Is Attachment Parenting Newsworthy?

Friday, May 11, 2012

I've been away from the screen for much of this week, and it was a blog commenter who directed me to the current Time Magazine cover story about Attachment Parenting. (Thanks, Jill!)

The article, which discusses the tenets of Attachment Parenting, explains that this parenting "philosophy has shifted mainstream American parenting toward a style that's more about parental devotion and sacrifice than about raising self-sufficient kids."  It also asserts that Attachment Parenting is a "demanding brand of child-rearing" that "has ignited a philosophical battle that rages within the parenting community."

What always strikes me with articles such as these is the question: why is this news?  How can it be that practices that are as common as breathing in the majority of the world--and in our own not-so-distant American past--become headline news and grounds for mommy wars?

Like many of you, I stumbled upon the label of "Attachment Parenting" when I was well into the process of "following" its ideals with my first-born.  I didn't deliberately decide that I would be an Attached Parent; I simply followed my powerful mothering instincts and realized that it made much more sense to me, and helped me to parent more peacefully, when I breastfed on-demand, co-slept, wore my baby in a sling, responded lovingly to her needs, and so on.  And this is how it goes in much of the world.

What is presented as so new, trendy, and odd here in America-- things like natural, non-interventive birth and breastfeeding into toddlerhood and beyond--are among the most ordinary of mothering practices elsewhere.

I suppose it's possible that some parents are following Attachment Parenting practices to make a point or follow a script of parenting guidelines, but my guess is that most mothers and fathers gravitate toward Attachment Parenting because it feels right, natural, time-honored.  For me, Attachment Parenting is about listening to and trusting my powerful mothering instincts, tapping into the maternal wisdom that has been relied upon for millennia to raise our children.  It's not about labels.  It's about parenting naturally, instinctually, the way it's always been done and continues to be practiced the world-over.  It's old news.


  1. Hey Kerry,
    I haven’t checked out the blog lately but read this news and figured you might blog about it and had to comment. I have to say, this cover of Time really makes a mockery of attachment parenting. I think if someone is going to breastfeed their child until they are 3, I highly doubt that they have her/him step on a stool to do it. It’s probably a more normal setting, like cuddling and stuff. This picture makes it seems weird and abnormal, which in today’s society is what we think, so this pic just exacerbates these feeling. I think if attachment parenting advocates want to have a voice then they should promote this style in a more realistic, healthy, and natural way. I don’t practice attachment parenting, but I do believe in equality. jill

    1. Jill, you make such great points! On the one hand, I really like to see photos of women breastfeeding because I think it helps to normalize, and de-sexualize, the practice, but I completely agree with you that the cover photo sensationalized the process. The other photos in the shoot were more "natural" I thought. Interestingly, the overall article is really about Dr. Sears and the principles of AP, so the cover photo was clearly intended to get a rise and sell magazines. Not that I think that is bad, but I do agree it may undermine the "naturalness" claim of AP a bit.

  2. I've seen the cover but have not read the article. That didn't stop me from blogging about it myself, since the cover is divisive enough. It's just plain wrong that they say attachment parenting does not promote self-sufficiency in kids! They're fueling the 'mommy wars' and preying on new parent insecurities to sell more magazines.

    Thanks for reminding us to follow our instincts, no matter what style of parenting we choose.

  3. Great post Kerry! I love your take that attachment parenting isn't "news." I haven't read the article, but I agree with your other readers - the cover is clearly intended to sell magazines. I'll be interested to read the article though, because I don't agree with what the title infers, that if you don't practice AP you are not "mom enough"...and I doubt that you or other AP moms would agree that I'm less of a mom if I'm not an Attached Parent.

  4. I totally agree! I'm sure the only reason Time blew things out of proportion and made it controversial was to make themselves more money.

  5. I loved how the article uses the word 'mainstream' as a neutral adjective to describe what they imagine to be 'normal' parenting. In my house, the word 'mainstream' is an insult, intended to describe people who don't think for themselves and have given their power away in favour of conformity and not rocking the boat. To count myself among non-mainstream parents is a choice I take very seriously and I offer my support to any one who chooses to make the very best parenting decisions they can, using their full consciousness and enlightenment. It is not about breastfeeding. It's about relationships, authenticity, empowerment and future of our planet and our species.