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Are YOU Mom enough?

[h=1]Time magazine cover suggests attachment parenting has gone too far[/h]
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By Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff
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Time magazine?s latest cover photo has created quite a buzz: A super-trim, blonde 26-year-old mother standing in skinny jeans and a tank top, hand on hip, chest thrust out with an exposed breast -- affixed to which is the mouth of her 3-year-old son, who?s standing on a stool to reach it. The magazine is marking the 20-year anniversary of ?attachment parenting?, a phrase coined by Dr. Bill Sears and his wife Martha in The Baby Book, a best-seller that came out in 1992.
Attachment parenting advocates for keeping your baby as close to your body as possible -- at pretty much all times. Parents are supposed to wear their babies in slings, instead of pushing them in strollers. Mothers breastfeed their toddlers, some through nursery school. And parents co-sleep with their kids in the same room, with babies in attached bassinets and older kids in the bed.
?The essence of attachment parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children,? reads the website of Attachment Parenting International. ?It is to raise children who will become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection. It eliminates violence as a means for raising children, and ultimately helps to prevent violence in society as a whole.?
I?m curious, though, whether that?s been validated in research studies. A quick Medline search of the term ?attachment parenting? yielded many studies showing that kids who don?t form strong attachments to their parents are worse off than those who do, but none that I saw that actually tested the precepts of attachment parenting like co-sleeping and prolonged breastfeeding.
Sears claims on his website that the latest research reveals that infants? brains are ?hardwired with strong needs to be nurtured and to remain physically close to the primary caregiver, usually the mother, during the first few years of life.?
That?s most likely true, but does that mean mothers need to give up their professional lives for several years to keep baby close to them at all times? Also, what happens to a couple?s sex life when baby makes three in bed? And where?s the fine line between being an attached parent and becoming one of those nuisance helicopter parents that kids try to escape by heading across country to college?
I?d like to know what you think of Time?s cover and attachment parenting in general.
[COLOR=#000000]Do you think attachment parenting makes sense?

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The bolded is the debate question.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 274

I'm not sure how to answer. I think some AP is great but I think like anything...done to the extreme not always a great idea. So to what they presented I think is a bit extreme. In general and how most people I know practice AP (me, for one) it's not and is a good idea.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I think that most people who need to label themselves as anything tend to be insecure, I've noticed this most with AP parents. .I have enough confidence in my parenting to not need to follow the letter of the law of some man who happened to have a brood of children. I see moms do, like, AP face offs where they literally make lists (and even BLINKIES!) of how awesomely AP they are and I just cringe for them ~ its so pathetic. Since so many people who practice it seem to be insecure or somehow needy (i.e needing some strict method to teach them how to raise their own child) I see a lot of codependent and/or undisciplined kids as a result.

I also find Dr Sears to be a bit anti woman, so clearly I'm no fan Smile I do all that crap (breast feed, babywear, cosleep .....because it made sense for us, not because I wanted to be an "AP PARENT".) I try to stay away from those sorts.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

I didn't vote because I am somewhere inbetween. When DS was a baby I wore a sling most of the time, spent lots of skin to skin time, etc. He slept between us in a bed pod thing several times too.

I would have breastfed longer, but I dried up at 10 months (I was desperately pumping every 30 minutes at work to make it last longer), but I think once he hit about 1 1/2 I would have transitioned. Gosh he pulls my shirt down in public enough as it is Wink

I believe in holding your child close to you. I think it just sounds and feels right.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

lol! As soon as I saw this article, I knew it would be on here... I thought we would be debating the photo though Smile

I'm not into the labels either. Do what makes sense for you and your family.

I do several of the APish things, but not all of them. Take co-sleeping... I'm not opposed to it, but didn't do it. My kids have all slept in their crib in their own room from early on because am an extremely light sleeper who often suffers from insomnia. With the baby in the room, I hear them breath, snort, snuffle, move, etc and it keeps me awake. Too much noise for me to fall, and stay, asleep.

However, I know people who prescribed to parenting theory x and have to follow it word for word... Even when it obviously isn't working. I have a friend who coslept - and didn't sleep through the night herself for like 6 years and counting... Yes, they is how long they (mom, dad, and up to 3 kids) slept together. She is a worn out, exhausted wreck, but heaven forbid you say, "you know what? This isn't working for us!"

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"kris_w" wrote:

However, I know people who prescribed to parenting theory x and have to follow it word for word... Even when it obviously isn't working. I have a friend who coslept - and didn't sleep through the night herself for like 6 years and counting... Yes, they is how long they (mom, dad, and up to 3 kids) slept together. She is a worn out, exhausted wreck, but heaven forbid you say, "you know what? This isn't working for us!"

Well, that mom obviously is NOT following Attachment Parenting because tenet #8 is "Maintain balance in family life."

I'm about as A/P as you can get, because it closely mirrors the Taoist philosophy that I follow. I label myself as A/P not because it's a cool label or the hip new "in" thing to try, but because it's just who I am as a parent. I pumped at work to be able to breastfeed my babies. I turned down overnight travel until they were two years old because we co-slept and they needed me to sleep well. When I was at work, my DH wore our babies in a sling as much as they wanted to be close to him. We use positive discipline techniques because we don't believe in violence. And I do still breastfeed my 2.5yo, not because "it's A/P" (extended breastfeeding isn't one of the 8 tenets of A/P) but because it feels right for us. Part of what makes it feel right for us is that I've set limits on it as my children grew & could understand, i.e. not in public, only in bed, then only at bedtime, and definitely not on magazine covers! :shock:

I also don't view A/P or Dr. Sears as being misogynist; A/P is pro-family, not anti-women. A/P is not about moms having to stay home tied to their kids; it's about making sure that WOH is the best choice for your family, and making sure that your child is in a safe, loving, nurturing place when you're at work, and it's about maintaining a good work/life balance. And everything about A/P applies to the dads, too!

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

I don't find the need to follow a label or movement with my parenting. I try to follow my gut and heart and go with what works and leads to a happy healthy child and family. Some of what we did was AP-like - breastfeeding and co-sleeping - and we did that because it worked for us. But a lot of it wouldn't have worked. DD had no desire to be carried around in a sling all day. She wanted to roll about and have space to play. She also didn't really want to spend all her time sleeping alone - still doesn't - so some nights she slept with us. I don't feel the need to follow something to the letter. I don't know many people who do. Most of the parents I know go with what works for them.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

My very first experience with AP was when I was a brand new mom with a 5 week old that had a pacifier (gasp I know) 2 moms stood and told me how obviously I wasnt in tune with what baby needed, I wasnt meeting all her needs, I was never going to have a close relationship because I was allowing her to be soothed by something artificial. In short, I was a horrible mom. At the time I had never even heard what AP was. I did some investigating and learned that aside from the pacifier (that she got when she was in the NICU because I was actually opposed to them) I was pretty close to AP to the letter. Of course after that I would have never identified myself as a AP mom. 3 kids later and I now am very confident in my parenting, and all 4 kids are very different, requiring different parenting with each one.
AP parenting to the letter wouldnt make sense for our family, or for me.

Minx_Kristi's picture
Joined: 01/02/09
Posts: 1261

I'm not for AP or particularly against it either. However, if you're co-sleeping with your kids just because you want them close I don't 'get that', especially if they would happily sleep in their own beds/rooms.

I never did anything associated with AP when DD was smaller but we are still as close as you can get, so that proves to me that no matter what you do with your child (in a loving sense) the bond will always be there.

xx

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 781

All these labels get me dizzy. I parent and love my kid, and if certain actions of mine fall under certain labels then so be it. But if labels dictate certain actions of mine, then I would find that to be a problem. Jace and I still share a bed and not because I'm AP, it's because we've been doing it since forever ago. Would I like him to be in his own bed? Yes. But I know it's comforting for him now and I don't want to disrupt that.

Joined: 03/14/09
Posts: 624

"Spacers" wrote:

Well, that mom obviously is NOT following Attachment Parenting

Why do you get to decide? Maybe the child would sleep worse by himself/herself?

I think it is up to every family to decide what to do themselves. If they want support and it's something I know, I'll give it. But I have no desire to say somebody isn't following the right rules.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 274

I don't think that is what she meant. She meant the core tenets of AP do not encourage those actions. She's not deciding the "movement" is.

boilermaker's picture
Joined: 08/21/02
Posts: 1984

I think that picture is getting a lot of reaction-- which was the goal. And personally, I'd rather see that pic than the trashy boobs on most celebrity gossip publications.

Like others, I do some things that fall under the AP umbrella, but many things that do not. They simply didn't work for our family our our child-- not to mention that I'm a WOHM parent, so I could hardly be "attached" to my kids all of the time while I'm traveling across the country. And we only co-sleep in the early months bc it disrupts MY sleep and my relationship with my dh...... Selfish? Maybe, but I believe that a functioning mama and happy parents are a better formula for happy kids than some prescribed method from Dr. Sears.

I never intended to be an "extended breastfeeder", but ended up only recently weaning our dd. I'd successfully weaned 3 other kidlets with no trouble, but she just was really really attached to it....and it took us a while (and she still asks to eat *sigh*) I think most parents fall into a pattern that works for them, so tie themselves to a label but most of us fall somewhere in between....

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

I think this opinion piece makes some good points, is she doing it for her child or herself?

In short, it is not at all clear who is the “parent” in the Time magazine photograph. Is Grumet responding to real and healthy needs emanating from her son’s psyche, or is he responding to her potentially outsized needs to be the center of attention and the object of desire (if only for warmth). Who, we can legitimately ask, is feeding whom?

See, Grumet loves being photographed. And she apparently loves having her son breastfeed. And she loves attention. And she’s happy enough to get naked in front of other people (which there may be nothing wrong with—for her). But that may or may not be the case for her 3-year-old boy, which seems not to have mattered to her—at all. And if his will was bent to hers in order to have him suck his mother’s nipple in front of a photographer and makeup artist and art director and all of America, then it stands to reason that his will may be being bent to hers in all sorts of ways—including protracted breastfeeding.

The truth is that what Time magazine may have unwittingly captured and been party to was a grotesque form of psychological abuse—the parading into public of an intimate moment (intimate for mother and child) at the sole direction of that child’s mother, who didn’t stop to think that her child may not be able at the age of three to know what he thinks about the whole thing, much less to stop it, if he wanted to.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/05/11/time-magazine-cover-forget-breast-what-about-boy/#ixzz1uZevBNQ2

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

I completely disagree with that article. Having had babies who self weaned, I would say it is impossible to force an infant - and even more so a child - to breastfeed. The picture is weird and awkward, but there are other pictures in the magazine (even of that same mom) which are much more natural looking and peaceful.

Undoubtedly some parenting practices are more for the parent, but I don't think breastfeeding is one of them. Not to say mom doesn't enjoy it, I just don't think it is a relationship that can be forced.

ETA. I also read the interview with that mom and she herself was bf until she was 6...

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I think this opinion piece makes some good points, is she doing it for her child or herself?

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/05/11/time-magazine-cover-forget-breast-what-about-boy/#ixzz1uZevBNQ2

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I think this opinion piece makes some good points, is she doing it for her child or herself?

I can't answer for the woman in the photo, perhaps she *does* have issues and letting her child nurse in public like that gives her some sort of weird satisfaction. Maybe it does, or maybe she just wanted to be part of the debate about A/P and would never do that "in real life." If you were to ask me, am I doing it for myself or my child? Both. I still crave that closeness with my little guy who is growing up far too fast, and it sure makes bedtime so much easier for me. And even though Weston is close to three, he is still in that grey area of not quite being a big kid and kind of missing not being a baby; nursing is something he still really enjoys, the comfort, the closeness, and the sleepiness. It's nice for both of us after me having a long day away from my kids and him being a busy big kid all day, to slow down & relax together at the end of the day. This is what works for us, this is our good family balance, and I would never tell anyone they need to do the same thing or should do it this way.

And extended nursing is not one of the principles of Attachment Parenting anyway, so I don't know why this is always the biggest debate issue about it.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3312

And extended nursing is not one of the principles of Attachment Parenting anyway, so I don't know why this is always the biggest debate issue about it.

Wouldn't child lead weaning be considered a very attachment parenting oriented decision? I'm not stating it as fact because i honestly don't know, all i've learned about AP has been in these forums here and elsewhere. I would think child lead weaning would increase the liklihood of extended breastfeeding. Not saying its a must to partake in it, just that the practices increase the liklihood of it.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"KimPossible" wrote:

Wouldn't child lead weaning be considered a very attachment parenting oriented decision? I'm not stating it as fact because i honestly don't know, all i've learned about AP has been in these forums here and elsewhere. I would think child lead weaning would increase the liklihood of extended breastfeeding. Not saying its a must to partake in it, just that the practices increase the liklihood of it.

Child-led weaning isn't a principle of A/P. Weaning should be, as breastfeeding should be, a joint decision between mother & child. If the mother is ready to be done, then she should introduce weaning in a gentle & respectful way. Or, as in my case, I set limits on when & where the nursing can be done so that I'm comfortable with continuing it as long as my children need & want to do it. If a child is ready to be done, the mother should respect that and offer her comfort in other ways. It all boils down in Principle #8: Maintain balance in family life.

ETA: Trying to clarify. Principle #2 is "Breastfeed as long as mutually desired." That doesn't say you *have* to breastfeed your toddler or that you won't be considered A/P if you wean your child. It says to do it as long as it's working for both mom & baby. It's not a requirement that you have to do to be A/P. Hope that makes sense.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3312

"Spacers" wrote:

Child-led weaning isn't a principle of A/P. Weaning should be, as breastfeeding should be, a joint decision between mother & child. If the mother is ready to be done, then she should introduce weaning in a gentle & respectful way. Or, as in my case, I set limits on when & where the nursing can be done so that I'm comfortable with continuing it as long as my children need & want to do it. If a child is ready to be done, the mother should respect that and offer her comfort in other ways. It all boils down in Principle #8: Maintain balance in family life.

I think this is all dependent on how the individual interprets the importance of this principle number 8 in comparison to others. I think there is definitely a huge emphasis on breastfeeding in general in the AP community and according tot he list of prinicpals i could see how it would easily be interpreted as the child's choice as long as you can 'handle it'

Maybe you are good at ultimately letting principle #8 prevail, but like the original question states...i think its very easy to pressure ones self to go to an extreme. The pressure is there IMO...to not let balance prevail. Perhaps that wasn't the intent of Dr. Sears or any other founding fathers of this ideal...but i think the community as a whole has many who put pressure to toss '#8' out the window....or at least not interpret it the way you have here.

Anyway to the original question in the debate. While i don't think all believers in AP are extreme, i definitely think that the model as a whole can easily lead people to become extreme, or just downright miserable. Especially if they are not confident in their own abilities to make their own choices.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"KimPossible" wrote:

i definitely think that the model as a whole can easily lead people to become extreme, or just downright miserable

I have never really heard much about AP. I do not think I know of anyone well in real life that has done this (or at least goes by this name), but from what I am gathering by the replies, Miserable is what I would be. Every now and then I need my space and so do my kids.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"KimPossible" wrote:

While i don't think all believers in AP are extreme, i definitely think that the model as a whole can easily lead people to become extreme, or just downright miserable. Especially if they are not confident in their own abilities to make their own choices.

Yep, well stated. I think that AP'ing a little baby is easy, in fact, not "AP"ing a little baby is pretty unnatural, IMO. Most people want to hold their babies a lot, most try to nurse, and babywearing or cosleeping are simply convenient, not wildly innovative or alternative choices. I see many happy mothers of little AP babies. I see many miserable, sleepless, hapless mothers of unscheduled, undisciplined and miserable tired toddlers or older kids as they have no idea how to apply the "principles" of AP to older children and to real life. Especially so as more than one child enters the picture and shiz gets real.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

Everything every mother does can fit some kind of newly created parenting model. If you CD you're crunchy, if you babywear or cosleep you're AP. I'm definitely neither crunch even though I did CD, and I would never say I did AP just because I coslept for a while. I coslept to save my sanity and I CDed to save money and I BFed for sheer convenience.