You didn’t ask, but here are my thoughts on attachment parenting anyway

Attachment parenting. The term is everywhere, right? Time magazine’s awful cover story “Are You Mom Enough” seemed to bring the whole debate to a (tasteless, judgemental) head. Can I just tell you how that cover infuriated me? I breastfed my two sons for a year each (due to her illness at birth I was unable to successfully establish breastfeeding with my daughter) and I’m certainly a proponent of it the practice. However, the cover’s question itself, which clearly implies that if you don’t do this-and-such you are NOT “mom enough” is absolutely reprehensible. On the heels of generations of slut-shaming women for their sexual choices, now a new way to divide, belittle, and demean women has been found: if she doesn’t spend every waking (and non-waking…co-sleeping, anyone?) moment with her offspring lashed to her body she is not a good mother, or at the very least, not as good a mother as she ought to be.

Now, there is nothing wrong with co-sleeping, baby-wearing, extended breastfeeding, etc. per se…I have many friends who have done all of these things happily and successfully…but there is something very wrong with our culture and our media sending the message that women who don’t engage in these practices are somehow inferior to those who do. I am “attached” to my children with bonds of love, respect, awe, and total devotion; just because these bonds are invisible doesn’t make them less real than a fracking Baby Bjorn. And as to co-sleeping, while I know many parents find it to be a fulfilling and lovely experience, I don’t happen to feel that way personally. I’ll admit, I’m a selfish wretch: I am extremely jealous of my alone time in bed with my partner, OK? Not just the sex stuff…but all the conversations we share during those private, kidless moments: sometimes hilarious, sometimes silly, sometimes incredibly deep and profound. If my wiggling, kicking 3 year old and my precious, delicate 1 year old were stuffed between us, I know that we would lose something of the closeness that we’ve learned to love over the course of our marriage (and the same closeness that, incidentally, allowed us to become parents in the first place!) My kids love their respective rooms; they are cozy places of refuge, their decor and contents reflective of their budding personalities and tastes. We don’t see bedtime as a devastating separation; it is a quiet, happy time, a pleasant routine, a time of rest and peace…because they each know Mommy and Daddy are right down the hall, loving them all the while, even as we sleep.

As parents our job is not to be “attached” to our offspring or to foster their being attached to us; it’s to raise them to be independent, self-assured, well-adjusted, and most importantly HAPPY adults. I can’t help but wonder if the more rabid segment of the AP movement is less about the emotional/physical wellbeing of the child, but more about filling some emotional need for the mother/father.

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  • Jacqueline Hentzen

    …Wait, there are people who ENCOURAGE co-sleeping? Around my city, there are ads all over the place that say that co-sleeping is DANGEROUS!

    So, if you do it, you’re putting your kid in danger, if you don’t, you don’t love them enough, and if you don’t have kids to avoid the issue, you’re selfish… Sounds pretty much par for the course, I guess…

  • somali

    I think this crap is just another way to get women put of the work force so more men can get jobs in a down economy. Trust me, you’ll find out I’m right one day. Also goes for the weirdos who live as though they are in the fifties on that tlc show. They can’t directly come out and propose women give the jobs to men like after WWII but they can try to intimidate us indirectly into doing so. Just my two pennies on the situation.

    • Melanie

      Somali, I do think you’re right. I also think that many previously career-minded/oriented women are turning on to the AP movement as a way to channel their (perhaps latent or unspoken) frustration with suddenly being stay-at-home mothers. But all this whole movement does is pit women against each other…implying that a woman who co-sleeps, babywears, etc. is superior to one who employs a more laid back approach. And of course, the whole thing is hyped by the male -dominated media…just another way to keep women otherwise occupied and conflicted so their voices won’t be heard on the national stage.

  • andrea

    I still can’t believe that attachment parenting is actually a thing. @_@ I mean, even stay-at-home parents: how the HELL do you find the time!? In & around all of the other stuff you have to do, I mean – chores, shopping, taking a shower, cooking, something creative or social to keep you sane – I barely fit that in around work. How can you do it with KIDS!?

    But aside, I have an inkling that what’s best for parents and kids is for everyone to be happy and comfortable, rather than stressed out over any given thing.