Attachment Parenting Under Scrutiny

Pregnancyorg Staff's picture

By Cassandra R. Elias

In the Spotlight: TIME Magazine Cover Sparks Controversy About Attachment Parenting

Controversial TIME Magazine CoverThe TIME magazine article and its striking cover made quite an impression throughout the media and internet last week and while many found it offensive, others felt it was about time.

It seems that in addition to the edgy photo, the words on the cover, "Are You Mom Enough?" also made many moms bristle and feel uncomfortable.

In particular was the assumption in the article that if they don't breastfeed their kids until 3-, 4- or 5-years-old, they're not good moms. No one wants to be told they're sub par, especially when they're loving and caring mothers.

The main thing the TIME cover did well, in addition to selling magazines, is start a dialogue about the underlying principle behind extended breastfeeding which happens to be attachment parenting.

We have published several articles about the practice and have dedicated forums where parents can discuss and share about this practice, but the issue today is why is there such an outcry and backlash about it?

According to the article, this practice has been on the rise over the last two decades. It includes co-sleeping, babywearing, and extended breastfeeding. But how extended is too extended? At what point does bonding become creepy?

Tweeters have been tweeting all weekend about just that.

Actress Alyssa Milano, who became a mom last year, tweeted "@Time no! You missed the mark! You're supposed to be making it easier for breastfeeding moms. Your cover is exploitive & extreme."

@Jennandtonica tweets: "Hey, moms. It's up to you to join these made-up Mommy Wars, not Time Magazine. There's no war if you don't allow one."

TIME's photographer Martin Schoeller photographed four mothers who practice extended breastfeeding. He said, "When you think of breastfeeding, you think of mothers holding their children, which was impossible with some of these older kids. I liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation."

The mother on the cover, Dionna Ford, has been making the talk show circuits, defending TIME and her extended breastfeeding of her nearly 4-year-old child, Kieron. She tells TIME, "We believe in gentle, child-lead weaning, and so far that means that my four-year-old still nurses. Letting children decide when to stop breastfeeding is part of attachment parenting, which is what all the controversy is about, of course."

According to Dionna, "The reason that people have such a problem with breastfeeding, and it's not just extended breastfeeding, it's breastfeeding period, is because it's not seen enough."

What do you think? Do you think the issue is breastfeeding or breastfeeding for such a long time? Were you taken aback by the cover? Let us know in the comments! We really want to get the pulse of our readers on this one!


AlyssaEimers's picture

Until this controversy, I had never heard of Attached Parenting. So in that way I think they accomplished their goal of more awareness. For me personally, I can not see breast feeding past 2, but whatever anyone else feels led to do is up to them.

girlisrad's picture

Submitted by girlisrad on

Excellent summary here...its nice to see reactions from both sides.

I wish that people would not take things out of context! TIME printed this for the reaction, and if you cannot see past that then I don't know what to say. Moving on...

I think the issue under fire is truly Attachment Parenting. I think that it feels SO extreme to many and this is because we are really emerging into a NEW definition of motherhood. When I was a baby, in the 70's (yes, Im old!) Moms still stayed home. In the 80's, things changed. Mom's went to work, kids stayed with friends or family. In the 90's it was almost strange for Mom NOT to work full time. And kids were all daycare bound. Now, we are regressing back to stay at home parenting. But this won't be an easy transition for anyone, and while the "crunchy" club is cheering away at the fact they can come out in public again, others are really struggling to see the independent WomAN go back to her mothering nature.

PARENT your CHILD according to the way the child requires parenting. Some kids need AP style... some kids are hands off independent kind. You might be crunchy, you might be a working parent, you might be something new altogether. Who CARES? Parent the way you feel comfortable, and (barring any abuse of course) you will be parenting RIGHT.

In my opinion... let these labels go. And unless this kid on the cover is still BF when he goes to college? People need to keep their nose out of his business.