Study: Feminists More Likely to Support ‘Attachment Parenting’

Attachment parenting, the parenting philosophy that captured national attention when a controversial Time magazine cover sparked debate, has the support of a high number of self-identified feminists, a new study published in the journal Sex Roles has found.

The study asked mothers and non-mothers–who either did or did not identify themselves as feminists–to rate their level of support of a number of parenting principles, including the length of time children should be breastfed (from not at all to more than 18 months), whether mothers should carry their children in slings or arms as often as possible, and whether parents should co-sleep with their children.

On all of those measures, feminist mothers were most likely to support attachment parenting principles, with non-feminist mothers right behind them, and non-feminist non-mothers the least likely to support the principles.

The findings are intertwined with the perennial question of how to define feminism.  The study’s authors, psychologists Miriam Liss and Mindy J. Erchull, write that the self-identified feminists in the study “saw themselves as somewhat atypical feminists who were more interested in attachment parenting than they thought was typical of feminists.”

An analysis from BuzzFeed.com said that Liss and Erchull also found that non-feminist mothers were most likely to believe that the principles of attachment parenting are incompatible with feminism:

Despite finding that feminist moms were more likely to subscribe to attachment-parenting philosophies, the study authors found that non-feminists, especially non-feminist moms, still believed the opposite: that feminism meant you weren’t interested in things like co-sleeping or carrying your baby in a sling. Liss and Erchull wrote, “these stereotypes are consistent with the image of a feminist woman as being less invested in her children and family, perhaps because she is more invested in aspects of her life outside of the home.”

Image: Baby in a sling, via Shutterstock

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