Controversially Attached

It seems like not a month goes by lately without some aspect of Attachment Parenting being all up in the news and shocking people at every turn. Whether it’s Alicia Silverstone chewing her food for her kid (technically not an AP principal but lumped in none the less), Mayim Bialik admitting that her children sleep in her bed and have never worn diapers, or the City of Milwaukee’s attack on co-sleeping (see my rant on this subject here), there’s always someone up in arms about the ‘strangeness’ of these parenting methods.

The latest? A young mother on the cover of Time magazine breastfeeding her 3 yr old. Now I will be the first to admit, the cover photograph could be construed as weird. As the woman is standing up and her son is on a chair, also standing, nursing. I think what’s weird is that this is definitely not something you see everyday and let’s face it, it looks uncomfortable.

But let’s all put our thinking caps on for a moment and think about this cover. Why did they take this picture? Why did they use this picture (which doesn’t truly represent extended breastfeeding) on their cover? To be controversial and sell more magazines. Right? Right. Moving on…

Though it may look completely uncomfortable I’m sure that any nursing mother will tell you they’ve nursed in some pretty damn uncomfortable positions and have lived to tell the tale. My uncomfortable positions/places include standing up in a public restroom at a restaurant where I was asked to stop nursing at the table, curled up and hunched over in the middle seat on an airplane, standing up in line at the grocery store, and in the driver’s seat of my car during a hail storm (just the other day in fact).

The real frustration to me comes in the article itself and it’s continuing of the whole Mommy-Wars debate. It’s shit like this that really pisses me off. Namely because the whole idea of Attachment Parenting and particularly breastfeeding seems to be constantly under-fire as being unnatural, obsessives, over-parenting and even cultish. And that is so NOT the case.

I would consider myself and Michael pretty attached parents. We exclusively and extendedly breastfeed, we co-sleep with our infant and we wear our children as often as possible. We cloth diaper. Followed Cedella’s lead when it came to weaning and eating. And we don’t practice Cry It Out sleeping techniques, well, not intentionally anyways. We stagger the limited vaccines we give our kids and I consult Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book on a very very regular basis.

But we don’t adhere to the Attachment Parenting lifestyle so rigidly or vehemently that I would consider our family attachment junkies. But after a whole lot of research and the common sense experience of raising Cedella for two years, these are the choices and prinicipals we believe in as a family.

My point is, this is OUR lifestyle choice. Like it or not it’s what we have chosen and what works best for OUR family.

I know people judge us for our choices. Particularly for still breastfeeding Cedella. But I don’t give a shit. I’m confident with what we’ve chosen. If you don’t understand it, by all means, ask questions. But if you just don’t agree, please keep it to yourself or talk about us when we leave the room like decent people.

But here’s the thing. If that is not your way of doing things, cool. You have a different method of parenting? Swear by Cry It Out? Think babies should be in their own beds and in their own strollers from day one? Great. That’s your choice. I don’t judge you. You’ve made your choices for your family.

But to think breastfeeding is gross (the Time cover certainly won’t help in that regard)? This is where I draw the line in judgement. Cause it’s just not. I truly believe it’s the absolute best choice any mother could ever make for her child. And whether or not this cover photo is oddly staged, I think it’s absolutely beautiful and revolutionary that this confident mama would go on the cover of a national magazine breastfeeding her toddler when the entire society around her tells her it’s weird and sexual and inappropriate.

I know, there are many mothers who really can’t breastfeed for a multitude of reasons and others still that start out breastfeeding and can’t continue cause they have to go back to work. And I applaud them. Because breastfeeding for any amount of time is better for your baby than never having tried.

But certainly there are women out there that decide not to breastfeed because it’s uncomfortable to them, they’ve got an impression that breastfeeding is sexualized, they feel like it’s too difficult or too inconvenient, or maybe they’re just following along with what the nurses and doctors at their hospital tell them they should be doing. I find it incredibly unfortunate but it’s their choice. And while I can disagree or hope that every mother would give breastfeeding a chance, I will not think they are less of a mother than I am.

For those who want to continue thinking it’s weird that a 3 yr old is still breastfeeding please think about this before you judge that woman again. The mother who choses to breastfeed her 3 yr old didn’t make that choice lightly. It isn’t that she didn’t think about it, debate the pros and cons and decide that what was best for her son was to be able to nurse until he was ready to stop. In fact she may have done a lot of research about what was best for both her and her child.

And for those who have commented or made jokes about how this child will be scarred for life or made fun of in high school? It is people who think like this that would bully this child into thinking he was weird or different. Odds are good that this child will grow up feeling loved and connected to his parents and therefore feel more confident and secure in who he is as an individual.

To take it further, a family that choses to cloth diaper does so, not out of feeling superior or righteous in some way, but because they feel it’s the best choice for their child and (probably) the best choice for the planet. We believe our choice in cloth diapering will help Cedella and Isora to think about what they put on their bodies and what they put in the trash can.

Co-sleeping with your child my sound uncomfortable, invasive or just down-right dangerous to some people, but to us it is a way to closely nurture and care for our children, keeping a strong nursing bond and (GASP) still getting a decent amount of sleep! I know. Crazy town. Imagine if you didn’t have to get up two or three times a night to make a bottle for your baby and go to a different room to feed them. It’s genius.

Have you ever tried to get work done around the house or chase a toddler at the park with a teething baby in tow that doesn’t want to be put down? Yea. You know you have. Have you tried a sling or a Moby wrap or an mei tai or an Ergo? Once you’ve worn your baby close to you and realize that you can comfort them and keep them close while still having your hands free, life is a whole lot calmer and easier. Seriously. Try it.

The thing is, all of these attachment principles are really just common sense and are practiced quite regularly and without controversy in most other countries in the world. And yet in our country they are looked at as being so over the top. It bothers me. Because if you know my children or ever have a chance to meet them, you’ll see two very happy, very calm (well usually) and very confident children. That’s what attachment looks like in our household.

As mothers why in the world do so many of us feel the need to pit ourselves against others? Why can’t we just respect one another’s choices and parenting styles? Is it really that threatening when you meet someone who parents wholly different than you do? Or more to the point, is there really THAT much difference between parenting styles that we have to fight over which is best? And at the end of the day is it really that hard to open your mind to a new concept and maybe, just maybe, introduce a new parenting method to your family?

At the end of the day every parenting philosophy begins with one simple tenant…helping parents become better at raising their children. Right? So be it attached or not, helicopter or free-range, breast or bottle, working mom or stay-at-home mom, they’re all just means to the end result of raising happy, healthy children who feel loved. So let’s stop the judgement, stop these battles and get on with raising our kids in the best way each of us can.

 

Comments

  1. Amber says:

    “It is people who think like this that would bully this child into thinking he was weird or different.”

    I love that you make that point. A kid, if he even has much of a memory of being nursed at three, wouldn’t think it was weird or feel ashamed unless someone else makes him feel that way. I wish people would get that when they make judgments about others parenting choices, THEY are the ones doing harm.

    Great post.
    Amber recently posted..Friday Inspiration – The To Do List

  2. Kim says:

    I agree with this, but I got side tracked at you were asked to stop breast feeding while at a table in a resturant??? What the hell??
    Kim recently posted..Violet, Oh, Violet

  3. Brooke says:

    Yes yes to all of it. I get so sad for the moms in my classes who try to hide that they’re not nursing because they are afraid of being judged by other moms. I usually tell my students that whatever works for their family is what is BEST for their family… whatever their best friend/mom/great-aunt/magazine cover says does not matter. And to the parents who can listen to their intuition and respect their kids, like you do, I say bravo! Pass on the good mojo! 😀
    (Also, HI! Been out of the blogosphere for a while… how’s it going with 2?)
    Brooke recently posted..Inspired all the way around

  4. Amen sister! I just realized you don’t have any share buttons. I’m going to share this post!
    Teresha@ Marlie and Me recently posted..What I’m Watching on #Netflix

  5. KalleyC says:

    I agree with you 100%. It all comes down to a person’s choice. It’s a shame that our choices are pitting against one another, instead of people just realizing that what works for one family doesn’t work for another.

    I do extended nursing with my 3yo and I’m expecting. I’m just going to follow her lead when it comes down to weaning. At the look of things already, she is already on her way to weaning herself.

    People should just understand and get, “to each his own.”

    Great post.
    KalleyC recently posted..Getting Over the Fear

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