Attachment parenting: who pays, who profits, who’s excluded and who avoids responsibility altogether?

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Attachment parenting, also known as intensive mothering, is the dominant parenting philosophy today. By dominant I don’t mean that’s its the most widely practiced; instead it is the parenting ideology favored by elites: Western, white, relatively well off married women who view themselves as moral exemplars for their less fortunate sisters of a different color and economic class. From the front page of Time Magazine (Are You Mom Enough?) to the playgrounds and message boards of the internet, we are busily judging other mothers and how they comport with this ideology.

Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that there is no scientific evidence of any kind that attachment parenting is “better” and consider how this ideology affects society. Who profits, who pays, who’s excluded and who avoids responsibility altogether?

Who profits?

According to a recent position paper, Governing Motherhood: Who Pays and Who Profits?, written by Phyllis Rippeyoung and published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the profit is restricted to self proclaimed parenting experts like Dr. William Sears and family:

… In addition to the more than 30 books the various family members have co-authored, they also have developed, branded, or marketed numerous other supplements, snacks, beverages,
and baby care items with the Dr. Sears stamp of approval. Their celebrity status has also garnered son Dr. Jim Sears a seat on Dr. Phil’s spin-off TV-show The Doctors, while all of the Sears family members working in the field of medicine have been interviewed on major leading television networks. Further, patriarch Dr. William’s speaking appearances can be booked through the All American Speakers agency for a fee somewhere in the range of $10,000–$20,000 (All American Speakers 2010–11).

The Sears also have at least two websites from which they profit. In addition to the advice and products offered on their Ask Dr. Sears website, they also include endorsements for such products as goat’s milk, Dr. Sears’ “favorite” salmon, vitamin enriched juice, and a program to teach children to read at home. They also have a website for the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. This “scientifically based, family approved” wellness institute, headed up by Drs. William and Jim Sears, claims to “provide high quality professional certifications, scientifically-based educational programs, and resources that empower individuals and families to live happier, healthier, longer lives by making positive Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, and Nutrition (L.E.A.N.) choices.” Here, parents and caregivers can take e-courses for $59.99 or find out where to get (or how to become) a certified “L.E.A.N.” coach.

Simply put, attachment parenting is a big business.

Who pays?

Mothers pay … in a myriad of ways.

1. Lost earnings

… They are paying not only for these books, courses, coaches, supplements, and other devices all created to make children healthier, but they are also paying with lost earnings. Although the Ask Dr. Sears website notes that mothers can successfully combine “attachment parenting” with paid employment, he suggests that women consider some “alternatives to spending the entire day away from your baby.”

2. Lost time for themselves

We are only in the earliest stages of measuring the impact of the dominant mothering ideology on women’s mental health. One of the first investigations, Insight into the Parenthood Paradox: Mental Health Outcomes of Intensive Mothering, found this:

The belief that mothers are the most capable parent (Essentialism) was associated with higher levels of stress and lower levels of life satisfaction. In prior research, mothers have expressed difficulty selecting an alternate caregiver because they felt that no one else, including the child’s father, could provide the same degree of love, commitment, and skill. If women believe they are the most capable caregiver, they may limit help from others, a practice known as maternal gatekeeping. This may account for the lower levels of social support reported by women who endorsed essentialist attitudes …

Believing that parents’ lives should revolve around their children (Child-Centered) was related to lower levels of satisfaction with life. According to Tummala-Narra, when women feel they must subsume their needs to the needs of their child, they lose a sense of personal freedom, which may result in women experiencing negative mental health outcomes (e.g., lower levels of life satisfaction).

3. Guilt

Attachment parenting is a philosophy of privilege. It is completely inaccessible to women who are poor, work at low wage menial jobs and lack the support of a partner who earns enough to make attachment parenting financially feasible. Now, in addition to struggling to provide their children with the basic necessities of living, they are denigrated for being unable to provide their children with the requisite emotional support.

Who’s excluded?

Fathers are excluded.

Despite its name, attachment parenting renders fathers peripheral in the exact same way as the oft mocked lifestyle choices of the 1950’s. The father exists to provide financial support; the mother exists to provide her presence, her labor and her emotional support.

Who avoids responsibility altogether?

Attachment parenting purports to mimic mothering in indigenous cultures, but actually differs in the most fundamental way. In many traditional cultures, “it takes a village to raise a child” whereas in attachment parenting only the mother can do it. While grandmothers, “aunties” and friends play important roles in child rearing in traditional cultures, attachment parenting imagines each mother has having sole responsibility for her child’s emotional health as well as her own. Proximity of the child to the mother is fetishized (baby wearing, family bed) and sharing parenting tasks with anyone else, even the father or grandmother, is implicitly discouraged.

In regard to the Sears’ website, the position paper notes:

… parents are encouraged to make individual decisions that make the most sense for their own families, rather than the collectivity of children and families as a whole.

The only role for government imagined by many attachment parenting proponents is to pressure women into practicing the tents of attachment parenting or at the very least, shame them for not doing so:

This individualizing of responsibility for child welfare has also been seen among breastfeeding proponents, as most explicitly illustrated in an editorial by Dr. Ruth Lawrence, a founder of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. In her essay, “The Elimination of Poverty One Child at a Time,” she argues that breastfeeding is the panacea for health and cognitive inequalities between poor and non-poor children. She ends the piece by writing that breastfeeding may be the only gift that poor mothers have to offer their children.

Although neglectful and abusive parenting has been shown to explain multiple forms of inequalities in child outcomes, I have been unable to find any research assessing whether breastfeeding, baby-sling wearing, co-sleeping, or the other attachment parenting practices advocated by the Sears Family or others will actually reduce either poverty or the consequences of growing up poor, one child at a time or otherwise. In research I have recently completed (Rippeyoung forthcoming), I assessed the relative impact of breastfeeding versus the family educational environment on reducing gaps in child verbal IQ between the poor, the near poor, and the non-poor … [A]lthough breastfeeding is correlated with higher test scores for children, it does less to reduce the gaps between poor and non-poor children than does reading to one’s children and increasing the mother’s education. However, even if we were to equalize all of these factors, a large and significant gap in the scores remains. This research indicates that individual solutions to low test scores will not solve the problems of inequalities in school readiness.

The author concludes:

If policy makers are truly interested in improving child health and welfare, more needs to be done to address the problems faced by families comprehensively and structurally; not only in terms of training individual mothers to behave in particular, culturally defined ways…

I couldn’t agree more.

  • Lindsay Jacobs

    Becoming Attached by Robert Karen is a must read. The first 17 chapters are basically a crash course pre and post attachment theory. Out of all the books and research I’ve read, this book is my favorite because the author used evidence based research as the foundation for any statement he made and was able to support his thesis that our first attachments/first relationships essentially”shape our capacity to love” consistently/strongly beginning to end. There is a fascinating section on child care that was eye opening to me. I love how the author is unabashed in questioning really hot button issues that most people shy away from. It was a challenging and stimulating read.

    Why Love Matters (How Affection Shapes A Baby’s Brain) by Sue Gerhardt would be my next suggestion.

    • momofone

      What original research have you read?

      • Lindsay Jacobs

        “The Journal of Attachment Parenting is an annual review of the most eye-opening research in sensitive responsiveness. For this debut issue, the Journal of Attachment Parenting highlights 41 studies selected through a review process that evaluated articles published in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals from around the world. An additional 324 studies have been recognized for their contributions to the Attachment Parenting community. Access to the online publication is free of charge.” In case you want to get a condensed list! 🙂

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          • Lindsay Jacobs

            This makes me sad to read. Sad because we now live in a time where children’s need to attach tends to be prioritized lower on the spectrum of importance and “parents” needs and desires placed above. AP is simply a natural way to parent. Women have the boobs and milk. It’s literally that simple. No matter how you may want to change the fact that women were created with the amazing, amazing, amazing ability and capacity to grow a baby in their body and then give birth to their baby and then provide for it until it was able to become more and more independent, the fact remains that this is an honor we have been given on this earth. There is nothing sexist about that.

          • Lindsay Jacobs

            And it saddens me to see another woman/doctor attempting to steal this joy from us. It is an honor and a privilege to parent my children. I, like many other parents/mothers, have had wonderful experiences in my life, including going to college, living abroad, serving my country, starting a business, etc. but at the end of the day, my primary responsibility as a woman during this season of my life as a mom is to be a mom to my kids. I don’t feel any remorse about that at all.

          • Nick Sanders

            What is she stealing from you, and how?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            What does that have to do with attachment parenting? Nothing, right?

            What makes you think that people have to copy what you do in order to get joy out of parenting?

          • Sarah

            Did you even have to ask? It’s because no choice other than hers could be a valid one. Come on!

          • Irène Delse

            Stealing what from whom? Nobody is saying women mustn’t choose to stay home if they want (and can).

            You mean she’s not validating your pet ideology and your life choices? But how “secure” is your attachment to those ideas of the criticism of a stranger on the internet is enough to make you feel threatened?

          • momofone

            So other people’s choosing to do things differently/challenging your assertions is somehow the same as stealing joy from you?

          • guest

            The narcissism is strong with this one.

          • Heidi

            “And it saddens me to see another woman/doctor attempting to steal this joy from us.”

            Kind of sounds like a personal problem. You know, if you see it as such an honor and privilege and definitely have no remorse about this being your “primary responsibility as a woman during this season of [your] life,” I can’t imagine a blog article would get to you.

          • Madtowngirl

            Lol. You know what stole my joy from me? People like you who insisted that there was One Right Way To Parent, and when it didn’t work out for my baby, I plunged into serious PPD. Dr. Amy and this community gave me back my joy, because I was able to see that there are many good ways to parent. The people who are stealing the joy of parenthood are sanctimommies and others who think it’s okay to bully other parents.

          • Sarah

            It saddens me to see you constructing a strawman to savage, but we all have our triggers.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            Some women do not produce milk. Some women are not able to conceive and carry babies. They can still be wonderful parents. As can men.

          • swbarnes2

            If you REALLY want to talk about what’s “natural”, what’s natural is for infants to bond with their caregivers, and they bond PERFECTLY WELL without breastfeeding, co-sleeping or babywearing.

            I’m sorry if that upsets your superiority complex, but its true. If given the opportunity, your child could bond just as well with his or her father as with you, and it’s really sad to read that you think otherwise.

          • Nick Sanders

            Indeed, food doesn’t really have all that much to do with bonding.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Unless it’s my mom’s fried rice or chocolate cake. She has cooked for the family two Sundays in a row and I feel much more bonded to her, possibly even attached after that kind of yumminess.

          • Roadstergal

            No, you can’t be bonded to her unless she feeds it to you directly from off of her tits!

          • Bombshellrisa

            I am doomed then, but really the process started when she listened to the doctors and had some pitocin.

          • Heidi_storage

            Except, of course, that babies who aren’t fed don’t get a chance to bond…which is why formula and clean water are so awesome!

          • Nick Sanders

            AP is simply a natural way to parent.

            “Natural” ≠ “better”

            Women have the boobs and milk.

            Which may have mattered in the past, but good formula is now easily available.

          • Irène Delse

            You know that “attachment” doesn’t mean that babies must be physically tied to their mother, right? And that breastmilk is just food, not an love potion?

            Oh, and I call BS on “nothing sexist about that”. Yes, saying that women are by nature the designated caregiver is essentialist sexism. When you define a woman’s role in society by her biological functions, it’s the very definition of sexism.

          • momofone

            “Women have the boobs and milk.”

            And if they don’t have either?

          • guest

            “It’s literally that sexist.” <—- Fixed that for you.

          • guest
          • Megan

            “Women have the boobs and milk.”
            Well, we have the boobs, but not all of us have the milk. Guess I’m screwed there too.
            Boy, I’m really striking out: Can’t bond with my parents because I’m adopted and can’t bond with my kids because I can’t breastfeed. At one point, I would’ve been offended by the nonsense you people spew. Now I just think you’re laughable.

          • demodocus

            And in my sister’s case, the stage IV ovarian cancer that even appeared on her son’s umbilical cord. She started Chemo 2 weeks later. Sure she had the boobs and milk but they were poisonous.

          • Heidi_storage

            “Natural” parenting involves losing several children during pregnancy, birth, infancy, and childhood.

            But as far as parenting methods go–uh, they’re really, really, really highly culture-bound. Parenting according to some ideal derived from what the !Kung do in the Kalahari desert just isn’t feasible for urban or suburban Americans.

          • Roadstergal

            “Women have the boobs and milk. It’s literally that simple”

            You’re aware that in the original attachment theory research done by Harlow, the monkeys bonded to the cuddles, not the food?

            And that the monkeys only needed cuddles, not cuddles from mom, to have a healthy reaction to disturbances?

            What on earth does your version of ‘attachment’ have to do with the actual attachment theory research?

            “women were created”

            Oh. That makes more sense. You’re a creationist, and believe that an omniscient god made us all 6000 years ago?

          • Maud Pie

            The NCBers always trip themselves on that word “created,” loaded with the connotation that Nature ordained a certain role for women by “designing” (another trip-up word) her to gestate and lactate. With the further connotation that if she deviates from that biologically mandated role, she will imperil her child, herself, and indeed all of society. And still further connotations that she must view all entreaties to deviate as cruel attempts to rob her of that sacred role and the mystical happiness that it alone can bequeath.

            That all falls apart when you consider evolution, which allows only the inference that our bodies function the way they do because it worked well enough for enough humans to survive and pass these characteristics on to another generation. No divine or natural mandate there; nothing to stop us from using our amazing, amazing, amazing brains to find a better way than what nature offers.

            This is why the whole NCB/AP/lactavist dogma fits perfectly with the evangelical Christian and traditionalist Catholic agenda on tying women to a rigid and repressive gender definition. It’s more puzzling that so-called feminists subscribe. The cognitive dissonance is incredible.

          • Roadstergal

            *ding ding ding* to all of that.

            Yeah, I remember when my lactivist friend railed at the ‘anti-feminist’ notion that women could be mothers and have careers at the same time. Her words.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Wait, WTF? I don’t understaWhat does she think feminist means?

          • Maud Pie

            I’m not sure myself what the word feminist now means when it’s been so distorted by people like Roadstergal’s friend. I prefer the term from my childhood, “women’s libber,” because “feminist” has been co-opted by persons advocating something very different from liberation.

    • swbarnes2

      Attachment theory is not related to attachment parenting. Your kid can sleep alone in a crib, not spend any time being worn, formula feed, and still be “securely attached”.

      And yeah, it’s so transgressive to tell women “DO MORE! If you have a job, you will damage your child’s ability to love”. Such a brave message.

      • Monkey Professor for a Head

        And indeed, you can bond whilst doing all those things. You can bond whilst you’re tucking your child into bed, you can bond whilst pushing them in their stroller and you can bond while you’re giving them a bottle. The idea that there is a best way bond is ludicrous.

        • Fleur

          Amen to that. The thing that annoys me about hard-core AP types is the ridiculous straw man that, if you’re not baby-wearing, bed-sharing and exclusively breastfeeding, you must be leaving your baby alone in a car seat in the living room so it can stare at the television like a zombie 20 hours a day. Several of my family members work in education so I’m well aware of the existence of children who got off to a terrible start in life because of parental neglect, but the issue in those cases wasn’t that Mama and baby didn’t bond properly because she didn’t own a sling, it was parents who’d never received the support they needed to deal with addiction issues, severe mental health problems and/ or domestic abuse. Why aren’t people getting angry about families at risk who fall through the net, rather than pretending that a child in a loving, safe environment is going to be damaged for life by the choice of a stroller over a baby carrier?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I am a dad, so never breastfed anyone. We did have a Snugli, and my older guy liked it, and I used to carry him around. No one ever “wore” anyone. He was combo fed, starting at about 3 – 4 months, so I did a lot of bottle feeding, although mom breastfed when she was home. And in almost 8 years, he has never once ever slept in our bed at home (we do it on the road, now that they are older, just to make it easier).

            And no one who ever saw us would ever suggest that there is anything but a great attachment and that we are very strongly bonded.

            Now, for our younger guy, all the same situation, but he is much more of a mommy’s boy.

            What did we do different? Nothing that you can pin point.

          • Fleur

            It’s almost as though – gasp – different children have different personalities, huh? (Another thing that bugs me about proponents of attachment parenting is the refusal to admit that some kids need their own space A LOT. My daughter was having furious crying fits at 2-3 weeks, and it took me ages to realise that I was cuddling her too much when she wanted to go on her mat to kick her legs. She’d have loathed being “worn”. Yet a lot of AP types will insist that there’s no such thing as a baby that hates the carrier, just lazy mums who don’t want to babywear/ mums who need to buy more carriers to find the right one).

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            No, no, no. AP, recall, is all about “responding to the child’s needs.” Just ask them, they will tell you.

            And so it’s all about breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, etc, because if you don’t do that, you aren’t responding to your baby’s needs. That’s why AP parents are better than us.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            well my research group of 1 did not get skin to skin, exclusively formula fed, slept in her own crib from the day we brought her home, I went back to work when she was 6 weeks and she went to daycare.

            Somehow my 21 yr old is happy, successful, and we have a good relationship(she called me a few days ago because she was in pain and wanted comfort and advise). She still wants Mom when she’s sick or hurt. I think we bonded just fine.

          • Fleur

            I remember reading a thread on an online forum where a mother was bemoaning the fact that her baby screamed every time she put it in a sling. She ended up wailing “I can’t use a stroller, I’m an AP mommy!” But remember, it’s about the baby’s needs, not the mother’s identity (snark).

          • Heidi_storage

            My husband was just the same way as a baby, according to his mom. Today, he is a loving, caring husband and devoted father with no problems forming secure attachments.

          • Fleur

            Apparently that’s what I was like as a baby too – my mother thought I didn’t like her because I was ridiculously independent and wanted to spend all the time on my playmat. There wasn’t all this rubbish about “bonding” then but my mum got told a lot that it was her fault for being anxious during pregnancy (the theories change but the mother-shaming stays the same. Oh, and she was anxious during pregnancy because my elder sibling died, FFS). Anyway, at five and a half months, I learned to crawl early and it became obvious that I worshipped my mother because I followed her everywhere including the loo. I was just never one for being held for long periods of time.

          • Sarah

            It was probably the epidural. Or, if you didn’t have one, the vitamin K. It will definitely be your fault though. That, I know for certain.

          • Fleur

            Silly me – of course! I’ll just have to keep trying for the perfect birth which will give me the perfectly bonded baby who’ll want to be worn until s/he’s 5 and to co-sleep until s/he leaves for university.

          • Charybdis

            I understand that superglue and/or epoxy will help tremendously with the bonding if it continues to be an issue….

          • Maud Pie

            The J-teen hated swaddling and tried to fight the blanket. Which was consistent with her behavior during pregnancy, when I often felt her trying to stretch out. So I failed at AP even before she was born! Also, she had a pre-sleep ritual of whimpering and thumping the mattress with her heels. She loved being cuddled, but not all the time. She often was content to sit in her car seat and watch the household action going on around her. She would have driven an AP disciple mad, but and I suited each other just fine.

          • J.B.

            I think we’re finally coming out of the “go away Daddy” phase…Hey, kid, don’t you realize he is the one who wants to get down on the floor and play with you? Can I go sit down for 5 minutes? And why on earth does it matter who gets your cereal? (Although I highly encourage having sibling come over and start to play with Daddy, then it is the thing to do!)

          • Daleth

            Can I get a AY-MEN?!?!?!

          • Roadstergal

            AY-WO-MEN!!

    • Irène Delse

      You seem to confuse attachment and bonding – like many proponents of AP. Since you’re into “researching” aka reading stuff on the the subject, may I suggest the blog of veteran psychologist Jean Mercer? You may learn a thing or two.
      http://childmyths.blogspot.fr/

      • Heidi_storage

        I wrote a totally unscientific, sourceless blog post about bonding with your child! Basically, from my experience, it’s really hard not to bond with your kid. I used to laugh at web sites that cautioned you against putting your newborn in a swing for more than two 30-minute stints. Ha! I would have KILLED to put the little darlings down for more than two minutes at a time, but they just weren’t having any of it! My friend had really mellow babies that would be happy just hanging out on a blanket for long periods.

        As far as I can tell, both our kids are securely bonded, attached, whatever, and developing normally.

        P.S. Here’s the blogpost:
        https://lazymothermusings.wordpress.com

        • Irène Delse

          I love the “Scold a sibling” part! 🙂

  • Lindsay Jacobs

    Based on your writing, I don’t think you have a clear understanding of AP. Husbands are very, very important in this process. They may not be able to breastfeed, but they can and should be our greatest support.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Support for what? Attachment happens spontaneously.

      • Lindsay Jacobs

        The question isn’t whether attachment happens…the question is what kind of attachment happens? Secure, ambivalant, avoidant, etc. The way the primary caregiver responds when feeding, holding, attending, engaging with child is what determines this. A child will not have a secure attachment with his primary caregiver if she doesn’t consistently respond to his cries by actively seeking to understand what specific need he has. If she continues to rock him when the fact is that his bottom is burning from a soiled diaper, then this lack of intuition from the caregiver given the increased number of experiences he has with her similar to this will create an unhealthy attachment.

        • momofone

          I notice you use “her”/”she” as the default. What about babies for whom someone other than the mother is the primary caregiver?

          • Lindsay Jacobs

            Hey! From the research I’ve done, ideally, the mom is typically the best primary caregiver option for baby/child because she is the means by which the baby’s life is sustained. The journey from conception to birth and beyond are not separate experiences, but a sequential journey the baby and mother are on together in the attachment process. The mom attaches first during the nine months, which allows her to give and give and give so unbelievably in the first few years, which seem the most challenging. I have twin toddlers and am in the depths of this myself. But research also shows us that if the mother cannot be the primary caregiver, then ideally the father, family member or nanny will take on that role. Because of the attachment process especially during the first three years of life, it is very important that children have one consistent person who is available and ready to meet their needs, stabilize their emotions, play/interact, test boundaries with, etc. Research shows that as long as the child has this one person, whomever he/she may be during those first three years, the child will be securely attached to that person and will have high chances of securely attaching himself to others as well. Attachment isn’t a definite thing though. A 3 year old can have a secure attachment to his primary caregiver but because of a death in the family or divorce, trauma, the primary caregiver’s attention towards the child could diminish and drastically change, causing that secure attachment to change to a more ambivalent one. What is most fascinating to me in the research I’ve done is that the brain, and therefore it’s person,is extremely malleable and has the capacity to form secure attachments even when it had a previously insecure attachment to the same person. It does this by having consistent, positive experiences of having its needs met by the other person. Does that make sense?

          • momofone

            You did this research? I’d love to see your results. Can you link me to your study?

          • Lindsay Jacobs

            Hahaha! I wish! Not me. By research, I mean A LOT of reading studies, books, etc. I am actually in the process of becoming accredited as a leader for Attachment Parenting International. So we have a lot of required reading and I’m especially fascinated with understanding brain development. I would be happy to forward you the info I have.

          • momofone

            Oh ok. You mean you read some things that resonated with what you believe.

            It would be great if you could cite your (credible, non-biased) sources.

          • Irène Delse

            “I’ve done my research, you know!”
            “So where are your papers?”
            “Ha ha, just kidding, I only read stuff that I like. But I read a lot!”

            Tsk.

          • guest

            Why is it ideal that a woman be the primary caregiver? A male primary caregiver is just as capably of sustaining the baby’s life through bottle feeding, etc.

            Take your misogyny elsewhere.

          • momofone

            ‘The journey from conception to birth and beyond are not separate
            experiences, but a sequential journey the baby and mother are on
            together in the attachment process.”

            How does this apply to non-biological parents?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            How does this apply to non-biological parents?

            SOL, of course.

            They are inferior to Lindsay, and don’t try to steal her sparkles by suggesting otherwise.

          • corblimeybot

            I’d love to hear one of these jerks answer this question straight up, but they’re so squirrely when someone asks about this.

            It’s hard to admit that their beliefs imply that (for example) adoptive parents and gay male couples can never “attach” to their children like they do. They absolutely do believe it, just look at what they literally say they believe, it totally excludes the possibility that such people can be real parents.

            But ADMITTING it is admitting that they think infertile people are inferior, women who can’t breastfeed are inferior, that they believe in biological essentialism, that they think fathers are inherently inferior parents, and that they’re possibly homophobic. (IMO you’re homophobic if you think gay male couples can’t “attach” to their children as well as the woman who gave birth to the child.)

            They’re also rarely willing to face the mindblowing misogyny of expecting mothers to be an neverending font of perfect, ceaseless “giving” toward their child.

            When you lay it out like that, it really makes them seem like the slimy bullies they are. But their self-image is the smug beatific mama, so they have to dodge this as much as possible. Because they are NICE PEOPLE!!! THE NICEST OF ALL!! Nicer than all those bitter women who haven’t learned to submit to their biology and fulfil their womanly role!!!

          • Irène Delse

            They’re supposed to replicate as closely as possible the experiences of “natural” childhood during the period immediately after adoption. This means giving the child liquid, sweet-tasting meals like milk – even if we’re talking about a toddler. Apparently, attachment in babies and children is a kind of Pavlovian response, sugar and milk result in the secretion of affection. Extra points of the adoptive mother manages to lactate (drugs are bad, except when they stimulate your mammary glands, obviously).

            I wish I was kidding. There are some AP gurus who do push this nonsense in books and websites directed at people who adopt or wish to adopt. Check Jean Mercer’s blog for more.

          • demodocus

            shudder. no thanks

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Sweet liquids, sugar and milk…that would have been awesome for my littlest brother who had been neglected and given bottles (and only bottles, mostly of sugar water according to CPS) constantly to keep him quiet (his baby teeth were almost ruined). He was 3.

          • Megan

            Gosh, I guess as an adopted person, I’m screwed for life…

          • demodocus

            um, no, it doesn’t make sense to me.

          • J.B.

            So having a young child with the mother and only the mother as much as possible is somehow better than the child being around a lot of loving and caring people? I matter too, I need breaks too, and I’m much more loving and less foul tempered if I get them. There is a world of difference between neglect and between mom having a life. Those writing about studies in Romanian orphanages tend to conveniently gloss over that fact.

          • Roadstergal

            “which allows her to give and give and give so unbelievably in the first few years”

            All of these little trigger words here and there. Sanctimommyism. If you bear a child and don’t ‘give and give and give,’ if you share (gawd help you) child-raising responsibilities with someone else and get some sleep and relaxation here and there, you’re a Bad Mommy. If you ‘give’ and dad ‘gives’ and friends ‘give,’ so the kid has the same ‘give and give and give’ as if you alone ‘give and give and give’ – nope, doesn’t count.

            My mom had a life of her own and some amazing hobbies and a career that engaged her brain and made her feel good about herself. She was a role model to me. If she had just turned off the rest of her life to throw it all into me, she wouldn’t have been the inspiring mom she was.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Secure attachment happens spontaneously. Attachment theory teaches us that the only thing necessary is a “good enough” mother.

  • KatieDid

    It also seems stupid to point out how much money is made from AP, while disregarding the (most likely leaps and bounds more) money made from any other parenting style. BUY this crib! Then BUY this fancy video monitor to make sure your baby isn’t choking on his own vomit while he cries himself to sleep! Then BUY this stroller! Then BUY all of this formula! Oh wait, you’ll need to BUY bottles to go along with that! Make sure you BUY the right flow of nipples! Don’t forget to BUY a bottle warmer and 500 pacifiers! Then BUY all of this jarred baby food! Then BUY this swing, and this bouncer, and this walker, and all these crazy light-up toys and these 30 Baby Einstein videos because god forbid you pick up your child and TEACH him things!

    • realityycheque

      Yep, you’ve got us figured out… I let my kid watch Baby Einstein (for free on Youtube) because I totally just CBF teaching him anything. Nevermind all those books we own, all the hours we spend reading, playing together, going to the park, visiting the local animal farm, drawing, learning shapes and letters… I’m just a lazy parent who doesn’t want to interact with her child.

      You’re missing the point. No one is insinuating that cots, bottles, dvds, formula, etc. are without cost. That’s not the argument. The point is that so many APs act as though ALL other parenting choices are a direct product of people being brainwashed by companies wanting to turn a profit, without even acknowledging the fact that AP books, DVDs, etc. aren’t being given away for free and the people creating and promoting this parenting style are also making a profit through the sale of their product and advice.

    • ratiomom

      You dont mention the REAL cost of AP: lost earnings and lost financial independence for women who are guilted into giving up their jobs for the AP ideal. Thats far more significant then the money you saved by not having to buy a crib or formula. Moreover, one day the kid will be older, not need you as much and you wont have a life to go back to because you sacrificed everything you once were on the AP altar. Quite expensive, dont you think?

  • KatieDid

    Let’s see. My fiance and I (Unmarried? Oh no!) are attachment parents. We are lower middle income, we have one baby-wearing device that I received at a hand-me-down swap, free of charge. We sleep with our baby, because hell, we already paid for our bed, who needs an expensive crib? We have sex, often. SURPRISE! A bed isn’t the only place to make love. My fiance is 100% in this with me. He bathes the baby, feeds him when I have to go run errands or whatever, and I’m not back in time to breastfeed when he’s hungry (I also pumped exclusively for 3 months of or boys life. Family, friends, as well as my fiance fed him regularly. ALL THE WHILE STILL PRACTICING ATTACHMENT PARENTING!), he cuddles with him during naps and at night, and wears him in our ergo. We use disposable diapers (never got the hang of cloth, but this shit is expensive, so we’ll try cloth again with the next). We have no problem leaving the baby with his grandparents for a day, he loves them! Grandma and Grandpa don’t mind it either. My fiance has a herniated disc in his back, and I also have my share of back problems, so we don’t carry our boy all the time, and we also vaccinate (DUNDUNDUUUN)! This post is like so many other posts that bash AP. It’s not all or nothing, guys. Really! Just like if you went to a grocery store, you wouldn’t buy the whole store. You take what works for you, and toss the rest. Forming a healthy, stable bond with your child isn’t so bad, is it? There’s no one way to attachment parent. Do what you feel is right. Use your instincts (fathers have them, too. Shocker!), and respect your child as you would respect any one else.

    Also, I attachment parent and I haven’t read or bought one book on it. Not even the almighty Dr. Sears. You don’t need a book or a bunch of fancy gadgets to follow your instincts and do what is right to bond with your child, and that’s really what it’s all about. This post makes me wonder if you’ve ever even spoken with any real-world APs. It’s not all glitz and glamour and organic avocados. It’s effort, and time, and lots and lots of love. Those things don’t cost a dime.

    • Squillo

      Serious question: if it’s about doing what’s right for your family–which, presumably, most parents do–why do you need to give it a name?

      • KatieDid

        Honestly, we fell into it more accidentally. After being criticized by friends, family, and even the occasional well-meaning stranger, we started to look into alternative ways of doing things more deeply. That’s when we discovered that there’s a whole network of people doing things this way. The comradery and the acceptance was a breath of fresh air. We discovered that it’s this thing called “attachment parenting”. And it just made perfect sense. It’s a way to identify, a way to find groups, meetings, like-minded peoples. I don’t know, some people may have different reasons for giving it a name, but that’s mine. It’s easy to find others doing the same thing, when it has a name.

        • violinwidow

          Unfortunately there is only acceptance if you fit a certain criteria. Don’t you dare mention that you don’t eat 100% organic or own a stroller, or that breastfeeding didn’t work out for you so you switched to formula. God help you if you vaccinated your baby, and if you circumcised you are crucified for being a sexual predator. I also do many of the AP practices but some I do not agree with(vaxing for instance, my kids are fully up to date on their shots) and I have been harassed, accused of child abuse and called vicious names by these so called peaceful parents, that’s how I ended up here. Where I wasn’t judged for my inductions or formula feeding my oldest, or vaxing my kids. Here, you can be an AP parent and still find edifying conversation even if someone parents differently. Here, we value intelligence and logic instead of forcing every member to subscribe to the same dogma. Go ahead, test it. Disagree with your fellow cult members, see what happens.

          • Lindsay Jacobs

            AP does not take a stance on vaccines, cloth diapering, etc. In fact, they make a point to avoid these topics during meetings all together.

          • swbarnes2

            Oh, so much for being brave enough to question the really hot topics! Face it. AP evangelists want to be told that thanks to their superhuman parenting exertions, their precious little snowflake is superior to those snot-nosed kids in day care, that they don’t need to vaccinate. If you told parents that vaccines were safe and effective, and that avoiding them was insane and dangerous, you’d lose most of your participants.

        • Bombshellrisa

          “The comradery and the acceptance was a breath of fresh air” So it’s about your feelings? Part of being an adult is making the choices that work for you, in your particular circumstance and not worrying what people think or if you will be accepted. As a parent, I would be more worried about instilling confidence and integrity than seeking validation all the time.

    • Eddie

      You make the point that it’s not all or nothing, and of course ultimately you’re correct. Those who sell AP even say so. However, when you look more closely at the messages that are given to parents, on the one hand they say “take what you like” and on the other hand, the messaging says, “You’re not doing it right unless you do this.”

      I personally have never run into any real-life judgement of my parenting practices. Not judgement in the AP direction, nor judgement in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, many people do. I’d love to understand why some people run into this kind of judgement repeatedly while others never encounter it. Social class seems to have an effect — higher social class appears to be to be associated with stronger judgement of how you raise your kids. I could be completely wrong on this. Here’s your salt lick. 🙂

      This blog post of Dr Amy servers to counterbalance some of the more extreme voices out there saying if you don’t (set of AP practices) then you’re not doing it right and you’re damaging your child. IMHO, that is the correct context to read it in. The point is that AP, itself, is an industry. It’s loudest proponents are in it not only because they believe what they are selling, but also, frankly, because they are selling. This doesn’t mean they are wrong, just as a formula company is not necessarily wrong for having a product to sell. It’s just a fact to take into consideration. It would be wrong to look at formula companies askance as they are trying to market a product but then trust completely and blindly everything Dr Sears says, for example. Both are marketing a product.

      My wife and I also took some AP parenting techniques and ignored others. I bet a large fraction of regular commenters here did so as well. The problem is not the individual techniques of AP. It’s the more extreme marketing of them by certain vocal voices.

    • Playing Possum

      All you’ve done is prove that there is an undercurrent of guilt and competition around parenting. You shouldn’t feel the need to tell us about your parenting choices yet you have just exposed your need to be reassured by spending a couple of paragraphs justifying them. Nobody here is advocating anything except what is safe, scientific and what works for a particular family/ child/ parent and when those decisions are made based on unbiased, honest information.

  • hurricanewarningdc

    it always amazes me that women who extol their own virtues in being “knowledgeable” about “big pharma” and “big agra” and the “evil” diaper and formula industries have zero comprehension of how their being taken by these other “big” scam artists. Whether it’s the Sears conglomerate or the multi-billion-dollar “natural” vitamin sector or the midwifery industry, it’s just business. And marketing. But they buy that garbage hook, line, and sinker – b/c those industries have successfully sold the idea that those who use their products and services are smarter, better… (So attachment parenting, etc are really about ego or lack of self-esteem, but that’s a different post.)

  • Karen

    It’s called “Attachment Parenting”, not “attachment mothering”. Who says fathers, or even grandparents, cannot or should not participate? Get your facts straight before criticizing.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      So why do so many AP mothers discount the contributions of the father so much (see the comments down below)?

      Are they Not True APs?

    • Whether or not something is called “Attachment Parenting” or “Attachment mothering” does not alter the fact that it is widely practised my mothers, less so by fathers. The “fact” of its name and the fact of its practice can both be true, yet not aligned with each other.

      “Despite its name, attachment parenting renders fathers peripheral in the exact same way as the oft mocked lifestyle choices of the 1950′s.”

      Fathers are routinely excluded from AP practice. IMHO they are even more excluded from parenting in their own, preferred (non-AP) fashion. They are excluded from feeding their children and disciplining their children. They are excluded from the kind of relationship they want to have with their wife. And they are frequently relegated to the breadwinning role, whether they want to or not. And they are often – within AP circles at least – publicly derided behind their back, and sometimes even within their presence.

      • monica

        Funny because my husband is a great father without the need to hit our kid, or make her cry it out. Besides attachment is the focus, and if you knew anything about the practice “balance” is a key factor. That means that if babywearing, or breast feeding, or some other aspect isn’t working for the mom then it’s not attachment parenting. On the same level wearing your kid and breastfeeding doesn’t make you an attachment parent; it just makes it easier for many.

        • Eddie Sparks

          I’m pretty sure that I didn’t suggest that the only other parenting choice, other than attachment parenting, was hitting children or making them “cry it out”. Parenting is not dichotomous, but a wide spectrum of styles and preferences. In my observation, attachment parenting mothers often marginalise or outright exclude the styles and preferences of their partners that don’t align with their own strongly-held beliefs about parenting.

          I do know quite a lot about the practice of attachment parenting. Why do you assume that I am commenting from ignorance? I also know that “balance” is not always part of that practice. Sometimes the needs of mothers are not balanced with the needs of babies, as mothers strive to live up to the unrealistic expectation of their attachment-parenting peers. I know that this is not necessarily in accordance with AP theory (although I’ve read/heard some pretty extreme versions of the theory as well), but it DEFINITELY occurs in AP practice.

          Even more often the needs of fathers are not balanced. This is the point I was trying to make with my original post. Enthusiastic AP mothers routinely dismiss fathers’ concerns, patronise fathers, exclude them from parenting activities, and sometimes put them down in public. There is widespread acceptance of this behaviour within AP circles.

          Personally, I don’t find it acceptable.

        • Lindsay Jacobs

          take what works and leave the rest! That’s our motto!

          • momofone

            Whose motto?

      • Lindsay Jacobs

        AP’s principles are for families, not just mothers with an emphasis on the importance of the primary caregiver (whether that be mom, dad, grandpa, nanny) being the most important person in the child’s life as it relates to the attachment process especially during the first three years of life.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          The attachment process is spontaneous; it will happen regardless of how parents give birth, feed, sleep or carry children. That’s what attachment theory tells us.

          • Lindsay Jacobs

            The question isn’t whether attachment happens…the question is what kind of attachment happens? Secure, ambivalant, avoidant, etc. The way the primary caregiver responds when feeding, holding, attending, engaging with child is what determines this. A child will not have a secure attachment with his primary caregiver if she doesn’t consistently respond to his cries by actively seeking to understand what specific need he has. If she continues to rock him when the fact is that his bottom is burning from a soiled diaper, then this lack of intuition from the caregiver given the increased number of experiences he has with her similar to this will create an unhealthy

          • Nick Sanders

            What does “intuition” have to do with investigation?

          • momofone

            I’m having trouble seeing how changing a soiled diaper has anything to do with intuition.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      And “Parents Magazine” is called _Parents_ magazine, not Mothers, but look inside and see how much it has to say about fathers. Count how many pictures there are of fathers with kids (not counting Huggies advertisements) and compare it to the number with mothers and kids (most of the pictures of men in Parents magazine show them just with the mom, and not with any kids at all)

      Stories about dad? On occasion, like when a mom is complaining that she is jealous of the dad because she is has to go to work and dad is a SAHD and spends more time with the kids.

      But its Parents, right.

      • And “mothers’ groups” are called “parents’ groups”, not “mothers’ groups” because … Oh, wait. No they’re not.

  • hush

    What APers seem to conveniently forget is the actual theory of John Bowlby et.al.: the Attachment Phase is only from approximately months 9-30 in a child’s life. So, couples, take that trip to Europe together without the kids when the baby is 7 months old and the older kid is 4. The kids will be fine with their loving grandparents, and you’ll stay happily married!

    • Rea

      what they also conveniently forget is that attachment theory doesn’t have anything to do with the practices espoused by attachment parenting. There’s no proof backing up and there’s no science

    • KarenJJ

      Plus one of the criticisms that Sarah Blaffer Hrdy had of John Bowlby was that his researched was limited to certain primates which matched closely to this ‘ideal of motherhood’ from that era and from APers. There is still quite a variety of parenting techniques amongst primates and also a long human history of grandmothers and sisters and fathers caring for babies.

  • Elizabeth Abraham

    I kind of hate the AP claim that all of their parenting practices originate with mysterious, indigenous (to where?), traditional (which tradition?) cultures in which no one ever has a fussy baby, and I hate the way this article uncritically adopts that language. Your culture is a traditional, indigenous culture. Claiming that all traditional, indigenous cultures are far away is an offshoot of the Magical Negro thing.

    For what it’s worth, however, I would like to see some culture in which a man’s worth is based on his ability to pleasure a woman and cope with a fussy baby. Human cultures have done so many different things – why not this one? I can imagine it so clearly, translated into a modern setting:

    “Darling, I am a grown man, I have working limbs, something to feed the baby, and a credit card. My ancestors would think me a disgrace if I didn’t try to help you rest before your important presentation! We will walk to the all-night deli to see if the night air calms her down, and buy you muffins for breakfast.”

    • Bystander

      Love it. 🙂 When one of my aunts stayed with us with her newborn (was separated from her husband at the time), she breastfed (no alternative) and changed poopy nappies. And that was it! For the rest of the time, we fell over ourselves to fuss over the baby, pick her up, carry her, wash her, play…

      She’s a young lady now and she’ll be starting college this fall. Guess it wasn’t all bad. 😉

      Having to be ‘everything’ to your baby is way oversold.

    • Victoria

      For some reason I heard Ryan Gosling’s voice saying that.

  • LibrarianSarah

    I think you forgot to mention that AP is not only discriminatory against poor mother but it is also profoundly ablest. As an autistic women with a history of back injury, the AP method would be not only impossible to achieve but pure hell to even try.

    • AmyM

      Doesn’t work well with multiples either. I think simply having multiples violates the AP ideal, since I could never bestow 100% of my attention on either child ever, so clearly they must both be deprived. 🙂 Breastfeeding multiples tends to be difficult if not impossible, wearing two at once is likely to wreck your back and bedsharing with two infants is considered quite risky. Forget EC or even cloth diapers. Yeah.

      • KarenJJ

        Nor anyone with medication or sleep issues. Or arthritis..

        • quadrophenic

          Yep, I had to stop pumping (latch never took) for my baby because I needed meds for my arthritis. I had to decide if being able to actually pick up my baby was more important than breast milk. Baby wearing works ok sometimes but no way could I handle assembling or snapping cloth diapers during a flare let alone deal with the extra laundry. Onesie snaps are bad enough.

        • Bombshellrisa

          Exactly. Those people imagine that no parent comes with health issues, that their time and bodies and space are to be used exclusively to nurture their little ones. My husband moves around all over the place in his sleep, as well as still has night terrors. It wouldn’t be safe to add a baby to that kind of sleeping arrangement. He didn’t mind using the baby bjorn though, so does that cancel it out?

      • Strangely enough, my twins are very secure in their family attachments, despite being in day care from the time they were tiny and never being worn or sleeping in my bed. Maybe it was the magic of breastmilk that saved them from a desolate and detached life…..

      • Squidly

        I had no intention of ever bed sharing, however my twins have sort of forced me into it. They start the night in the cosleeper, but End up next to me. I’m single, with a queen size bed, so there is plenty of room.

      • Lindsay Jacobs

        I am a mom of 2 year old twins and was lucky to find out about AP while pregnant. There are many families with multiples who agree!

  • If there’s a parenting equivalent to atheism, I’m probably that kind of parent. Meaning, I can respect other parents for the choices they make without the need to make the same choices. Further, I am rather pragmatic and as such if something works, I’m likely to run with it. I have and use an ergo because it means I can get things done (dishes, laundry, etc.) when his highness has decided he doesn’t want to crawl, jolly jump or exersaucer. Further it has meant that I do not need to turn my bumble ride indie in for a double stroller.

  • Wren

    I described myself in a comment here as a recovering APer, and I am. My first took forever to conceive (OK, 5 years once we really started trying) and we had a real scare in the pregnancy leading to weeks of bedrest early on, which led to me dropping out of school and having nothing to do. All of that meant I spent too much time on mommy boards and reading AP stuff before I ever had him. Once he was here, I was just so amazed and infatuated that I couldn’t put him down or let other people hold him much. Fortunately for my recovery from AP, and probably my marriage, he was not an AP loving baby. My second really did love almost every classically AP thing, but by then I knew I needed sleep, knew I needed some time away from babies and childcare and knew AP really isn’t all that it is cracked up to be even if you wear your baby, breastfeed and co-sleep when it works for the family.
    Now I’m much more into fostering my happy, independent, capable children. They are 5 and 7 and I was thrilled to find how well I’d done when I was ill a few months back. They managed to make themselves a healthy meal (sandwiches, fruit and vegetables with yogurt for dessert), get themselves ready for bed and even read each other stories before tucking me in and the older one tucking his little sister in and putting himself to bed. That beat the hell out of a family bed and children who were utterly dependent on me.

    • KarenJJ

      So thoughtful and cute!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Our 4 year old has begun “reciting” the books that he knows by heart. It is actually a ton of fun to let him “read” to us.

      As it pretty much goes with kids, it’s so much fun to watch them grow. I say it all the time, as much as I love the kids when they are babies, every day I see them grow into more and more interesting people, with such wonderful personalities. Nothing beats having a three year old except when that child turns into a four year old.

      • Sue

        I loved this reciting stage too – it is a great illustration of how kids learn. First memorising, then recognising and interpreting.

        Unfortunately, I still have in my head:
        “My name is Mokey Fraggle and my paints are fresh and new” and
        “Tiki tiki tembo no sa rembo chari bari rushi pip peri pembo”, all thsee years later…

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          I can still quote most of green eggs and ham, and Fox in Sox and my kid graduates college next year….

  • quadrophenic

    So we have a post about AP and He Who Shall Not Be Named isn’t showing up. It’s been a month since he bowed out. Does this mean he’s really gone for good? It’s so much more pleasant now.

    • suchende

      What happened to him?

      • quadrophenic

        His last post was something to the extent of “you’re all picking on me with your constant disagreement, peace out.” It was on the breastfeeding doesn’t equal bonding post. My theory is he was crying because finding out that breastfeeding doesn’t increase bonding to him is equivalent to finding out Santa Clause isn’t real.

        • suchende

          No one likes finding out something they’ve invested a lot of time and effort into wasn’t all they thought it was.

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          It was probably more like we did not see how truly superior he is to other parents and in just basically every aspect of life.

        • S

          If i recall correctly, it also had something to do with Meagan being so nice to him. I don’t understand how that works, but thanks, Meagan!

      • Lena

        Last I remember he made a comment about adoptive parents not being bonded to their children and gave up when no one bought his his fake-shame over it.

  • PollyPocket

    I wish someone looking at this from the outside would tell these mothers they are just crazy.

    I have a codependent relationship with my 3-year-old. I never meant for it to happen, but it just did. She was premature and the labor and delivery nurses very vocally blamed me (despite the fact that there were issues with the placenta and a nuchal cord), so I blamed myself and inadvertently adopted many attachment parenting practices. I kangarooed with her until she was 9 months old. That was also when I introduced her first solid food because that was the day it occurred to me she was no longer a 6lb newborn.

    I was an accidental attachment parent because I looked at a toddler and saw a premature newborn. It was not child-driven, it was about my own guilt for something over which I had no control. I was essentially trying to establish control over her life, which any parent know is ridiculous.

    Now at three years old, it is very hard for her to be apart from me. Moreso than any of my other children. I’m sure part of that is personality, but it was nurtured by bad habits. We are slowly recovering!

    • suchende

      I’ve said before: when I was a kid, mothers who “attachment parented” would be criticized for damaging their kids with overprotection due to their own fears about letting them grow up and become independent. Attachment parenting is a great cover for mothers who have the impulse to be overprotective.

    • Elizabeth Abraham

      Parenting a preemie is really hard and traumatic, and that kind of shit from the nurses would drive most mothers of preemies straight up a wall and into precisely your reaction. It took me nine months to look at my baby and not see a premature infant too. It frankly took me nearly nine months to look at my baby and actually see her.

      What happened to me was that the pediatrician explained the differences in outcomes for babies who cry in cribs vs. babies who’s moms drive off the road. That night, I let her CIO. After two nights of solid sleep for me, I was suddenly, miraculously, able to perceive my child.

      I’m not trying to be all about me here, I’m hoping that this anecdote might illustrate that there are a ton of reasons why preemie moms go off the rails, that those reasons are related to the fucking awful circumstances, and very real and necessary attempts to cope with those while recovering from illness and surgery and caring for everyone in the family. Be gentle with yourself.

      • “the differences in outcomes for babies who cry in cribs vs. babies who’s moms drive off the road”
        This is brilliant!

      • PollyPocket

        It’s just sad that an unhealthy reaction has been so normalized that no one thought to question it. When I told my pediatrician around 6 months she was still exclusively breastfeeding, no one thought to question my understanding of her needs at that point.

        It is very reaffirming to read your comments. I looked for support in the first year and found nothing. Even march of dimes has (or at least had) no support of any kind for parents in my position.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          I don’t know if they are helpful but there maybe groups , online or in person for parents of preemies. Although you may be past the point where you need them. I had friends in the military who are parents of multiples (triplets) and the local San Diego parents of twins/Multiples helped them out a lot. As many multiples are also preemies it was especially helpful for them to talk to other parents in the same situation. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to deal with a preemie with no support, I found it difficult sometimes being far away from family/support with a full term baby

          One of the blogs they used to go to was:

          http://www.grahamsfoundation.org/resources.html#BLOGS

          I hope things have gotten better for you.

    • Charlotte

      It took a very long time for me to realize my preemie was no longer a medically fragile newborn too. I cried daily at NICU flashbacks until she was nearly 2 years old. Don’t beat yourself up for how you ended up coping with the trauma – it’s sadly very common for a premature birth to leave a mom in a psychological tailspin for long while.

  • We were AP’ers with our first son. Our first son has SUCH sleeping issues and I really, truly believe it is from APing. He never learned how to self soothe. I felt guilty if he ever cried at all, I was always there to hold him or my husband was. I wore him all the time. It took forever before my husband (or anyone else) was able to put him down to sleep – it always had to be me b/c that’s what he was used to.

    We decided from the start I would not be wearing and holding and coddling baby #2 like I did with baby #1. I wanted our second child to learn earlier how to self soothe. He has and it’s been amazing. Our first STILL has such sleep issues. It makes me feel horrible b/c I know it was all my doing. Many aspects of APing came naturally to my husband and I, but APing 100% made me feel claustrophobic, guilty and anxious once we got passed 6 months and I wanted/needed more freedom.

    • yentavegan

      I regret the way i shut my parents out of my infants’ lives because of my devotion to AP. I never let my babies have oversights with my parents like my sister-in-laws did. My parents are emotionally closer to those other grandkids than to my kids..

      • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

        I know this has been painful for you and you blame yourself. But dont you think the grandparents could make an effort to get to know them now? Adopted kids who are older can bond with their new families. Not trying to criticize your parents, but it’s not too late for them to develop a relationship with who your kids are now. Maybe not as easy, but imo still doable.

        • Antigonos CNM

          My granddaughter, now 2 and a bit, has spent a lot of time with me since she was born; my daughter returned to work because she was badly needed in a family business less than 6 months after she gave birth and Shir was with me every day for at least half a day until she began to go to daycare at age 1. She sleeps over fairly frequently too, and now I see her at least 3 times a week. This has been a deliberate arrangement with my daughter and SIL, who want her to be as comfortable with me as at home, and it works out very well. I’ve just returned from a trip to NYC for two weeks, and she ran to greet me with a huge smile. I can’t help but feel that this is turning out well. When Mommy needs some free time, or has something to do where she can’t take Shir along, Shir has a place where she feels completely secure and happy. When parents feel paranoid about grandparents, that’s rather sad, IMO. Possibly the distance from grandparents in the US is as physical as emotional — so many families don’t have grandparents nearby.

          • Cellist

            THis made me cry. I had the same relationship with my grandmother. I was so, so lucky to have her as such a huge part of my life for 27 years. My husband and I deliberately bought a house close to my mother so that our (future) children will be able to have this special bond with their grandmother.

          • Elizabeth Abraham

            That’s your mom living the dream there. I hope that, when they’re old enough to start their own families, my kids consider exactly that.

          • KarenJJ

            We also made the move to be closer to grandparents. The kids get watched by each set for a few hours or so once a week. We haven’t done over nighters yet, but might do one some time soon. The problem we have is that one of our kids needs a daily injection and it can be hard to give it to her. Maybe when she can do the shot herself? Not sure baout that one yet…

          • AmyM

            Yes, unfortunately, we live a little far from my parents for everyone’s complete satisfaction, but with effort on both sides, they have a pretty good relationship with my sons. My parents are 4-5hr by car (w/no traffic), so it’s a long ride that we have to plan for. We’ve been seeing them at least once/month since the children were born, either they coming here or us going there.

            When the boys were 9m old, they wanted to have them for an overnight. We tried to dissuade them, on the grounds that they would be exhausted (the boys had already done an overnight with an aunt who lives much closer, so we didn’t have a problem with the overnight per se). They said they really wanted it, so we arranged to have them pick up the children the Sunday before Tksgiving, and my husband I went there a few days later to join them for the holiday and then we all went home together. I think my parents enjoyed it, but they didn’t ask again until the boys were 3.5, last summer. So, they spent a week with grandma and grandpa while husband and I went elsewhere, and it was nice. They had a great time–they did miss us, and everytime we visit my parents, they ask if we are staying or leaving, but for the most part, they were so entertained, they were fine.

        • yentavegan

          please read the post above. It is not doable My parents were hurt because I did not allow them to feed my infants or have overnights with my infants But the space in their heart and lives that should have been reserved for my kids , that space was filled by my nieces and nephews whose parents are my siblings. All the cousins are close in age but my kids were denied the sleep overs and afternoon babysitting my parents did for all the other cousins. My dad died 3 years ago so all i have left is regrets and I hope to G-d that when the time comes my kids will allow me to be a hands-on grandma..

          • An interesting perspective – and interesting that your views have shifted. When my first grandchild was born, my daughter was, for complicated reasons, living with us. While I don’t believe that bonding is the fraught process some pretend, being involved with a baby from the beginning does create a particular type of bond. I would have been hurt if my daughter

      • Elizabeth Abraham

        I get that, but… this could change tomorrow.

        My kids didn’t do overnights with my parents as infants either, partly because it took my son three damn years to sleep through the night but largely because I just wasn’t ready. But my son is six now, my daughter is three and a half, and they’re incredibly close to their grandparents. (Thank heavens for that – I was diagnosed with breast cancer last spring, and my parents took the kids every weekend so I could recover from chemotherapy, which is the cautionary tale I use when recommending that parents introduce their kids to a variety of non-parent caregivers.)

        Tomorrow doesn’t have to be like today. You can call up your parents and change things.

        • yentavegan

          i come from a large and fertile family. while I was blindly devoted to my “superior” way of APing, my brothers and sister were also having babies. My parents, who are wonderful, bonded better and more soulfully with the grandkids they got to feed and bathe and rock/sing to sleep and wake up with. Even if it was on a once a month basis, I shut my kids off from that experience. By the time my siblings and I stopped having kids,(17 cousins in all) my parents downsized their enormous home for a modest condo and frankly they were old and more idiosyncratic and less patient or capable of cultivating closeness to my children who were now in their teen years.
          I REGRET the all or nothing approach I took when it came to Attachment Parenting. I hope my children ( who are now adults) do not follow in my footsteps. I want overnights with my grandkids when the time comes..

      • ejohns313

        Is there some kind of anti-grandparents suspicion built into AP? I just searched attachment parenting and grandparents, and the posts seemed kind of paranoid about how awful grandparents are for their children. http://theattachedfamily.com/?p=2519

        • LukesCook

          I think that a lot of the more extreme forms of AP stem from issues with real or perceived neglect of the AP parent by their own parents. Some seem genuinely to want to do better by their children, but occasionally I do get the sense that parents are ostentatiously AP-ing to make a point to their own parents – “Look, this is what you would have done if you’d loved me enough.”

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          My kids don’t get to stay with their grandparents, but that is because

          1) Their grandparents live 500 miles away, and if we go to visit them, or if they come to visit us, it doesn’t seem right to just leave the kids with them and take off, and

          2) My parents are 75 and 81, and my wife’s folks are not as old but have physical problems, so it can be a challenge handling toddlers.

          We’d give anything to have some grandparents or family around for the kids to stay with. I don’t care what kind of crap they would feed them or what they would do!

          Just to say: those of you who have parents/family where the kids can stay, just know how lucky you are. We don’t have anyone around like that. My wife and I have never had a night away together alone since our first was born, because we don’t have anyone to be with the kids. The friends we have that could do it all have 2-3 young kids of their own, and adding two more is too much to ask, and it’s not like we can use the high school girls who babysit to stay overnight. In order to do this, you have to have someone who wants to have the kids over, or come stay with them. Family is great for that.

          ETA: BTW, thankfully, both sets of GPs have Skype, and our kids know them extremely well, and absolutely love them, which is amazing considering they only get to see them 2-3 times a year. I don’t know what we would do without skype. The kids get to see their grandparents a couple times a week.

  • Ethan’s mom

    Is it mothering or smothering? Many AP parents don’t really understand what secure attachment means.

  • DiomedesV

    Yes, those poor, poor mothers. Someone should do an intervention! Rescue them!

    Whatever. I’m going to file this under ‘not my problem.’

    Other women are free to assign whatever value they want to any aspect of their lives. I feel free to do the same. I’m very happy with my balance (working full time) and know many women with a different balance who are also very happy.

    The problem is that women are not comfortable admitting that they make their choices because of their own preferences and with their own happiness in view. Everything has to be justified in terms of the impact (i.e., benefit) of the child. This is completely absurd. None of these practices matters for the long term benefit of the child. If women would be more honest, we could finally admit that AP vs. standard middle class non-AP and everything in between is about as meaningful as the difference between chocolate and vanilla.

    In the meantime, these women are living in an era where they have an unprecedented access to education, work, intellectual stimulation, independence, and financial security. That they choose to throw it away when billions of others are not so fortunate is not pitiable… and it is, basically, their problem.

    And despite the handwringing over the infestation of parenting with these new memes, I don’t see this in the families I interact with on a regular basis, including many working and SAH mothers. It’s a problem for a narrow segment of our society, and one that I’m not that interested in feeling sorry for.

    • Lena

      Thank you! While I do feel a bit bad for some of these women–mainly those who got sucked in thinking they were listening to experts, same as so many homebirthers–I really only see this as a problem for such a specific demographic that I just can’t care much. Until recently, the only AP parents I “knew” were on the internet. My cousin’s wife is pregnant and plans to AP, and she so perfectly fits the crunchy granola stereotype that I saw it coming (it’s been hilarious watching my family deal with her, since no one but me has heard of AP).

      • AmyM

        I never felt bad for those women, with the same exception Lena mentions, those who were suckered into doing AP, from fear of doing it wrong and screwing up their children. I feel more badly for their husbands, those that didn’t sign up for AP or understand what it could it mean. I think those women who smirk about how they will continue cosleeping, etc even though the husband is miserable (sometimes it seems BECAUSE it makes the husband miserable) are being incredibly disrespectful and are not holding up their end of the marriage bargain.

        It is hard to feel bad for people who set up difficult situations for no good reason. Although I also think some of them like the martyr thing.

        I will say that American culture tends to unfairly blame everything on mothers, and if someone screws up in some way, inevitably, someone will suggest it was the mother’s fault for doing it wrong. Even something as stupid as an ear infection, which of course no one is to blame for, it will be mom’s fault either for formula feeding or (if BFing) then for letting child eat junk food or something. What doesn’t help are these women who embrace the message that mother is responsible for everything–they just serve to perpetuate it. My plan is to raise my children to be kind, law-abiding self sufficient adults. If they decide to rob a bank, after they are grown and out of my house, I will not take responsibility…they would be adults able to make their own choices, good or bad and would have to accept whatever consequences result.

  • Comrade X

    Deliberately making your kids scared or apprehensive of other people is NOT THE SAME as making them attached to you. If your kid is only emotionally “attached” to you because every other human being on the planet scares them shitless, that is NOT an achievement and they are NOT “attached”. They are traumatized. They have been taught that the world is a scary, hostile place and that their ONLY refuge is Mummy. How in the heck is that cool in any way, shape or form?

    I have zero problem with baby-wearing, breastfeeding etc, and LESS than zero problem with lots of cuddles, physical contact, and emotional comfort between mummy and nipper. But encouraging trauma and heartache if daddy gives the wee one a bottle, or granny takes her to feed the ducks is narcissistic child abuse, no more no less.

    This is Katya Segura, by the way, for the benefit of my FB buds. 🙂

    • quadrophenic

      Exactly – there’s a big difference between adopting similar practices used in AP when they work for you and having a breakdown when things aren’t done to the letter. The biggest problem I have with AP is that many people are convinced that not only must you do every. single. thing. right, but that your kids are going to be harmed by not doing everything to the letter. There’s so much fear wrapped up into AP and other crunchy parenting trends. Formula will make kids stupid, fat, and sick. Your kid won’t bond if you don’t birth, babywear, and sleep correctly. Crying causes brain damage. Circumcision will leave your sons unable to enjoy sex ever and they’ll be emotionally crippled for life. It’s like walking on eggshells.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I mentioned this before, that in some ways, the child raising “experts” have gotten themselves into trouble over this with their “trust your instincts, they are usually right” advice to child rearing. The problem is not that “trust your instincts, they are usually right” is incorrect, the problem is that too many interpret “you are usually right” as “and therefore others are wrong.” Instead, what it REALLY means is that there lots and lots of right ways do it, and as long as you care enough to actually think about it, you are going to be fine.

  • Awesomemom

    I was listening to NPR about the very sad state of daycare in the US and I had a bit of an epiphany. If I had reliable and affordable close by daycare available where ever we moved (husband in the military in a branch that has many remote stations) I would be working outside the home in a heart beat. The main thing keeping me at home is not that I feel I am the best caregiver for my kids it is that I really can’t trust that I will be able to afford and find quality daycare every time we move. I wish I did not have to loose out on wages and I want some more time to develop myself as a person. I can’t understand why extreme AP parents feel the need to make motherhood so much harder than it already is.

    • suchende

      “I can’t understand why extreme AP parents feel the need to make motherhood so much harder than it already is.”

      Because every woman can just skate by. Which makes their accomplishment less impressive. These are often bright, educated women who expected of themselves, and were expected by others, to have a successful professional life. Insanely high standards parenting, that takes up every spare minute of their day, fills the void.

      • Rochester mama

        I think it is also easy to equate more effort with a better result. That is generally how it works in school and the workplace. AP is certainly a lot of work so it kinda makes sense that it would give a better result.

    • Antigonos CNM

      I can’t speak to the state of daycare in the US, because I’m in Israel, but I have always thought it ESSENTIAL that children be with other children of approximately the same age from fairly early on for purely social reasons. They need to learn how to socialize with peers, and, being naturally imitative anyway, learn from each other. I watched my own kids — in daycare from the age of 1, and my granddaughter [ditto] and the activities of the center, and the mental and physical stimuli are just something you can’t replicate in a situation of isolation from other children. Of course children need quality time with their parents, too, but it’s not the same thing as playing with other children.

      • Cellist

        Totally agree 🙂

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I was glad when our kids started daycare because it was a chance for them to learn from someone besides his mom and me.

        Our oldest was 14 mos when he started daycare, and I realized that, at that point, pretty much everything he knew was what we had taught him. He needed a different perspective.

        It’s really a lot of fun when they come home from daycare and are singing a song that you didn’t teach them, and then they can teach it to you.

  • Antigonos CNM

    Dr. Ann Dally, a British psychiatrist, wrote a book decades ago [called, IIRC “Inventing Motherhood”] in which she pointed out that the concept that the biological mother was the ONLY suitable person to raise a child until the age of three [at least] was the direct outcome of two events: one, the misinterpretation of the new ideas of Freud, et al, and two, the return of the men from the First World War and the necessity to get the women who had filled their jobs for the duration back into the home so the men could get their jobs back. In the book, Dr. Dally makes a number of other salient points, one of which is that it is undoubtedly NOT a good thing for a baby/toddler to be cooped up 24/7 in a small flat with a neurotic woman, no matter how much the child is loved, and also that the isolation engendered by this situation where the mother spends all her time and energy focussing on her child will inevitably make any neurotic tendencies even worse.

    As you noted, until the 20th century, even in advanced countries, parenting was generally shared among the extended family, whether urban or rural, since it was easier and more profitable for the family if the young woman could be employed outside the house when the older women could no longer do so. Granted, the jobs available to women prior to WWI were almost exclusively menial, but in large families, every penny counted. Even in well-off families, children were raised more by nannies and governesses than by their biological parents [and often sent to boarding schools as early as possible].

    I think a lot of the pressure to adopt AP stems from the fact that today’s modern woman who chooses not to work outside the home is denigrated as “only” a mere homemaker [especially if she has gone to college or has advanced degrees]. “What a shame she can’t put her education to use” is the assumption that is often heard, or “how sad she’s stuck in the house with her kids after all those years preparing for her profession”. So mothering — Mothering — has got to be an even more strenuous “profession” than the law, or medicine, or social work, or whatever profession you choose to name, to justify “abandoning” one’s “chosen career”. Very sad, really.

    • Rochester mama

      I think there a fair share of stay at home moms out there that stay at home and go above and beyond because we are apart of a generation whose mothers in large part worked outside the home. I was born in 1979 and am a part of the divorced latch key kid generation. While I don’t AP I’m certainly parenting differently and more intensively than my mother because I remember what day cares and having baby sitters all the time was like. I also waited to have kids till my husband and I were in a financial place so I could stay home. For many upper middle class women having children was a conscious decision and motherhood is an option chosen, so after waiting and planning we want to be the best at it as we can. AP can suck you in because based on past experience in academics and professional life it is easy to think that more effort means a better result.

      • Antigonos CNM

        I think we ALL parent differently from the way our parents raised us to some extent — for one thing, we don’t replicate, in our own relationships with our kids the exact same situation we had with our own parents as the world itself is different and requires different solutions. I too was more or less a “latchkey kid” from the age of 7 onwards [and before that, stuck with an SAHM who hated every minute of her life], and somehow I turned out OK, and so have you. The older I get, the more convinced I am that children survive their parents’ forms of childraising surprisingly well, no matter what the parenting philosophy, or lack of it, is.

        AP seems to me to not be about the child at all but about the needs of the mother, who seems incapable of having an identity apart from that of “mother”. She simply isn’t a person without an attached child. She is defined by that child so the child must not escape or she becomes nothing.

        • Eddie

          AP seems to me to not be about the child at all but about the needs of the mother, who seems incapable of having an identity apart from that of “mother”. She simply isn’t a person without an attached child. She is defined by that child so the child must not escape or she becomes nothing.

          I think you’ve nailed it. Unfortunately, psychology is very familiar with the consequences of a parent trying to get their attachment needs met via their child.

    • Wishful

      I always disliked how AP seems to forget the kid is just as much the fathers child, even when the father is present. I understand that when the father abandons the family you have to do something, but not giving a guy who was decent enough to stay much of role seems wrong. I mean a lot of stuff they do seems to put the kid between mom and dad (in the case of co-sleeping literally). When I was a little kid, my mother worked full time so we could eat, my father couldn’t find employment that paid more then daycare so he stayed home with me. I spent almost all day for the first 4 years of life with him and I didn’t grow up unattached for it. My father was there for my birth and gasp even was allowed to have an opinion on things related to my birth and feeding once I came out.

      SAHF and working fathers both rock and deserve a role in child rearing if they are willing to take one.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        “Being parents is not about thinking alike, but about thinking together.”

        If there is one message I could tell perspective parents, especially fathers, this would be it. Being a father means that you are an active part of parenting, it is not simply, “Do whatever mom tells you to do.”

        • Eddie

          Hear hear! I’ve known a number of men who were SAHF for at least a period of months. In a few cases, years. It’s funny how much this offends/irritates/bothers some people.

          Just one example: My youngest brother’s MIL complained to my mother about my brother not working and being a SAHF for a year or so. My brother lived in a country where he was not legally allowed to work, despite having permanent residency. And when he did get the right to work, he discovered a strong prejudice … people didn’t want to hire a foreigner. But his MIL complained to my mother that it was so tragic that her daughter couldn’t spend (enough) time with her child. Even though her daughter — a lawyer — WANTED to work! Both my brother and SIL are great parents and great for each other. Their children are very well adjusted, well behaved, and happy.

          • auntbea

            The last time we saw her, his mother remarked that she had predicted that my husband’s decision to stay home would ruin our marriage. She is happy, though thoroughly bewildered, that it has not.

          • AmyM

            My husband was a teacher for a while, so he spent the last few summers home with our sons. While no one we know told us they were offended by that, he did occasionally run into weirdness if he took them out. Sometimes women would make a fuss about what a super-Dad he was, which he found irritating because as far as he was concerned he was simply parenting. None of the women were getting extra kudos for taking their children to the playground.

            Once or twice, a woman seemed afraid of him and would move her child as far away as possible or leave…not sure if they realized he was with our children, or if she just thought that any man who hangs around with children must be a creepy and possibly a criminal with intent to harm children. This attitude was especially hard to take, as a man who works with children in his career, and is a wonderful father.

          • Eddie

            I had a college roommate in the 80s, an on-again off-again art major, black male. One of his jobs over the years was at a day care center. He was a great person, very nurturing, very intelligent, a great roommate, a great friend. But the presence of a black male in this mostly white neighborhood scared some of the parents, so he lost his job at the day care center.

            I work in the day and my wife works at night. I’ve taken our youngest many places with me, out of necessity. Fortunately, I never got the patronizing, “Oh, you’re baby sitting?” If I had, I’d have responded, “No, it’s called parenting.” A couple times I have gotten the “super-dad” thing, which I reject for the same reason as your husband.

            I don’t have a traditional look, which is maybe why I haven’t gotten as much of that kind of well-meaning and intended-as-complimentary but ultimately insulting judgement. Although since my wife is way, way more conservative about appearance than I am, I cut off the pony tail and only rarely fill my ear piercings. it makes her happier by a bigger amount than it makes me unhappy to do so.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            “babysitting”….grrrrrr!

            It’s pretty weird, one might thing that the “super dad” crack sounds like a complement, but to me it just comes off as awfully patronizing, as if I am doing some so amazing just by being a father.

            I’m not a clueless imbecile.

  • Dr. Sears was on NPR’s On Point last year. A father called in and said that he and his wife practiced AP, and that his now 6 year old son was still in their bed and his wife refused to kick him out. He said he was contemplating divorce and that he thought his wife was seriously damaging their son. Dr. Sears’ response: just hang in there, very soon you’ll be rewarded with a confident, independent son.

    • Tim Vander Haar

      People of any age become confident and independent to the extent that they are allowed the independence to make decisions and gain the experience that the consequences of those decisions bring. It seems to me that the whole purpose of parenting is detachment – i.e. to move children from infantile dependency to adult independence in an orderly and responsible sort of way. I doubt that is ever going to happen for a six-year old still displacing daddy from mommy’s bed.

      • Elizabeth Abraham

        It seems to me that the whole purpose of parenting is detachment – i.e. to move children from infantile dependency to adult independence in an orderly and responsible sort of way.

        The more colloquial way to say this is “A good home is built for leaving.”

        That particular parenting adage could use more airtime, IMO.

        • AmyM

          Yep–I will consider myself a successful parent when my children are self-sufficient, decent adults. Since the current extremes of AP seem to be more recently “invented”, what do they think happened in the past? My parents are baby boomers, being born in the 1950s—one of my grandmothers stayed home (with my dad), the other worked (mom’s mom). Neither of them would have been able to identify with modern Dr.Sears-AP. Yet, despite this, my parents had good relationships with their parents. Then they went on to raise my sister and I to be self-sufficient adults who are decent people, and who know how to have relationships with people (lots of people, incl our parents).

          Now we have children, and neither my sister nor I practice/d AP, but our children are just fine. In fact, I was watching my sister with her newborn firstborn…and since he was content and sleeping most of the time, she put him somewhere to sleep. Somewhere in the same area as she (or someone else was), but allowing him to just sleep.

          She wasn’t constantly fussing over him or refusing to put him down, or refusing to let anyone else hold him. I have certainly known in real life and online of women who do all of the above mentioned behaviors, and I imagine that could make a kid agitated. (I know not all babies are such good sleepers and clearly some need more attention than others, but some of the AP crowd seems to follow a one-size-fits-all thing.)

      • Antigonos CNM

        The whole concept of AP, as far as I can see, is NOT to foster independence on the part of the child, but instead to constantly reinforce the idea that total dependence on the mother is essential, for as long as possible. Prolonged breastfeeding requires a mother in constant attendance; babywearing implies that freedom of movement without mother is undesirable; co-sleeping implies that sleeping alone is almost dangerous–how traumatic if Johnny wakes up ALONE???

        • ejohns313

          How do the babies learn the basics of movement if they’re always being “worn?” Reaching and grabbing, rolling over, sitting up, crawling — how does that even work?

          • Jessica

            My sister-in-law and her husband were constantly carrying or holding their oldest son. She laughs now that he didn’t crawl until he was at my in-laws’ house and my MIL left him on the floor to goober around.

            I love holding my son and snuggling with him, but he spends a lot of time on the floor playing. His gross motor skills have exploded in the last six weeks, and it is so fun seeing him figuring out crawling, standing, climbing, and cruising along the furniture. The look on his face when he masters something new is priceless!

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            I wonder that as well. My daughter loved being held when I fed her or when she was tired or in a strange place. Otherwise she wanted DOWN. She was very physical and always on the move. She crawled on hands and knees at 5 months, cruised around holding furniture at 7 and walked at 9 months. Just the way she was wired, I don’t think anything I did other than provide age appropriate stuff to play with(wooden spoons, pots and pans, plastic bowls, empty boxes, Duplos, etc) made a difference one way or the other.

            It frankly scared the crap out of me because she was apparently too young to have any fear of falling, edges or anything at that age.

          • LukesCook

            In my part of the world, women “wear” their babies by tying them on their backs with a towel or blanket. I’ve seen thousands of babies worn this way, and I might add that I’ve never seen one tied on with a chi-chi length of “ethnic” patterned cloth. TFB should check out the YouTube how-to next time she wastes donor funds on baby carriers. But I digress. Women here do this because they must. They wear their babies to fetch water, work in the vegetable garden, clean house, beg at the roadside, or travel long distances on foot or by public transport.I have NEVER seen one of these women “wearing” her baby in preference to letting it lie, sit, crawl or walk (depending on age and development) if a safe and convenient opportunity presents itself.

          • Pam Forma

            Yes, this exactly. Where I am the majority of babies/toddlers are worn on the back because that is the only way that they can safely move around with the child (i.e. necessity). And as soon as there is an opportunity, they take them down. AP baby-wearing is not done out of necessity.

          • quadrophenic

            Mayim Bialik said recently that one of her kids was barely rolling over at 1 and another walked insanely late or something. I forget details but it was in the comments here or in the FB group. But I don’t doubt that limiting kids ability to crawl, sit, or even reach forward and kick in a stroller can slow down motor development. When I take my 10 month old out all day I feel bad that she didn’t get much of a chance to practice her standing that day, because she’s so damn proud of herself when she does it.

          • Wren

            I think you have to take it to real extremes to really cause a problem. I say this as a recovering APer whose second child really, really loved being in a sling or carrier and, as the kids are only 20 months apart and chasing a toddler is easier if the baby is secure, often was. My daughter still hit her physical milestones early and was running, not just walking, well before her first birthday.

    • Antigonos CNM

      I wish there was some data on just what the effect of AP is on the marriage itself. Certainly, Erin Long’s current situation is related to the way she has made her husband take a back seat to their children. When she became pregnant with her last child she noted fairly early on that he was less than thrilled at again being sidelined in her life, and I’m sure a lot of marriages hit the rocks when AP is used as a means of avoiding relating to one’s husband or partner.

      • mollyb

        One of my close friends from long before we each had kids is very into AP and as she’s the only SAHM friend I have, I often go on outings with her and her AP mom group. I am constantly shocked by how often I hear them make comments like “Of course [husband] hates it!” and then they all laugh like it’s a big joke. My friend’s husband works third shift in a very labor intensive job and then comes home and sleeps on the couch because there’s no room for him in the bed with all the kids. She said he can’t wait for the day when they sleep in their own beds and then she added with a laugh “I plan on keeping them in our room for another three years but I haven’t told him that yet!”.

        • FormerPhysicist

          Ugh. How horrible.

          We bed-shared with all three. Started after I dropped the baby on the floor a few times after falling asleep while sitting nursing in a chair. Oops.

          But my husband is okay with it. And doesn’t need my permission to move the kid. We’re transitioning the youngest now. She’s four. We would have done it before, but we’re lazy.

        • ejohns313

          This is just so crappy. Laughing at a partner’s frustration with his home life? People should be appreciative of their partners’ sacrifices (misguided though this one may be), not cackling behind their backs and plotting future miseries. And then, of course, when things reach breaking point, the wives will go into martyr mode and accuse the husbands of being selfish fathers.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Why would anyone put up with being treated that way? I don’t understand. How can that woman claim to even like their husband when they treat him like that — let alone love him?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Why would anyone put up with being treated that way?

            To be fair, I often ask that question about my nieces and their crappy relationships.

            I was talking to my SIL about it last Christmas, and she said sometimes, it is hard to imagine that there is something better available until you get out of the situation you are in and find it. Then it’s easy to look back and say, “What was I thinking? That was awful.” But until you are there, it all sucks.

            My wife even did it with her job, putting up with a crappy one. It’s easy to see now how much happier she is, but at the time, we thought it was important to stick with it because we didn’t realize what kind of alternatives there were.

          • suchende

            I think that all the time, but usually about mothers. Why would anyone tolerate taking every night shift? Handling every inane, exhausting detail of childrearing? Why don’t people demand an equitable share of the parenting tasks?

          • Lena

            This X1000. One of the reasons I’m kind of ambivalent about having children is that I don’t know a single man who actually does his fair share of the childrearing. Even the ones that my family and friends consider great still don’t do anywhere near as much as mothers, all of whom work full-time. I noticed this when I was a child, and it’s always stuck with me. What’s the point of having a spouse/partner if you still a single mother for all intents and purposes?

          • fiftyfifty1

            It took my husband and me about a year of adjustment that included a fair amount of fighting after the birth of our first, but I can truly say I do not do more than my husband does and probably less. My techniques for success included being willing to let him fail in a spectacular fashion, being willing to ignore everything except that which was downright dangerous, and (most important) being willing to appear to be a rather mediocre mother. My kids looked worse than any kids around. But mismatched and stained cloths on your kids is a small price to pay for not having to dress them or do the laundry yourself. Also strangers often seem to direct all questions to the mother. I frequently say “I don’t know, ask their dad” and point at my husband. When other moms e-mail me to see if my kids can do a play date, I forward all the e-mails to him, and then have nothing more to do with it. And I don’t act as a manager, delegating tasks to him. I figured he would be able to rise to the task if I were dead, so that meant he could rise to the task even without me being dead.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            This comment and suchende’s comment above are very interesting, and really do strike at that heart of what I think is some of the issue. I think back to a comment I saw once when I frequented parenting boards about how the woman was complaining that the dad vacuumed, but did such a bad job that she had to go back and do it herself.

            Given that, how can you complain that dad doesn’t do enough? If he tries, and your response is only to criticize him, all you are doing is reinforcing the message that he can’t do it properly. Of course he is going to respond by letting you do it then.

            It goes back to my comment yesterday about the “trust your instincts, they are usually right, and that means others are wrong” fallacy. Recognize that we all do things differently, and different is not wrong, regardless of whether it is how you would have done it. If you want it done they way you want, then in the end, you are the one who is going to have to do it. However, if you allow others to do it their way, then they are much more likely to do it.

            being willing to ignore everything except that which was downright dangerous

            And this is it right here. If it is not downright dangerous, then let it go.

            It’s a lot easier to get others to help when you don’t criticize them whenever they try to.

          • fiftyfifty1

            But there is a reason behind what appears to be on the surface just a “control freak” behavior by mothers. Mothers really do have to field judgement from those around them about their parenting and housekeeping. Men almost never do. This is, I think, at least part of why women go back and re-do it when men do it poorly. Until everything got adjusted and worked out between my husband and me, there were times that things *really* looked bad. I remember that he left food scraps in the carpet in the sunroom and there was a horrible invasion of ants everywhere and yet he still didn’t vacuum it up and one of his family members came over and saw it, but who do you think got criticized? Me! And other moms have teased me about how tangled my kids’ hair was (and actually still is occasionally), but he’s the one who gets them up and dressed. And when one of his elderly relatives sends a gift and he doesn’t make the kids write a thank-you note, it is me they call up and ask “If it arrived”. And these are just the criticisms that make it to my ears. I’m sure there are more judgements that go unsaid, and I’m sure they are directed at me, not him. Oh well, still worth not having to do it all yourself!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            It’s amazing how parents never heed their own advice. When our kids need to have all the latest fancy new clothes because all their friends do it, do we tell them, “Well, ok, if your friends are going to look down on you for it, then we better do it”? Parents basically invented the line that, “If all your friends jumped off the bridge, does that mean you have to, too?” but how many parents feel they have to do something parentingwise just to fit in with their friends?

            And regardless of why it’s done, it does not change the fact that if you make it a habit of criticizing others contributions, all you are going to do is to teach them to not try to contribute.

          • LukesCook

            Do I also need to follow my husband around saying “Good job!” every time he manages to poo in the lavatory and not in his pants? I’m not going to infantilise him by praising slapdash, perfunctory “efforts” nor demean myself by grovelling and cajoling. Our family and household are our joint responsibility as partners and adults and the onus is on each of us to meet the commitments we’ve made to each other and our son. If he’s not bothering to do so, then I’m certainly going to let him know.

          • fiftyfifty1

            I agree with you on this one. I didn’t do it for him. I also didn’t refrain from criticism when he really slacked off on something we had agreed on. We divided up chores by the plan where you list every little thing that needs to get done in the house on a big master list, along with how often it needs to get done and details about how well it needs to get done (we personally set very low standards on this). Then you take turns choosing tasks off the list until they are all gone. This helped *a lot* because one of the issues is that he didn’t even know all the things that needed to be done because he had zero childcare experience and not much homemaking experience.

          • Eddie

            It sounds to me that you treated him like an adult. Refraining from criticism when someone isn’t carrying their share isn’t treating someone like an adult, just as excessive nagging isn’t treating someone like an adult. Also, reading your other posts, it sounds like it was more difficult than your first post lead me to believe. It’s great that you were able to find a productive way past the difficulties.

            When I was a kid, chores were very gender-divided. (I don’t know if this is still generally true today or not, in America.) Boys did outdoor chores, girls indoor. I thus grew up truly ignorant of just how much work it took to maintain the inside of a house. (Although I knew very thoroughly how much it took to maintain the outside.) I make a very clear point to my kids that there are no boys chores or girls chores. Everyone does the same exact chores, and they rotate. How my kids divide chores with their future families is up to them, but they will know what all of them are and how to do them. They will have no illusion that keeping a house clean and tidy takes minimal effort.

            And good grief where did that neanderthal counselor come from? Wanting an equitable sharing of the work of running the household is a cancer?

          • hush

            fiftyfifty1, I’ve enjoyed your comments so much, you’ve inspired a blog post from me. Thank you!

            http://husheveryone.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-virtues-of-appearing-to-be-mediocre.html

          • fiftyfifty1

            Thanks for the link! We did go to a couple of counseling sessions about 6 months after the birth of our first. We were fighting so much about division of work around the house. The therapist asked me what was more important to me, a fair division of work around the house or saving my marriage. I said the fair division of work. He said that that attitude was “a cancer in your relationship”. Luckily, my husband couldn’t stand they guy either. It was about the first thing that we had agreed on in months. So we quit going. I told my co-worker about the problems I was having with my husband, and she brought in an article from Redbook that she had clipped that explained the “list the chores and take turns dividing them up plan” that had saved her relationship with her (female) partner after the birth of their first. It has worked well for us too.

          • Eddie

            You are absolutely right that most of these criticisms unfairly fall on the mothers. But how odd that it is usually other mothers who do the criticizing. I have seen men do this complaining (although these are usually the more controlling, abusive men in a very 1950’s style stereotypical relationship), but it is typically women.

            This is one way in which women enforce traditional gender roles. Any number of my friends have been successful in locally raising awareness of how silly (and repugnant) this is amongst their friends and family, by taking a united front when the women gets criticized and by telling people to butt out. But this can be work.

            There are certain kinds of change where unfortunately you have to be willing to look bad if you want to effect change. It’s not fair or right. It’s just reality. I remember coming across the Richard Feynmann autobiography where he recounts the story, “What Do You Care What Other People Think?” That way of thinking really stuck with me. Why DO we care what other people think? It’s all about control. People who overly-care what others think can be coerced into doing the culturally correct thing. That’s all it is.

          • fiftyfifty1

            I will check out that essay.

          • Sue

            Spot on, Bofa. I’m no champion at vacuuming – if someone came after me and re-did it, I’d probably reverse the flow and blow the dust in their face…

          • hush

            Awesome comment – you’ve nailed it! This is how a smart woman successfully negotiates in her marriage. Yes, a woman has to be willing to appear to be mediocre to outsiders (whose standards truly don’t matter anyway). Amen!

          • Eddie

            That is just AWESOME. Just freaking awesome. I wish I could vote your post up more than once.

            I remember years ago talking to a female friend who was frustrated with her husband for doing no housework. But it was more important to her that things were done timely and well than it was that her husband do it at all. She’d give him ten or twenty minutes, and when he didn’t “get around to it” she would do it, whatever “it” was. I tried to explain to her that if she really wanted to be effective at getting him to do it, she had to simply not do it, period, no matter how much it bothered her that it wasn’t done yet, or done her way. She basically wanted her husband to have a personality transplant and to change who he was, rather than be the man she chose to marry, which was a guy who was somewhat of a jerk (but not a total jerk) and kinda lazy.

            In trying to get our kids to do their chores, a few times I had to physically restrain my wife from doing their chores for them when the kids put them off. Over time, the kids got the message: We insist that you do this. We will not accept indefinite delay and we will not do it for you.

            It’s awesome to see another person who so clearly gets it (fundamental human psychology), and who was effective at getting the change she wanted.

          • Bomb

            That is basically what I did. My friends micromanage everything dad does to the point that they do 99% of everything.

          • This this this this THIS!

          • Petanque

            Martyr points 😉

          • suchende

            Have you read Lean In yet?

    • ejohns313

      I’m surprised a 6-year-old wouldn’t WANT a Big Kid Bed. I sure didn’t want my mom to sleep with me when I was 6. I wanted to turn on my flashlight and read stories.

      • Amazed

        My brother knew i had a room and a bed of my own and he wanted that before he could say so, I think. When he was about 1, he was installed into my room, known as our room from that moment on. No sleeping issues. Nothing. His bed was just under mine, so I hung my hand down, he raised his up and we held hands for a while. I told him a story that he usually was too young to understand but liked anyway and he fell asleep almost immediately. No panic, no running for Mom.

        I, on the other hand, obtained a room of my own when we moved into a flat of our own. I was 5. I was the kid with the sleeping issues. Little bugger had no problems. Multichoice test for the reason?

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Our kids (4 and 2) have never slept in our bed at home. When we are in strange surroundings, we do split up and sleep with them, and we will sleep in their beds on occasion if the situations call for it (our oldest is afraid of thunder, for example). But they have never left their beds to come join us.

      I don’t know what that means, just that it is.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        I always figure whatever works for you , your situation, your partnership or marriage, and your kid. My daughter slept in her crib from the day she came home from the hospital. I even had to turn the baby monitor off because we lived in a small apartment and with her sleeping across the hall but literally about 7 or 8 feet away, I was jumping out of bed and half awake at every snort or whimper. The first night or so I was getting NO sleep. When she had night mares for a while at 3 I would sleep in her room sometimes, and if she was sick one of us would sleep in her room or we would take turns so that one of us could be rested for work the next day. When my husband would go one WestPac sometimes she would want to sleep in my bed the first few days he was gone, but normally she slept in her own room.
        She seems to have turned out normal so far. She’s 18 and in college and seems to still like me most days….

    • LukesCook

      Mmm. There’s a type of man who feels validated by dependent, ultra-mommyish women. Not a lot of sympathy for them if this is how it turns out.

    • auntbea

      This seemed reasonable until he got to the part where we should see if the kid can tolerate being left with Dad when MOM LEAVES FOR AN HOUR! http://www.askdrsears.com/content/balancing-attachment-parenting-marriage

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        If the kid can not tolerate being left with dad for an hour, something is drastically wrong in the family. I’m not sure what, but something is just not right. Kids should look to both parents as, well, parents. One should not be considered the unreliable babysitter.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          If the kid can not tolerate being left with dad for an hour, something is drastically wrong in the family.

          Hear, hear!

    • sleuther

      Ugh, the family bed. In my experience (via friends & acquaintances), it rarely ends well.