By Tracy G. Cassels
Okay, I had planned on staying out of this whole situation with the View outside of my offering webspace for people to post pictures so they have links for the virtual nurse-in on the 22nd, however, the insanity that continues to come out from this situation has forced my hand. Let me first say that I have never seen the View and I never plan to. From a public relations point of view, I’m the last person they care about because I was never “theirs” to begin with. The responses they should care about come from people like Corey at Conscience Parenting because she was an avid viewer and they managed to truly piss her off. But regardless of this fact, I’m going to chime in because it’s what I do.
Over the past week, the women of the View have apparently spoken of full-term breastfeeding and attachment parenting more generally in some of the most judgmental, awful terms all based on that infamous Time cover. Things like how the image freaks them out and that babies shouldn’t be breastfeeding once they have teeth or can ask for it. And then there are the comments from viewers (or readers of Time) saying the idea of a 3-year-old breastfeeding is disgusting and sexual. These kinds of ignorant and asinine comments I will simply ignore because it’s all they are – ignorant and asinine. My husband has to continually remind me that debating with people who spout those views off is a ridiculous waste of time and only serves to get me all riled up. Instead, I will point to some of my own articles here and here on the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby, if someone wishes to inform themselves of what the research actually shows.
But then the View had Dr. William Sears on, a renowned doctor and proponent for attachment parenting. He is not a “guru” or “cult” leader, as some would suggest, but a doctor who has witnessed the importance of attachment and knows the ways that humans have historically parented their children to promote attachment. He does not have a set of rules one must subscribe to and seems to have made his life’s work out of helping families and babies. What does he get for going on the View and trying to share his point of view? Five yappy women who want nothing more than to blame him for everything. And the thing that comes across most viciously was the accusation that what he does serves to make moms feel guilty. All of these women feel awful because of Dr. Sears.
You see, this is where I get mightily pissed off because if you really need to blame Dr. Sears for your feelings on your parenting abilities, then you need a reality check. Unless I’m grossly mistaken, neither Dr. Sears nor any other attachment parent held a gun to your head and told you how you had to parent and then turned around and said you were a horrible mother (and I admit, if you present me with evidence that this indeed happened, I’ll retract my statements).
Plain and simple – you made a choice. You chose to parent in one of a million different ways. And then you heard that there’s this doctor who has both research and anecdotal evidence to share about how humans have been raised for hundreds of thousands of years. This “weird” attachment parenting, according to research, works wonders. Children are secure, parents are happy. And so you looked back on what you did and suddenly don’t feel so great. Apparently one of you left your child to cry for four days until that child finally stopped. I wouldn’t feel so great either about that. But here’s the thing – Dr. Sears didn’t “make” you feel guilty.
YOU made yourself feel guilty.
YOU realized, somewhere deep down, that you hurt the person you love (because, yes, despite all this – no because of the guilt you feel – you do love your children and deeply).
YOU wondered if perhaps you could have done better by them.
YOU worried that the actions you took may not have had the desired effect you had hoped for and that maybe, just maybe, you actually hurt that precious bond just a little bit.
And so YOU feel guilty.
But instead of acknowledging and owning that guilt as your own, you decided to blame someone else. Someone that, until your show, you’d never met. Someone whose outspokenness has helped thousands of families make a transition to a type of parenting that fits their lifestyle and instincts. And perhaps it gets you viewers because most people would rather shift the blame from something they don’t like to someone else, but it’s a cowardly approach and one that should be condemned. You not only attacked someone who never once insulted you or your parenting, but you laid blame on his feet for emotions YOU had over which he had no control. My father once told me that if you refuse to accept responsibility for your own state, then you hand over the power to your life to others. And then your happiness is no longer in your control. Apparently you’ve just given Dr. Sears an immense amount of power over your lives.
There’s a saying by Eleanor Roosevelt making the rounds these days and it goes:
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Guilt is an emotion we feel when WE know we’ve done wrong. And it’s a good emotion because it helps us learn from our mistakes. The problem is that owning up to the realization that one screwed up is a difficult, difficult process. But not impossible. And in fact, only by owning up can you change course and right things. I think the women of the View would do well to read this little piece by a friend of mine because she epitomizes the opposite of all they have done. She owned up to what she saw were her mistakes and in turn changed them. Can she go back and change the past? No, but would you rather stick your heels in the mud and continue down a path that makes you feel like shit every time someone brings up an alternate path or change course and witness the beauty that comes with feeling at peace with your own decisions?
As a parent who has made my own decisions based on instinct and supported by research, I can tell you that I have had not only people who exist that do things differently than me (gasp!), but horrible comments directed at me for the choices I have made. People have actively tried to shame me in my parenting.
But it doesn’t work.
Why? Because I won’t let it. I will not take part in second guessing the decisions I’ve made because someone else is uncomfortable with them. Trust me – attachment parents everywhere get the shit end of the stick when it comes to judgments and guilt tactics. And we also get the “pleasure” of being the ones called out for the few who do the same back. But we don’t change, we don’t yell, we don’t try to blame others because we know what we’re doing is right for OUR babies.
So if the fact that Dr. Sears is alive is enough to send you into a panicked state of guilt, then I think you may want to take a long, hard look at yourself and the way in which you parent. Because something isn’t right. And it’s all on you.