Moms of Twins Can Practice Attachment Parenting But Should They?

I finally got a moment this week to read Time magazine’s exposé on attachment parenting guru, Dr. William Sears. Yes, I know. That was last week’s news (or even last month’s by the time I get this post published) but there’s still lots to be said. Not about the controversial photo on the cover, mind you, but on the whole concept of attachment parenting itself and how it relates to moms of twins.

When I was pregnant with twins 17 years ago, I received The Baby Book (with a whopping 784 pages!) as a gift from my best friend who was (and still is) an ardent fan. I remember listening politely to her talk about the attributes to attachment parenting, all the while knowing that I couldn’t possibly keep up with it. Nor that I would want to anyway. Sure, there were parts of attachment parenting that I could relate to such as breast-feeding (I successfully nursed both my boys until month 12 but that was enough), co-sleeping on occasion worked well when I was breast-feeding during that first crazy month, and even baby wearing proved practical, to a point (see the not-so-flattering photo below). But pick them up with every whimper? Sorry, but I’m the mom of twins. Hello! Instead I relied on my Fisher-Price motorized bouncy seats to fill in the gaps when I simply couldn’t comfort two crying babies at the same time. And you can just forget about natural childbirth. I was screaming for my epidural when I was only one centimeter dilated. No regrets. I’d roll over and let them shove that needle in my spine again in a heartbeat.

Mom with baby in front carrier.Regardless, The Baby Book stayed on my nightstand that first year of parenthood and I referred to it often as attachment parenting isn’t the only subject that the book covers. (It gives very good advice on what to do when baby has a fever, when to introduce solid foods, etc.) But also sharing that place of honor next to my bed was a copy of Dr. Richard Ferber’s Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems. Yes, that Dr. Ferber, the one that some might say is the polar opposite to Dr. Sears. My sister-in-law introduced me to “Ferberizing.” And while I didn’t adhere to his philosophy 100 percent either, I did incorporate a modified version of his technique when putting my twins to bed as I could never “turn off” and relax for the night until my boys were sound asleep in their own cribs, and they certainly weren’t going to be in their own cribs much less give me an evening of peace if I had followed the advice of Dr. Sears.

Yes, Sears and Ferber all in a single household. When it came to mothering my young twins, I followed whichever advice fit the situation at the time. Neither was a perfect fit. For instance, I had to have my twins on a schedule or I would have perished, a big no-no according to the Sears philosophy. And there in lies my problem with most die-hard parenting doctrines: They’re just too rigid for moms of multiples. When you have two or more babies, you have to be flexible. You need a big bag of tricks to help you get through the day, not to mention a large glass of wine to get you through the night. Moms of new twins have enough guilt in thinking they can’t do it all. They certainly don’t need the added pressure to “Ferberize” or co-sleep if their hearts are telling them otherwise.

But unlike new moms today unsure of their parenting skills, I have a pretty good idea how it all turns out in the end. The friend who raised her kids with attachment parenting? My sister-in-law who loved the Ferber book? And my twins raised on a hodgepodge of ideas? All pretty darn good kids, I have to say. Heading to college. Studying hard. Doing their share of community work. Respectful. Sure, we all have our challenges but no juvenile delinquents to date!

In the end, it all comes down to what baby expert Dr. Spock wrote way back in 1945, “You know more than you think you do.”

And don’t let anyone else try to convince you otherwise.


7 thoughts on “Moms of Twins Can Practice Attachment Parenting But Should They?

  1. BusyMomofTwins

    I enjoyed reading your post and found myself agreeing with a lot of the things you said. I find the spotlight on attachment parenting so hard to understand. With twins, I didn’t really get that chance. I wasn’t able to just focus on one at all times. Sometimes I am envious of mothers who can. In the end, I think every family makes choices that work for them. Attachment parenting is just one of the options.

  2. Amy

    In light of all the recent talk about attachment parenting, I have been wondering the EXACT SAME THING. How many of these parents are parents of multiples? I had a horrible time finding a “baby wearing” device that comfortably accommodated twins. And the Baby Book says woefully little about twins; clearly Dr. Sears doesn’t have any!!!! I agree, if attachment parenting works for you, go for it, but the parents of twins focus on survival may have little room for “attachment parenting.” (at 23 months I am sure my twins are plenty “attached.” :) )

  3. Anne

    Thank you!! The mommy guilt is lessening now :) I just can’t do it all! I also incorporate a mixture to fit our family needs. So nice to hear someone else has too.

  4. Nanner

    (sorry, it’s long!) I have to say, that after never hearing the words ‘attachment parenting’ for the first year of my twins lives, I was SOOOO excited to discover Dr. Sears when expecting my second set. I nearly killed myself trying to care for my first set of twins who were very ‘high needs’ under the advice of the mainstream which was -feed every 3 hours (they needed much more often as I was nursing and building supply) -keep them on a schedule (impossible for them, so I drove myself nuts needlessly trying to do so, at first) – never sleep with them – don’t nurse or rock them to sleep or carry them all the time and spoil them (they were colicky for the love of God, do I let them sit in a swing and cry alone all day?!!). Had I felt free from some of those ‘expectations’ from doctors, friends and family, I would have had a lot more sleep and been a lot less stressed out. And in fact, for my second set of twins, I was! Because I decided that if they weren’t on tight a schedule…no big deal. If I brought one to bed because we needed sleep that night…no big deal. Since I needed to take care of my 3 year old twins too, I gave myself permission to nurse and rock them to sleep whenever they needed it…only making it a goal for them to fall asleep on their own once a day. what i found was that the ability for them to sleep on their own was much more due to their ‘easy’ temperament than any training i gave them.
    With my oldest twins, pretty much nothing I could do seemed to train them to sleep, they just had a genetic predisposition against it! Not that training is totally ineffective, but that children have a predisposition that you can either coax to improve or to worsen.
    Anyway – AP completely changed my life from one set of twin to the other and I am ever grateful for that – I found AP to be freeing more than rigid, but I didn’t read the baby book either (though I did read several other Sears books – Fussy Baby Book, Discipline Book, ADD Book). And what I gleaned did not seem terribly rigid – sure it recommended breastfeeding and baby wearing..but also explained ways to keep bottle-feeding AP friendly and didn’t redact the AP title from parents who didn’t breastfeed to age 4 or carry their baby hip-side every minute of the day. I didn’t yet read teh article, but I can tell it certainly didn’t help renounce the rigidity in the community. I think the rigidness comes more from AP parents than it does from Sears himself. It seems to me that AP parenting is simply the mentality that we should accommodate the children we’ve welcomed into our lives in a gentle and understanding way with compliant and convenient behavior being a long term goal that is secondary to building a trusting relationship as opposed to a mainstream view which I think tends to focus more on compliance and control more than overall moral development – or at least in my circle of experience it was!

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