My Attachment-ish Parenting

I am assuming that you all have seen this cover? I have heard moms talking about it all over since it came out over a week ago. Pretty much everyone I have talked to has had a pretty strong opinion of some sort, so since this is my blog, it’s my turn to share what I think:

I didn’t like the cover very much at all.

  1. Nursing with a kid on a chair… really? Don’t most people sit when they nurse?
  2. I do not love the hot mom posing with her hands on her hips. Breasts are so sexualized, and it has been the work of advocates and mamas everywhere to inform people that breasts were made first and foremost for nursing.
  3. I wish they would have shown a picture of beautiful bonding taking place, but I realize that beautiful bonding doesn’t sell or spark quite as much controversy as what they did.
  4. I am actually not  that bothered by the idea of the 3 year old being nursed. It most definitely isn’t for me, but to each their own.
  5. I really dislike “Are You Mom Enough?” It just sets people up to be offended.

Did any of you actually read the article? I read most of it, and it bugged me. They painted a picture of all parents who practice attachment parenting being wacky who think that their children are the center of the universe. They made it seem like all Attachment Parents nurse their kids until they are 4 and have no lives besides their children.

The truth is, that as with any parenting style/practice, there is a huge spectrum of  how people practice attachment parenting. I live in a community where attachment parenting is very popular and common. I would say that we have practiced Attachment-ish parenting with all 3 kids, and her is why:

*I nursed Sofia for 18 months, Gabe for 20 months, and I am currently weaning Miriam at 16 months (more details on that  in a different post). In most parts of the country, that probably seems like a really long time (some would say too long and I’m sure that others would say too short), but I have felt really  good about the amount of time that I have nursed my kids.

*I am really into baby wearing. At 16 months, it is uncommon for a day to go by without Chris or I wearing Miriam in the carrier. With 3 kids, I honestly don’t understand how anyone could get by without wearing their babies. It frees my hands to get more done around the house, help with the other kids, and it makes grocery shopping so much easier with her on my back. I was semi-joking with a friend the other day that when I am done with the Ergo, I am going to have it gold plated and framed in my house. I probably won’t do that, but it will be hard to get rid of something that has so many beautiful memories associated with it.

*We have slept with all 3 of our babies (0r had them in the cosleeper next to us). It is funny that each kid was kicked out of bed progressively earlier than the one before. I think that Sofia slept with/near us for 14 months, Gabe 11 months, and Miriam 9 months. I love sleeping with my babies when they are little, but with each kid, it’s like I almost go from loving it to not within weeks, and then I know that it is time to make the transition.

*I don’t agree with everything that Dr Sears says, but I really do like him overall. I think that it is good to questions mainstream parenting sometimes, and he definitely does that. He is all about strong attachment and bonding with parent/baby, and research has shown how important development is in the first few years of life. Baby/toddler brains are growing so freaking fast and forming so many synapses… why not help form those synapse connections with lots of love and bonding? Babies progress and grow a lot more interacting with and being loved on by parents than they do being put in an exosaucer all day. (Not saying that those are bad at all….all things in moderation my friends).

So my questions for you all:

*Is Attachment Parenting commonly practiced where you live?

*What did you think about the cover? I am totally fine if your opinion differs than mine. I know that you are all wonderful mamas and that there is not one good way to parent.

*What do you think about Dr. Sears? Have you read his stuff?

Rachel - May 20, 2012 - 10:16 pm

The cover doesn’t bother me much. I am desensitized from living in the Valley, though. I know a number of people still breastfeeding their 3+ year olds and it doesn’t phase me. I actually felt like quitting after 15 mos with Seamus was probably thought of as too early by some around me.

The thing I don’t like is the title. It implies that moms who don’t breastfeed are some how less of a mom and that REALLY bothers me. Breastfeeding means that you as the mom cannot be away from your baby for more than a few hours, that you are totally responsible for feeding your baby day or night, that you have to freakin pump if you do go back to work, that you will question every food you put into your body, etc., etc. Right now I am spending over 3 hours a day with a baby breastfeeding on my body. That is a lot of responsibility and really something that only privileged moms can do for years and years. Also, some women just can’t, and you know, it is really a decision between a mom and her baby–not our business and not our place to weigh in with an opinion. I love living in a place that is so breastfeeding friendly, but sometimes that friendliness comes with a dark side of judgmental attitudes for moms who don’t go that route. Okay, I’ll get off my box. :)

Karli - May 21, 2012 - 7:45 am

The one good thing about the article I’ve heard is that more people are disgusted with TIME for inciting a mommy war than those who really argue one side or the other. That’s at least encouraging.

Here’s an article that I posted on Facebook the other day that I think is a great follow up: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-howerton/mommy-wars_b_1510807.html

kara - May 21, 2012 - 8:48 am

Rachel,
This would be a hard community to live in if you weren’t a nursing mama. I think that nursing is a privilege, especially for mamas who breastfeed past the first year and not all mamas can do it (or have support to do it even if they want to). There can definitely be a judgmental vibe out there, and I have seen it many times (but hopefully haven’t been too much a part of that vibe).
Karli,
Yes, they are trying to start mommy wars. If there is one area that women can be fired up, it is about there children. I really like the last line in the article that you said that says, “Let’s stop quibbling about what competent mothers are choosing for their kids, and step it up for the kids that don’t have one.” Obviously we all have opinions about what is best for our own family, but there are many many competent parents out there perhaps making different choices than me. I am doing what feels right for us, and everyone else should do the same! Like the article said, there are much grander issues to fight for than whether or not a woman uses an Ergo baby carrier :).

kara - May 21, 2012 - 8:50 am

p.s….. I just read through my comment with tons of typos.. please don’t judge me mamas :)

Kelly - May 21, 2012 - 9:10 am

One thing I didn’t like about the article was that it painted attachment parenting in general, and Dr. Sears specifically as militant. The whole idea that moms could have PTSD from not living up to his ideas seems ridiculous. One thing I’ve liked about his books is that every chapter says something like “these are ideas that have worked for some people, here are a variety of ways to implement these ideas, but in the end, you have to do what feels right for your family”. I cannot/do not choose to follow strict attachment parenting but I felt like his advice always made me trust my gut which is so different from how I have often felt reading other parenting books. Of course, YMMV.

Margaret - May 21, 2012 - 9:20 am

The thing that annoys me the most about the article, as it seems to others that have commented, is the title. So condescending about mothers. It seemed contradictory too. The title led me to believe they were going to praise attachment parenting and show that “real moms” practice this way, instead it was kinda degrading about attachment parenting. I’m not a full blown attachment parenting type, but there are things I love about it and I look at someone like you Kara, where that type of parenting just fits your style and personality. I think everyone tries to parent the best they can with who they are. I hate that this article tries to pit mothers against mothers. What would make more sense is to focus on all the wonderful types of parenting styles there are out there and how they can all benefit from each other.
And to answer one of your questions, SEattle was much more attachment parenting friendly, Utah isn’t too bad. But sometimes I think it can go both ways, you can feel guilty living in the NW if you don’t nurse and don’t fit into it and other places you feel guilty if you do. I just try to do what I think is best for my kids regardless of culture or outside influence. Then I’m the happiest and my kids are too.
love you.

adrienne w - May 21, 2012 - 2:40 pm

I just hate extremism. I didn’t read the article, because it was obviously going to be sensationalized based on how they chose to portray it. What I don’t understand is why anyone cares how others choose to parent, as long as it’s safe. You don’t want to breastfeed your 3 year old? So don’t. There are a lot worse things going on in the parenting world than that. I also don’t understand why parenting has to have a label. I do a lot of these things, but I don’t feel the need to classify my parenting style. Actually, until the year or so I’d never even heard specifically of Attachment Parenting as a theory. I breastfed each of my kids for 12 to 14 months. We had a lot of challenges with it, so I felt lucky to do it for that long and didn’t feel at all bad about stopping. But I know A LOT of women who weren’t able to breastfeed (not their own choice) and they are heartbroken at the thought that they might not be as bonded to their baby because of something like that. We can’t assume that they have lost that opportunity because of something beyond their control. I used a sling a lot with my last baby, but that is because she loved it and as you mentioned, Kara, it was just easier. And I co-sleep with my babies a bit for the first 6 weeks or so, but again, I do that out of convenience. I don’t sit and analyze how much good I’m doing my baby or how much harm I’ll cause if I don’t. I’m just parenting. I stopped reading parenting books in general, with a few exceptions. I’m trying to focus more on what I feel is best. I feel like now, expecting baby #5, I have hit my stride and feel good about most of what I’m doing. When I have a specific problem, maybe I’ll do some research and see what suggestions are out there. Parenting is not black and white. There are a lot of ways to parent and it’s ridiculous to think that any one method is far superior. We should all be more understanding of each other and quit worrying about what other people choose to do.

kara - May 21, 2012 - 8:38 pm

Kelly,
Yes, in an interview I saw with him he talked about how his ideas aren’t “rules” but “tools”, and I think that that is a better way to look it them. Sometimes it’s nice to add another tool to the belt when I am feeling low on ideas!
Margaret,
I love you too! No matter which part of the country parents live in… guilt abides strongly everywhere with parents :). Margaret, we are coming to Utah this summer… I will give you more details in email.
Adrienne,
Yes, classifying parents into groups can be tricky. That is why I say that I am “Attachement Parentint’ish” because I can’t fully say that I practice or agree with all of it. I will say, that although I don’t think parents need to be classified, I will say that it can be helpful to relate to a parenting style a little. When I am looking for resources and if someone was moving to a new place, it would be nice to find some like minded parents to associate with. When my sister-in-law was moving to Texas, she was worried about finding parents with similar philosophies, so I suggested that she go to a La Leche League meeting to try to meet people. All of my friends most definitely do not parent the same way that I do, but it is nice to know at least some. ONe thing my friends do have in common is a whole lot of love and caring in their parenting, and that is probably what draws me to people.
Oh and I do agree that parents can read too much and depend on books to tell them what to do. For my job (and my own parenting), I have probably read far too many parenting books ,but I look to them for suggestions and ideas.. not to tell me who I am as a parent. Parenting based off of your own gut and the spirit are important with some wisdom from parents you respect, and yes.. a few ideas from books can be helpful as well on occasion. I am glad you have found your stride mama. You are awesome!

Amy - May 22, 2012 - 9:56 pm

As an adoptive mom, I was (maybe obviously) extremely offended by the headline. As for the nursing, whatever works for families is my motto! No judgment here…