When I read this article The 10 Problems with Attachment Parenting, posted by The Parenting Junkie I immediately knew what my next blog post would be about. Not that there’s any lack of material on the subjects this blog focuses, my problem is lack of time to write it all, as I’m busy with my kids most of the time. Anyway, the article is written by someone with seemingly only a superficial knowledge of what AP is about because it goes on and on about whether breast feeding, co-sleeping and baby wearing are necessary for a bond with your baby. They’re not. Dr Sears himself writes: “Parenting is too individual and baby too complex for there to be only one way. The important point is to get connected to your baby, and the baby B’s of attachment parenting help. Once connected, stick with what is working and modify what is not. You will ultimately develop your own parenting style that helps parent and baby find a way to fit – the little word that so economically describes the relationship between parent and baby.” (Emphasis mine).
However, as this is a feminist blog first, lets start with the most obvious point that needs countering, that it’s anti-feminist.
“Number 9. Its Anti-Feminist”:
Advocates of AP believe that the best way to parent is for the mother to be in constant contact with her baby. That means being a stay-home mum. But for many women, this is not possible. Most women have to work to put bread on the table, and promoting 24/7 contact as being best for your baby demonizes and guilt trips mothers who are unable to do so.
Firstly, is the author claiming that AP is anti-feminist or too difficult for poor people to practice? The heading says anti-feminist but then it goes on to say that most women have to work. Women who have to work aren’t doing so for feminism. They are working to feed and house their families. Most (by choice) stay at home mothers are middle class with the resources to do so. The rest are women who need to work but can’t find a job.
Feminists like this author are the same people who get angry at women who can stay home and do because that’s anti feminist too. So, just being with your kids a lot is anti-feminist, I guess. But wait, I thought feminism was simply “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Can we see why so few women identify with feminism? Its not the definition; the definition is great! Its the application. The idea that
women need anyone needs to work outside the home in order to have value is not feminist, it’s neoliberal, and those of us who disagree can and should still identify as feminist.
Back to AP shaming and guilting women who have to work, as I said to The Parenting Junkie on Facebook the other day: I’m really unhappy with this fairly trendy idea that promoting a style or philosophy is “shaming” or “guilting” people who don’t follow it. Some people bedshare and some don’t. If you feel guilty for the way you choose to do something maybe you’re doing the wrong thing. I can just as easily say I feel shamed for choosing to bedshare, or breast feed for longer than “normal” or home school. Instead I own my decisions and accept the fact that everyone does what they think is right. You can barely speak anymore, in case someone feels a bit sad about what you said. I don’t think we should pander to that. I, for one, have opinions and everyone is welcome to disagree with them, but don’t tell me I’ve made you feel guilty. Emotions are meant to guide us in our decision making; they aren’t meant to be avoided at all costs.
Besides all that, it’s wrong. Attachment parenting is just as good for working parents as it is for stay at home parents. As explained in an excerpt from the book, Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child, “Working parents usually find that the basic attachment parenting tools, such as breastfeeding, babywearing, and a family bed can all play an invaluable part in maintaining and enhancing a healthy bond with their young children, even when their work day takes them away. And as a bonus, many working parents have found that the flexibility of attachment parenting can really simplify their very busy lives.”
The 10 Problems with Attachment Parenting post has so many issues that need correcting I can’t get through them all without an entire series of blog posts! Stay tuned for one on cry it out and another tying the whole thing up. Until then repeat after me, feminism is not neoliberalism…