Attachment Parenting and Putting Your Marriage Before Your Children

The divorce rate in America is hard to get a good estimate of because some states don’t disclose their divorce rates (including California, rumored to be among the highest in divorces).

 

It is estimated that 34-55% of all US marriages end in divorce. Even on the low end the numbers are not very cheery.

 

People who “attachment parent” have been accused of causing divorce due to their lifestyle. I am assuming the estimated statistic above is not made up of solely AP parents.

 

There is a much bigger problem than parenting, it is the marriage itself. We cannot judge how or why a marriage fails, that is only the business of the couple who is going through it, but I can tell you attachment parenting in and of itself is rarely (if ever) the culprit.

 

So many variables go into a successful marriage. I cannot even go into everything that makes a marriage work, because I don’t even know what they all are. I am sure it varies for everyone.

 

One thing my parents taught me, which we want to implement in our own marriage, is to put our relationship with each other before our relationship with our children.

 

That genuinely shocks most parents when I tell them. Western culture attempts to train children how to be independent at a young age, but then also promotes “putting your child first”  – probably because it sounds like the right thing to do.

 

While saying you put anything over your children may seem strange, it’s not. My “attachment parenting” parents made it a point to put their marriage first (in regards to human relationships). It was something I was able to witness from a young age. What it gave me was a feeling of stability, and a foundation to model my own relationship after.

 

Being an “attachment parent” confuses people, because they assume part of the definition is putting your child before anyone else. That is a false statement for many of us who practice this kind of parenting. What this kind of back to basics parenting does is aid in forming a strong bond between child and both parents. If anything, it is beneficial for a marriage to have a well-attached child.

 

Some may wonder why attachment parenting may aid in a contented marriage. What we have found is by parenting the way we do, yet still putting our marriage before our children, we have created a balance that allows everyone to feel supported and a significant part of the family.

 

I remember, in my own childhood, the security I felt in my parents’ relationship. I always felt loved and doted on, but it was comforting to me to see my parents’ relationship strong. I knew my parents loved me more than anything, and would both sacrifice their lives to save mine, but I also knew they valued each other and took into account their relationship needed to come first, not just for them, but for their children, too.

 

We have also noticed we do not have the guilt we know some parents have when they are away from their children. This, I think, has more to do with being satisfied in your parenting, rather than it being specifically about “attachment parenting”, but since we are confident in how we are parenting our children, we don’t feel guilty spending time away from them to be with each other. Being present as parents for us means we can focus on each other, rather than worry when we are away from them.

Maui 2010. The first vacation we took as a couple since we became parents.

So, while many people may disagree, we have found this is exactly what works for our family and many other people have found this also to be true. Once again, debunking the myth that “attachment parenting” neglects a marriage and focuses on a child-centered life. What I have personally experienced in my own childhood, and in parenting, is when attachment parenting is implemented in a healthy way, compliments and celebrates the balance of family.


Tags assigned to this article:
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19 comments

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  1. Mandi 7 December, 2012, 09:38

    I absolutely love this, and SO needed to read this right now! Hubby and I have barely been crossing paths as of late – and not so much because of the children, but because of my work. Perhaps this is a gentle reminder that I need to be more careful about scaling back my work to make sure that we have time together. It’s so easy to say “Things will calm down in a couple of weeks, then we can hang out,” but then I take on more clients, or more students who NEED to get classes in before their EDD, and before you know it, it’s been 6 months since we’ve had anything even remotely resembling a date. I need to start taking this more seriously. Thank you for a fabulous post!

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  2. Meagan 7 December, 2012, 10:18

    Agree 100%. Anyway my son loves it when my husband and I hug or kiss.

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  3. Cara 7 December, 2012, 12:56

    I love this post. I had the unfortunate experience of listening to a talk radio host discussing Mayim Bialik’s recent divorce and why attachment parenting was most likely the cause. Ignorance never solves anything and her comments were purely speculation regarding something she clearly didn’t understand. I feel like attachment parenting probably wouldn’t work for everyone but definitely works for us and many families we have seen. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Tracy 8 December, 2012, 12:27

    Hi, your family is beautiful! I am a new blogger, we are a foster/adoptive family as well! Please visit our blog if you get a chance! Thanks for sharing your family :)
    http://handpickedhandfuls.blogspot.com/

    Reply this comment
  5. Linda in Sweden 8 December, 2012, 15:52

    It´s like when they give instructions on airplanes if you need oxygene – put your own mask on first and then help your kid :-) I do not believe in a child centered life – that is putting to much pressure on our kids. I believe in letting them participate in familylife as a part. not its center. Me and my husband havent been on many alone trips because I havent felt right leaving my kids when they were small but there are plenty of ways to focus on marriage whitout travelling :-) (now that they are older we are planning a trip for just the two of us – whoohoo!)

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  6. Charlotte campbell 9 December, 2012, 07:16

    Thank you for the wonderful reminder! Something I needed to hear in this stage of my life with an almost 3 year old and a 9 month old. It’s easy to let certain things slip from focus sometimes and I appreciate hearing it again!

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  7. Cynthia 11 December, 2012, 07:45

    It’s weird, since both my husband and I came from broken families, but we always knew to put each other first. When we discovered we were pregnant with our first, we planned to do date nights once a month. Of course, date nights never officially started until our daughter was 6 months old, but they’ve never ended.

    We’re pretty lucky because I get to stay at home with the kids and my husband works from home most of the time, so we get to spend a lot of time together. We eat lunch and dinner together almost everyday and once the babes are in bed, we have an hour or two for ourselves.

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  8. Cynthia 11 December, 2012, 07:46

    By the way, killer heels.

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  9. Theresa 11 December, 2012, 09:29

    It is refreshing to hear from an adult who was raised in an attachment parenting style. We need to hear more from such grown-ups. I think it has to do with putting everything in the right order. First of all, treat your spouse as your best friend and as your one and only lover. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Then treat a newborn baby like a newborn baby (someone who needs to have everything done for him or her,) a baby like a baby, a toddler like a toddler, etc., then you will quite naturally follow attachment parenting and you will be able to rely on your mate to act like an adult, not a needy child. Furthermore, just because a baby is in bed with you does not mean you will have no private time, just because your baby is too young to leave does not mean you cannot take him or her on a date, and just because a child is not ready to be left overnight until they are 3, 4, or 5 years old, does not mean that you won’t have PLENTY of time when children are older to go away for a weekend. It’s all about adults acting like adults and expecting children to act like children. It means putting first things first, no matter what stage of life you are in. As every parent soon realizes, each stage lasts a short time and then you adjust to the next stage. It is another good reason for young men and women to choose their mate carefully.

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  10. Kelli 8 January, 2013, 10:16

    Thank you for sharing. This is a great way to talk about the balance of AP and a strong marriage. My DH and I work on this all the time, but I would like to say that some parents who practice AP cannot leave their children with other people because they do not have other people they can leave their children with. It’s not a lack of confidence in their parenting, it’s a lack of suitable caregivers who will not be aggressive (i.e. impatient, non-caring and harsh) with their child, particularly if they are raising a high-needs baby, which many AP parents do.

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    • Jamie Lynne Author 8 January, 2013, 11:29

      Great point Kelli! It is different for every family. I don’t even think a healthy relationship requires leaving your children- it is just a misconception in AP that all AP parents are with our children constantly. Forbes.com actually fabricated a quote of “me” saying just that (although the did remove the article after some time)… I don’t think it is wrong to leave your children with trusted people (we have the unique situation of my parents APing me, so our style of care is similar) or staying with your kids if that works better for the family. I hope people who don’t understand AP will soon realize the misconception they have about marriage and AP is in fact, not related at all to this parenting style.

      (Sent from my iPhone ignore the typos)

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  11. Michelle King Cohen 27 January, 2013, 22:34

    *Sigh of relief* Thank you for this! While I am not as AP as I would like to be – still working on that whole paradigm shift thing – we are getting there, and one of the things that has helped us to be better parents has been to realize that our relationship should be a focal point for our family, and not a “side job.” I still co-sleep with our youngest who will be 3 in April, and so many people assume that it means I do not make time for “wifely duties.” On the contrary, we do it more now than when we only had one kid and were sleeping in the same bed every single night. We carve out time to be together and be present with each other, whether it is sex, or watching a movie, going on a date, or just sitting quietly and reading in the same room. And, because we MAKE THE EFFORT to communicate, we know when things aren’t right, and we work hard to get back on track. The divorce rate is high in part because people don’t want to do the work it takes to remain connected. There is not a single human relationship on this planet that at some point does not require the two people involved to sit down and take stock of what’s working and what is not – it is true of work relationships, relationships with your kids, and especially the one person you have pledged to love forever.

    When I first checked out your blog, I was fearful it would be another AP site that just made me feel bad for not being perfectly AP – I am sure you know there are those out there. You are so inclusive and loving and real about what being a parent is. Thank you for always being honest. <3

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  12. nancy 30 March, 2013, 14:28

    totally agree with this. I just talked to a friend yesterday that was saying she had not had a “date” with her husband for a very long time….just couldn’t leave their baby with a trusted sitter to catch dinner and a movie. What happens someday when these children grow up and move out and they are looking at a “stranger”….if they are even still together.

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  13. ray 28 May, 2013, 13:19

    Thank you for this. i grew up in a very loving household BUT my parents always put us before themselves. Always mom on one , kids in the middle, dad on the other end. I felt no comfort or stability. Resentment grew between them and we knew. They seemed more like two business partners than a loving front. They held on tight to us when we wanted to leave and when we did all leave, my parents had no relationship left. it is painful to see them together now. They look lost. I wish they would have put their relationship first, made date nights or whatever. It would have been a better example for us. I see the results with my siblings and within my own relationships. thank you for this article.

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  14. Mommagina3335 13 August, 2013, 19:52

    We have made a mutual choice to focus on the children until we are past the nursing years. Until then there are no trips or overnight dates. That’s okay with us because we know we have something to look forward to. We talk to each other about all kinds of things every day and night to keep up our communication and still maintain a great sex life,(when kids are sleeping) so there are no complaints.

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  15. Freedom 14 August, 2013, 08:19

    Totally true! My parents have been married for 54 years. I am an only child so they really were never burried with parenting duties, especially during the 1970′s and 80′s when all I did was go outside and play anyway. My parents put themselves first as a couple, they strived to maintain friendships and attend events, they planned parties and camped. To this day, they have a happy (and still married) core of friends dating back to middle school. Growing up I teased that their “social schedule” wouldn’t allow me to be in softball, Girl Scouts etc, their look at it was that we all made sacrifices as a family and the functions and interactions with this HUGE group of people would benefit me much more in the long run than any season playing softball. Even holidays were spent with the friends, my parents have spent every Thanksgiving since 1960 with this group, every one and now that they are older it is even more of a priority as a couple to do this! Now as a 42 year old adult, I agree. I see friends running children in every direction for sports, I see AP as a huge issue with many of our friends who after 6 years NEED the kid out of the bedroom. When we had our 1st and only child, we had decided NOT to AP. We were very serious about this because of watching friends and what it did to their relationships. Your spouse should always be #1.

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  16. John 22 August, 2013, 23:39

    So everyone with this argument in other articles too focus on your marriage because your kids grow up and leave, but this just isn’t true, where to they go. They don’t grow up and become strangers in a healthy relationship and adult child and patent relationship is a very satisfying friendship with so much love. This can only be accomplished with work you should go on couple dates but “date” your children as well all members of a family need individual relationships. It’s essential

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