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Monday, May 14, 2012

Is Parenting Out Of Control?

(Courtesy Time magazine)

The Time magazine cover showing a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old has captured the attention of everyone from parent bloggers to Saturday Night Live.

But what has gone unnoticed is the serious discussion inside the magazine, on “attachment parenting,” and its biggest champions, Dr. William Sears and his wife Martha.

They wrote “The Baby Book” 20 years ago, and as Time magazine reports, attachment parenting has grown so much in popularity that it has shifted mainstream ideas from raising self-sufficient kids to a style that’s more about parental devotion and sacrifice.

The science is still out over whether that’s better for the kids, but researcher Margaret Nelson also wonders how it impacts parents.

Do you practice attachment parenting? Tell us why or why not in our comments section or at Facebook.com/hereandnowradio.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://twitter.com/Rojobahr Rojobahr

    The cover of this Time magazine is regrettable – and not because it promotes attachment parenting.
    It is divisive. 
    At a time when most Moms are already defensive about how they have chosen to raise their children, Time has added salt to the wound by using the words “Are You Mom Enough?” A title designed to pit parenting style against parenting style, Mom against Mom, at a time when we all should be trying to be more SUPPORTIVE of each other and our parenting choices. After all, we all love our children and do the best we can – what more can a Mom do?
    In addition, the Mom chosen to grace the cover is NOT typical of Moms, in general. Even though she is NOT a model, she looks like she could. Where is her baby tummy? In a time when all women are bombarded with images of what we are ‘supposed’ to look like, Time has chosen to add to the pressure by making us all feel like we must be in model shape and look like a goddess in order to be ‘good enough’. 
    All in all, I am not impressed with this cover of Time. If this was done to spark controversy, to sell more magazines, then I say ‘Shame!’ on Time. It is cynicism at it’s worst.

  • Beverly Mire

    The conversation should be about women who must breastfeed their “older” children because they don’t have money for food.

  • Chillhouse

    my mother’s parenting philosophy was to raise me to be independent. she wasn’t a big coddler, she stopped breastfeeding as soon as possible, she didn’t give in to whiney behavior, etc. I spent a lot of time on my own making things, reading, and being creative. i am grateful that she raised me to be on my own .. I am 50 now and have a very creative and fulfilling life. I enjoy being with people and also being alone. and I have done a lot in my life! it seems to me that this attachment parenting style would cause a person to be needy and that they might have a hard time being alone and independent. 

    • Cottonhelen

      Unfortunatley you misunderstand what attachment parent is. I co-slept and wore (in a sling) my oldest who is 8 tomorrow. By age 3/4 she was playing on her and using her imagination and still does, as does my youngest. My girls are very happy, independent, thoughtful, creative and smart – very smart.

      It’s unfortunate that we have to brand a style of parenting. Parents should be allowed to parent based on what is right for them and their child. No judgement from the outside should be a part of that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurel.b.costello Laurel Benchley Costello

    What an interesting social experiment. Parents in a sophisticated, first world country modeling child-rearing  practice on the most primitive societies. Will these children grow up to be fish out of water? Or will they be relaxed, self-confident happy productive people. We’ll know in 20 years!

    • one more mom

      actually, we already know, as shown in many comments here.

  • bowcot1

    I agree with Rojobahr–it’s hard enough being a parent and this attachment parenting vs. tiger moms vs. french parenting vs. ferber  just adds to the competitive aspect of “parenting” that’s warped so many of these things.  It’s ridiculous and it’s turning people into neurotics or fanatical adherents to one “ideology” of parenting or another.

  • Emilyjp03

    I am the mother of a 10 month old, and I nurse, as well. I have found that if I try and follow the recommendations of any parenting method and ignore my instincts, the outcome is always regrettable. When I listen to my body and trust myself, it makes for a happier baby and a happier me. No matter what kind of parenting technique one decides to follow, if a parent is severely stressed out, no one is happy. I think parents need to learn to trust their own judgment, and not be so quick to doubt their instincts.

  • Leslie Burg

    I would point out that “attachment parenting” is what poor African women do because they have to!

    Leslie Burg
    Newton Ma.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503889444 Corinne Colbert

    I concur on the ambivalence toward working mothers that persists in our culture, decades after women entered the workforce en masse. At my last job, I was told that the company offered flextime — and then was criticized repeatedly for using it to attend events at my children’s school. I was even told in a 360 review that I had an “overattachment” to my family! Interestingly, the managers giving me this feedback had no children.

    I also agree with Rojobahr — the Time cover was deliberately provocative and had less to do with news than it did with newsstand sales and generating controversy.  If someone wants to breastfeed her child until kindergarten, who are any of the rest of us to criticize? I quit reading parenting magazines and books quickly, because they made me feel inadequate. Parents (male and female) need to trust their instincts and turn to true experts on childrearing: Their own parents, grandparents and other family. The Searses et al. have no business telling the rest of us how to raise our children.

  • Leehatling

    My 24, 21, and 16 year old children were all raised with attachment parenting. When I was working I just did the best I could with it. I felt no need for hovering as they grew older because they were and are very secure and self assured. I believe their social competence is a direct result of attachment parenting.

  • PJ

    I believe the Time Magazine cover was shot and chosen to specifically incite controversy. In talking about the photo shoot, Martin Schoeller said, ““I liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation.”Read more: http://lightbox.time.com/2012/05/10/parenting/#ixzz1urXPibSp

    I usually love your show, but I thought the guest was uninformed on the topic and the segment did not provide much information. I was particularly annoyed by her claim that attachment parents or “helicopter parents” are less involved with community. She provided no information to support this argument.

    Although, I did not follow all ideas of attachment parenting (AP) when my children were infants, I am part of an AP play group and have been for five years. I find the women in this group to be heavily involved in the community – schools, church, civic organizations. We support each other as mothers. Helping with child care and meals when members are sick.

    What is lost in this argument about parenting styles is that most parents pick and chose what works for them and their children. No two parents or children are alike, so it is helpful to be able to learn about different parenting philosophies and try what works for you.

  • Maggie

    Before I had kids, I assumed something called “attachment parenting” couldn’t possibly be a good thing. However, behind the somewhat misleading name is the fact that this parenting style is really about trusting your own instincts about what is best for you and your child, rather than what society or parenting books say you should do. It isn’t about “coddling,” it’s about providing a secure, loving environment for the child. It really only applies to the youngest of children, and I would hazard a guess that a lot of people who attachment parent end up being the most hands-off as the kids get older because the children have been able to develop a secure sense of self. If done right, it should lead to MORE independent children later in life, not co-dependent children (of course, there are always people who use AP as an excuse to “helicopter,” but I don’t think it’s the majority). I breastfed my son to 15 months, “babywore” him and responded to him when he cried during the night, and he is now a very well-adjusted, independent and happy child.

  • Nicoleqx

    I don’t believe that Dr. Sears says any where in his book that you should wear your baby “all the time” or breastfeed your baby “all the time”.  Come on Lynn! Don’t be so dramatic.

  • Constance Palaia

    Yes, I did practice “attachment  parenting” although I didn’t know I was following any rules. I just thought I was parenting! My daughter nursed until she was almost six (and she didn’t need a chair to do it standing up).  She often slept with my husband and me. She never had to learn how to “self sooth” and was never left to cry herself to sleep.
    I was 44 when I had her and I feel so fortunate to have been able to  spend so much close time with her. That is what I wanted to do.
    She is now thirteen and is one of the kindest, smartest, most capable and compassionate people that I have ever known.

  • Spnewman

    I think we need to look at what Bolby
    was really talking about with attachment. The original theory referred to emotional attachment not physical attachment. Being with your child emotionally is better for children. I think the Sears just took the idea too far and missed the point of attachment.

  • Bcrocker2000

    It should be noted that throughout The Baby Book, Dr. Sears makes the point over & over that he realizes attachment parenting cannot be carried out to the fullest extent by everyone. He continuously says that all families and parents need to do what is right for them, and that you should take his advice and ideas and use them the best you can with how much time you have, the resources you have, etc…

  • NonnerDoIt

    One thing my (currently breastfeeding) wife both thought when the brouhaha over the Time cover came to our awareness is that this doesn’t do any good for what we think is a more important issue: acceptance of public breastfeeding.  This provacative cover makes breastfeeding seem, well, provacative.  Of course its not, but there’s far too many shocked looks associated with even discreet nursing in public.  If an infant is hungry and you’re on a bus, then by all means feed the little bugger right then and there.  It shouldn’t be worth a second glance from fellow travelers.

  • Ami

    I work for a nonprofit that works in communities with grave challenges–poverty, hunger, violence in the neighborhood. At the same time, we also work with highly stressed families in higher income categories. Our view and experience has been that the main issue is feeling state in the home, a parents’ connection to their own common sense & wisdom, their capacity for love. So the form of parenting is less relevant than state of mind. When parents do not enjoy their children & lives, children suffer. (Everyone does.) But we have found that parents can change their thinking & points of view, clear their minds and find a deeper space to parent from.

    –Ami Chen Mills-Naim, Ed. Director, Center for Sustainable Change.

  • Jessandnatew

    I disagree with the idea that attachment parenting evolves into “hellecopter” parenting or that it has to cause parent anxiety. I found the Sear’s book very comforting when I was pregnant with my first child because it instructed me to trust my instincts. That included picking up my baby when it was crying, and sleeping next to her, and now that my children are older it also includes trusting their abilities and not hovering over them. If anything, the Baby Book, helped me to give up parent anxiety and to just trust myself as a mom. 

  • homebuilding

    Yes, attachment is good, but progressive detachment after increased skills and knowledge (at every single developmental step) is essential.  Typically, it’s not even mentioned–I read the article word for word and found no mention.  Nelson is reacting to this major deficit. 

    The Time coverage included a piece on “Detached Dad’s Manifesto,” by Nathan Thornburgh.

    Discussions on topics of this nature often end up as ‘who is the best mother’ contests.
    In that case, most men chose ‘none of the above’ and concentrate on knowledge and skill building at very young ages–the sooner the kids can competenly drink a small amount from a cup, THE BETTER.

    Yes, snuggling of various kinds can continue for awhile (teats optional)…..

    with hugs and kisses lasting forever.

  • Rebekah

    My family is currently well below the poverty line. I have two boys, a year apart: 6 months and 18 months. We haven’t bought in to any of the “fads” in parenting–in my generation (I’m 27), attachment parenting is very popular, coming back with the new hippies.  We’ve done a mixture of scheduling feedings (this helps babies learn to sleep without having to cry it out for long periods of time), babywearing, extended breastfeeding, and putting the baby to sleep WHILE  HE’s STILL AWAKE. this, of course, helps the child to learn how to put himself to sleep instead of needing the mother to do it for him. Essentially, we’ve mixed attachment parenting with babywise, which some people think are polar opposites. They aren’t.

    I think it’s dangerous to buy into a philosophy completely–it is, as you have mentioned on the show, swinging to one side or the other, and almost always is at the expense of some good thing that might be in another philosophy of parenting.

  • srg

    I wear two hats, as a community health nurse working families with young children and as a mom, who has always been a full time working mom.

    First of all, I have seen children walk up to their mothers, lift their shirts and breast feed.

    I would like for someone to simply state that the kind of parenting you are talking about is unhealthy, for parents and for children. Children go through very normal and appropriate attachment/detachment cycles. For instance, at around 9 months, children become very fearful of strangers and cling to parents and familiar people; perfect timing since they are about to start walking, and we want them to stay close rather than toddle off with strangers!!!! We need to take cues from children and not impose our attachment issues on them, less they never learn to have healthy hellos and goodbyes.

    As a mom in the 90s, I was bombarded by stay at home moms, all to happy to point out that I was providing inferior parenting. I was stunned when it turned out that my children LOVED their daycare and thrived in the environment. Not only that, guess whose children were completely traumatized when they started Kindergarten. Not only was the balance good for my children, it was GREAT for them. Our very well adjusted 18 year old got into every college she applied to and will go in the fall with our blessing, attention, care and her freedom!

  • jcorvidae

    I thought Dr. Nelson’s concern about parents focusing on “hovering” over involvement in the community is a real issue and worth looking at closely. Of course, attachment parenting isn’t inherently the problem there, as that allows folks to interact with their community just fine. Rather, I think the issue is bigger when kids get older and focus on the kids takes over time instead of integrating kids into wider adult-driven community engagement. Kid-friendly and kid-dominant events are different.

    However, I found part of her statement disturbing. When faced with the question of whether attachment parenting is better for kids, she replied that the problem is that its not an available option for most parents. That may be true, and is an important consideration, but it shouldn’t change our inquiry into whether attachment parenting is better. As she noted, the US is not very supportive of parents (so much for those so-called family values). But we know that the first five years are critical in determining future ability to succeed. Our society might not support parental attention during that time, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t determine better ways to handle it. Attachment parenting may or may not be the right approach (I have very mixed views of it myself) but we must look into it whether it’s easily done in our current setup or not.

  • Em Hooper

    IMO, worse than attachment parenting is the opposite, parents who tote their babies around in hard baby carriers instead of holding and stroking them to make them fully human, by developing dense nerve structure in the infact, as well as connection with other humans, resulting in compassion instead of a grown person unable to feel for the pain of others……….. 

    Next on my  list is ipod parenting, where mom  nurses her  baby on one side while directing her eyes to her other side where the electronic device is more hypnotic than they realize. Baby needs to look into mom’s eyes to develop properly, and to be able to connect with others and also read facial language–a vital skill in social inter-action. Not to mention not getting any baby talk, which helps develop language skills.  

    I can hardly wait to see the problems in another ten years or so when the lack of connection to mom  or dad, or somebody human and responsive, leaves kids unable to function well and  unable to play well with others.  Maybe these lackings contribute to some forms of autism? Between these two groups and those who haven’t learned to function on their own without a parent to intercede…..life is going to be really interesting.  

  • Leora

    I raised my two children with many attachment parenting concepts. The show this morning described attachment parenting as exhausting, but I found that these concepts were intuitive and often simplified my life. I found that my babies were often happier being carried in a sling while I went about my daily activities, rather than attempting to lug a heavy car seat from place to place. I did not plan to share a bed with my babies, but found that when we did, we all got more sleep. I breastfed until they were two because that felt like the right choice. I am a working mom, and felt like many of these practices allowed me to feel closer to my children in the time that I did have to spend with them. They are older now and are very independent and secure. I do not feel like helicopter parenting is in any way a natural progression from attachment parenting, and in fact feel like when you raise secure kids and have a close relationship you can give them more independence overall. I think that anyone who tries to follow a parenting philosophy so completely that it causes them extra stress is unhealthy. Blaming the authors who put those ideas forward is unfair.

  • Rachel

    I agree with the comments that this had been presented poorly and divisively by Time magazine. much of attachment parenting is about following your instincts. I acknowledge that I do have a certain ain’t of socioeconomic privilege and was not flipping burgers as the guest mentioned. I did however, work fulltime and exclusively breastfeed my now 3 y.o. (she weaned at 2.5 during my second pregnancy). My partner and I also wear both her and our new baby, and cosleep with our baby. we adhere to attachment parenting recommendations when they fit our family and reach out to attachment parenting communities for suggestions when we need help. Every family and its needs are different. I am most certainty not a helicopter parent and my 3 y.o. is extremely independent. While I don’t love the Sears’ religious background, I think they are unfairly criticized and I, for one, appreciate the alternative perspective that their books provide. It does not feel natural our healthy to me to sleep train my baby or spank my 3 y.o. I certainly believe in discipline, manners, and consideration for others and I work users to teach my children in a positive gentle way as much as possible.

  • PJ2012

    I just listened to the show and I thought the comment about parenting being divided by class was interesting. I got the impression that individuals with more resources parent in a more meaningful manner.
    My son is 2 1/2 and I practice what is considered “attachment parenting”.  I’m a stay at home wife and mom, did “wear” my son (until he was just to heavy for me), breastfeed until he was 20 months, made his baby food, used cloth diapers, no outside childcare, respond to him when he cries, plan to homeschool etc.
    My household income is above average but we are far far from rich.  We just consciously choose to live in a manner that allows me to stay home and care for our son.  We use coupons, shop thrift stores, consign clothing, use one car (my husband bikes and ride the bus to work), live in a place with moderate rent and many other things.  Many of the members in my Attachment Parenting group live in the same manner.
    I’m saying all this to say that in many cases “attachment parenting” shouldn’t be viewed as choice for those with more resources.  We wanted to make this sacrifice for our son and are happy to do it. It’s not always easy but well worth it.
    People have to do what is right for their families. The dynamics among families vary greatly. We all need to get away from saying that one way is better than another.  Stop judging and/or making assumptions and support each other.  There is often more than one way to do something, including parenting.

  • Costume_lady

    What ever became of common sense?    When a young animal has the teeth to eat the food of its kind,  mom weans it. If it is a carnivore, she hunts for it and brings it food.  In the tribes in which a child is back (or front) strapped, as it is more able to walk, it does more walking where it is safe to do so. 
    Are we  too dumb to do the same?  And are we not smart enough to adapt our parenting to the different personalities of our different children?  I had one child who, even as a newborn infant, let you understand that she had done you a favor if you were allowed to rock her to sleep.  Her brother wanted to be rocked as an infant and to have you lie down with him until he was asleep as a toddler and early age child.  Adapt!

  • Sberryhugz

    I was a stay-at-home mom.  We sacrificed financially for this to be possible and it can be done!  I breastfed 4 children for a total of 15 years…through toddlerhood and pregnancies!  They are all intelligent, well adjusted, creative, adventurous children who live and work in various professions from educator to artist and one is a stay-at-home Mom.  Daughters breastfed their babies, wife of son does also.  They live in 4 different time zones!  Breastfeeding until 5 definitely did NOT make them dependent.  They are well traveled people.   We also slept with our children for varying periods of time.  Dad was a very hands on Dad.  They NEVER were expected to “cry it out” .  If needs of babies are met when they are infants, they become independent adults because they have been made to feel secure.   Each child was different and had different needs at different times.  LISTENING to your child is far more important that following a specific book, although, I do agree with Dr. Sears.  My children are all in their 30′s and it would have been nice to have the positive reinforcement of his book (it hadn’t been written when my first was born) that my instincts were natural and it was OK to nurture my child as led by instincts!   The cover of Time was provocative and misleading.  When my children were beyond 3, no one even knew they were still nursing and it is very possible to breastfeed discretely.  Not ONE of my 4 EVER breastfed that way!   Any celebrity can have their breasts hanging out all over on any magazine cover and nothing is said.  There is something very wrong with our society that has such a problem with a woman daring to bare her breast to feed her child!

  • Teresa Throckmorton

    I am an attachment parent! I am a community volunteer. I have lead reading groups for young children and presided as president of my child’s Debate/Forensics Boosters Club. I served as a PTA legislative liaison for years and still actively participate in the struggle for school funding in the midst of continuing cuts to schools in Kansas. I volunteered as a mentor for the Boys & Girls Club in Kansas City, and I take offense to Professor Nelson’s statement that attachment parents have no time left to give to community. 

    I am an attachment parent because like Dr. Sears I was abandoned by my father as child and was raised by a single mother who had very little education. I received a bachelor’s degree at the age of 36. Between the ages of 38 and 42 I had 3 children and all were breast fed. My mantra: love, education, civic duty. My now 19 year old son is a freshman at Stanford University and reveres the opportunity he has to learn and serve. He has wonderful friendships and is thriving in and out of the classroom. 

    Most disturbing of all to me in the dust-up over the Time cover is that no one seems nearly so disturbed by the ubiquitous images of females in scantily clad attire that show so much more skin than any photograph I have seen of a nursing mother. Breasts exists first and foremost for the purpose of breast feeding. 

    The worst hardships for me have been from other people who have openly objected to my attachment parenting. I have given up a lot to truly parent and to serve in the community and am often negated instead of appreciated for it. Sometimes even from family. I wish we could all respect each others choices.

  • mtnbrook

    Way to go!  Educated, talented, informed moms are helicoptering and breastfeeding aging demanding toddlers & mothering with a “vengeance.”  Elizabeth Warren has been pegged with the negatives of  “Grandma” and called, of all things,  a Harvard Professor and isn’t defending herself effectively. Where was the balance in either of these reports.   Going for the extremes, going for 2 for 2 on hits against women with experience &  information. What’s going on with this?  The toddler on Time’s cover is so not typical.  Most babies self-wean before 2 as a natural part of maturation. Can you get any more negative on these  very important social issues. I’m looking forward to hearing from future guests about the real social benefits of attachment parenting, and support for the ideal natural model of mothering. Whether or not everyone can, let’s look at the facts. Even your guest today pointed out the benefits, lamenting the lack of support in our society for mothers & families that could make these rich relationships possible for more families.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=108300703 Michelle Sherman

       Actually, self-weaning PRIOR to age 2 is uncommon. The average age for self-weaning is between 4 and 6 years.

      Otherwise, I agree with your comment!

  • one more mom

    I agree with Maggie and have had the same experience she describes. My daughter is now 12 and one of the kindest children I know.  I came from a rather rigid and cold upbringing. Being kind is something I learned from my very kind husband. It seems like common sense to me that children will treat others the way they are treated. Let babies cry it out? Push babies away when they are feeling afraid? It’s just not logical.

  • one more mom

    By the way, what’s with the title of this article? Attachment parenting, by definition follows no one way. It’s all about responsiveness.

  • Julie

    The first thing we get to teach our children is whether or not they may trust the universe to meet their needs.  Ignoring their crying does not do that; nursing them does.
    I breast-fed my daughter until she was 4 1/2 years old.  For the last year, she nursed once in the morning and once at night — 5 seconds on the first side, 3 seconds on the second. That was all she needed.
    I was a single, working mother — first supervising construction sites, later a newspaper reporter.
    I wish I could still hold her as I got to those first 4 years, but now she is now 30.

    • http://bastiaetcetera.blogspot.com/ Gemma

      I manage to both agree and disagree here.  If the first thing we get to teach our children is whether the universe will meet their needs, well, we all know as adults that the universe decidedly does not.  We lose people unexpectedly, we need more money to live, we hope for things we don’t get.  Sometimes the universe agrees with us, and sometimes it doesn’t.  We cry alone, and we cry with others.  My primary job as a mother, as I see it, is teaching my children to navigate the world without expecting it to meet their needs.  I think they should know how to take care of themselves, and not trust the universe to do it for them. 
      That said, I agree with much said here about instincts.  If it feels wrong to parent a certain way, even if you read it in a book from an expert, then it’s wrong for you.  We have so many parenting choices, and that’s what makes the world go around.

  • Norma

    The Sears book was my go-to book for both of my children. I was not exhausted nor trying to be a “Super Mom” but felt that for infants and small children the attachment approach made sense. A crying baby that isn’t responded to can only feel frustrated and alone. They are now both older, weaned, and sleep in their own beds. My husband and I both have good communication with our children and their trust. The groundwork for this was done by using this approach. Plus the down to earth information for fevers, etc. was so useful. As in all things, moderation, knowing/choosing what works for you and your family and applying commonsense is key. A happy mother usually makes for a happy child! Lastly, I have to question a country that is so uneasy with breastfeeding and co-sleeping but quite comfortable with eating in restaurants named with a slang term for womens’ breasts and entertainment consisting of graphic sex and violence.

  • Christi

    I was really frustrated by the level of drama  on your show, especially commenting on how stressed out attachment parents, how “extreme” you portrayed attachment parenting,  the implied connection to “helicopter parenting, ” and the assertion that this is primarily an upper class issue.

    Most of the criticism and stress I felt as a parent was from folks who exposed the “Baby Wise” and other sleep training schools of thought.   I didn’t care how other people parented, or got their kids to sleep, but integrating some attachment techniques seemed to make me a target for others’ judgement. This experience was shared by my friends.  I was even told that if I attended to her every cry, she would turn into a “monster.” My monster is now a very independent, self confident 8 year old.

    Many parents I know gained a lot of helpful insight from the Sears Book and integrated it into their lives in ways that worked for them.  I believe the book even comments on working parents and how sleeping with your child is a great way to connect when you are gone during the day.

    The implied connection to “helicopter parenting” is ridiculous.  Just because you breastfeed extensively or sleep with your toddler does not mean you are going to go on job interviews with them.

    Finally, the idea that this is some outcropping of upper class professional women putting all of their career energy into overdrive parenting is silly.  Perhaps our generation has traveled more, and interacted more with our immigrant communities.  We’ve seen that other cultures’ often have closer, more in touch parenting (in India, it struck me when women would always ask with pity why we put our children in “cages” in the other room). Even in the US 100 years ago everyone was in the same bed, and throughout the world, attachment parenting is the norm, and much closer to our instincts.  

    Let’s remember that formula feeding and sleep training are the new kids on the block.

    Having practiced some attachment parenting techniques and a lot of the WIT or “whatever it takes” method, I believe  that each parent has to
    use the data available at the time and find their own way. The Time article with the provocative cover and personal digs at the Sears family, and your equally polarizing NPR follow on just add to the tension and stress that new parents feel. 

  • Amy Zarndt

    If you really want to look into Attachment Parenting on a deeper level, I suggest you check out the work of Gordon Neufeld (http://www.gordonneufeld.com/).  It is not just about wearing your child or nursing, but about maintaining a connection with your child.

  • here and now fan

    Robin Young, This is the first report I’ve ever heard you do that let me down. Neither your guest nor you showed a solid understanding of The Baby Book. There was also a fair amount of oversimplification going on–which I have come to trust you not to do.  And I’m wondering: what exactly is bad about watching TV with your child–once in a while–and engaging them in conversations about what they see there? It teaches critical thinking, helps build a relationship, and helps them learn how to consume media critically. All those parents pushing their babies in shopping carts through stores as they chat on cell phones–about nothing pressing (we can hear)–worry me much much more.

  • Beth

    Attachment Parenting isn’t hovering or even tiring. Working parents can be attachment parents as well. A major problem I have with the Time article is that it took something beautiful–a nursing 3yo and his mother–and used that dyad to make attachment parenting look extreme (and its proponents self-superior). We are not really fighting with each other out here! Media wants us to fight with each other–or to create a problem where there wasn’t one originally.

    I listened to the story on the radio today, and I was disappointed at the suggestion that attachment parenting could lead to helicopter parenting. By way of example, my kids are very independent. There is trust between us that I hope makes it through the teenage years. I have nursed on demand, my kids have co-slept, they didn’t cry it out, t don’t work outside the home (that’s a whole other story, but litigation in a law firm + a baby does not mix–their choice, not mine), and my older two weaned at 3yo and 5yo. I listen to them. I’m in tune to them. The key is communication and respect. Crying babies are communicating. They aren’t manipulating. They are people; they’re just smaller. But does that mean that we hang out with them all the time? No. Does that mean their time is more important than ours? No.

    The majority of people I know who have respected Dr. Sears (and his many books, and books espousing similar views) have very independent children. 

    And, finally, I would guess that many families would find that much of what they do is consistent with attachment parenting in some ways if not all–as it is basically instinctual. So much of the “non-attachment” parenting (crying it out, being a major one) is actually going against one’s natural instinct to comfort and hold one’s baby.

  • Pearlanna

    Hi Robin
    I am a mental health counselor.  I recently attended a conference on at risk youth.  The presenter Dr Michael Under shared his international research that explored the top ten fears of youth all over the world.  The top fear of youth in the US was not on the list of any other country in the world.  It was the fear of strangers.  Clearly this is a cultural problem.  The truth is that statistically it is extremely rare that strangers hurt children.  I think that with all of the media that we consume we see strangers as a danger.  We train our children to believe that and it creates/reinforces the fear that we and our children are unsafe, that we must hover and be overly involved. 

    • Pearlanna

      oops, Dr Michael Unger is the reference.

    • mtnbrook

       Attachment parenting is neither hovering nor the creation of overly fearful children. On this issue turn to the mainstream media that overpublicizes all sorts of crime including kidnapping.

  • Anna Merrill

    This was an extremely one sided report. I have always been impressed with Here & Now for giving all sides of a story but boy did you miss the boat on this one. Needless to say, I disagree with almost all of what was said and would have loved to have heard from somebody from the other side. I’m very disappointed in the reporting on this one.

  • http://www.sweetpeabirths.com/ Krystyna

    Attachment parenting and helicopter parenting are separate issues.  I agree with Maggie – I think most of us who AP expect that our children will be more independent and secure down the line.  So far, so good – our 7-yr old is one spunky, independent young lady who holds her own in social situations.  Her brothers are following suit.  After they are out of the babywearing years, you have to choose what is next – independent thinking, or thinking for them, a la “helicopter”.  Each family has to make the choice that fits – and in the end, our children will demonstrate whether the method we chose to parent them worked FOR THEM.  When we start labeling and categorizing, some care has to be taken to then put our children in the “box” that is right for them.

  • Reid

    I’ve grown up alongside children who were raised by believers in “Attachment Parenting.”  They’re soft, weak minded and utterly unable to think about things beyond whatever they want at that particular moment.  This theory has produced what we affectionately call “The Weakest Generation.”  When every kid gets a trophy for simply showing up and they never learn to fail and work through adversity because of parental intervention, you suffer the result.  They are mostly followers and few leaders.

  • Heather

    I am an AP mom who does not helicopter, and does not understand why such a connection would be made. Helicoptering is not about nurturing; it’s about being fearful and controlling. There’s a big difference in those concepts. I don’t feel stressed about my parenting choices because I am confident about them. Parents who are stressed perhaps lack that confidence.

  • shira

    This whole conversation is heartening.  It speaks to how we each have to follow what is right for who we are and how we are attuned to our child.  Parenting to my surprise, once I stepped out of the classroom and into the realm of being a parent, I found it to be far more competitive than I would have liked. 
    I believe I am an attuned parent and yet I have not ascribed to what has been deemed “attachement parenting”.  I do not believe that this makes me superior or inferior to anyone else.  I respect that we each have to be congruent with our own values.  Having twins I could only stand nursing until  they were 13 months, I couldn’t sleep well with them in the bed and it worked better for me to have a schedule.  I have friends with twins who are the exact opposite.  Is anyone situation better than the other.  In my opinion, no.  I just have to be true to what is right for me and my husband, as have all of you.  I believe in balance and all things in their time and place.  I think there were times when I may have looked like an attachment parent, and times when I looked like something else.  Someone said, there  is so much to choose from and isn’t that a wonderful thing? 
    I would hate for this to get so polarized that if something isn’t working in our family and in our parenting style, that we could be honest with ourselves and seek the help or support that we need.  Some children need support in knowing how to tolerate discomfort and it comes from attuning to the childs feelings and holding them in the discomfort as they move through it.  And isn’t that true for us as adults too?
    It was a divisive article and photo.  How sad. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Heather-Harrison/1604165346 Heather Harrison

    As a child psychologist
    and a mom, one of the things that is so misleading about attachment parenting
    is the name. It is only called attachment parenting because of the theory it
    was based upon. It is not called this because it is the only form of parenting
    which allows parents to develop a secure attachment relationship with their
    children. There are numerous ways to develop a secure attachment relationship
    with our kids. I explore more of this myth here for anyone who is interested: 


  • Ph

    I agree with a number of the comments here that this segment was hysterical and offensive. Attachment parenting does not equal obsessive parenting. Ms. Young made it sound as if subscribing to attachment parenting “requires” one to wear one’s child all day and sleep in the same bed with the child all night. She said that attachment parents can never let their child even whimper. This is a complete mischaracterization. Parents do not have to do these things and can work and have a life aside from their children and still attachment parent. The basic premise of attachment parenting is that building a bond of trust between a child and parent is a good thing. The movement was a reaction against the “cry it out” style of parenting, which goes against a lot of parent’s instincts and can cause a lot of stress. If people do choose to prioritize spending time with their children, rather than working, that is their choice and does not make them obsessive. In addition, the Sears are not the only folks who have written on the subject, and, based on her comments, it does not seem that Ms. Young has read any books on the subject. In the future, please try to be a little more informed about a subject before criticizing a large group of people, men and women.

  • EF Sweetman

    This is a parenting fad. It’s insulting to hear how we are reacting as though this is the only acceptable method of parenting and those who can’t manage are inadequate. It inspired a rant: 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=108300703 Michelle Sherman

      Attachment parenting is not a fad. It is the way the human race has survived for millenia. What IS a parenting fad is formula feeding, crib-using, crying it out, and expecting babies to be completely independent people the moment they are born.

  • STR

    I did not hear this story on NPR (and probably won’t bother listening to it later), but this was the one time in my life I have been so happy to read the most recent comments and responses to an online article. Thank you, parents, for your wise, experienced words about this issue.

    We parent how we think WE should, how it works for us. What we do is in line with “attachment parenting,” but not because Dr Sears or Mayim Bialik told us to; because it’s what what works for us. Our son will be two next month, and he is as happy, as healthy, and as independent as any other two-year-old I’ve seen.

  • Fan

    Robin, I’m a huge fan. But you let me down on this one. Totally missed the boat on the biggest REAL issue under this whole thing. Professor Nelson mentioned it, and you passed it over: American society doesn’t support mothers. Especially working mothers. Period. 

    Of course there’s going to be anxiety about how to best raise kids. Every message women get is – do this, don’t do that, or your kids won’t get into Harvard, or you’ll fail at home, or you’ll lose your job. Somewhere along the line, our over-medicalized, over-consumerized society forgot that most women know what to do intuitively, and instead shifted towards the world we live in now – where raising a kid is an anxiety-ridden act, not a loving one.

  • MBC1167

    Wow, what a gross mischaracterization of the Sears method.  Time and time again he points out in The Baby Book that the point of creating a healthy attachment with your baby is to give way to a child that is independent and engaged with the world around her.  You would have known this had you actually read the book as, oh, I don’t know, part of your RESEARCH for the story. . .?  Unbelievably bad reporting, and I “love” how you kept pushing the guest to bash attachment parenting (as you had erroneously defined it) when she kept saying that she didn’t really know anything about it.  I would suggest getting some facts straight and doing a follow up piece that is balanced — it would go a long way toward restoring my (and I’m sure other of the commenters’ here) faith in Here & Now and BUR.

  • Closeenoughblog

    I wrote about my reaction to TIME’s article, the photo, and especially the language used to sell their magazine.  The bottom line is that TIME (and our society’s) inflammatory reaction to people doing things differently is hurting everyone.  I say that it is time to stop contributing to the judgement and bickering – it’s useless and pointless.  There isn’t a single right or best way to parent; it isn’t a one-size-fits-all pursuit. http://closeenoughblog.com/?p=2184

  • kaltighanna

     When the GOP wants to pass legislation that controls women’s reproductive rights, access to contraception, opposes Equal pay, etc, then we are all feminists who want religion out of the government. But when a doctor with evangelical roots who has long defended that women shouldn’t go back to work after having babies because that wasn’t “what God intended” starts talking about how to be a good mother then we all fall pray like we lost the use or our brains.

  • Gianffer

    I typed a comment a couple of days ago and lost it.  Now I know why.  I have read many comments, there are more now, that are in defense of attachment parenting.  So clearly, I think the issue was missed.  I believe, as the great poet Rumi says, “there are many ways to neal and kiss the ground.”  And while I may not be overtly noticeable as an attachment parent, I breast fed twins until 13 months and we did not co sleep, but did sleep training.  What I would say is there are parents who are “overly attached” to unhealthy ways.  And that can be true in whatever style-path a person takes.  There are such things as hellicopter parents, no matter what style of parenting folks have chosen.  And as such, they have an inability to tolerate discomfort and therefore can not help their child grow in their own capacity to do so.  So, to lump it completely onto the category of attachment parenting is not accurate.  It is a style that exist in our culture, where children are too quickly rescued and then demonstrate avoidance of sticking with challenges or become entitled.  Clearly, those of you who wrote in that that is not you, it is not.  And in that case, I do feel like it was misapplied. 
    Lastly, I found the choice of the cover absolutely awful!  For the woman and child who consented to do it, personally, I feel for you.  It seems you were used to create a reaction and I’m sorry you chose to participate.

  • K.w

      Attachment parenting is new?  I don’t think so.  

    The plethora of consumables- strollers, bouncy, cribs,  etc., that are considered necessary and inevitable are what is a new fad in the history of the world.   The practices of espoused by attachment parenting are what have been universal and throughout history.    In the post-WWII era, babies were given bottles attached to wire so that parents didn’t have to pick them up at all,  mothers were put on dangerous diets to restrict weight gain to 15 pounds during pregnancy.    Mainstream parenting has grown out of that, perhaps the current mainstream will one day be considered a “fad” as well. Our society values individuality, independence, and self-reliance.   We value these things so fundamentally that it appears to be a threat for a group of people to believe otherwise about infants, who are indeed helpless. Except for Italy and France, very few nations in the entire world are having this discussion.  People all over the world are and have been practicing what is being called the new-fad of attachment parenting. We know breastmilk is the very best for children.  Maybe the conversation would be better to talk about how women feel threatened or inadequate when they can’t or choose not to breastfeed.  Talking about our social structure that makes it so difficult would be better.  A conversation about how to better involve both parents, how to create a society that can support a family – these would be better to talk about.   Co-sleeping is something that takes place in much of the world (including other developed nations), a conversation about the baby-industrial complex that says one must endlessly consume would be a conversation. Lets face that what is called attachment parenting practices are clearly threatening to the fundamental values of our society — otherwise folks wouldn’t be so heated against it.  

  • Ralda143

     I am doing an paper for atchtment parenting in school and this helped alot. Thank you!

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