There are a lot of misconceptions out there about this thing known as "attachment parenting.” Some of the misconceptions are perpetuated by authors who are trying to "sell" their particular method, so it isn't surprising that many times they negatively characterize parenting styles that differ from whatever they’re selling. Attachment parenting, then, gets unfairly labeled as permissive, child-controlled, spoiling children, and so on. While I’m sure that those things could be true of some people who claim to be attachment parents, I definitely don’t think it’s true for the majority.
But some of the misunderstandings of attachment parenting stem from the AP community itself. As with anything, there can be a tendency to become so caught up in the "rules" of what you're doing that you lose focus of the heart of it. That’s human nature. Unfortunately, because of this tendency, many people have a negative impression of attachment parents as self-righteous and judgmental of others who do things differently. And, again, this may indeed be true of some people who practice attachment parenting, but it’s not true of the majority.
Nevertheless, there's this idea out there that attachment parenting is all about breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, and looking down our noses at people who don't do these things. I'm going to go on record as saying that, actually, attachment parenting isn't about any of those things.
Simply stated, the heart of attachment parenting is about knowing your children, fostering a healthy attachment with them, and responding sensitively to their needs. It's not about following a list of rules; it's about knowing your children as individuals and choosing to do things that are in their best interest. And it's definitely not about being self-effacing and being controlled by your children; there is a lot to be said for balance. Consider everyone's needs and find what works for your individual family. For example, in some families, co-sleeping is a great solution. In others, it's just not. And that's okay! We don’t need to judge others or ourselves against some imaginary list of AP rules.
When my oldest was a baby, I knew just a little about attachment parenting and I was convinced that I couldn't possibly be considered “AP” because I wasn't breastfeeding my son. Years later, I realized that wasn't true. You can be an attached parent whether you breastfeed or formula feed, co-sleep or sleep separately, use a sling or not, stay home or work, homeschool or school away from home. Because it's not about checking certain things off a list; it's about relationship, sensitivity, and nurturing. I can't see how making certain choices "just because" you think they're on the list of proper AP things is all that different from making certain choices "just because" that's what mainstream culture does. In both of those cases, you'd just be adhering to something without actually thinking it through for yourself and making an active choice.
In the end, it comes back to the same thing I always seem to come back to in posts like this. Don't do anything "just because." Do the research, think about your own family's needs and your own child's needs, and make the choices that fit best with your individual situation. Make informed, educated decisions and confidently own your choices.