My first introduction to parents who practiced Attachment Parenting was when I was six months pregnant. Yancy’s best friend from elementary school, Erik, and his wife invited us to dinner immediately after hearing our pregnancy announcement. They had a two year old son and a nine month old daughter.
“Erik said they really wanted to talk to us about attachment parenting.” Yancy informed me on the drive there. “I guess it’s pretty important. He said they’ve even lost friends over it.”
They had lost friends over it? How does that happen? When we arrived, I immediately felt a bit awkward and as if we were a part of some type of intervention before we had even started parenting. I was more excited to hear what Stef had to tell me about pregnancy and delivery, but I figured I’d tolerate the parenting talk as long as I got to hear about labor eventually.
The first thing I noticed was that Stef didn’t put her nine month old daughter down. She carried her at all times and was constantly breastfeeding. It seemed like every ten minutes she was pulling out her breast and popping her daughter on. I was quite amused by it because Yancy was so clearly uncomfortable and trying to hid his discomfort as his best friend’s wife sat across from him with her breasts hanging out. If he could blush, his cheeks would have been bright red.
We spent the next few hours being regaled with the fundamentals of attachment parenting and listening to how crucial it was for our unborn baby’s development. We didn’t get to talk. We just sat on the couch nodding our heads. Stef went on and on about how breastfeeding must always be done on demand, our baby needed to sleep with us in order to feel safe, whenever the baby cried we must tend to it immediately, and the only form of discipline to be used was positive. By the end of it, I was half expecting her to pull out a contract and ask me to sign on the dotted line.
I hope I made it clear yesterday that I don’t have a problem with Attachment Parenting (AP) in and of itself. Secure attachment is a really important goal of parenting and however you establish that connection is perfectly fine with me. But I do have some issues.
One of my issues with Attachment Parenting is how the parents who practice it behave about it. Let me be clear before I start getting attacked that there is nothing wrong with the parents as people or as parents. It’s just that every AP parent I’ve met is militant and up in arms about it. They draw a divisive line between themselves as parents and other parents who aren’t so religiously aligned with AP principles. I’ve got to be honest, it freaks me out a bit.
They remind me of Jehovah’s Witnesses except instead of leading with “Do you believe there can be heaven on earth” they lead with “Do you believe in co-sleeping?” I just always end up feeling like I’m being converted and I’m not really the conversion type.
My favorite sling from the early days.