As an attachment parent, I have naturally been asked by a few people what I think of the TIME magazine article and cover. Upfront confession: I haven't read the actual cover story as I do not have a subscription to TIME and have not purchased the magazine. But, I have read the accompanying articles and watched, read, and listened to the response that has been caused by the magazine. It is my understanding that the article is primarily a bio of Dr. Sears that coincides with the anniversary of the release of their The Baby Book. And, if that is not totally accurate, that is okay because I mainly want to address the media's response to the issue in this post.
|How could you not answer her cries?|
But, first, because I've been asked and it's the primary instigator of all of this, my thoughts on the cover. I believe that breastfeeding a three-year-old is normal as long as both mother and child are still comfortable with the arrangement. As for breastfeeding while a child is standing on a chair? Probably not very comfortable for either party. This was obviously a photo to grab headlines. The United States and some other Western countries are certainly the minority when it comes to our breastfeeding timelines- most children breastfeed for three to five years. Overall, however, I am a proponent of breastfeeding in public, and I think that exposing the public to these images is a good thing in a move to normalize what is, frankly, totally normal.
I have largely been disappointed with the media's response and coverage of attachment parenting as a result of this cover story, or, more accurately, cover picture. Overall, they have portrayed an extremely narrow and, at times, inaccurate view of attachment parenting. I will primarily focus on the following news reports: this CNN discussion, this NPR report through Here and Now, and this CNN interview.
Now, how this is a Science Friday: it seems to me that the hosts and/or panelists of these shows did not do even the most basic research into attachment parenting. Obviously, part of their job is to ask challenging questions, but I do not believe that these questions should ignore basic information regarding the topic at hand. So, here is a step-by-step guide to conduct basic research. I can only imagine how short these hosts are on time, so it's important to note that the following steps took me less than 2 minutes.
- Go to www.google.com.
- In search box, type keywords about the subject. For this example, I used "attachment parenting."
- Select a reliable source from the results. While not all may agree, Wikipedia has largely been deemed a reliably source, especially for a brief overview, so I clicked on Wikipedia's article on attachment parenting for this experiment.
- Skim article looking for more specific key words that support your research. Based upon the questions asked in the interviews I linked above, I skimmed for the following words: breastfeeding, co-sleeping, discipline, stay-at-home-mom, and childcare.
Using these simple four steps, I was able to uncover the following inaccuracies in the reports:
- The principles of API do not included "extended breastfeeding" or "co-sleeping." Instead, they state, "feed with love and respect" and "ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally."
- Parents do not have to "strictly follow" any or all of the principles of attachment parenting.
- Attachment parents do practice discipline. It's called "positive discipline."
Assuming the interviewers had 5 minutes to prepare for their interviews, they could have explored Dr. Sears's own site (a novel idea! especially as he was one of the interviewees!) and uncovered even more inaccuracies:
- Attached or "connected" children are typically more likely to be independent than their "unconnected" peers.
- Meeting a child's demands means meeting their needs- not their every wants. Attachment parents do set limits and do not let their children rule the household.
- You can be a working mom and practice attachment parenting.
- Research on attachment has been conducted in the United States. In fact, I've discussed it many times on this blog! For a review, check out an overview of Mary Ainsworth here.
While this Science Friday was slightly more cynical than my previous, I was disappointed with these responses, especially the attacks on the "lack of discipline" within attachment parenting and the idea that attachment parenting leads to helicopter parenting. My husband and I decided to follow attachment parenting largely because of the ideas behind positive discipline (and, more specifically, unconditional parenting, although, like extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping, not all AP parents follow UP) and the fact that research shows these practices will make children MORE independent. Next week I will discuss some of the ways we are practicing positive discipline at home in order to help foster Q-ball's independence.
Below are links to responses to the TIME article with which I agree: