Kooky. Fringe. Unhealthy. Enslaving. Controversial. These are just a few of the terms I have heard this week to describe Attachment Parenting.
All of this in the wake of Mayim Bialik's new book, "Beyond the Sling: A real life guide to raising confident, loving children the Attachment Parenting way." being released.
Mayim tackles and explores the many aspects of attachment parenting in her book, including babywearing, baby-led weaning, elimination communication and co-sleeping.
I went to Chapter's earlier this week to see if I could get my hands on the book, but they had not received their shipment yet. :(
I am really looking forward to reading this book. I think that Mayim has a lot to offer the parenting world and not just the 'kooky' attachment parenting world. I mean, the woman does have a PhD in neuroscience and did her thesis on the properties of human attachment, outside of her own experiences as a parent, I think this gives her some definite cred in this regard.
What is getting me all hot and bothered about this though is that all the conversations, articles and interviews on this topic are treating these attachment parenting options as some kind of weird and crazy way to parent. Words like DIVISIVE and UNHEALTHY are being bandied around and people seem to be of the opinion that in attachment parenting, we are literally ATTACHED to our kids at all times.
I think what I have decided this week is that I really dislike the terminology being used here. If the attachment parenting style is a fringe style of parenting is the opposite of it, the so-called mainstream style, then DE-tached parenting? If you do not see yourself at an AP parent, would you want this detached moniker be the one that describes you and the way that you parent? I know I sure wouldn't, the implications just seem way too severe. As I believe they are at the other extreme too.
Because seriously mamas, how many of you have NEVER, EVER, slept with your child? If you have, guess what? You were co-sleeping! Anyone ever carry your baby in ANY kind of baby carrier? Baby Bjorn, Snugli, frame backpack, sling? That's right, you were babywearing! How many of you tell me or tell others that your baby decided he just didn't want to nurse anymore at 8 months or 10 months or 14 months? That kind of sounds like baby-led weaning to me, but I am no expert.
Now I completely understand that some things in the attachment parenting continuum may seem extreme to some, but in the grand scheme of things, maybe not so much. The resurgence of cloth diapering and subsequently elimination communication (babies peeing and pooping on a potty with the help of mommy/daddy) is not just for the 'hippies' anymore. Plenty of "mainstream" mamas are looking at cloth as a better alternative not only for their babies bottoms, but also for the environment. And to be perfectly frank, the leap from cloth diapering to EC is not that big a jump. And trust me, it can be a lot easier to get a 9 month old to sit still on the potty than to convince a kid after three years of pooping in one place to all of a sudden start doing so in another!
Breastfeeding is a whole other beast of a topic on its own, but the more we learn about breast milk and yes, formula too, the more information we have to make the decision that is right for our family and ourselves.
I am in no way telling you that AP is the way to go and that "my" way is the right way here. I mean really, this IS parenting after all and we all have to find a way to do it, enjoy it and yes, even survive it some days! But, what I do want to say is this. Parenting (or heck, LIFE for that matter) cannot be accomplished by trying to fit in a box of someone else's choosing. And parents, mamas especially, you really shouldn't live your lives being defined by how you do or do not do things or feel ashamed of any of your choices.
I mean if Beyonce can babywear and breastfeed Baby Blue (in public no less) and one of the queens of the blogosphere, the wonderful Pioneer Woman herself, is a homeschooler, the principles of attachment parenting can't really be all that 'fringe'. Can they?
Don't be the mama whose "secret" weapon to getting her kid to sleep is actually co-sleeping. Just do what you have to do. So what if you have a baby who needs to be held constantly? Find a good comfortable baby carrier and carry and hold your baby and do what you need to do to keep both of you happy (and NO, you will not spoil your baby). So you want to try out cloth diapering but still use disposable diapers some of the time, go right ahead! There is no need to feel ashamed of your choices and there is no need to EXPLAIN any of them to anyone.
A smile and a 'thank you for your opinion', a la Mayim will suffice and then you can go on your merry parenting way.
The best way that you see fit for you and your family!
Much Mama Love to all of you,
P.S. I promise a full review of Mayim's book, "Beyond the Sling", as soon as I get my kookie AP hands on it!