By Rita Brhel, managing editor of Attached Family, API’s Publications Coordinator and API Leader (Hastings API, Nebraska), originally published on TheAttachedFamily.com on October 21, 2008.
There is a widespread belief that to be a good Attachment Parenting (AP) family, one parent must stay at home with the children full-time and that parent should be the mother. To be sure, this is a myth.
Some parents are mistaken in thinking that “real” AP families don’t choose to put their children in daycare.
However, parents need to look beyond the specific practices to realize the true goal in AP: Whether or not parents stay at home with their children is not as important as being sure to raise their children with secure attachments. If a dual-income family strives to maintain a strong parent-child emotional bond, this family is just as AP as one in which the mother or father stays at home full-time.
While Attachment Parenting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting describe a parent as the best caregiver to provide consistent and loving care, API also recognizes that a one-income family with a stay-at-home parent is not the ideal situation for all families. When, for whatever reasons whether financial or personal, both parents choose to continue working after their child is born, it is very possible for that family to be able to practice AP.
In many cases, one parent may choose to work part-time or parents may choose alternate shifts or work arrangements so that at least one of the parents can be at home with the children at all times. For example, some parents find ways to work from home or take their children with them to their places of employment, or one parent works the night shift while the other parent works the day shift.
And “if neither parent can be a full-time caregiver, then a child needs someone who is not only consistent and loving but has formed a bond with them and consciously provides care in a way that strengthens the attachment relationship,” according to the API website describing the principle of Providing Consistent and Love Care, found at www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/care.php. This caregiver could be a grandparent or other relative, close friend, or a trusted daycare provider – anyone who can form a strong attachment with their child.
Once the child is home from daycare, parents should focus on reconnecting with their child, such as holding and cuddling, playing one-on-one and including the child in daily chores, or using other specific AP tools like co-sleeping, babywearing, and breastfeeding. On weekends or other times when the family is together and the parents aren’t working, parents should focus on spending as much time as possible with their children. Quality time is especially important if the quantity of time is limited.
Whether or not parents stay at home with their children is not as important as being sure to raise their children with secure parent-child emotional attachments.
8 thoughts on “Dual-Income Families Can Be AP, Too”
We are a two income family who successfully AP our now 3-year old son. Following the birth of my son, I took a new job that would allow me to work from home and we have had the same caregiver for our son. Our caregiver has been with us our son’s entire life, so she is now extended family.
This has been exhausting and a difficult balance. I am no longer the superstar employee that I used to be and my husband is much more likely to leave work on time than he ever was before the birth of our son, but our lives are much richer for the experience – and most especially – our son is happy, healthy and well-adjusted.
We did the same kind of. I went to a new job that allowed me to work from home and only go into the office for meetings. My husband also took a new job, one in the evening, so that one of us was always watching our baby. This only lasted six months, though, as the arrangement was hard to keep up – one of us always working, no time with the whole family together relaxing. Now, I still work from home – for a different job – and my husband has a full-time day job.
My mom has been my saving grace in all of this. When I need help watching the kids so I can work, she devotes part of her time. I think having the support of your spouse and a wonderful caregiver like you mentioned, family or almost family, is really the key in all of this. That and being flexible enough to go ahead and find a job that will allow you to work from home, time off for family, etc.
Thank you for sharing this. I think it is so important for families to know that they can be an attached family even if mom or both parents must work. Every effort counts!
Perfect 🙂 I work part time & am a mostly single mum, my 19mo son is as AP as they come!! I love that I can still work & have time to myself so that when I am with my son, I am energized, attentive and attached. Alot of my work I do from home too. Personal training if anyone is interested! My sons father works a roster 9 days on 5 days home & he is AP when he’s home (even though we’re separated). It’s a balance but I believe with our son being the priority, sacrifices are easily made. I’d rather have less money in my pocket than less love in my life xx
What kind of jobs did you have that allowed you to work from home? I am currently looking for a job where I can work from home.
We have been strongly AP all along with our son (now 5). I worked part time, and we had a very special friend as caregiver when we were both at work.
Being an AP, dual income family meant making financial “sacrifices”. C’est la belle vie! I’d rather be poor and happy, and raise a warm, attached, confident, joyful, loved child.
Now that this strong foundation has been laid, nothing can take that away.
Amen! It is not easy but it can be done. We did the opposite shift thing for about 10 years. (Now my husband is at home full-time.) Totally agree w/Dr. Sears that attachment parenting practices help the mom maintain strong bonds with her baby/child.
AP practices can also make it harder to leave the child, though, and I think that’s why many working moms opt for a more detached style.
My boys have been completely raised by myself, and my now ex-husband. I can count on one hand the number of times someone other than the two of us have cared for our sons. We both work full time(40+), and have no family in-state. We have never assumed it was anyone else’s responsibility to care for the children we chose to have. and I personally shaped my career, well before I had children, to make this possible.
I read a quote from someone years ago(I do not remember who),addressing the Quality vs. Quantity debate. He said, “we, as parents, don’t get to decide the important and meaningful moments in our child’s life. Being available to your children as much as possible increases the likelihood that these moments will occur when you are with them.” (or something close to that). It stuck with me.
My children are securely attached, and they know they are my priority.