Friday, May 18, 2012

How to Conduct Basic Research and My Response to the TIME Magazine Uproar

   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. 
  1. Go to
  2. In search box, type keywords about the subject.  For this example, I used "attachment parenting."
  3. 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.   
  4. 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:
  1. 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."
  2. Parents do not have to "strictly follow" any or all of the principles of attachment parenting.  
  3. 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:
  1. Attached or "connected" children are typically more likely to be independent than their "unconnected" peers. 
  2. 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.
  3. You can be a working mom and practice attachment parenting.
  4. 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:

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I agree that it does seem those who interviewed and have written on attachment parenting seem to know very little (to nothing) about it. I hope that all of the publicity is still doing some good and those who want to know more will seek out unbiased information.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...