Attachment Parenting and The Mommy Olympics

I read a blog post on Moms at Work about the recent Time magazine cover piece. The blogger, Anika Palm, commented on the cover picture, in which Jamie Lynne Grumet is shown nursing her preschooler. The article in the Times is about attachment parenting, which is a new(-ish, I guess) parenting trend in which you are supposed to nurse and wear the baby and sleep with the baby for as long as possible. I have to admit that I don’t know much about attachment parenting except from the little bit I read on their website, and the provocative statements that are flowing around the cyber space. And this article is interestingly perfectly timed with the publication of the feminist book The Conflict, which argues broadly that nursing and baby wearing oppress women (I liked the Globe and Mail review of the book and the reactions to it).

So, attachment parenting is the new trend that everyone likes to criticize. It’s the new Tiger Mom, if you will. And while I hate jumping on any bandwagons, I have some problems with what they are advocating.

First of all, from my experience I tend to agree with Elizabeth Badinter in the view that the current societal pressure to nurse longer, take longer maternity leave, and cook organic foods is mainly carried by women (but I know a few rocking stay at home dads!). I’m going back to my PhD degree after taking two yearlong mat leaves in three calendar years, and my career has taken a serious hit. Of course, I chose to take a year off, and I chose to nurse my children, and all that jazz. But I wonder if I would have made a different choice in an alternate universe in which men get pregnant and breastfeed. Just saying.

Secondly, I hate with a passion when people use scientific terms just to give their argument a scientific flare. I hate it more when people are using these terms incorrectly. As I discussed recently, attachment is the relationship between the primary caregiver and the baby that is built in the first year of life. So nursing your 4-year-old is not a part of attachment. Sorry, Ms. Grumet. Furthermore, you can have a secure attachment without ever a) nursing; b) wearing your baby; c) co-sleeping. All you have to do to create secure attachment in your child is to respond to their needs promptly and lovingly. You can definitely respond to the need for food with formula, and to the need for touch with a cuddle. Don’t even get me started on co-sleeping.

And lastly, and I realize this could be another media attempt at provocation, but the title pissed me off. “Are you mom enough?” asks the cover. I think that if Times magazine had found the parenting manual, they should share. And free of charge, too. But of course they didn’t, there is no right or wrong way to parent, only shades of grey. And with that in mind, I’m calling it a night.

@2015 - Gal Podjarny