I’m Mom Enough Not to Be an Attachment Parent
I’m home on my couch, in sweats, with my chest covered in bandages and a skin tight sports bra, following my lumpectomy for a precancerous breast mass yesterday. I had planned on leaving my computer off and relaxing with an icepack all day, but after I saw the Today Show this morning, I had to fire it up and blog. The segment with Dr. William Sears, 72, and Jamie Grumet, 26, who was photographed nursing her three-year-old son Aram on the cover of TIME magazine, totally pissed me off.
To be clear, I’m not riled up that Grumet is nursing a preschooler. I agreed with Charlotte when she told Violet on Private Practice two seasons ago that, “What you want to do with your boobs is your business.” (See the latest post on Love & Diapers for more perspective from a breastfeeding mom.) If Grumet, who was breastfed until she was six-years-old, thinks that nursing her older son is the way to go, so be it. I momentarily fantasized about nursing my 20-month-old when I learned that I was still producing breastmilk, but it’s just not my style.
What irritates me is the notion that moms who practice attachment parenting, in which they carry a child in a sling everywhere they go, breastfeed into toddlerhood, share their bed with their child, and attend to their child’s every cry–are somehow better than moms who don’t (as suggested by the headline on the magazine’s cover, “Are You Mom Enough?). And that kids who are parented in this way are somehow superior. Dr. Sears, who pioneered this extreme style of parenting, even goes so far as to suggest that attachment parenting prevents bullying.
“I’ve never yet seen an attachment-parented baby who’s become a school bully,” he said on the Today Show. “If you were on an island, and you had no mother-in-laws, no psychologists, no doctors around, no experts, this is what you would naturally and instinctively do…”
The bully statement is impossible for him to prove. In fact, one of his former patients just might be a bully now. I imagine that he’s seen thousands of patients in his career given his age, and I can’t believe that he’s followed every single one into adulthood.
And the island comment? I just don’t buy it. If we lived on an island, I wouldn’t haul Mason around in a sling all day–I’d encourage him to explore our surroundings and learn. I’d make every effort to protect him against dangers, just like we do at home by baby-proofing our apartment, but I’d want him to develop independence and curiosity, not cling to me all day. Part of being a healthy, happy person is being self-reliant, which he can’t learn if I do everything for him. The ultimate goal of parenting, I think, is to foster independence and instill an understanding in your child that you’ll be there for him, no matter what.
I also agree with psychotherapist Robi Ludwig’s take on attachment parenting, which she shared as part of the segment. “When you give a child the feeling that the whole world revolves around them, it’s not good training for the real world,” she said. “The whole world doesn’t revolve around anybody.”
Since I’ve become a mom, I’ve tried to be less judgmental, and I think I’ve succeeded in some ways. But there are certain issues that I can’t be neutral on–and this is one of them. Are you pro-attachment parenting, or against it? Share your thoughts here.