It's bedtime, and the only way your child will be soothed to sleep is if you snuggle up beside them as they fall asleep. But should you encourage them to self-soothe and drift off by themselves, or are there any long-term benefits to this close bond?
Many parents avoid lying with their kids at night due to misconceptions about Attachment Parenting. This concept revolves around deepening the parent-child bond rather than severing it as your child grows older.
There Are Many Critics About Attachment Parenting
Over the years, critics have argued that attachment parenting, or AP, makes children emotionally unstable and unable to manage their emotions. They say that kids who are deeply attached to their parents can become ballistic if they get separated for even the shortest time.
Due to these claims, many parents are now limiting the time and amount of physical contact they spend with their children, believing deepening child-rearing can be destructive.
Many are even convinced that putting their kids to sleep at night will make the children permanently dependent on their presence to fall asleep.
Scientists are convincing us otherwise
Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, claims there's evidence that attachment parenting helps kids grow up as 'mentally stable and successful' adults.
She wrote on Psychology Today:
"When you separate the popular exaggerations of AP from the more objectively oriented scientific studies, it's a sensible approach that fosters physical and psychological health in children."
"We do know from extensive research … that securely attached adults have happier and less conflict-ridden lives. There's even research to suggest they may be better parents themselves."
And Susan Krauss isn't the only one to write about the positive results of attachment parenting.
Patrice Marie Miller and Michael Lamport Commons, from Harvard Medical School, also conducted a study on the child-rearing method and found it's beneficial to both the parent and the child.
"[The benefits] include less exposure to stress, which affects [sic] brain development and later reactions to stress. This has been shown to reduce mental health problems in later development."
"Another important psychological benefit is secure attachment, which is the tendency of the child to seek contact with a parent when distressed and to be effectively consoled by that contact."
"The result of more effective emotion regulation and secure attachment … is that children engage more effectively with essential developmental tasks, including peer relationships and schooling."
So, if you're a busy parent who spends most of your day at work, spending up to 15 minutes with your child while they drift off is a golden effort they'll always remember.