5 Unconventional Parenting Methods


Attachment Parenting

Television star Mayim Bialik promotes her attachment parenting guide, "Beyond the Sling."
Television star Mayim Bialik promotes her attachment parenting guide, "Beyond the Sling."
Jude Domski/Getty Images

Attachment parenting isn't all that new, but in early 2012 it received renewed attention -- and mixed public reaction -- with the publication of Mayim Bialik's "Beyond the Sling: A Real-life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way." In the book, the neuroscience Ph.D.-holding television star outlined her experience with raising her two sons according to attachment parenting principles, which, Bialik writes, foster neurochemical bonds between mother and child [source: Lacher].

Attachment parenting is based on a theory initially proposed by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in the 1950s, which posits that infants are born with a biological drive to seek a bonding figure for security and protection [source: Bretherton]. By fulfilling that inherent need through close contact facilitated by baby slings, co-sleeping and breastfeeding -- particularly in the first three years of a child's life -- this involved method of parenting aims to nurture trust and well-being for healthy child development [source: WebMD Medical Reference]. Bialik also explained that not forcing children to wean is important, and that parents should instead pay close attention to kids' emotional communication. In her case, that meant continuing to breastfeed her 3-year-old son, who could at that age verbally request the breast [source: Lacher].

Of course, not all attachment parenting fundamentals sit well with mothers who may be unable to breastfeed or don't care to breastfeed beyond infancy, and of course there are medical warnings about the potential dangers of adults sleeping in the same bed with babies [source: WebMD Medical Reference]. But as with every parenting model that's emerged since the dawn of the 20th century -- and L. Emmett Holt's and G. Stanley Hall's hard versus soft debate -- attachment theory has attracted devoted followers like Bailik who have the same goal in mind as everyone else: to raise their children up right.