How I reacted to attachment parenting on the Today show

Friday, May 11, 2012
I logged in to Facebook this morning and immediately saw a status update from one of my best friends..

" Attachment parenting on the Today show now.. "

Unfortunately I'm at work, and the status was posted an hour prior to when I saw it. Though I had a feeling what they would be talking about, with the most recent cover of Time magazine that just came out, and their article on attachment parenting. I went and commented on how I missed the show, but that I hadn't heard great things about the magazine coverage and that a fellow blogger that I read was in the spread! Then I noticed a comment on my friends status...

"I'm all for breast feeding but at 3 years old?!, there are better ways to form a strong bond with your child."

Immediately, I knew I had something to say. I thought about my words, and chose them carefully. I couldn't NOT respond, because I felt there was an opportunity to share the information I've gathered as well as my own opinion. I didn't want my comment to be seen negatively so I tried my best to be factual while stating my opinion in a non-pushy way...

"I don't see a problem with extended breast feeding personally. The average weaning age internationally is actually around 4 years old, so 3 is more than acceptable. Breast milk never loses it's benefits, after all it was specifically designed to nourish the child and continues to change with their needs. As long as the breast feeding relationship is positive I don't see an issue. Sure, there are other ways to bond with your child - but I enjoy the one on one time I get with my 17 month old son while we nurse. Also, I'm personally happy knowing that if my son gets a stomach bug or if for any other reason he is unable to hold down food, by still nursing him I can ensure that he will receive enough nutrients to keep him strong, he will continue to receive the antibodies I'm building up against illness, and he will be less likely to dehydrate while sick as long as he nurses. We will continue to maintain a breastfeeding relationship for as long as it remains positive and my son decides to self wean. That could be tomorrow or two years from now and either way is okay for our family. Everyone has their own opinion of course, and different things work well for different families. To each their own :-)"


How do you think I handled it? Not bad right? At least I hope.

Soon after posting that reply it occurred to me I might be asking for trouble - or causing drama on my friends page. So I started worrying, and mentally preparing a private message or text to her apologizing for causing problems... Instead I get a notification that she (my friend) commented on her status as well. It reads...

"‎Samantha - do a blog on this TODAY!"

Haha! I should have known! Nicole is my own personal cheerleader when it comes to my blog. In fact, she just finished organizing a planner for me - complete with blog topic suggestions and reminders to actually blog. I should have known that would be her response! And so... here I am. Blogging about it.

...and still mentally preparing the apology that may be necessary for causing trouble on her page, just in case...

I located the piece on Attachment Parenting by the Today Show. You can watch it here ---> http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/47385461#47385461

Once I started watching I had so many internal comments I had to pause, pull up my blog page, and prepare to take notes. So, lets begin this together...

Note: The quotes I provide were pulled right off the transcript provided by the video clip


I do agree that attachment parenting can seem overwhelming before you get started - or if you are an outsider looking in. However, for me most of it just seems like the natural, easy, and right thing to do. I'm still learning as I go, and I certainly am not an expert on attachment parenting. Not even close. In fact, while I was pregnant I claimed I would never put my baby in bed with me. Umm, yeah I changed my mind. At 17 months old, he has been sleeping with us since month 1.

I do not agree that attachment parenting is the new extreme in raising a baby - most likely because I do not see it as extreme at all, but I could understand how someone else might.

I do not agree that attachment parenting makes things more complicated <-- perhaps I miss understood her statement? If anything attachment parenting has made my life more simple. I wont get into that right now, this is specifically a discussion on the news coverage and how I feel about it. This particular snipit, really bugs me, they are referring to Dr. Sears

...his 1992 "the baby book" put a heavy emphasis on a mother devoting extraordinary time and energy to her baby. For some it raises a red flag.

Umm, what? I'm pretty sure nearly every mother, attachment parenting or not, puts extraordinary time and energy into her baby. That is her child. She is responsible for raising the baby. You can't just sit the baby in a corner and hope for the freaking best. You. Raise. The. Baby. You care for the baby. And raising and caring for a child is absolutely extraordinary, it absolutely takes a deep devotion of time, and energy. Regardless of the parenting style you feel you align with (or not).

The word training is mentioned in regard to 'training' the child for the real world. I just want to go on record here saying that I've come to dislike the word 'training' as it pertains to children. We teach, we encourage, we show, we suggest, we explain, we provide insight. We try to help them learn and grow, and in the process we do too.

The woman speaking at that point mentions it isn't good to let the child believe the whole world revolves around them, because the whole world doesn't revolve around anybody. And I agree. However,

you had better believe and understand just as my son does that MY whole world does revolve around him. And he can always expect that. As can any future children we may have. Can you not agree that your child(ren) are the center of your life?


I love that Dr. Sears repeatedly brings up balance. He is right - it (attachment parenting) is not extreme. If you balance your needs and your child's needs you will all be happy. All of life is about balance people!
I feel like the interviews went well. I could see how the reporter (Savannah?) was trying to stir up trouble (is that not her job? You can't fault her for it..) and that Dr. Sears, Jaime, and Jeffrey Kluger from Time Magazine handled the discussion and questions well.

There have been other comments on the Facebook status that I mentioned above, from a different person. The responses basically state that extended breastfeeding does not occur in Europe (ummm...) specifically in Poland. Also that responding to your child's every cry makes them a sissy. Also that the person 'tells the world how it is' and other people 'take things so personally'.


My responses...


#1
The international average as in taking the average year from each country, globally, and finding the most common age that weaning occurs. Now that I have explained it this way, the word 'average' is misleading, and for that I apologize. And there are plenty of women in European countries who breastfeed past the first year of life.

There is also a difference between responding to your child's needs and cries (attachment parenting) and doting on their every whim (permissive parenting). My son, while young, understands that he does not get everything he wants if that is what you are thinking responding to their cries means. As a mother who does practice many attachment parenting principals, when my son cries I respond to his cries differently, depending on what he needs. Because of my strong bond with him, it isn't hard to figure out. He doesn't have all of the language or understanding to express how he feels yet because he is still growing and learning what these feelings are. So, for example, if he throws a fit because I told him no I'm not going to walk away from him or expect him to stop screaming just because he is told to. I'm going to talk to him, and ask him to tell me what he needs. And even at just 17 months this works really well. And if he was told he can't have the remote and he tells me that is what he wants, he still doesn't get it. Instead I will provide him with an alternative and we will go from there.

Responding to his needs has not made him a sissy. I think Nicole can vouche for that ;-) as she babysit my son during the week. I also do not believe it will make him one. Being a 'sissy' also wont make me love him any less or treat him any differently - it will only mean I have to help him cope and understand the world around him, which it is my job as his mother to do anyways, regardless of my parenting style choice. I understand you (and many others) may have a different opinion on all of this, and I respect that.

I actually found this blog post about an hour ago that helps to explain attachment parenting to someone who doesn't quite know or really understand what it is. I hope that anyone who is curious will read it.
http://thegoodletdown.blogspot.com/2011/03/guide-to-understanding-attachment.html"

There are so many other things I would like to point out - about how Dr. Sears specifically mentions that he has yet to meet an attachment parent with a child who is a school bully. Which is great! But does this person believe that anyone who is not a bully is a sissy? It is hard to say. I would hope not. I hope to raise my child with balance and that he will be confident enough in himself that he neither feel the need to bully others or take abuse from someone else.

#2

I am glad that you feel that your child is growing and handling the world so well. I truly am, and I hope that your relationship with her continues to go as well as you want and that she flourishes in every way.

You are right, the numbers show that in Poland the number of women breastfeeding for the first 6 months continuing to breastfeed past 6 months is 10%. However, In other countries in Europe such as Sweden, at 53%, Norway at 50%, it is most likely more common. I realize that is just 'after 6 months' and does not specifically mention toddlers, but I can see where you are coming from as far as this 'not being the norm'. (numbers from kellymom.com who sites a reputable study) I know there are women I interact with on a daily basis outside of the United States that are breast feeding toddlers, so it does happen. Can I say specifically in Poland? No, but I can't say it absolutely does not happen either.

Just because something isn't the societal norm doesn't make it bad.

I have the right to make a decision on how I should best care for my child. Based on my child's needs, and the way I feel I should respond to him. Just as you have a right and the ability to raise your child differently. Does that make your child better than mine, or mine better than yours? Absolutely not. Does that make you a better parent, or me a better parent? Not in my opinion. It just means we have made different choices. I assume we are all after the same thing in raising our children. We want the to grow well, to prosper, to be caring, successful, and above all happy. However you feel is best to get your baby to that place, so be it. Different people make different choices and I'll stand behind that every time.

Because I respond to my sons every cry does not mean that he will need to hold my hand through all of life. In fact he is already quite independent for his age. He doesn't always need me. He doesn't even always want me. But every time he cries, I respond appropriately in a way that will encourage him to learn and understand him self and the world around him. I don't walk behind him constantly kissing his boo-boos, covering him in bubble wrap, or preventing him from truly experiencing the world around him. He is caring while strong. He is opinionated (already, yeesh!) and very much his own person, but loves to spend time with other people getting cuddles and hugs and kisses, or dancing like a fool. He is so happy and well rounded and generally a delightful little guy to be around, there is nothing anyone could say to me that would lead me to believe I am doing something wrong. Just as I would assume you feel the same about how you raise your child.

And so you know, I am not taking this discussion personally. I find this to be a healthy debate!





I'm sure I'll continue to have other interactions throughout the day, be on this particular post or others, regarding this issue.

Has anyone been questioning (or even attacking) your parenting principles lately?


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