The Perils of Listening to Idiots

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I’m pretty good at keeping this writing thing to science, advocacy, and thoughts that, whether you agree or not, don’t aim to try and take the piss out of someone or a group of someones.  Not today.  Today I’ve had enough.  So I start by giving you fair warning that if you’ve logged on to read something that tries to disseminate the science in a kind and digestible way, this may not be the post for you.  If you don’t like reading cuss words or prefer that I always try to keep the upper hand and not sink to calling people names, this may not be the post for you.  For the rest of you, well, I hope you can understand that after years of writing sometimes someone just really needs to vent.  This is that time…

Copyright: Kirill Federspiel

Copyright: Kirill Federspiel

Yesterday I was sent a link to a completely asinine article in The Atlantic, a publication I usually quite enjoy.  It’s called “The Perils of Attachment Parenting” and in it, the author – a parenting consultant – decries how attachment parenting is bad for families.  She’s not the only one, though, it’s the same rhetoric heard over and over by the likes of people like Gina Ford or Tizzie Hall or frankly most people trying to tell parents their way is the only way.

The problems with attachment parenting?

  1. Breastfeeding on demand.  According to Ms. Emma Jenner, it’s just not sustainable.  It has the awful consequence of not putting baby on a schedule, mom can’t get things done, dads or non-breastfeeding parents can’t feed the baby and baby might just want mom for a period, babies sleep is disrupted if they feed at night, and so on.  In short: As a mother your life will be FOREVER ruined and you will never recover.
  2. Co-sleeping.  I actually thought she might be kidding as she described the perils of co-sleeping as, “[babies] become used to sleeping with a warm body and heartbeat next to them”.  The horror!!!  Oh – it also means babies feed on demand and, as per point 1, that’s apparently awful and mom will pay the price for the rest of her life.  There’s also talk about needing to teach them to “self-soothe” and all that crap because, don’t you know, all babies can sleep through the night by 4 months of age if you leave them alone and don’t respond when they wake.
  3. Babywearing.  How are you going to have sex if you’ve always got a baby strapped to you?  Honestly, this is the concern.  Babies who are worn will apparently NEVER agree to go down on a blanket and we all know that’s the time for some more baby-making.  You also can’t get anything else done when babywearing, according to Ms. Jenner.
  4. Responding to your babies’ cries.  Apparently attachment parents are so concerned over every fuss, they never learn to respond to their child’s needs.  I shit you not, that’s her argument.

As I said, this is hardly new or unique, it is a very prevalent attitude towards any type of responsive parenting (attachment, evolutionary, gentle, etc.).  In short, people view it as untenable, unsustainable.  I have one question though:

Are you kidding or are you seriously that fucking stupid?

If you believe this crap, I’m amazed you’re able to get dressed in the morning for my 4-year-old has a better understanding of the different needs of different individuals across time and development than you.  Last time she thought a baby didn’t need different responses from his parents than a 10-year-old was when she could barely talk, couldn’t put a shirt on, and still required me to wipe her ass.

Yes, that’s right, my CHILD understands babies better than you idiots.  She knows when she’s playing with a younger child that she needs to be gentler, that that baby might need some help with some tasks, that the baby might need mom around more than she does; in short, she knows that this baby is limited in ways that she, as an older child, is not.

You are a grown adult with a fully functioning brain (although this is perhaps arguable at this point) and yet you fail to grasp that NO ONE is suggesting that how we treat our infants will be how we treat our children for the rest of their lives or that being responsive equals being permissive.  Amazingly children change as they grow, their needs differ and in turn, we respond to them as they are at that certain point.  If you breastfeed on demand it does NOT mean you will give your child, as you put it, another glass of milk right when you’ve sat down to dinner or that if you bedshare or babywear your 10-year-old will rule the house making you drive him half-way across town whenever he wants.  (Just as if you don’t bedshare you don’t condemn your child to pain and suffering for the rest of his life.)

If we accept the crap about this type of parenting being unsustainable (though I ask you how we as humans survived if this was so untenable given it’s how we’ve parented for hundreds of thousands of years), we still need to look at what you’re really saying about these methods.  Sooo… Let’s take a look at the so-called “perils” of responsive parenting once again…

  1. Breastfeeding on demand (really this should be “feeding on demand”).  This is recommended not just by attachment parent advocates, but by doctors, lactation consultants, researchers, etc.  Why?
    • A newborn has a stomach the size of a pea, so unless you’re recommending parents starve their baby, you feed them when they are hungry, not according to your idea of when they should be hungry.
    • Related to the aforementioned point, feeding (breast or bottle) on a strict schedule is associated with a host of negative outcomes including, but not limited to, cognitive deficits[1], increased risk of jaundice[2][3], and failure to thrive[4][5] so really you’re recommending parents put their babies lives at risk, asshole.
    • Breastfeeding on demand helps breastfeeding.  Or rather, not breastfeeding on demand is associated with early cessation of breastfeeding[6].  This is particularly true for night feeds which you really take issue with.  Again, infants who go long periods between feeds have a higher risk of hitting failure to thrive, or not receiving enough milk; as stated in [7], “Breast-fed infants tend to get a diminishing supply with a diminishing demand and may enter a vicious circle ending in irretrievable failure of lactation.”
  2. Co-sleeping.  First you need to be aware that co-sleeping refers to both bedsharing and room-sharing.  The main point for responsive parenting is to have your baby close to you at night and for some that’s in bed, for some that’s in a cot or bassinette next to the bed.  The case for room-sharing is very clear and it’s considered the safest option for babies from a policy perspective (and is recommended by all health agencies) as it has the lowest risk of SIDS[8].  But what of bedsharing?
    • You’re right it’s associated with feelings of comfort by being close.  I realize in a world where we try to harden up our kids and babies right away so they’ll grow up to be angry and insecure and not know comfort or help, this goes against the grain.  Some of us, however,  want our children to associate sleep with feelings of love, comfort, and happiness and this is one of the ways that works for our kids and our family.  We don’t want children who fear night when they are older or feel that their parents’ responsiveness and love ends when the sun goes down (which really has nothing to do with bedsharing and everything to do with responsiveness as you can still respond with a baby in their own cot or even room).  We, unlike you, believe parenting is a 24-hour-a-day position.
    • For those of us breastfeeding, bedsharing can actually increases the amount of sleep we get[9].  Yes, being able to roll over and feed our babies as they need it (and don’t kid yourself – they NEED it in infancy, and many beyond that) means our sleep is less interrupted and we don’t suffer from the REAL perils of sleep deprivation.
    • You ignore the fact that babies are physiologically immature at birth.  Many can do well on their own (why many babies do well in their own cots), but some, often what we call “higher-needs” babies require their caregivers to help regulate for them and this synchrony is associated with babies’ development of self-regulation[10].  Nighttime shared sleep is one way in which adults can regulate infant physiology[11][12] and keep baby healthy and thriving.
    • The safety arguments can be handled by teaching families how to bedshare safely or determine if their sleep environment is safe.  When we look at the real risk of bedsharing, it is really a risk in terms of unsafe bedsharing, not bedsharing per se[13].
  3. Babywearing.  This one was just so stupid, it’s hard to even fathom how to reply, but here we go:
    • You argue that mom can’t get things done when babywearing except babywearing as used here and around the world is what allows mom (or dad) to get things done.  Moms (and dads) can wear baby and go about their business, be it cleaning, running errands, writing, etc.
    • Babywearing builds up baby’s core which is great for later strength (and avoids the need for tummy time) and avoids the flat head issue that happens because babies spend too much time flat on their backs.
    • It has been found to improve the bond between mom and baby in a group of at-risk mother-infant dyads[14].  Even just used part of the time, the increased physical contact increases synchrony and attachment (these are GOOD things, as I’m not sure you even understand what they are).
    • As for the idea that your sex life is ruined because you accept that newborns require a lot of touch for their well-being and health, let me say this: If your sex life requires you to not care for another human being as they need it, including lots of touch, then you shouldn’t have a sex life because that is what leads to procreation and you certainly are not ready to care for another human being.
  4. Responding to your baby’s cries.  Let me be very clear here: If you manage to interact with your child in a way that means they don’t cry often or at all, then you ARE meeting their needs unless you’re following a type of parenting that means your child has given up hope of ever reaching you because they know you only care about yourself (sound familiar?).  You simply can’t respond to a child without knowing their needs or knowing how to read your child.  A final bonus: Responsive parenting is linked to all sorts of positive outcomes for kids, including empathy, self-regulation, and more (for a review, see [15]).

When it’s all said and done it’s clear that your approach is that it’s all about the parents and babies are here to fit into whatever little world we have created and want.  It’s the attitude of “It’s my world, you’re just living in it” and it sucks.  Ms. Jenner tries to claim it’s about balance – oddly a key part of attachment parenting (yes, you’ve shown you’re also incapable of actually reading) – and that parents have needs that need to be met too.

No shit.

Source: Unknown

Source: Unknown

No one is saying parents don’t take moments of self-care but that (a) our infants, especially newborns, can’t bear the brunt of our WANTS and (b) also have needs that may need to come before ours simply because they rely on us to live.  Let’s face it – sleeping through the night when you have a newborn, having sex regularly whenever you want, feeding a on your schedule – these are NOT things that are NEEDS for parents.  They are wants and by telling parents to ignore the physical and emotional NEEDS of their newborn in favour of what makes us adults “happy”, you are proving yourself to be an advocate for selfish, irresponsible parenting.

Yes, if you are a parent who is forever putting your wants above your children’s needs, under the guise that they need to “fit in” or that “happy parent = happy child” (a euphemism for taking the easy and selfish way out more often than it actually refers to parents taking care of themselves to care for their kids), you are behaving irresponsibly and selfishly.  Deal with it or change, just don’t bitch that you’re being made to feel guilty or some such crap.

The idea that self-care and balance is antithetical to responsive parenting is astronomically stupid and perpetuates the myth that children are there to fit around our lives and do not require the type of consideration, care, and respect we afford other adults who are far more independent and competent.  Young babies will need our attention and our time and a fuck of a lot of it.  That’s how we not only survive but thrive.  As our babies age, that will change and they will yearn and seek out more independence and it’s our job as parents to give it to them and set new boundaries.

It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a glass of wine with friends or a long, soaking bath, but it does mean you make sure that little person who needs you to survive is okay while you do it.  You don’t ignore or distress your infant so you can go to a movie.  You don’t leave your child to scream because you’re too tired to get up at 3am and feed him (however you do it) and be a responsible parent.  You just don’t.  Parenting responsively also doesn’t mean you give into all the WANTS of your older children (if you think your newborn is crying because they only “want” food or a diaper change, hand the child over to someone with half a brain).  If the only way you know how to set boundaries is to set them inappropriately – say, like, ignoring the needs of your baby because that particular need isn’t appropriate for a teenager – then you need to work on that because that’s fucked up. It is also your problem, not your baby’s.

As parents it’s our job to do all we can for our kids’ well-being, especially when they are so dependent upon us.  When you have a baby, it is up to YOU to make sacrifices to care for their well-being, no matter what some idiot parenting consultant may tell you.  End of fucking story.

 

_______________________________

[1]Iacovou M, Sevilla A.  Infant feeding: the effects of scheduled vs. on-demand feeding on mothers’ wellbeing and children’s cognitive development.  European Journal of Public Health 2012. DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/cks012.

[2]Yamauchi Y, Yamanouchi I.  Breast-feeding frequency during the first 24 hours after birth in full-term neonates.  Pediatrics 1990; 86: 171-175.

[3]De Carvalho M, Klaus MH, Merkatz RB.  Frequency of breast-feeding and serum bilirubin concentration.  Am J Dis Child 1982; 136: 737-738.

[4]AAP Statement: http://aapnews.aappublications.org/content/14/4/21.abstract

[5]Cooper WA, Atherson HD, Kahana M, Kotagal UR.  Increased incidence of severe breastfeeding malnutrition and hypernatremia in a metropolitan area.  Pediatrics 1995; 96: 957-60.

[6]Brown A, Arnott B.  Breastfeeding duration and early parenting behavior: the importance of an infant-led, responsive style.  PLOS One 2014; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083893.

[7]Evans TJ, Davies DP.  Failure to thrive at the breast: an old problem revisited.  BMJ 1977; 52: 974-5.

[8]http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/5/e1341.full

[9]Ball H.  Bed-sharing and co-sleeping.  NCT 2009; 48: 22-7.

[10]Feldman R.  From biological rhythms to social rhythms: physiological precursors of mother-infant synchrony.  Developmental Psychology 2006; 42: 175-88.

[11]Mosko S, Richard C, & McKenna J. Infant arousals during mother-infant bed sharing: Implications for infant sleep and sudden infant death syndrome research. Pediatrics 1997; 100:841-849.

[12]McKenna J, Thoman EB, Anders TF, Sadeh A, Schechtman VL, & Glotzbach SF. Infant-parent co-sleeping in an evolutionary perspective: Implications for understanding infant sleep development and the sudden infant death syndrome. Sleep 1993; 16:263-282.

[13]Blabey MH, Gessner BD.  Infant bed-sharing practices and associated risk factors among births and infant deaths in Alaska.  Public Health Reports 2009; 124: 527-34.

[14]Anisfeld E, Casper V, Nozyce M, Cunningham N.  Does infant carrying promote attachment?  An experimental study of the effects of increased physical contact on the development of attachment.  Child Development 1990; 61: 1617-1627.

[15]Grusec JE, Davidov M.  Integrating different perspectives on socialization theory and research: a domain-specific approach.  Child Development 2010; 81: 687-709.

Comments

  1. Josh Courteau says

    If only that were the end of the fucking story. Thank you for taking a well earned break from your normal “above the fray” material to give when giving was called for…
    I actually felt bad for Ms. Jenner while reading the Atlantic article. It seemed her world-view is that of a person who is giving as good as she got. There are many who only know the way she is advocating…because that is/was status quo. I like to believe EP/GP/AP is a growing silent majority of the world-I hope it is. Thank you for taking a moment out of that silence to rage on behalf the parents who are too busy tending to their children’s needs to rage for themselves.

  2. Jespren says

    The problem is, in today’s day and age (in the Western world at least) the people who are young parents now have just spent the last 18-30 years being told that all their ‘wants’ ARE ‘needs’. People think they *need* to be happy, constantly, therefore anything they ‘want’ is automatically a ‘need’ because they ‘need’ to feel happy. It doesn’t matter what biology says, it doesn’t matter what physiology says, it doesn’t matter what ethics, morals, history, parents, friends, children, or in most cases the law says, if they want it: they need it. We now have a society that has two whole generations (in the generations as 15 year brackets way of counting) that has spent their entire life being utterly trained in the entitlement philosophy of want=need. Not everyone in those generations, certainly, but the majority of those generations. They are even ‘entitled’ (need, not want) not only to a baby, but a baby of *their* choosing at a time of their choosing, those type of people are not suddenly going to understand need verses want when the baby they are entitled to as part of their perfect life, suddenly has a need which interferes with something they want. Narcissists do not make good parents.

    • Julia says

      I don’t know if I can get behind this. There are people yes, who have been given everything that they’ve ever asked for and that has turned them into consumers of whatever makes them feel good for a minute. But I don’t see it as being an overwhelming majority. I don’t think it’s as simple as that. Older generations always view younger generations as narcissistic because that is part of the nature of being young. It is an important part of development to be concerned with the self as part of growing up because you have to figure out who you are and how you fit in the world. It’s very easy to forget how that feels as we age. Are there more people feeling entitled now than ever before? I don’t know. I honestly think that what’s changed is more a bit of a crumbling class system. Whereas you were only allowed to act entitled if you were higher on the “important people” list now people from all walks are acting this way. I think it’s linked to the boom after WW2, suddenly we had a huge middle class, giving your children everything wasn’t exclusive to your “betters.” But there wasn’t the same sense of “deserving” it, there wasn’t the noblesse oblige to go along with it. I think mixed in there was a reaction to authoritative ways of raising children. It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly you dislike about how you were raised in a constructive manner. Many people swung their pendulums all the way over to permissive parenting because all they knew was that they didn’t want to be dictators. I think it’s sad that people felt that they had to trade one extreme for the other. I can stand here and say all sorts of things about all sorts of people based on behavior, but since learning about gentle parenting and doing my best to practice it, I’ve found that it applies to dealings with all people. If there’s underlying issues beneath children’s behavior how can there not be beneath adult’s? We can’t just treat them like children, but expecting them to just change because we want them too? Seems a little bit like expecting an infant to be able to calm themselves down just because we want them too.

      • Cassandra says

        Thank you so much for saying that. If one more person goes on a rant about “entitlement” I’m going to puke! People who think entitlement is a problem these days have their heads up their butts and are totally out of touch with younger generations. Why don’t you go have an honest conversation with someone in their mid-20s to 30s and find out if it’s true instead of making wild speculations based on pop culture trends?

          • Jespren says

            Thanks Tracy, I was just going to point out that I am, in fact, only 31. As someone born in the early 80′s I am, in fact, surrounded by the peers I was speaking on. My peers, those I grew up with, were friends and enemies with, went to high school and college with, and are still primarily friends with today, are the first in this trend. We are the generation which famously had, not a ‘mid life crisis’ but was known for having a ‘quarter-life crisis’ when so many of my generation got out of college and realized (ACK!) that million dollar salaries with benefits and 3 months of vacation didn’t magically appear just because you had a college degree. I graduated in 2001, first graduating class of the new millennium, putting me solidly in ‘generation X’, who famously were too busy ‘finding themselves’ to actually choose a path in life. Sorry guys, I’m well familiar with the overweening entitlement most of my peers, raised by the permissive baby-boom generation, displayed and still display. I also have friends and younger cousins in their 20′s. Some married with kids, some without. I’ve lived in the country in a tiny town, and in the big city. I’ve succeeded and failed. I’ve been so destitute we gathered cans for gas money and I’ve had friends with $1,000 a week allowances and houses with private theaters . I’ve cared for the elderly and been disabled myself. So my head is firmly on my shoulders, quite a bit north of my rear-end thank you very much. That you assume I’m not chronologically part of the group I speak of helps make my point. That age group-and their defenders-are so wrapped up in themselves and their own feelings on the issue that they assume *everyone* must have the same feelings as they and, if someone comes to a different conclusion, it must be because they don’t know what they are talking about and just need to ‘understand’ the truth. It never occurs to them that someone right in the middle of it can come to a different opinion, and that said opinion may need to be looked at and evaluated on the basis of the opinion alone-not on some preconceived assumption about the person’s age, life experience, or social caste. Maybe when everything from toy sales (adults now buy more toys for self-consumption than they ever did before) to national newspapers (who termed the phrase ‘quarter-life crisis’ around 2004ish) to members of that group agree we have an entitlement problem you should consider that you’re the blinded one who needs to have some honest conversations with older generations instead of assuming they are ‘out of touch’ and therefore irrelevant.

    • Milly says

      Influences by the media, tv shows, celebrities, ‘music’ dont help, subliminal advertising and all the crap people eat, unnecessary medication, which mess up their brains “consume”. All the poisons sprayed in the air dumb people down. I dont think there was so much media influence before.

  3. Ginger says

    Indeed! As an AP mom, I concur with your article wholeheartedly! Thank you! My daughter is 20 yrs old and my twins are 16 yrs. (Yes, twins. And my life didn’t come to an end THANKS to AP practices, not in spite of them.) They left the breast, the bed and my arms when they were ready. It gave me and my husband a way to “grow up” and become more connected with each other. Yes, our sex life took a dip for a few years while we tended to the most important task a human being can do: raise and nurture other human beings from the ground up. AND we are still happily married 22 years later. Raising our kids in an attached and connected way was the best thing we have ever done together! Yes, it was hard, but it was important and rewarding. Our kids slept well and moved to their own beds when ready. No nightmares, tears, or drama around bedtime since. They are caring, intelligent, and secure people. They are not perfect, but they are some of the best humans I know. I don’t take the “credit”, but I know, from the bottom of my heart, that AP practices (in the first 5 years, especially) allowed them to live up to their potential, to be who they are, and to know that people are generally good and can be counted upon.
    As someone who has continued to work with AP moms for the past 20 years, I do see instances where AP practices are taken to the extreme (usually out of fear or loneliness in reaction to the mother’s own poor parenting as a child). Attachment parenting (or any parenting practice) should not be practiced as dogma, as martyrdom, as a way to “prove” that you’re the best and most devoted mom ever. That is when it can be unhealthy to the child (and to the mom’s mental health, and to her intimate relationships). Following parenting “rules” in order to “get a perfect” child is not healthy. Following AP (or any other practice) because of some sort of vague fear or threat that if we don’t we are “failing” our child just isn’t right either.
    But I don’t think it is fair for the AP practices (as outlined so well in the article) to be blamed. It is more the cultural messaging of “perfection”, self-judgment, and polarization of mother-communities that should be held responsible.
    Priorities should be:
    1. Less judgment and shaming of mothers for their parenting (or feeding ,or birthing) choices. (We’re all in this together, mama-sisters, let’s help each other, not tear each other down! Being a mom is hard. Feeling judged just sucks.)
    2. Understanding the normal physical, emotional, and social needs of babies and children (having age-appropriate expectations of sleep, crying, feeding, human contact, etc.)
    3. Financial and social support for men and women to spend more time learning to become parents (paid leave, better prenatal and postpartum education and support). For example: women who are going back to work in 6 or 12 weeks are afraid to fall in love with their babies as they think it will make it harder to leave them.
    4. Support a cultural shift away from “independence” being the highest value. (For moms, who are seen as “weak” for accepting help, and for babies/children.) As humans, it is actually INTERDEPENDENCE that should be what we are striving. To give and take, as we are able.

    As human, we have the times when we need others, and then there are times when we give back. This balance is what helps sustain us as a compassionate, intelligent, and social animal.

  4. Graham King says

    What a terrible response to such a well-written article in the Atlantic. You used facts and common sense. I don’t want that! I want my child to get me a glass of wine and then put herself to sleep. I can’t be bothered by this child-rearing thing.

    In all seriousness, the baby-wearing thing had me laughing. Our 18-month old can’t wait to get out of the carrier. And since we’re always around her and are attentive she’s got enormous confidence. It’s not uncommon for her to walk 200 feet away from us before turning around to see where we are. [Yes, we only do this is wide-open, uncrowded areas].

    Thanks for your article!

    • says

      LOL – thank you :)

      My daughter, as soon as she could walk, wanted out and walking everywhere. It’s been great though – she meanders around and knows her own limits while also knowing I’m there if needed!

  5. says

    Wow, what a great piece. This is my first time reading your blog and what a relief it was to find. Everyone I know with a baby my daughter’s age (1 year) has practiced some form of CIO, and swears by Marc Weissbluth’s book and/or that one about French babies that sleep through the night from birth. It had all got me really doubting whether I was doing the right thing by continuing to bedshare and breastfeed on demand. This was wonderful to read, I feel much less like an alien for having a 1yo who still nurses to sleep and loves to be worn.

    • kitemkat says

      Look up the Gentle Parenting International facebook group if you want to find a great community of like-minded parents. So much support on that group! It’s hard when your friends make choices that break your heart, isn’t it? You’re doing the right thing, that’s for sure!

  6. says

    Great article!

    I can’t believe how many people think babies try to manipulate adults when they are trying to communicate their needs. It seems that many parents are afraid of being outsmarted by babies and so they try to recognize all their “faked emotions and needs” and promptly dismiss them. I find this very strange, pretty idiotic, and probably the result of listening to people like the author of the piece you refuted.

  7. Saskia says

    It was the lead paragraph of her article that really got me “Extremes like on-demand breastfeeding can take their toll on parents and children alike” – on demand breastfeeding, extreme??!?! As I pointed out in the comment I left on her article she can go and tell that to all of the medical experts & scientists who recommend it then!!

  8. nadel says

    I love this! This is exactly what I want to say. Just in Afrikaans. But nevermind. It sums up my opinion to a T.

  9. Jessica Caswell says

    I absolutely agree with this article. I had read Emma Jenner’s first and was bothered by how extreme she expected parents to behave toward their infants. I did notice, however, that Miss Jenner is not a parent, so that might have some bearing on her opinions. I also find it interesting that the comments at the bottom of her article go back and forth with a lot of arguing and name-calling. People sounded off that they didn’t agree with what she said and -naturally- her supporters argued back. The comments on this article are all just people thankful that someone gave their own opinions a voice. I am one of those people. Thank you for such a well written and on point article.

  10. Amy says

    You are completely missing the point of her article..it’s about balance…and your cussing in response makes your argument completely irrelevant….. It’s not about dismissing your childs needs…it’s about knowing that your adult life is important too… Get off your high horse about being a better mother…

    • says

      Except she paints AP AS extreme – there is no balance despite balance being a key part of AP. If people aren’t doing that, they aren’t doing AP. Furthermore, she speaks of these things as all being untenable, that this type of responsiveness CAN’T be done while caring for your needs and that’s simply not true at all. I believe it’s you that’s missing the point here, not I.

      • Amy says

        Attachment parenting is completely extreme…To have your baby attached to you while you eat, sleep and breathe every single moment of every single day is absolutely extreme.. When my baby cried I met her needs…When she started to cry I was there to hold her, comfort her, and meet the need she required at that moment… I didn’t have to walk around with her strapped to me at all times. She communicated with me no problem during infancy and I was there..always… She wasn’t permanently attached to my breast or body or my bed and guess what? She turned out absolutely great! During her infancy I wasn’t a walking zombie cause i got a good nights rest cause I had room in my bed to sleep. I was fully functional and happy and I was never sick. I ate my meals, was able to shower without her crying for me to pick her up and enjoyed it while she would swing in her swing…I didn’t have to hold her all the time… She wouldn’t cry or loose her mind when I put her down. Being a mother is part of being a woman…it’s PART of who you are it’s NOT your whole entire life and being..You can still love your child unconditionally without having to velcro your baby to you permanently.

        • Kim says

          Totally agree with you Amy! I have also seen the same outcome
          With certain children who’s mothers have practised attachment parenting and it’s totally backfires at a later age.

        • says

          NO WHERE does anyone say a baby HAS to be attached to you every moment of every day. That’s been spun by popular press and people, such as yourself, that don’t actually know much about AP. What you describe – being there when she cried to meet her needs – is attachment parenting (gasp!) – it’s about responsiveness. For you, bedsharing didn’t work – that’s okay – no one says you HAVE to do it. For my family, it was the ONLY way we got sleep and like you I wasn’t sleep deprived. However, my daughter did need to be in arms so I used a wrap, strapped her on, and got about my day. But that was just my daughter and it’s not my nephew or niece. Each child is different and AP is a way to ensure we do provide contact and touch (being aware of even how little most families touch their babies is important) while offering SUGGESTIONS about ways to increase bonding.

          • Amy says

            Then why are AP mothers so judgemental such as yourself in regards to Emma Jenners article? She meets the needs of the children she has been exposed too and i’m certain she will do the same when she delivers her baby… If a certain style works for one and not the other there is absolutely no need for your article and words of discouragement towards another parenting style… You are an educated woman who certainly knows more about AP than I do, but your article speaks pure trash and non support of another woman trying to do the right thing with helping struggling mothers…

          • says

            You and I clearly differ on what is being supportive of a family. Telling parents they come first ignores the biological needs of infants. Everything she described is NOT telling parents to care for their children. Might I ask what kind of parenting style you take as my article going against except one that ignores the biological and emotional needs of children?

            Also, there was fair warning this piece was a rant. If you don’t like rants, don’t read.

        • Saskia says

          Where on earth did you get the idea that attachment parenting is about having your baby physically attached all day? I’ve seen this come up a few times in debates about AP; it’s almost as if people are taking the word “attachment” in the title a little too literally! Attachment is a term from psychology about creating healthy bonds between the child & their caregiver, it doesn’t relate AT ALL to being physically attached to them! It’s just so happens that some of the methods for helping the process of attachment involve being physically close/attached but it’s perfectly possible to practice AP without ever using a sling, sharing a bed or breastfeeding.

          Funnily enough, what you describe as the way that you parent actually sounds a lot like AP – being there at all times to meet her needs, comfort her, communicate with her, love her unconditionally etc. You don’t label it that way because you seem to have a distorted idea of what AP actually is, but I’d say based on your description that you’re a lot more “AP” than you think!!

  11. Amy says

    I’ve seen it more than once from parents who do attachment parenting… the child can’t share, the child is beyond rude, and if demands are not met right away the child freaks out and throw things, and screams and it take a tremendous effort from mom and dad to calm the child..No thanks…i’d rather have a child that does the opposite.

      • Amy says

        One child I know in particular who’s mother practiced AP is now receiving therapy for her anger… She’s three..mommy met every single need at the drop of a hat and when it became to much for her she started telling her “No” now that her mother doesn’t have her attached to her at every single moment because it burned the poor woman out.. it’s causing the child to become violent with other children, and to her parents.. it works for some and not others obviously… When does the AP stop? when is it enough?

        • says

          Clearly what your friend did wasn’t just responding to needs, but a failure to understand needs versus wants and her own needs in the process. The problem in our society is often that we push too much independence on babies then shelter our older children when in fact the natural state is the opposite.

          • Amy says

            LMAO! The problem with society today is parents coddle their children way to much and when they get older and have to face the real problems and mommy can’t be there all the time….

          • says

            I recommend you read Parenting Without Borders. If you think the problem is coddling BABIES then I shudder to think of the world you describe… oh wait, we’re kind of half way there aren’t we? And how wonderful it’s been…

        • Emma says

          Just FYI Amy, the concept of “attachment” in the term ‘attachment parenting’ refers to the psychological process of attachment or bonding between the caregivers /s and child. ‘Attachment’ in this context does not mean being physically attached to your child 24/7. It so happens that holding and keeping your baby close does help facilitate the process of (psychological) attachment, and there are many ways to meet that need for closeness, such as babywearing and co-sleeping; but no one I’ve ever meet that practices AP holds the belief that baby has to be held constantly, in the manner that you are implying.

        • Saskia says

          I would say that parent might be describing what she does as “AP” but she sounds as misinformed about it as you do. I’ve come across a few people like it, who use the label “AP” but seem to think it means their child should never experience any kind of distress, should get everything the want immediately etc. They are wrong, and I don’t think they are correct labelling what they do as “AP”. It’s all about creating HEALTHY attachment; that doesn’t mean coddling a child so they are unable to stand on their own two feet, it doesn’t mean failing to establish boundaries, it doesn’t mean letting your child’s needs completely subsume your own, it doesn’t mean never allowing them to cry. It means teaching your child they can rely on you to be there when they really need you, strengthening the bonds of love between you so that even when you are physically apart they know in their hearts that you are always there, responding appropriately to them, being attentive & learning about your own individual child & how best to care for them.

  12. Amy says

    To continue this debate with you would be useless.. Just because I simply don’t agree with your article and your method you resort to insulting the way I handle things..when you have no clue about the kind of mother I am. You have absolutely no tact whatsoever, your article is completely unprofessional and trashy..and the words you use to speak to complete strangers speaks volumes of your character… Good luck with your method :)

    • says

      I have no idea how you handle things – in fact, I suggested what you did was AP whether you realize it or not. What I said was about the approach advocated in general in our society in putting parents first and children second, even when babies and they rely upon parents.

      As for the article – I warned at the start it wasn’t a “professional” one! What did you expect – professional when I warned of an unprofessional rant coming up? As for my words, have you read what you have written? I have asked you questions about what part of the type of parenting I’m speaking against you advocate for and whether codding babies is the problem (instead of the helicopter parenting that happens in our society once kids start to show their independence – on THEIR timetable). I still recommend the book Parenting Without Borders. It may open up your eyes to how other societies and cultures parent these early years and the child outcomes they have from it.

      • Amy says

        I read the book. It’s only semi-scientific as it frequently mixes research and anecdotes.The book gushes about how wonderful parenting is in Japan and how happy children are. Never mentioned is that Japan has one of the world’s highest suicide rates. I found online research that showed that in recent years the adolescent suicide rate in Japan has risen to to be twice as high as in the United States.

        For the most part, it felt like Gross-Loh took the things she liked about Japanese culture and went looking for research to back her up.

        The only thing interesting about the book was the chapters on education in other countries.

        Modern American parenting comes too often from a place of fear. Sometimes we just have to trust ourselves, our kids and the world, that things will work out.

        The book was a bit too preachy about what the author felt was the best way to parent. Kinda like your article.

        • says

          If you want more science on the early years of parenting (which echo a lot of what Gross-Loh found for PWB), I would check out Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday. Great sections on child care and understanding what we’ve done and why.

          Re Japan, I wasn’t referring to all of childhood, but the first year or so which is when most people talk of “AP” and it wasn’t just Japan in her book, but a discussion of the allowance of dependence early then following cues to independence. This is a model in MANY areas of the world and children seem to come out far more independent and capable then they do in America.

          Of course, I didn’t feel she was preachy at all, just asking people to think about differences. But if you’re looking to read preachy, you will :) (Just as many people had the same response to a woman claiming AP is “unsustainable” ;) )

          • says

            Good parenting does not come in only one style.

            For some AP is the best way to bond with their infant. As Tracy points out, we must set appropriate boundaries–and that is true no matter what style of parenting we adopt, keeping safety and our unique situations in mind.

            Many people have written guides and “rule books” for parenting which have been extraordinarily popular at the time, followed blindly even when it felt wrong. Often these “experts” are debunked later.

            I encourage you to see how it feels to you when you read about a parenting style, tip or technique. If, like Amy, AP feels wrong to you, this is your Internal Guidance System at work telling you that AP is not the right parenting style for you and your child, at least for now.

    • Saskia says

      I have read Tracy’s responses to you and not once can I see her insult you and your parenting. I have seen her disagree with you, yes, but if you’re insulted by disagreement then I suggest you avoid commenting on articles that inspire strong feelings as you are bound to get disagreement!

      I’m guessing your feelings of being “insulted” stem from your agreement with the article being discussed? I can see how statements like “If you believe this crap, I’m amazed you’re able to get dressed in the morning” might feel offensive if you happen to be one of the people that DOES believe in it! I think you do have to read Tracy’s article as the response of someone who has “had it up to here” with misguided articles trashing AP (as she makes clear at the start, this isn’t a carefully balanced & nuanced article like most on this blog, she explicitly states that this is a rant, and will be full of “cussing” & name calling). The article being discussed IS incredibly misinformed about attachment parenting, the needs of babies, current scientific & medical thinking about childrearing (just the statement made in the lead paragraph, that breastfeeding on demand is “extreme”, demonstrates an ignorance of current medical advice which is firmly of the opinion that on-demand is best for baby & mother) etc. Sorry if people stating that fact offends you, but we can’t all be held responsible for your emotional response to having your opinions questioned.

  13. WBH says

    YES!!! Love this blog. Keep writing. More mums will find it in those dark, boobing, early, sleepless nights and know that their instincts are right, they are not alone and they will be educated to withstand that constant trickle of bad advice. My friend gave me a gentle nudge towards this site. I do the same with any new mum I know.

  14. Monica says

    Well done and we’ll said… I posted a response on her article

    Look up Nspcc baby miles on you tube… its an advert for nspcc, the first clip is baby miles who learns that no one comes when he cries…breaks my heart!!!

    If anyone mentions cry it out I’d say if I ran over your foot and broke every bone…would you cry it out? Would you self soothe?

  15. DR says

    I’m just stunned that the world has reached a point where parents decide which particular type of parent they are. What the hell is ‘attachment parenting’? That’s not even a real thing! I agree with large parts of your approach, and disagree with others. Why? Because everyone is DIFFERENT! The only parenting methodology I’d ever subscribe to is called ‘good parenting’ (people have been using that one for thousands of years now and it really works) which involves using your brain, experience and instincts to do whatever works best for the child and the parents. There’s no point getting angry about that.

  16. Kirsten says

    Thank you!
    This sums up my feelings towards the original article p.e.r.f.e.c.t.l.y.
    And thank you for citing real scientific facts.

  17. Amy says

    ** Slow clap **

    So well said. And something that I’ll be sharing every chance I get. It’s kind of a sad commentary on our society when there are so many “experts” out there that buy into the convenience mentality that seems to be prevalent with a lot of new parents out there. And so many new parents are in a “me” mentality that continues even after the birth of their child that they buy into it and have lost touch with their instinctual drive to listen to their own babies. It’s such a messed up culture that pits mothers against mothers and I think part of why some people get so defensive (obviously not everyone, I respect that each situation/family/story is unique and no one can know what goes on behind closed doors), but I think that *some* get their backs up when some gentle/AP parenting topics are broached because they have this feeling in the pits of their stomach that maybe something they’re doing as recommended by the experts (be it CIO, choosing formula feeding without even attempting to breastfeed or whatever), is not the way it should be. But maybe that is just my thoughts.

    Anyway, I love your blog and follow it regularly. Especially love this little departure! :)

  18. Shannon says

    Thanks for this excellent response. I have parented as an AP, and my kids are now 21, 19, 16. They support and responsiveness they’ve had their whole lives has meant that they are independent and mature kids, able to live free and competent lives on their own. While the youngest lives at home (and is an autodidact and all around fantastic kid), the older two do not call me every day or even every week. They rarely ask for help. They are financially stable and doing well in college. We’re very close, but I don’t need to be a helicopter parent, swooping in to save them–they know how to save themselves.

    I think the Atlantic article was really worried about the type of parent SOME AP parents also are: those parents who do not allow their kids face consequences, deal with hard choices, or be independent. Yes, SOME AP parents are like that. MANY non-AP parents are also like that. My hypothesis (and I really wish someone would study this) is that AP parents are less likely to raise obnoxious self-centered kids, who are more independent because they are confident that the world won’t suck.

  19. Jeni Pi says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You said what I have been thinking for a long long time!!! Curse words and all!! Also thank you for taking the time, as painful as it must be, to deconstruct and school the Jasseys’. Your work is very much needed and appreciated!!! You literally inspire me everytime I read a post of yours!!!

  20. says

    Give the woman a round of applause! Once again, here’ is another example of “experts” treating “normal people” like mindless imbeciles. Love the article, thanks for the read.

  21. K says

    Responding to your baby doesn’t mean that you don’t set boundaries, it doesn’t mean that you’re never apart or that you don’t ever say no, it’s about working with your baby to achieve the a parenting style / method that works for everybody!

    And that’s the thing I like about Attachment / Gentle Parenting, it’s about working with your baby or child rather than battling against them (and my Mother once said to me that “if you think you’re going to win a battle against a baby – you’re wrong!”). So many other methods and books seem to be about working against your child (or your instincts) and one book I read (Tracey Hogg – The Baby Whisperer) made me feel like a bad parent before I’d even delivered my baby!

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