In response to TIME
I don’t know about you, but my Facebook account has been going crazy over the Time Magazine front cover of a Little Nursing Person with his mom. Breastfeeding and Attachment Parenting aficionados were not very happy with the article itself, which apparently gave plenty of kudos to Dr. Sears for his Parenting Book, but did not go beyond his ideas. The roots of the Attachment Parenting movement go back to some of the brightest researchers of the twentieth century.
After World War II, there were many children without parents in Europe. The United Nations asked John Bowlby to study what was the best thing to do for these children. Should they go into mass institutions? Foster homes? What did they need to grow into healthy adults? (Fortunately they knew the answer would be more than just food and shelter.) You can read about Bowlby’s work, as well as Mary Ainsworth’s “Strange Situation” research and Harry Harlow’s pitiful monkey studies, Bowlby, Ainsworth and Harlow were the pioneers in attachment theory.
Their work and the style of parenting they came to advocate – along with Dr. Sears! – was very different from the cultural style of parenting in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This was the era of letting babies cry it out, fearing you would spoil them if you held them or responded to their needs. (A mom might be told, “Don’t pick him up! He’s manipulating you!”)
By the time the 1980’s rolled around we were becoming more responsive to baby’s needs. My own personal opinion is that La Leche League and the rise of breastfeeding really helped with that change. After all – you can overfeed a formula fed baby pretty easily (and the main way formula fed babies are quieted, is with a bottle of big-curd-producing formula that will make the baby feel full for a long time). Pacifiers were actually developed so that formula fed babies wouldn’t be overfed. Breastfed babies need meals more often, and they love all that cuddling. So do the moms!
There is no one right way to parent. We all need to follow our own hearts and find our own ways. But the critics should know that every bit of research we have shows that responsive, attachment-style parenting (and breastfeeding, which often accompanies it) builds kids who are more likely to be healthy, strong and smart – and grow up to love their families and be productive members of society.
By the way, one of my favorite interviews about the Time cover is Mayim Bialik’s interview on CNN.
Here’s a little song from the friend of a friend. Sing it to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas!
The Twelve Days of Attachment Parenting Christmas
On the first day of Christmas I said to family –
No, he isn’t weaned!
On the second day of Christmas I said to family,
We’re delaying solids and
No, he isn’t weaned!
On the third day of Christmas I said to family –
Yes he’s still in diapers,
We’re delaying solids,
And no! He isn’t weaned!
……On the twelfth day of Christmas I said to family –
No we still don’t spank him
Please don’t tell him “shut up”
We’ll consider homeschool
We’re researching vaccinations
He’s never had a bottle
The sling is very comfy
Formula is smelly
YES! He sleeps with ME!
Thanks we’re very happy
Yes he’s still in diapers
We’re delaying solids
NO! He IS NOT WEANED!!