to comfort and protect him. If the kid is hungry the kid is hungry let him eat.” -Ryan
“At the very root of it, the science is there to show that breastfeeding is absolutely the best you can give our son. Even if none of the other benefits existed, that alone would be enough. But it’s so much more than that. If you can, you SHOULD. Our son is comforted, loved, nourished, and attached so beautifully. Plus, it gives you such joy, such a feeling of accomplishment. And he just loves it. And we’re over a year in. And I’m really proud of you guys.” -Ed
“Hiring a lactation consultant is the best $200 we ever spent.” –Ben
“You can just roll over and pop the boob in his mouth and we can actually sleep. Boobies make everyone happy!” -Evan
“What am I supposed to do? Get annoyed or angry because she wants what’s best for our kids? Should I be mad they eat healthy and are emotionally intelligent? I respect her decisions, our kids are better because of them.” -Heath
“The best part about co-sleeping is knowing your baby’s needs are met 24 hours/day. He/She goes to sleep smiling, and wakes up smiling. Plus it was a good excuse to get a bigger bed. I support breastfeeding because it is the design function of the breast, that’s really all that needs to be said.” –Jay
“I support non-violent parenting because there are decades of research demonstrating how spanking children harms development.” – Austin
These dads support breastfeeding, cosleeping, and Attachment Parenting because it because it makes everyone happy.
“I support extended breastfeeding because it’s the most natural thing that’s ever been.”
“I support co-sleeping because I know that she wants you and it’s the easiest thing to have her right there so you can comfort her and nurse her when she needs you and you can both get good rest. And selfishly, I get to peek over in the morning and see how cute you both are sleeping next to me.”
“Spanking is a weakness on the parents’ part because you’re letting your emotions get the best of you. They are still learning and they don’t know that what they’re doing is “wrong” and the only thing spanking will teach them is that they should be fearful or you and that’s never what I want.” -Andrew
“I get to snuggle my wife and baby all night. Boobies makes everyone happy!” -Gabe
“I support all those things because of the strong family bonds that they create.” -Chris
“Babywearing because it enables our kids to do activities or chores with us.
Co-sleeping because I like cuddling with my children and being there for them.
Breast feeding because it is so healthy for baby.
Attachment parenting because if our kids can’t bond and trust us they will never learn how to have a good long term relationship and they need to be taught that.” -Lars
“When my wife (Amanda) brought me the idea of co-sleeping, I had never heard of it. It seemed like an okay idea, even if both of us were afraid of rolling over on our baby, so we went with it. We could not have made a better decision. Anyone we talk to is amazing that we both sleep through the night and haven’t had the oh-dark-hundred wake-ups that seem to be the status quo. Moving to today with our almost-four-year-old, it’s great being able to see them in the morning when you wake up, or have them cuddle up to you in the middle of the night when they get cold or subconsciously need reassurance.
“Spanking… where to begin? Find any meme that talks about how hitting is wrong. Now find the posts that talk about how someone grew up fine with spanking. I’m sorry, you hit (assault) a random stranger, you can go to court. You hit an animal, you get hit with animal abuse. You hit your partner, the elderly, your parents, you get charged with abuse/assault. But when you hit a child, it is okay? How can you teach your child not to hit others when you yourself say, “It is okay if I hit you.”? If hitting is not okay, then why can you hit them? If you turned out okay with spanking, how much BETTER could you have turned out without it?” -Matt
“Breastfeeding is natural, saves money and is all around better for your kid. I feel like our daughter feels safe in our bed knowing we’re right there. Plus it just makes sense with breastfeeding on demand.” -Jacob
“I support those things because it is what feels normal and is honestly the easiest.” -Joe.
These dads discuss why Attachment Parenting works for their family.
“I am a father that supports natural parenting. I was on the other side of the aisle with our first child, but my wife was able to change my mind with our other two children. I think that all of your readers will already agree with the health benefits of full time breastfeeding, but what kept me encouraging her to keep it up was the convenience of it on top of that. No middle of the night bottles that need to made, no having to get up to get a screaming child in the middle of the night because they’re in a crib in another room. No worrying about whether you brought a bottle and formula when you go out, no worrying about the store being out or running out of formula when the store is closed. I think that we both agreed that it was a give and take though, my daughter was really hard to sleep next to, I ended up with feet in my face more often than not for example. All in all, I think that my wife’s enthusiasm for the process of natural parenting allowed me to support her when it was harder at times.” -Dakota
“It really works, and makes sense.” – Ian
“I don’t care where everyone sleeps as long as everyone sleeps.” -Ari
“I support breastfeeding where it’s possible because it’s natural and best for the baby and you don’t need to warm a bottle. But I also sympathise with and support mothers who can’t or don’t want to be a human life support machine or just want someone else to be able to take a turn at feeding the baby for once!” -Mark
“The best part of co-sleeping is random kicks to the face!” -Timothy
“Attachment Parenting helps me connect with our children right from birth.” -Jeremy
“First and foremost it creates a strong bond between the mother and child, also creates a security blanket for the child’s immune system, it also creates a more confident child, and it’s a beautiful thing for a mother to experience, also the co-sleeper is a great idea so the mother is not stumbling around in the middle of the night, and the child feels more secure.” -Ell
“I support breastfeeding because it’s free, already warm and mixed, there are no bottles to clean, and it fixes everything. Sharing a bed with our babies has meant more sleep for everyone. These things weren’t what I imagined parenting to be like, but it just feels…natural.” -Greg
“I think their are many parts of co-sleeping that warm my heart: Waking up to the face of smiling child. The warm safe space you create as a family. Having a little one snuggle into you is precious.
“As for spanking, i have never believed that violence solves aggression. Most unpleasant reactions from kids are an attempt at attention. If you can slow them down and make them feel heard then most situations solve themselves without harsh reactions. And breastfeeding has to be hands down the most natural and healthiest way to feed an infant. From fighting illness to creating lasting bonds and a thousand other reasons that science is starting to clue into, breast is best.” -Drew
These dads talk about the love and cuddles.
“I support babywearing, breastfeed, attachment parenting because I love my kids.” -Jesse
“Best thing about co-sleeping: The cuddles. You can check on them in a second, you can hear and feel them, they heal quicker when sick.
I’m against spanking because you don’t hit children. because before they’re old enough to understand, they don’t understand and when they are old enough, they understand you’re hurting them.
Why attachment parenting? Because it’s natural and it’s how I wish I’d been raised.” -John
“We co-slept and breastfed because it was best, best for my wife, myself and our son. It helped us maintain a strong, clear relationship with our sons. My wife’s instincts told her to live and raise our children this way and it was right.” -Andrew
Originally published at Mothering.com