Attachment Parenting – My Take

Recap: First, the Time Magazine cover of the woman breastfeeding her teenage son caused quite a stir (kidding! he was four. whatevs), then non-vaccinator Mayim Bialik – who has a book about attachment parenting – chimes in and then Alanis Morrisette says she’s going to B-feed her kid as long as he wants to and that keeps all the shit continually hitting the fan. Which means, of course, I must add my two cents – or fifty.

I’ll start by saying I hate the parenting debates. I have a 6 mo old and a 2 yo and if you love them, keep them clean, healthy and educated, you are doing a good job and fuck the haters. Whatever the attachment parents are, they are in no way bad parents and I support their unique efforts 1,000,000 percent.

breastfeeding

breastfeeding (Photo credit: sdminor81)

Also, just to get it off my chest (ha): breastfeeding. The American prudishness toward breastfeeding is near criminal. It is the ultimately best way to nourish your child. Scared of seeing a boob in a mouth of a baby? Seriously, go stick your head in an oven because you are worthless. Now, I wasn’t a big fan of breastfeeding and the mastitis that came with it. Anyone who breastfeeds at all should be applauded and not demonized – whether they are doing it in public or whether they choose to quit after a month (I’m, talking to you militant La Leche freaks). Breastfeeding is a personal choice and nobody else’s bidness. Of course, if you’re reading a Sassy Liberal blog, you probably already agree with me. So, you’re awesome.

But this whole obsession with psycho-babble, seriously annoying How To Raise Your Kid bazillion dollar book industry is something I. Am. So. Over. If I was ever on it. And I wasn’t.

First of all, psychiatrists measure a parenting strategy by observing the child’s behavior/mood/productivity, etc. Rarely, do you see these strategies measured by how productive/happy, etc. an adult they became. Which IS THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT.

Parenting is about one thing: preparing children for adulthood. It isn’t making sure your kids live Leave It To Beaver or Lassie or any of those other black-and-white, throw-up-a-little-in-your-mouth sitcoms from the fifties.

They are going to face a harsh, mean world where stupid people don’t vaccinate their kids, throwing off the whole community immunity protection, putting us all at risk. They will have evil bosses and harsh lessons in financial management and learn why binge drinking probably isn’t the greatest idea. Traumas will occur. Misery may darken their doorstep. And challenges will present themselves.

There is nothing wrong with this. It is called life. And if your children are raised with appropriate coping mechanisms, hopefully, they will be able to deal with the valleys that separate the hills of joy.

An attachment parent wants to be like that mom in the new Capri Sun commercial who wants to help her son at every turn. They want to soften the harsh corners and dull the pointy moments. They want to soothe the anger and speak in soft tones and reason with their children.

Children, however, need to face challenges so they can develop coping skills. If they never have to put themselves to sleep or face mom-induced weanings or behave in a public place, they will not learn appropriate behavior or how to deal with unpleasant, even harsh situations. In my learned (not) opinion, the lack of coping mechanisms is partially responsible for unhealthy addiction, OCD, eating disorders, anger management issues and on and on and on.

The brain does not finish developing until a person is 25. They will not have reached ultimate reasoning capability until they are more than a quarter through with their lives. And parents these days want to talk their children to death about why they shouldn’t hit their brother when the child has no cognitive ability to grasp the concept.

Which is why we have punishments. Bad consequences for bad actions/tone/attitude, good consequences for good behavior and consistency. Those are the main tenants of good parenting. End of story. Where’s my million bucks for this shocking revelation?

An attachment parent softens the bad consequences and tries to use alternative approaches to bad behavior that lessen the guilt and unpleasantness for the parent. And I admittedly did not read the Time article, the Bialik book or the Alanis blog. I can’t read anything on parenting strategy without wanting to hurl and spank my kids. But, when I skimmed a little, it seemed they believe pretty much the exact opposite of what I think. They think their presence and soft guidance will give their child a sense of strength through assurance that their parent is there to help them always. They don’t ever feel abandoned or lonely.

I think parents need to take a step back, let their child win and lose, succeed and fail and learn (with parental guidance) how to face the world as it is and not how we wish it to be. Children are not delicate flowers and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Again, attachment parents still are awesome. I bet none of them have obese kids. And that counts.

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