It takes a village to raise a child, not a vaginal birth

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One of the central conceits of the philosophy of attachment parenting is that is recapitulates parenting in nature and that it mimics child rearing among indigenous peoples.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In indigenous societies, “it takes a village to raise a child.” In attachment parenting, it takes only a mother following a rigid set of behaviors, that, in truth, have little or nothing to do with raising healthy, well adjusted children.

Attachment parenting, far from representing the way children were traditionally raised, reflects three very modern notions

1. Attachment parenting is very much an affectation of liberal, democratic societies that place primacy on radical individualism. In attachment parenting, only a mother can raise a child, and not just any mother: only a mother who fetishizes proximity to her young child.

2. Attachment parenting, though an affectation of liberals, actually reflects conservative values. The burden of raising children falls very heavily on women, at the expense of their ability to pursue intellectual endeavors or to achieve financial independence through working outside the home. The wider family has no responsibility to share the burden with the mother. The government has no responsibility for creating conditions that aid mothers in raising children or for supporting families in any way.

3. Attachment parenting is anti-feminist and fundamentalist. At its heart, with its emphasis on vaginal birth, extending breastfeeding, baby wearing and the imperative to be with a baby every moment of every day (including while sleeping), it is about policing women’s bodies to keep women in traditional gender roles and to make it impossible for women to pursue intellectual and economic equality.

Furthermore, attachment parenting has been marketed in ways that confirm its recent origins. Like any successful marketing campaign, the marketing of attachment parenting relies on exploiting insecurities (in this case, insecurities of mothers), encouraging competitiveness (between mothers), and selfishness (encouraging mothers to choose a parenting method that is all about them and their needs, as opposed to what is good for babies).

In “nature,” the central unit of human society is NOT the nuclear family; it is small bands composed of extended families.

In nature, the burden of childrearing is shared with grandmothers and older siblings. Indeed, some researchers believe that menopause confers an evolutionary advantage for humans because women who can no longer bear children turn to nurturing their grandchildren, providing them with significant benefits.

Children benefit by being nurtured and educated by an extended kin group.

Birth and breastfeeding, far from being manifestations of maternal love, are tests of evolutionary fitness. Baby too big to fit through the mother’s pelvis? Too bad! Both mother and baby die. Mother doesn’t make enough breastmilk to fill the baby’s needs? Too bad! Baby dies. Get pregnant quickly and have another one.

Tandem nursing, one of the hallmarks of contemporary attachment parenting, in unusual in animals and rare in humans. When the next baby is born, breastmilk is reserved exclusively for the nurturing of that baby and the older child is not allowed to continue nursing.

Baby wearing is not designed for emotional closeness; it is designed to protect babies from predators while mothers work around or outside the home. Indeed, the need for women to work, both around and outside the home, is integral to the survival of the group in nature. It is therefore profoundly ironic that baby wearing basically forces women to stay home with their children and isolates them from the rest of the group.

Similarly, the family bed is a reflection of the need for group protection, not a focus of nurturing.

Attachment parenting has essentially nothing to do with parenting in nature. It is a modern conceit, based on modern notions of radical individuality and conservative social beliefs about gender.

In nature, it takes a village to raise a child, not a vaginal birth.

  • Squillo

    I bought this handbag. It has everything I need: it’s roomy, has lots of zippered pockets, it’s a color I like, and it goes with my wardrobe. It was pricey, but I could afford it, and the extra money was worth it to me because it met my needs so well.

    I didn’t even know it was a Louis Vuitton until someone pointed it out to me. Now, I wouldn’t buy anything else, and I’ve started identifying myself as Louis Vuitton owner. When the time comes to replace it, I’m going to make sure I get one that has the LV logo all over it, so everyone will know without having to ask. It will just make it easier when I want to get together with other LV owners to talk about owning LV handbags. Not that we think LV bags are better than others. I mean, I know some people say that, but we don’t.

    What non-LV-owners don’t understand is that brand is really flexible. It doesn’t have to be made by LV to be a LV bag. It just has to meet all a handbag-carrier’s needs.

    • Elizabeth A

      Please send me pictures of this handbag, because my current, organic cotton awesome purse with zippered pockets is wearing out and they don’t make it anymore.

      No, I know this is a metaphor. But I need a new bag before the incipient hole in my old one springs into fierce existence and dumps my wallet, the lipstick DD covets most, and that handful of matchbox cars onto the street in the rain.

      • Squillo

        Sadly, my real handbags are largely made of a pleather-like substance and smell of Cheerios.

    • Esther

      I have to wonder about how so many women claiming they “just stumbled” into practicing AP/NFL without ever having been exposed Dr. Sears, Mothering or LLL’s ideas. What, they dreamed about a sling one night and fashioned a Maya Wrap out of an old bedsheet the next morning?

      • Squillo

        I don’t know. I didn’t know that some of the things I did were considered “attachment parenting” practices until someone mentioned it, and it was even later when I found out that there was an entire movement devoted to it.

        I can’t imagine identifying myself to others as practicing “attachment parenting” (even if I qualified); it seems as meaningless as telling someone I carried an [insert brand here] handbag. I think there are probably folks who stumbled onto AP the same way I did and adopted the brand later.

      • Kim Marie

        I have no use for attachment parenting, but, ironically, a lot of the things my husband and I did during our son’s first three months would be considered attachment parenting techniques. And, we did it out of ignorance. Neither of us knew much (anything) about babies, and we were both youngest children. We were terrified of leaving the baby by himself. If he wasn’t sleeping, one of us was holding him, and the second he woke up, one of us was ready with a bottle and a diaper change, It was the most ghastly three months of my life–neither of us slept worth a damn.

    • ratiomom

      And does said bag automatically attach itself to you 24/7 thereby keeping you from holding a job? Are women without a bag considered not quite up to scratch by those who have one dangling around their necks? If not, the analogy doesn’t fit.

      • Squillo

        Well, nothing’s perfect.

        Except my handbag. Did I mention it was Louis Vuitton?

  • reallyerica

    “In attachment parenting, it takes only a mother following a rigid set of behaviors” Uhm… What? Caring for and raising our little ones in an “attachment parenting” style involved a mama AND a daddy, and then older siblings, and (after we moved closer to them) grandparents and like-minded friends and neighbors. Additionally I, the mother, am nearly incapable of following a rigid set of anything–so, I can assure you this description is decidedly inaccurate!

    Actually, we never even learned about and then decided to practice attachment parenting as a “method”. I learned about attachment parenting after we were already doing it. How then did we come to do the things we did? Basically by being the least rigid and most spontaneous people you could meet. We just did what seemed most logical, natural, and simple to us–in fact eschewing (we thought) parenting “methods” along with all the unsolicited advice of so many folks. We decided together that we would just adapt our lives as we went along in whatever way best met the changing needs of our family. And we supported one another in our efforts. It wasn’t constantly easy and perfect–but what child-rearing experience is? We just did what worked for us as a family.

    Because of this, I am rather astounded at some of the assumptions and assertions made in this post. I mean, “Baby wearing basically forces women to stay home with their children and isolates them from the rest of the group”? This is the exact *opposite* of my own experience! It was my discovery of the ring-sling baby carrier, during my second pregnancy, that enabled me to have an entirely different, freer, happier and much more social new-Mama life following the birth of DD#2 than I’d had with DD#1. I was out and about with nothing to stop me!

    I’m not sure what sparked the writing of this piece, but it comes across to me as really angry…or defensive…or something. And I’m not sure why anyone would feel any of these feelings towards the very style of parenting that provided me, my husband, and our four kiddos (one now technically an adult!) with ever-so-much goodness and so many happy years.

    • suchende

      If you never followed AP as a “method” why are you even commenting? Are you unaware of the rigidness of AP as it is pitched?

      • reallyerica

        I’m commenting because we really *did* read lots of books and articles on AP parenting after learning about it. Then we made friends with other folks who were practicing attachment parenting. And we had more babies. And years passed. And at no point did I run across anyone who was describing or practicing AP as a method comprised of a rigid set of rules. In fact, that notion seems to conflict with what I have always believed was one of the cornerstone concepts of attachment parenting: Tuning in to, and being responsive to, your child’s individual needs. Being that no two babies or kids are the same, how could any rigid set of rules accomplish this? Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you mean about the “rigidness”? Or is it possible that what “attachment parenting” used to be, is just not what it has now become? Could you point me to some examples? I would hate to be promoting something that isn’t at all what I have always thought it was.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          what I have always believed was one of the cornerstone concepts of
          attachment parenting: Tuning in to, and being responsive to, your
          child’s individual needs.

          In what way is this any different from any other parenting “approach”? Are you suggesting that I am not being responsive to my child’s individual needs?

          This is the problem. If this is REALLY all what AP is about, then running around calling it something different like AP is just pretentiousness. Get over yourself.

          Alternatively, AP is something else.

          So which is it?

          • reallyerica

            I have no idea how responsive or non-responsive you are to your child’s individual needs. I don’t know you. And though I certainly do know people who do not parent in such an individualized and responsive manner, I am not actually suggesting anything about anyone. What I am doing is trying to figure out what people even mean now when they say “attachment parenting”–because what I’m reading here, and how I would have explained it, don’t seem to match up. Hence the questions at the end of my last comment. I am not at all the person you should ask if you want a definition!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I’d like to hear about all these people you know who are not responsive to their children’s needs? I know there are certainly abusive parents, who of course are acting improperly, so let’s focus on people who are actually parenting.

            Of course, it begs the question of what is meant by “needs” but, hey, as you note, these vary by individual.

          • reallyerica

            I’m not sure if you are misunderstanding me, or I am taking you the wrong way, or what… But I am not trying to argue with you about anything. I am just trying to figure something out. Not accuse anyone of anything. Sorry if I did not express myself well.

          • There are many parenting approaches that say that being responsive to your kids individual needs is wrong. There are many different schools of thought available, it doesn’t do any good to pretend that everyone agrees on certain parenting principles because it simply isn’t true. You should look and see what quiverfull parents do to their kids (‘blanket training’ may be a good place to start looking).

        • suchende

          “Tuning in to, and being responsive to, your child’s individual needs. Being that no two babies or kids are the same, how could any rigid set of rules accomplish this?”

          So one could be a non-cosleeping/sleep-training, formula/puree-feeding, stroller pushing attachment parent?

          • KarenJJ

            That’s what I wonder. AP prioritises certain parenting practices over others. It is ideal to cosleep/breastfeed/babywear/baby-ledwean and best if people can meet these goals. It’s not what is best for individual families. For my family it was best for me to use a stroller once they got to a certain age because I have arthritis in my knees. It was best for my kids to be bottle fed because I don’t produce enough milk and I also have medication issues. It was best for my babies to sleep separately from me as I am hearing impaired and sleep heavily and am far too anxious for them to be in bed with me. With my eldest, sleep training was a nightmare and we gave it up, but for my second it was a lifesaver and was very effective in helping him develop better sleeping habits. My second also loves being spoonfed purees, completely different from my eldest who went to finger foods very early on.

            So we’re a family that is making the best choices possible for us and our children are happy, loved and thriving regardless of what AP says. There is no way that we are AP apparently because we can’t follow the AP practices. But our kids are happy and attached. I did feel some grief early on because of my health issues might cause poor attachment – but I quickly realised that my child smiled at me as brightly as any other baby was smiling at their parents and I very quickly stopped caring what AP had to say about raising happy children. Different courses for different horses. Kids are loved, that’s the main thing, right?

          • yentavegan

            Hard-core APers scoffed at bottles of any kind. If a mother bottle fed she was not welcomed warmly at the AP support group. The topic of feeding from an SNS or a Lact-aide was promoted over the use of bottles. Of course the recommended supplement was donated breastmilk over artificial human milk.
            Strollers were considered dangerous as were the baby bucket style carriers.
            There was a definite undertone of biological elitism. Mothers of twins were suspect of using “Brave New World” manipulation to conceive. Only mothers with twins were not judged harshly for using a stroller. but for some reason during introductions it was vital to announce that she concieved her twins without the aid of fertility treatments.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Completely OT response: my wife’s friend who’s oldest son is the same age as our younger guy (to turn 3 this fall) also has triplets, who just celebrated their first birthday (birthday party a couple of weeks ago). My wife finds out yesterday that she is pregnant again. With triplets. Due in Jan, which means she will probably deliver early Dec.

            That will make SEVEN kids under the age of 40 months. Yowza!

          • Amy M

            Oh man. I have one set of twins, and that is enough for me. A friend of mine has twin boys the same age as my twin boys (4.5yr) and then she had twin girls who are almost a year old now…I can’t even begin to fathom two sets of triplets. I’d be suicidal. Good luck to them..they must love a big family! 🙂

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I keep telling my wife to convince them they need a bigger house (we are selling). Unfortunately, I don’t think our house would even be big enough, although I can’t imagine what it would take to be “big enough.”

            7 kids, with the oldest just turned 3. It’s nuts.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            O.o I hope that family is doing well. Bet they either are really structured or got used to a bit of chaos

          • Esther

            “It is ideal to cosleep/breastfeed/babywear/baby-ledwean and best if people can meet these goals.”

            See, other than breastfeeding, I take issue with the idea that any of these other practices are ideal, and in a perfect world we’d be doing them all. AP ideology prioritizes these choices with no evidence at all they’re in any way superior – which is even worse.

    • yentavegan

      Back when i was a new mom, I joined a mothers support group. The alpha mother who was the most vocal, also organised play dates by invitation only. She had surrounding her, a loyal clique. It was just like junior high school, only with babies thrown into the mix. The alpha mom seemed to like me and I was invited to come to her extra meetings to learn all about Attachment Parenting.
      It was there that I was inculcated into the cult of Attachment Parenting. The ante was constantly upped. Co-sleeping, breastfeeding extended,cloth diapers, no plastic toys, no pre-packaged foods. All organic food co-op joining. No vaccines, No pre-school no nursery school, home-schooling or no schooling at all. If one mother voiced her need to return to work, she was instructed to apply for welfare or food stamps rather than work.
      Television was routinely criticised and woe to the mother who dressed a child in clothes that had any Disney characters. You couldn’t host the next meeting if your house was cleaned with store bought commercial brand toxic substances. everything was suspect for ‘off-gassing”, carpet, paint, furniture etc…
      As far as raising children was concerned it was a free for all, Let them explore and freely express themselves. No spanking, no discipline no saying “No.”
      If your 3 year old did not want to get in his car seat, then you stayed home because children are most intune with the vibrations from the universe or some crap like that.
      It was a very warped way to raise kids and there was no way to ever feel respected if any choice was conventional.
      Your children ran the roost. Hugs and kisses all around . Every behavior was accepted because self expression was the pinnacle of an authentic existence.
      Two episodes convinced me that I needed to remove myself from this Attachment Parenting Support Group.
      The first was when a member proudly announced that she did not give her cats the rabies shot. She did not vaccinate her children and she extended the same courtesy to the cats.
      The second was the ire I drew for having my son circumcised. My input was no longer welcomed and I was taken off the roster for invitation only playdates.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Nope, they weren’t TRUE APers.

      • Amazed

        OK, a practical question: what on earth did you clean your houses with? And did you clean the toilets with store bought brushes and commercial toxic substances, or did you scrub by hand?

        • yentavegan

          dr. bronners was allowed, as was vinegar and water and baking soda. No paper towels, allowed only cloth rags. these moms also sneered at feminine hygiene products that were not reusable.

      • Elizabeth A

        At the pinnacle of her authentic little existence last week, DD woke up at five a.m. and expressed herself by applying vaseline to every surface in the bathroom, including but not limited to: her hair, the antique clawfoot tub, the stool she uses to reach her toothbrush, everything she could reach by standing on the stool she uses to reach her toothbrush. This morning, she woke up at five and asked me to turn on the TV for her. I complied.

        And I’m still finding smears of petroleum jelly in odd places.

      • Squillo

        The first was when a member proudly announced that she did not give her cats the rabies shot

        And if kitteh bites someone, it gets a one-way ticket to animal control’s necropsy room. [In some jurisdictions, anyway.]

    • ratiomom

      By forcing women to stay home, she means forcing them to become SAHMs. Of course you are able to physically leave your house with a baby in a sling. There’s just no way you can make an income. AP forces women to give up their economic independence.

    • reallyerica

      Thanks for your responses. I’m now realizing that my astonishment over this post was due mostly to two things:
      1. I am unfamiliar with the author, and her writing style, and took the writing quite literally instead of understanding it to be hyperbolic.
      2. I was failing to take into account the massive difference between how something is technically defined, or understood in theory, and the way it actually exists “in practice”.
      As I read your responses I can see that AP has, in practice, basically morphed into something akin to a legalistic religious cult. This makes all the descriptions of rigidness and oppression make complete sense to me. Thanks for sharing some of your personal experiences with me–they were very illuminating.

  • Rebecca Coates

    You know what, you’ve really infuriated me. The last thing women need is more disapproval of their parenting choices levelled at them.

    • yentavegan

      I am living proof of the detriment to a mother’s self worth caused by Attachment Parenting.
      While my sister in laws had nights out with their husbands I smugly stayed home with my breastfed baby.
      While my friends had book clubs and Hadassah meetings I stayed home because heaven forbid I should be out of arms reach from my 15 month old breastfeeding toddler.
      While my neighbors had bowling league, movie night and late night volley ball I stayed home wearing my baby because I was a better more attentive mother.
      28 years later I have regrets, no friends, no job and my kids,(who thankfully turned out normal) could not care less about my sacrifice.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        28 years later…my kids … could not care less about my sacrifice.

        Ingrates!

      • Meerkat

        This is really sad:(
        I can totally relate. My son will be one soon, and I COULD NOT tear myself away from him for the past year. I wasn’t comfortable leaving him with a babysitter and missed plenty of outings, concerts, and trips. ( Not to mention taking time off work.) I am not sure if I exactly regret it, I would probably do the same thing if I went back in time. A couple of weeks ago we went on vacation and I left my son with my parents for the whole day. It was awesome. We definitely needed a break from each other!
        If it’s any consolation, my mom worked full time, and I missed her terribly when I was a child. Perhaps your kids don’t appreciate you staying home to take care of them because they don’t know anything different? Their appreciation for you will definitely grow once they become parents. I think children (especially those of us who were loved, protected, taken care of) see their parents as a given, because parents are our universe, they “were always there.” My husband lost his father 3 years ago. He says that even though his father was older and ailing, his death was inconceivable. He tells me quite often that he lost the one and only person whose advice he trusted without reservations…

      • Most parents are doing what they feel makes sense for their situation and the people in their family. Families where AP makes sense for them might have a truly awful time doing something else. I don’t see a lot of reason to judge (and feel the same way about AP people judging everyone else). Parenting is very difficult.

  • Rebecca Coates

    It would be great if we mothers in the Western world had access to an extended family group to help with childcare but for the most part we don’t. And if after that has been ruled out, the choice is between me doing it alone or shunting my child to strangers at childcare, I choose to do it alone. Yes, this is my choice, I am not forced to do it, and I believe exercising that choice is well within the boundaries of feminism, and actually, if you choose to denigrate my Attachment Parenting choice, that’s actually very anti-feminist of YOU.

    • PollyPocket

      I suppose I’m failing to make an obvious connection, but I fail to see how staying home to raise children necessitates attachment parenting practices. I stayed home with my children for a period while their father worked a very demanding job, so I took care of the vast majority of childcare. We still put babies in cribs, used strollers for outings, and let baby cry it out if needed. Actually, my son was much better at soothing himself than I was, I just got in the way and made things worse when all he needed was space!

      The point, as I see it, is that attachment parenting is a relatively new trend that doesn’t have a lot of scientific or anthropological backing. Neither does twitter. But no one claims that twitter does. It is sometimes helpful, especially for new parents, to be reminded or even just informed that some practices are trends and babies survived just fine before the trend existed.

      • rh1985

        I am going to be a work at home mom – I’d prefer to be a totally SAHM, but it won’t work financially – so this is the next best thing. I don’t think AP would work for me. Can’t cosleep, I am a very restless, bad sleeper, and honestly, I want the baby to have their own room. Can’t breastfeed for medical reasons. I was a babysitter for years in high school/college and then a nanny for several years, and I can see that there are many ways to raise a happy, healthy baby. I see no harm in letting baby play in the same room while I do my work. I’m sure I’ll want to hold my baby a lot but I really don’t see the benefit to having it attached to me almost 24/7.

        • Amazed

          Hey, I missed the news about your pregnancy! I wish you all the best.

          Still, if you’d take a bit of advice from someone who isn’t a mother yet but has had to take care of a baby for a long period of time while working at home – try to make plans that involve doing some of the work while the baby is asleep. I’ve had to take care of a colicky little one and do my work in time – it was hard. It’s OK, I told myself. It’ll go away. It did. And instead, baby just needed attention almost all the time while awake. My work suffered, the baby suffered, my sanity suffered… and my friends who work at home and raise their children at the same time say the only thing that saved their sanity was doing some of the work while the baby was sleeping. And this is after they reduced their work time.

          • rh1985

            I’m self employed and don’t have to work specific hours – so working during naps and after bedtime can definitely be done. But if I have the personality of baby that will happily play by his/her self for a while, I’ll take advantage of that some of the time. From years of babysitting and nanny-ing, some of the babies I cared for loved to entertain themselves, while others screamed bloody murder if they felt ignored.

      • elenor

        I have identified with attachment parenting because I am not planning on stopping breastfeeding until my son is ready, because we cosleep and use baby slings and I don’t agree with CIO, and because it feels right to spend a lot of time with my son. I’ve been doing all these things since he was born, and I only just realised there was a term for it – “Attachment Parenting”. There are probably a lot of additional things that are associated with attachment parenting that aren’t for me (eg a lot of people doing it are also anti-vaccination agh), so I expect there’s a spectrum of involvement like with anything, but I don’t believe that the things I have just listed are a new trend.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Sorry, but you aren’t practicing AP is you aren’t attached 24/7.

        • Lizzie Dee

          It isn’t a new trend – far from it. What is new is the codifying of it into a set of rigid practises that enables sanctimommies to feel smugly superior.

          One of the things I remember is how depressed I felt when I read Bowlby. The idea that one false move from me and by child was doomed did not exactly add to the joys of motherhood. Then I kind of realised that I WAS a pretty high intensity mother anyway – mainly from choice, partly because my first child needed it.. But you can’t and shouldn’t impose it, or regard it as superior. Mothers have been doing what they think is best for their families or what works for them more or less forever. Obviously, if you choose one set of practices, you do it because it seems right to you. Doesn’t follow that those who choose differently are wrong, though.

    • Esther

      Oh, puleeze. Nobody’s denigrating your choice to parent any way you like. Dr. Amy is (correctly) denigrating the claim by made by many APers – including those who claim to represent the AP movement (e.g., API, Dr. Sears) – that this parenting method is somehow more natural or produces superior children.

      • Rebecca Coates

        She’s passing negative judgement on Attachment Parenting as a whole. Not just those who claim it is superior. Perhaps you need to reread it. Especially this part: “Attachment parenting is anti-feminist and fundamentalist.”

        • Esther

          As a movement, it certainly is, as is any prescription for parenting which dictates exactly what women *should* do (as opposed to *choose to do*) with their time and their bodies.

          • Rebecca Coates

            In that case, every single prescription for parenting including anything modern health care suggests is also anti-feminist, including Dr Amy’s blog posts.

          • Esther

            If it’s not woman-specific it could hardly be anti-feminist, but if modern health authorities make a recommendation about what parents *should* do, they certainly have the responsibility to make sure their recommendations are backed up by a helluva lot of scientific evidence. They also tend to be more concrete (and usually more truthful) about what is gained and/or lost when not following their recommendations.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Hardly. It’s not a matter of prescriptions for parenting. The problem is the biologic essentialism, the belief that good parenting MUST use vagina, uterus and breasts.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Are you going to attempt to rebut my claim or just whine about it? If you can’t rebut it, perhaps that’s because it is true.

          • elenor

            hmmm.. I’d forgotten about this thread til today when i logged into disqus and saw all these notifications! Looking back, I was being a bit of a judgemental turd with my comments, fair play on that. And I take your point that I’m probably not really “AP” at all.
            To answer your question though.
            I don’t have a problem with you levelling criticism and an “anti-feminist” label at people who are demanding attachment parenting of others.
            But you don’t end it there. You go on to address individual attachment parenting practices as anti-feminist, which doesn’t necessarily follow.
            Feminism is about being able to make your own choices. If a woman is doing attachment parenting through her own choices, then that can’t be construed as anti-feminist.
            Babywearing, for example, whether it be some of the time or 24-7, if it is by choice, is not anti-feminist.
            It’s not the attachment parenting practices that are anti-feminist, it is the way they have been suborned as part of other people’s agendas as things women “MUST DO” in order to be… well whatever it is they’re claiming… better parents, or what have you..
            I don’t think you’re making that distinction, and for that reason, I object to your blog entry.
            Having said all that, I’ve read other entries you’ve written and enjoyed them a lot.

    • KarenJJ

      Dr Amy made the same choice as you. What are you angry about? That it is a valid choice to be a stay at home mum? Fair enough but that’s not what this article is about.
      That a mother needs to babywear, extended breastfeed and cosleep to be a ‘good’ mum, then no I don’t believe that. Do you?

      • Rebecca Coates

        No that’s not what I’m taking exception to. It is the labelling of babywearing, extended breastfeeding and cosleeping as “anti-feminist”. These things are simply choices that work for some families (and by corollary don’t work for others). They are not mutually exclusive with feminism. Dr Amy’s article is judgemental and not particularly helpful for women who are all out there making their own mothering choices the best way they can.

        • rh1985

          I would say the “anti-feminist” thing is when it is expected that all moms should do those things, and if they aren’t practicing AP, they are horrible, selfish mothers who are unfit to have children. While I definitely do not think all individual moms who practice AP feel that way, there are certain organizations and sanctimommy types who do.

        • Amazed

          She isn’t judgemental. I’ve seen comments of yours since last night and I’d have thought that by now, you’d have realized that she is against women being pressed to do these things, sometimes to their own detriment, because that’s what sanctimommies think it’s best for them so it must be best for every mother.

          Don’t tell me you can’t see the difference? Well, given your hysterics all over the blog, I won’t be surprised if you really can’t.

      • Rebecca Coates

        And on some stuff she’s just plain wrong. Babywearing doesn’t force women to stay home. In fact, it frees you up to do things that would be difficult if your baby was sleeping in his/her crib – things like shopping or working or socialising.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Of course it forces women to stay home. You are supposed to wear your baby every waking moment, not simply when it’s convenient for you and your lifestyle choices.

          • Amazed

            Oh Dr Amy, I’m sure you have something better to do with your time than trying to debate her. Don’t you see that she’s simply determined to take offence, no matter what?

            And give offence, too, of course, under the disguise of “I only feel this way about me and my kid.”

            I am reminded of the post about the woman who chose not to breastfeed because it felt incestuous to her when it was her breast and her baby. She went out of her way to accommodate other women’s choice. I see no such thing here.

            I’d like to see the poster try and wear her baby in front of the computer all the 8 hours she needs to finish the paper she has to hand to her boss tomorrow morning.

            Don’t forget, the boss doesn’t care about her parenting choices, they want the project handed in time.

        • Anj Fabian

          Actually, no.

          Shopping was shoehorned in around the baby’s schedule. In order to get out of the door to go shopping, I had to be fed, toileted, washed, dressed and the baby had to be recently fed, washed, dressed and changed.

          Why?

          Because within two hours of the last feeding, the baby would want to be fed again and not just fed, but fed burped and changed. If I hit the door very soon after that post meal diaper change, I could probably get in ninety minutes of productive work before the next round of baby care. That was about enough time to drive to the store, do the shopping, drive home and MAYBE unload the car before the tiny tyrant was demanding his next meal and everything that came after it.

          And of course, because BFing made me hungry, I had to feed myself, clean up after myself and no, I didn’t babywear while I did that. Stretching over and around the baby bump was difficult enough while I was pregnant. Doing the same when the baby was even bigger and less conveniently located when babywearing, no thanks. It didn’t feel warm, intimate and bonding. It felt awkward, inconvenient and dangerous, especially around a hot stove.

    • ratiomom

      Don’t you see the contradiction in your own comments? On one hand you ask for a stop to criticism of people’s parenting choices. A couple of lines further down, you put down working mothers who “shunt their children off to daycare” in a textbook sanctimommy fashion. Criticism is just fine with you long as it’s directed at other people. That’s exactly what this post is about. Thanks for illustrating SoB’s point for her.

      • Rebecca Coates

        Interesting that you have interpreted my comment as being critical of other women rather than just an explanation of how I feel about my own family. I guess I must have hit a nerve.

        • ratiomom

          You criticise daycare in quite inflammatory terms: “shunting off kids to strangers” is not neutral by any standards. When people who use daycare take offence at that, you backpedal, say the statement is just about you and put the problem with them for being “overly sensitive”. As I said: classic sanctimommy.

          I use daycare and I am offended by the message that I don`t take proper care of my children. What mother in her right mind wouldn`t be?

          Your personal situation seems quite enigmatic. You say you don`t have any help from extended family, you deeply loathe the concept of daycare, yet you work fulltime. The only explanation can come up with here is that your partner is at home with your kids full-time. That is a great thing to have, but also a rarity. Don`t consider your own experiences representative for typical families.

          • elenor

            Your feeling of being offended is, I’m afraid, your own problem. I have expressed my opinion about what feels right for me and my family and you have taken it personally. This wasn’t my intention. I stand firm by my belief that childcare isn’t the best option for my children, and that I would feel like I was doing the wrong thing if I sent them there, but that doesn’t mean I am criticising you because it’s what you’ve chosen. It just means we have different ideas about what is right.
            As for my personal situation, it’s not up for your judgement or approval, but since you are so deeply interested (!!), I work from home, sometimes having to do some odd hours so that my partner and I can balance childcare. I deliberately chose not to have any children until I had arranged a situation whereby I could be at home most of the time. As a matter of fact, I don’t expect this to be representative of everyone. Yet again, you are making assumptions about me – and yet again… you’re wrong.

          • Amazed

            Coming from the woman who howls all over the blog how offended she is, that’s quite funny. It’s your own problem, don’t you know?

          • KarenJJ

            Yeah I liked that bit too:
            “Hey I’m offended”
            *says something offensive*
            “If you’re offended it’s your problem”
            *flounces off*

          • ratiomom

            You are a privileged woman who parachutes into this blog asking the author to stop criticising your parenting choices. You then go on to use very offensive and inflammatory language to describe the way other people parent. When they inevitably take offense, and point out that respect goes both ways, the problem is their sensitivity and not your rudeness. We certainly have different ideas about what`s right.

            You don`t get the bragging rights for working fulltime if you don`t leave your house and you have time to watch your kids while doing it. You`re self employed, not working full-time as the term is normally understood. FYI: making a significant income from something they can do in their house while watching their kids is not something most women can ever hope to achieve. If every woman had to abide by your standard of not having children until they can stay home with them, most could never have kids at all. Dissing working moms who have their kids in daycare from that incredibly privileged position is just appalling.

          • Amazed

            Hey, I am self-employed and I work full-time! I have to hand my projects in time. Stop insulting me please!

            Just kidding, sista. But that’s the way these women act. They take offence at the smallest thing and then they are never hesitant to give it freely to others.

            By the way, when I have kids, I’ll never be able to take care them and work the way and time I do now. It’s simply not possible. Full-time work and watching kids at the same time… nothing short of impossible. Last time I checked, people still needed sleep.

          • GuestB

            But in your previous comment you said you were doing it alone. If you have a partner helping you, you are not doing it alone.

          • GuestB

            She says in her previous comment that she is doing it alone. So there is no partner at home taking care of her kids. So I’m very curious to know what the real situation is.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Oh, please. The “hit a nerve comment” is the classic prologue to a flounce.

          BTW is you work full-time, you are NOT an attachment parent, just a wannabee.

        • GuestB

          If you work full time, who is watching your child? It can’t possibly be you.

    • Amazed

      And if after that has has been ruled out, the choice is between gluing my child to my side or shunting my child to strangers at childcare, I choose to glue my child to my side.

      Here. I fixed it for you.

      You are a world class hypocrite, you know. Criticizing people’s parenting choices is just fine when it’s not YOUR choice that’s been criticized. Congratulations, Mom, I am sure you’ll raise a wonderful little hypocrite. Just like their mom.

      Oh and don’t bother to tell me you’ve hit a nerve. I don’t have children yet.

    • Ainsley Nicholson

      I don’t “shunt my child to strangers” when I take them to daycare, which I do every weekday. I get to know them, they get to know me and my children, they keep me informed of what goes on with my kids during the day, and I make sure they know of anything that effects my kids during the weekends. They say it takes a village to raise a child; my daycare providers are a part of my village.

    • Francesca Violi

      What is denigrated in the article is not an individual parenting choice: it is the pretension that said particular choice is natural and deeply rooted in humankind -before it was corrupted by modernity – and thus that it is the ideal choice, the most beneficial for children etc.

  • Joy_F

    Very true – this is a great analysis – it wasn’t until I started researching when I got pregnant that it struck me how strange Western women’s concept of “natural” was. I am a linguist and have worked and traveled extensively in Asia, Southeast and South Asia, Oceania and some into Central America, the Carribbean and West Africa.

    Vaginal Birth is mostly the norm (except for China) and the risks are super high, and not just as I have heard people argue because of “sanitation.” They are truly high and death is very common for both mother and child. Fistulas, hemorrhages, etc threaten the mother and in some cultures they don’t name the baby until he/she is a few months old. Death is common.

    Baby wearing has a lot to do with cobras and crocodiles.

    Family bed – again, cobras, crocs etc. as well as finances of not being able to afford a separate bed or bedroom!

    Breastfeeding – the reason nestle was so successful was because women need to work. In most cultures I noted that the grandparents were most commonly the caretakers. The younger, healthier parents might be gone for ten months to several years making their way into the city to provide and leaving their children in the care of the elders.

    The natural parenting ideology is so far from “natural” that it is reminiscent of “Let them eat cake!”

    • KarenJJ

      “The natural parenting ideology is so far from “natural” that it is reminiscent of “Let them eat cake!” ”

      Nailed it!

  • Maria Miller

    I am a conservative and not a feminist and this analysis is right on! Isolated mothers is a bad thing…extended families sharing child care makes for maternal sanity and better child rearing!

  • Kelly

    I would like to offer another point of view about “attachment parenting.”

    As I’ve mentioned in other comments I feel strongly that women (and all people) should be empowered to make informed choices. Real information, real support, no judging. Similarly with attachment parenting, I find that the harshest critics of it are people who don’t “like” it, or people where it doesn’t fit into their lifestyle, parenting style, personal style, etc. The thing that gets me is, if it does work for you, why not do it? I was initially happy to see attachment parenting because it was closer to my style anyway. It validated what I was already doing. I don’t have to feel embarrassed about breastfeeding my two-year old, or letting her sleep in bed with me. I know so many people who do attachment parenting practices but are ashamed to say so. Can we all admit that raising children is ridiculously difficult and doing whatever the hell works for you and your family is great?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      “the harshest critics of it are people who don’t “like” it, or people
      where it doesn’t fit into their lifestyle, parenting style, personal
      style, etc.”

      That wouldn’t be me. I practiced what today would be called attachment parenting, because that’s what worked for me and my family. BUT I recognize that the claims made about the benefits of attachment parenting are completely unsupported by any evidence, AND that the people who made up attachment parenting are very concerned to keep women “in their place.”

      • Kelly

        I completely agree that there are some who use attachment parenting as a “traditional” which becomes code for submissive female. However, there is a real problem with the way you discredit AP, namely that you do not give it the benefits it deserves. Critics say that AP parents are weak, coddling and thus making weak babies, making them overly dependent, even calling it mental and emotional abuse. These claims are also wrong. Attachment parenting is not, inherently, harmFUL either.

        And as another point, most of the big AP people I know are very fierce proponents of feminism and demand that there male counterparts participate equally. I know my husband did, both because he wanted to and I would have killed him if he didn’t.

        • Sue

          ”namely that you do not give it the benefits it deserves.”

          Kelly – could you outline for us what those benefits are?

          • Kelly

            I think I say as much in my previous posts, but the benefits are simple: They do not do harm, therefore it is a valid parenting style. They work really well for some families (Many families with children with special needs, it worked great for me as a chronically unemployed mother, and many other situations). It keeps Mamas, babies and families happy and sane. Big win, and should always be offered as a possibility with its own perks and advantages.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            the benefits are simple: They do not do harm, therefore it is a valid parenting style

            Um, how is that a “benefit”? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you are just spouting thoughtless platitudes, and haven’t actually thought about the consequences of this statement (hint: compared to what? All those parenting practices that people use that DO harm?)

            They work really well for some families

            But not for others…

            It keeps Mamas, babies and families happy and sane

            Except when it doesn’t.

            So to summarize: the benefits of these AP methods are that they a good approaches when they work.

            Wow, that is friggin insightful.

            Above, you claimed that people are “ashamed” to admit that they are doing AP. If this is the level of thinking that accompanies AP, then I gotta say, yeah, I’d be embarrassed to admit that I had anything to do with it.

            Actually, it’s not that people are ashamed to call themselves AP. It’s that they find it mindboggling that folks think that someone thinks that “try lots of things and figure out works best” is somehow a profound “parenting approach” that warrants pissing about.

          • Box of Salt

            Kelly, two things. First, “It keeps Mamas, babies and families happy and sane.”

            You cannot presume to speak for all of them.

            More importantly, you claim “the benefits are simple: They do not do harm, therefore it is a valid parenting style”

            Sorry, but this claim of “do not harm” is neutral, NOT a benefit.

          • LibrarianSarah

            I disagree with the recommendation of Attachment Parenting for children with special needs. What a lot of children with special needs need is a therapeutic daycare that provides intensive behavioral therapy. Seeing that daycare is verbodin to the AP crowd such a recommendation will do a disservice to special needs children and their families. Mother can’t do everything especially for children with special needs. It is time to retire this idea of a “warrior mommy” with a google education that can “recover” their special needs child and go back to the “team of specialists” approach.

  • Elle

    “It is therefore profoundly ironic that baby wearing basically forces
    women to stay home with their children and isolates them from the rest
    of the group.”

    I actually find that using a carrier (I say that instead of “babywearing” so that I don’t sound AP) 😉 helped me feel more included, at least with a very small baby. I had a hard time lugging him in his car seat, and we couldn’t afford a stroller, but by tying him to me I could go for a walk, or get things done, without laying him down to cry, or feeling like I have to stay with him all the time while he’s napping. Just my two cents on that point.

    But therefore you’re absolutely correct in that the problem comes in when “babywearing” becomes an imperative, even when it doesn’t work best for your family. The AP way would be to continue “wearing” because it’s a rule, even in situations where a stroller would work better (and may even be better for the child – I know my boy likes to see more than just me when we go for a walk!)

    • wookie130

      I completely agree. I use a carrier often around the house, so that I can get little odds and ends done that I couldn’t do if I had to be actually physically lugging my daughter around. Sometimes wearing Hannah in my carrier is the difference between getting supper prepped early, or waiting until my husband comes home. I also enjoy using it to take her on walks, or for short trips into shops, etc. It’s really a convenience thing, and there are situations where it does make things a bit easier. I will also admit to enjoy wearing her in a carrier…I like the feeling of closeness it brings.

      And at the same time, I fail to see it as a parenting “practice” or a way of life. For God’s sake, the child needs opportunities to practice gross motor skills such as rolling, scooting, “flapping her wings”, etc., and if I wore her all the live-long day, I don’t see how she would be meeting any of these milestones.

      In AP, babywearing is seen as a rule, and is simply “what you do” as a mother. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine having to cart Hannah everywhere like this. Thank goodness for the stroller. There are appropriate times and uses for both strollers and carriers, and I’d hate to be restricted to just one, for the sake of following the AP code of parental practices. Let me breathe, for cryin’ out loud!

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Absolutely. No one says “baby wearing” in itself is bad, it is when it is done for the baby’s sake, as in, “the baby will not be properly attached to mom and will suffer serious harm if not”

        Aside from the out and out bs of it, there is the accompanying implication that those of us who aren’t babywearing constantly are doing serious harm.

        We had a snugli. I used it quite a bit. It was convenient for us. It was also convenient for Offspring because he liked to look out, so I set him in there facing away. As a result, he was happy, which made us happy.

  • d

    OT
    Check this lovely article

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/10182648/Royal-baby-what-chance-does-Kate-Middleton-have-of-a-natural-birth.html

    “If Kate does end up recuperating at her mum’s after major abdominal surgery everyone will nod sagely: “At least she has a healthy baby” and my blood will boil. Because that, in my opinion, is the very least that she – and every birthing woman – should expect.”

    True, who cares about the baby? (Eye-rolling)

    • I don’t have a creative name

      I wish I had that edition of the Telegraph in paper form, so I could wipe my butt with it. Reading that article was 5 wasted minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

    • BeatlesFan

      Obviously every baby is important and has the right to be born safely, so I hope nobody jumps on me for this, but… the author of this article does realize she’s talking about a future monarch, right? What does she say will happen (since she can clearly predict the future if Kate has a c-section) if Kate refuses a necessary c-section and the baby dies as a result? Does she really think everyone will just say, “Oh well, at least Kate had a vaginal birth, better luck nice time?”

      Also, while it’s just about every little girl’s dream to grow up and be a princess, now that I’m 30 I can say I feel a lot of pity for Kate. I would not have appreciated having my pregnancies and childbirths examined under a worldwide microscope.

    • theadequatemother

      The Lindo wing sounds quite nice. I’d sign up for that.

      And that was garbage…Carole MIddleton looks “sensible?” I had no idea you could tell who would opt for an unmedicated vaginal birth and avoidance of obstetrical “interventions” by looks alone! I had better get out and spend more on my hair and makeup lest my OB and LDR nurses decide that I’m not posh enough for an epidural…The author also assumes she has a low risk pregnancy and would be a candidate for the midwife-led birth center…and we just don’t know, do we? Nor should we because that’s private business.

      Seriously poor Kate. What is she going to do now that she is (reportedly) past her due date? Sneaking into the Lindo wing for a NST or BPP seems like it would be impossible.

      • MonaLisa

        What a terrible article. I can’t even begin to discuss all the things wrong with that piece of trash.

    • wookie130

      And what ARE these “harsh, grisly realities of c-sections” in which she speaks? After having one myself, I think it really does make vaginal birth look like the tougher option, but hey, that was just me. LOL!

    • Sue

      ”Normal birth is shockingly alien to too many private obstetricians”

      Hmmm – even a 30% cesarean rate would make the VB rate 70% – shockingly alien? It sounds like reality is shockingly alien to this person!

      • Poogles

        “even a 30% cesarean rate would make the VB rate 70%”

        Ah, but they didn’t say “vaginal” birth, they said “normal” birth, which IME has meant no pit, no pain meds, no assisted deliveries, and sometimes not even an IV.

  • MichelleJo

    “In nature, the burden of child rearing is shared with grandmothers and older siblings. ”

    As the third in a family of eleven, (yes, I have three sisters and seven brothers, the brothers coming all in a row), I have often thought that my two older sisters and I were an integral part of the child rearing of the younger kids. And unlike the popular consensus, we did not resent it, and nor did it make our parents lazy. There was nothing more exciting for me as a kid than my mum having a baby. I LOVED those little siblings pretty much as I now love my own kids, but without that protective feeling maybe. To get to hold, change, take out for a walk or anything involving them was a thrill. And I can remember being away for a week and being desperate to get back home because I missed my cute, funny toddler brother. They didn’t suffer from less attention from being in a large family because they had a few parent like figures. And we never felt in any way responsible for them; that was for my parents, who I am sure appreciated our help, but never ‘used’ us.

    So as much as everyone ‘digs the Duggars’, I don’t feel one bit sorry for the older ones in that family. It’s hard to imagine unless you’ve lived like that.

    Now that we are all adults, family get togethers are just untold fun. And my kids have 90 first cousins – instant friends wherever they go in the world!

    • BeatlesFan

      Are all of you still close to each other? The holidays must be nuts!

      • MichelleJo

        You bet we are! In fact this evening (in the UK) we have a family celebration; my second to youngest brother and his wife, having been blessed with their second son a week ago, are having him circumcised. (We are Jewish) They live in North England, near the Scottish border, but all my siblings in the UK will be there; one from London, two from Manchester, others from not so far away. I won’t be there, as I live abroad, but I have arranged with another brother to listen in on the ceremony via his cell phone. (The baby is named during the ceremony.) Bear in mind that today is a Jewish fast day, that’s 25 hours of no food or drink, and they are all driving up regardless. And it’s also why the celebratory meal will have to be held after nightfall, 10.30 pm in that part of the world!

        BTW, before calculations by anyone, my husband contributes to my kids’ 90 cousins, as he also comes from a large family.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          BTW, before calculations by anyone, my husband contributes to my kids’ 90 cousins, as he also comes from a large family.

          You’d think. My folks both came from families of 12-13, but even then, I only have about 60 – 65 cousins on each side. I think there were 127 of us total (a few have passed away though)

          • MichelleJo

            Right now the generation is in the making, so the 90 number is very fluid. We are all in our 20s and 30s, and there are another four expected little additions before the year is out.

  • Sue

    Not only is attachment-parenting different to a village life, it’s different to our own parents and grandparents, who had much larger families. WHen you have a whole string of kids, the older ones look after the younger ones, while the parents battle to look after them all.

    When a mother bears a child every year, which one does she allow to stay attached?

    • AmyP

      I’m not AP (although those are my initials!), but with my three, the baby is the one that I stick with.

  • LukesCook

    It’s totally alien to “indigenous” peoples for an adult member of the community to have the raising of their own children only as their sole occupation, while relying wholly on other members of the community (whether their own husbands or a benefit-based system) for their own subsistence. Where one does find this, it is an expression of privilege – usually a measure of the wealth and influence of the person or group providing the support. For the average member of the community, everyone works at the tasks required for the subsistence of the community as a whole, and the care of children is incorporated into the working day. Young children can be strapped to backs – not for “bonding”, but out of necessity – children often spend more time with their grandmothers than their mothers, or in the care of older children, and long before they reach adolescence, all children are themselves working for at least part of the day, herding animals, carrying water and performing other tasks.

    Social isolation is also entirely anathema in these societies. Children growing up in more westernised societies grow up in a way most more traditional societies would consider to be isolated at best, and anti-social to the point of misanthropy at worst. Young children growing up in westernised societies spend virtually all their time in their own homes or, even in public places, in the exclusive company of their own immediate family. Their social contacts are rare (in comparison to traditional societies) and confined virtually entirely to extended family or to scheduled play dates or play groups with other children of the same age group, and later on, school. The attachment model, with its emphasis on the child-mother unit, amplifies this situation, all the more so when extended to home schooling. Children in traditional societies grow up “in” the community – they live their entire lives in the constant company of not only their immediate families, but also their extended families, neighbours, and children and adults of all ages.

    The popular model of attachment parenting has the same relationship to traditional subsistence societies as “ethnic” beads and barbecues do.

    • SkepticalGuest

      Why are the cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, minor home repair, gardening, and general household management that SAHMs do NOT seen as work?

      I would agree that it’s a sign of privilege if a SAHM *only* has to work. But I hardly know one mom for whom that is the case.

      Personally, I work part-time, mostly while my husband is at home (early mornings, nights, weekends), while my kid is in preschool (just a few hours a week, all we can afford), and while my kid is with a friend, whose kids, in turn, I watch.

      So at to the list of my “jobs”: childcare provider. And when my son is older, tutor.

      It’s insulting to suggest that SAHMs aren’t “working”. We just aren’t working for pay in the formal economy. Neither are the “indigenous” people you speak of.

      • SkepticalGuest

        Sorry for the typo. Meant to write:

        “I would agree that it’s a sign of privilege if a SAHM *only* has to TAKE CARE OF HER CHILDREN. But I hardly know one mom for whom that is the case.”

      • LukesCook

        Do you only start cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, gardening and so on when you have kids?

        • skepticalguest

          Well, let’s see…my house is messier with a toddler, I have to cook (and buy) more food, and we moved to a (slightly) bigger place to accomodate a child. I never had to watch other children as part of a swap to get free childcare. I never had to drive kids to preschool and doctors’ appointments. And whatever I did need to do could happen a lot more quickly because I didn’t have a little one under foot. Oh, and I could work during business hours, rather than squeezing in part-time work at night and on the weekend when my husband is home–time where I normally would’ve cooked and cleaned and gardened after work.

          I can only wish I had a sibling or a sister-in-law or grandmother or aunt who could watch my children. I would gladly take advantage of free childcare to work more hours.

          But more importantly, I don’t see that these mythical “indigenous” people were doing anything else with their children under foot. They were farming or weaving, watching kids, cooking, cleaning, hauling water, etc.

          Somehow, we seem to think that only paid work in the formal economy counts as work. If I fix my washing machine or grow my own food or build furniture from scratch (all things I do), somehow I am just a lazy, decadent SAHM, unlike the magical “indigenous” people who strap their babies on and go to work.

  • Ducky

    I lived in Guatemala for two years in rather conservative agrarian town and could talk about this subject for days. Babies were constantly worn, but not only by mom- also by grandma, or by an older sister (sometimes as young as 8 years old), or by an aunt. It’s really just a practicality – keeps baby safe while mom does dishes or washes clothes or runs errands – and also a matter of culture. Co-sleeping and breastfeeding were also practical and have strong cultural elements. I think the fact that rural Guatemalan children – and I’m extrapolating here to certain tribal groups as well – are often more mature and capable than their urban counterparts or the average US child of a similar age has mostly to do with the fact that they are given real physical work responsibility from a young age and not pandered to as “unique snowflakes” whose every whim should be respected.

    • stacey

      Giving the kids actual responsibility *is* what makes them capable. Its not the wearing or BF, its having to help out with the family, as a full participating member.

      • Dr Kitty

        This is something I have noticed with myself and my friends.

        I have a friend with a child the same age as mine, and she gets up at the crack of dawn every morning to dress said child, brush his teeth, make his breakfast etc.

        I wake up my kid at the same time as me- she knows how to open her cupboards, choose clothes and dress herself, she knows how to brush her hair and teeth and she knows how to pour cereal into a bowl and milk into a cup. So I expect her to do all of that, on her own.

        My kid may occasionally go out in mismatched socks or weird outfits she has chosen, or having had a banana and a rice cake in the car for breakfast because she forgot to get her cereal in time, or with her hair less than perfectly brushed, but you know what, I’m ok with that.

        Kids learn by doing, they don’t do, they don’t learn.
        I’d rather have my kid capable and independent than throwing a tantrum because her mummy didn’t bring her cup of juice fast enough.

        • KarenJJ

          And they are so thrilled when they get something working! My daughter loves doing things herself. She figured out a press stud today and spent ten minutes opening and closing it to practise her new skill.

        • fiftyfifty1

          Ah the morning routine. Yours sounds calm and lovely and also charming with its mismatched socks. The morning routine of your friend sounds lovely as well: peaceful and perfect.
          In contrast, you should see the mornings around here: Cold cereal and bickering. I’ve given up on morning tooth brushing entirely and have substituted a piece of sugarless gum instead. My husband tells me the mornings he manages are equally low quality. Sigh.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            The only place I intervene is when it is an issue of timeliness. If we are dawdling and need to go, I will help them to various extents (particularly with shoes and socks).

          • KarenJJ

            Oh yes, should add that my daughter could spend 10 minutes figuring out press studs because we weren’t rushing off at that stage…

          • MichelleJo

            OT but on the tooth brushing routine, a friend just told me a funny story about her six year old daughter. A hygienist comes to the school once a year to educate the kids on dental health. She asked the group of kids how many times a day should we brush our teeth, to which this mother’s little star called out, “once, but on a day we go to the dentist, twice!”

        • Ainsley Nicholson

          I expect my kids to get themselves ready in the morning also. One time my daughter was being super slow about getting her clothing on….she went to preschool in her underwear that day. It didn’t happen again.

          • Dr Kitty

            Oh yeah, we’ve gone to the childminder’s house in PJs… but only once…

    • SkepticalGuest

      So why is it OK for a mother in Guatemala to wear her child while cooking or washing clothes or doing errands and it’s seen as “practical” while in the US it is seen as a freakish attachment parenting thing?

      In the early months, I often wore my baby while I cooked or cleaned. Whether or not I wore him for errands depended on how far I was going, what I had to bring home, and how hilly the terrain was. For the grocery store 1 mile away and up hill on the way back, I usually took the stroller so I could haul a few days’ worth of groceries plus baby up hill for a mile. For closer errands that were flat and where I didn’t have to carry much of anything (bank, post office, pharmacy), it was so much easier just to wear him.

      • Jocelyn

        I agree with you on this. I’m definitely not an AP parent, but I tried wearing my baby around the house so I could get some stuff done. It didn’t really work – she hated her carrier when she was little – but I tried. It was a matter of practicality.

        • SkepticalGuest

          That’s how I’ve found all of parenthood: one big science experiment with a moving target. You keep trying things and when you find something that works for you and your kid, you stick with it. Well, at least until it stops working for your family or your kid.

          Some kids LOVE the carrier, some hate it. Do what works!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            And be prepared to change next week…

          • SkepticalGuest

            On two hours from now…

      • BeatlesFan

        I think in the US it’s only seen as a freakish AP thing if the child hates being worn and Mom insists on doing it anyway. I’ve never heard anyone in the US say babywearing is odd in instances where it’s obviously practical.

      • Squillo

        Maybe it’s only seen as an “AP thing”–freakish or not–by APers?

        N=1, of course, but I wanted to wear my baby long before I’d ever heard of something called “attachment parenting”–largely because a number of friends, none of whom ever mentioned AP, did it and it looked convenient. Sadly, both my children HATED every carrier I ever tried.

  • EllenL

    Here’s what I don’t get about attachment parenting:
    Where are the husbands (or partners) in all of this??

    If I ignored my husband 24/7, he would NOT be a happy camper. And yet, this is what AP seems to demand. (FYI, my DH is a fabulous Dad.)

    It also would put a big damper on a normal sex life and any parental privacy.

    How is this healthy for families?

    • BeatlesFan

      Not only that, but don’t these dads want to perhaps feed, hold, change, and rock their own babies? Ok, maybe no feed if the baby is exclusively breastfed, but everything else? DH doesn’t bathe DD, clean her ears or clip her fingernails because he’s terrified he will hurt her somehow, so I don’t even ask him to do those things- he didn’t do them with DS either. When it comes to feeding, changing, playing, snuggling? He’s all over it. If I didn’t allow him to do anything for the kids, he’d have something to say about it.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I spend a lot of time talking about how Dads need to break the stereotype of being “uninvolved.” I even fight the idea of the “involved Dad” because I consider it redundant – if you aren’t involved, you aren’t a Dad. I talk to other Dads at Dads Boot Camp about this issue, about how being a Dad does NOT mean that you just do whatever Mom says to do.

        And then comes AP, where Moms get the idea that they are the only ones who can properly raise the baby, and Dad is relegated to the other room.

        To put it mildly, it is the exact opposite of everything I stand for.

        (And spare me the “that’s not true AP” nonsense. AP is as AP does, and all we have to do is to listen to the AP moms to know that it is not unusual at all)

        • BeatlesFan

          Exactly. My husband and I made the decision together, both times, to have a baby. I chose to have children with him because I wanted him to be their dad, not just the sperm donor.

          I also have to say, I love the idea of a Dad’s Boot Camp. 🙂

        • amazonmom

          The doctors at my daughters pediatrician learned to stop asking where mom is when hubby takes her for an appointment. If I’m working and he isn’t he takes her. He doesn’t understand why dads aren’t considered equal parents , and wonders why some dads brag about never changing diapers or never getting up with the kids. He’s a good guy!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            wonders why some dads brag about never changing diapers or never getting up with the kids.

            I know I’m coming around full circle, but I have no idea why moms would let them get away with that crap, even.

            I sure don’t like changing diapers or getting up in the middle of the night, but it’s part of the responsibility of being a parent. If I want to be a parent, then that is part of it.

            It’s about responsibility.

        • EllenL

          AP is very retro in its marginalization of men.

  • auntbea

    Can we define “in nature”? Because breastfeeding, babywearing, and cosleeping are still a large part of many modern cultures, and it really has nothing to do with preventing predation.

  • Clarissa Darling

    I recently found out my sister is suffering from PPD. I’m not saying AP caused her depression but, I think the AP culture is not doing her any favors. She is much too hard on herself about her recent breast-feeding difficulties and has decided not to vaccinate on the advice of Dr. Sears (arrrgh). I think AP feeds her anxieties that something terrible will happen if she doesn’t parent the “right” way. My sister happily *says* she is just doing what works best for her and that she doesn’t judge those who do it differently. But, then she turns around and makes statements like “I would never put my child in a cage (ie: crib—Dr. Sears calls it this himself)” and “formula feeding is my worst nightmare” which indicate she feels much differently deep down. She has also made statements idealizing the way AP things, such as co-sleeping, are the norm in what is ambiguously called “other cultures”. My husband grew up in one of those “other cultures” and I can tell you that yes, he co slept and, it was due to economics since his parents couldn’t have afforded for him to have a separate room at the time. It was not because his country has cornered the market on child nurturing (corporal punishment was the norm at his school growing up and only recently became illegal).

    I have no problem with the individual techniques used by AP parents. I don’t think they are better for children than other parenting techniques but, also don’t think that they are worse. My problem is that the judgment and guilt which can be associated with AP has the potential to seep in where people start out using these techniques with good intentions and then take it too far as they become more immersed in the AP culture. Unfortunately for my sister, I think women who already suffer from depression and insecurity are particularly susceptible to the message that AP is the THE WAY and all other roads lead to parenting failure.

    I wish I knew how to help her see the light but, she takes even the smallest mention of concern as interference and criticism. I wish she would understand that I don’t want her to stop using parenting techniques that work for her family; I just want her to stop believing the lie that there is only one way to be a good mother and for her to stop being so hard on herself. She has decided to get treatment for her depression though, so I’m hopeful that professionals can help her.

  • amazonmom

    I’m not a social scientist in any way. It really is interesting to see how the conservative values in AP tend to appeal to a wider base of followers than I ever expected. This is limited to my experience but I see families that usually reject conservative gender roles before having kids wholeheartedly embrace AP when kids come along. It’s one of the few topics that both my ultra conservative friends and my super liberal friends can talk about without starting World War Three, actually agreeing with each other while coming from polar opposites on the political spectrum.

  • ratiomom

    This `martyr mothering` is not about the child. It`s about competition between women. We are social animals, therefore we need a way to establish the pecking order now that actual physical fights have gone out of fashion.

    Men have solved this in a simple, logical and relevant way: they compete for money. It`s a measurable parameter, and winning the competition gives a man`s offspring a real survival advantage.

    Women haven`t done such a good job of it. Somehow it always boils down to who can put herself through the largest amount of pointess suffering, and the enforcers are always other women. Whether the competition is about starving yourself to an unattainable ideal of slimness, having your external genitalia cut off for `purity`, or confirming to this ridiculous `martyr mother` ideal, it`s going to cost a woman every bit of effort she can spare. And it will not bring her any measurable advantage whatsoever.

    If women had the sense to stop investing their energy in these ridiculous battles and divert it into things that really mattered, we`d have achieved world domination centuries ago 😉

  • stacey

    Note-

    If its not about you, its NOT about YOU.

    If you aren’t a sanctimommy, going around preaching that your method of AP is the only way to have a healthy, happy, baby, it is not about you.

    AP may work great for you and that is awesome for you. That has nothing to do with this post.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I agree with you in principle, but in practice, it’s not that easy. Because, unfortunately, a very large number of those who proclaim they aren’t judging others do so, albeit passively. For example, something like “I don’t care how you give birth, but I just wanted to have a non-medicated birth just to prove I was strong.” No, it’s not an insult of anyone in particular, just the implication that those who have pain medication are not strong. No offense, of course.

      Or, “AP is just about listening to the needs of your child, that’s all.” Now, how could a non-AP-practicing parent take offense to that? Because they are perfectly fine with the suggestion that they don’t listen to the needs of their child, right?

      However, these people don’t even realize how insulting it is to say such things. Are you SURE it isn’t about you? It might just be…

      • Clarissa Darling

        I agree, anyone who claims they “don’t judge” and then makes statements like that needs to do some serious self-reflection.

  • stacey

    I sure wish I had a village!
    Great post.

    • Awesomemom

      Me too! I would love to have my sisters and parents more involved in the lives of my children just like I would love to be more involved with my nephews. When my husband retires from the military we want to settle near family.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Agreed. We live 8-10 hrs away from our nearest family. We have no one around us that is helping us raise our kids. That means that we don’t have someone who can take the kids for us overnight, for example. That means that my wife and I have not had a night away together in almost 5 years. I’d love to have a village…

      • amazonmom

        Jobs are hard to find where my family lives and salaries are low. We live four hours away from them! I wish we had a larger village!

      • AmyP

        My husband and I haven’t both been away from all our kids ever (although occasionally one of us will travel or visiting grandparents will take one for a hotel sleep-over) in the course of almost 11 years. The grandparents live about 2,000 miles away. It’s been over half a year since we had a sitter (which we had only a few times after our newest baby was born). Now that the big kids are school age, it’s not that bad, but it would have been nice to have more help when they were littler. Mother’s Day Out is also a fantastic invention.

        • Happy Sheep

          I am more and more grateful for my “village” with every comment I read. I think I’m going to call my MIL and tell her thank you right now. my family is on the whole MIA, but my husband’s family is amazing.
          I haven’t really been away from my baby yet, but my 2 year old begs to go to sleep overs at grandma’s all the time and that’s a good thing, I need the break and I think it is important and special that my sons have a close relationship with their extended family, having many people who love them is never a bad thing, you can’t be loved by too many people!

  • Carol

    My youngest daughter recently echoed the first thought I had when I started seeing images of moms breastfeeding well past toddlerhood. “You know, Mom, I know you nursed all of us, but it’s not a memory I want to be able to access.”

  • Zornorph

    Given that my child will be circumcised, formula fed, wear disposable diapers and not even have a mother, they wouldn’t even think of letting me in the club. Which is good because I can’t imagine why I’d want to be and catty women’s judgements are more likely to amuse me than anything. The guilt just isn’t going to be there and we don’t have ‘daddy wars’.

    • yentavegan

      Good luck with telling your friends and relatives to back off. You might want to have a second pair of hands near-by because the early days of parenting is exhausting. Newborns are needy.

      • Zornorph

        Oh, I have other hands to help. I’m not a ‘daddy martyr’, either. I am not so fool to think I can (or should) do it all myself. Anybody who wants to lend a helping hand is quite welcome. Of course, that will rob me of precious, irreplaceable moments of bonding with my son and likely cause him to wind up in therapy for the rest of his life, but hey, at least I’ll have somebody to leave my money to. 🙂

        • BeatlesFan

          When is your son due?

          • Zornorph

            August 13th.

          • BeatlesFan

            Congrats 🙂 I was just curious.

          • suchende

            So soon! Congratulations!

        • R T

          You have no idea how tired you are getting ready to be…no idea! You are going to be shocked!

          • fiftyfifty1

            “You have no idea how tired you are getting ready to be…no idea! You are going to be shocked! ”
            Maybe, maybe not. Totally depends on the baby. Some babies are a cakewalk.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            And besides, it gets better.

          • R T

            Yeah it’s nothing like that! You can’t prepare for having and baby and no one can tell you what it’s like. However, I want to give him a heads up about the tired part so he makes sure to have someone he can call in for backup, lol! I’m not sure if it gets better or you just adjust to your new life!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            But every baby is different, and things change all the time. After a month with our first, my wife and I said that if we could just get 2 hours of sleep in a row, life would be so much better (eventually, we did, so that is an example of how things changed). Our second was a much better sleeper, and we never hit that stage.

            I don’t think it is safe to say that you should expect anything in particular, except that life is going to be very different in ways that you can’t imagine. I don’t think that changes from no children to how many.

            I’ve heard that going from 2 to 3 or beyond is less of a change. I don’t know myself.

          • R T

            My baby was a cake walk the first month, he developed colic after that, and I have still never been so tired in my life, lol! He ate ever 1.5 to 2 hours around the clock. It’s my understanding all newborns do this! Besides, I was so concerned about his safety, I didn’t exactly sleep well during the two hour nap I got between feedings.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “He ate every 1.5 to 2 hours around the clock. It’s my understanding all newborns do this! ”
            Nope, not all do. Many do, but many do not. According to my mom’s journal from the time, I slept through the night (7-8 hrs) consistently by 1 month and took many longs naps. My own daughter was not quite as easy, but predictably gave me a 5 hour chunk at night right from the start, would feed and then sleep another 2-3 hours. My son, on the other hand was the every-2-hour type, and did a lot of crying in addition. It made a huge, huge difference. I felt completely normal with my daughter. I was a wreck with my son.

          • R T

            Seriously?! I hope if I have more children I get a 5 hour newborn sleeper lol!

          • rh1985

            Zornorph – are you going to be a single dad by choice? I am going to be a single mom by choice in February, so some of the same “hands full” difficulties. Of course I could breastfeed since I’m going to give birth to my baby, but I decided not to because of prescription medications that help me function. Well, at least no one will tell you that you could have breastfed. 😉

    • mydoppleganger

      Rock on. You could always humor them with your story of home birth and how you forced yourself to lactate. *chuckles*

      • Zornorph

        I’m telling them that I’m going to feed the placenta to my beagle so he’ll feel that he was a part of the birth. Thing is, I’m almost crazy enough to do something like that, so people aren’t really sure if I’m joking when I say it.

        • Bombshellrisa

          That is awesome-I am stealing that line for the women who want to turn everything into a sanctimommy pissing contest. I am also telling people I am splitting babywearing with my two dogs. It does sound stupid to be asking things like “what are you doing with the placenta” when you are talking about a real, live baby that you are expecting soon. Who cares about the placenta when there are baby toes to bite and cuddles to be given?

        • Sue

          I suggest you finely slice and dehydrate the placenta, put it in little packages and market it as a gourmet treat.

  • T.

    I have read an intersting ethnographic novel, Waterlyly from Deloria. It talks exactly about how it was being raisded in an extended group of families, all related of course, and how all women shared the care of children. It is mentioned specifically that small children and toddler responded to mothers as much as to their grandmothers and aunts.

    I suggest it, it is quite good.

  • mydoppleganger

    In find myself paranoid around attachment parenting types. I stick out like a sore thumb, with no locally sewn travel bag and organic goodies pouring out of it. I ran into such a group at the park one day. I could tell by the way they wore their babies, keeping the older kids safely away from their newest accomplishment. The older kids all had names like Sage, Wildfyre, etc. I knew this was the elite Mommy group I have heard about.

    A kind woman finally spoke to me, as the others pretended I was not in the vicinity. I mentioned my deceased friend had been a member of the group, and she knew the name. Grabbing my hand, she insisted I meet the leader and talk about joining. This was not gonna be pretty.
    All it took was one look of my soda cup to make said lady sniff at me. When all the Moms were distracted, I grabbed my child and drove away.

    I could not help but feel an urge to schedule another c-section right at that moment, just in disgust of this elite Mommy gain. It’s never enough for them. There is a fake compassion. Thus, I have embraced this site as recovery from the NCB folks who have always made me feel” you are invalid, you are stupid, you are selfish” for not following all these new rules to a letter. Where is the healing for us folks who have been burned by the NCB community?

    Just my personal experiences, my experiences are not projected on every NCB person, fyi.:)

    • yentavegan

      …and I am here to really declare mea culpa. I was a f*cked up AP toddler nursing judgmental assh*le and this blog was the smack in the face I needed to get over myself. I can not undo all the crappy choices I made, but take comfort in knowing this, those other mothers who made you feel like an outcast, it will come back to haunt them, Karma stops for no one.

      • mydoppleganger

        Thank you! I have seen this in several cases, such a church/religions/what have you. Often times, I tried hard to fit the mold and just found myself burned out and crying. My message to AP parents is to be nice and supportive, but give folks space to learn. I tried for a natural birth, I tried for breastfeeding, I tried. Where is the love for the effort?:) Often times the “unsuccessful” outcasts of AP are the ones crying the most, as there is a projected label of failure. No one likes to be shunned by peers.

        • mydoppleganger

          Now I am pregnant again and attempting a vbac with my Doctor behind me. I am trying to put myself in the mode of” whatever happens is not a reflection on my worth.” I would like to smile this time, no matter what happens. Often I wish I had not subjected myself to so much natural birth talk over the years, because it has become deeply embedded in my mind that lack of vaginal birth makes me less ….okay? Kind of reminds me of wearing glasses as a kid.:)

          • mydoppleganger

            Of course, I don’t judge my other friends who have c-sections, natural birth, home birth, etc. I cheer for them. Why would it matter in the grand scheme of our friendship? 🙂

          • yentavegan

            Do whatever makes you and your husband happy. but err on the side of technology. VBAC’s are over-rated, and although my 3rd baby was a vbac my doctor refused to take me on as a patient afterwards. My suggestion would be let them put in an IV , get continuous fetal heart monitoring, let the doctor do internals to see how dilated you are. And if your doctor feels that a trial of labor does not serve your baby’s best interest,be grateful for science and technology and feel empowered by letting the “man”slice you open to deliver your baby.

          • mydoppleganger

            I already told my doctor that I am coming with a balanced attitude and logic. She thanked me for not being like other vbac Mommas who have thought of her as the devil for any input she had. I can understand those Mamas, as I was fear based about hospital birth after reading NCB stuff too. Therefore, everything my first birth had felt much scarier than it probably was.:) I appreciate your honesty, as most VBAC stories seem magic pot of gold and there is not enough balance to them. I have no idea what a contraction feels like.:) My plan is to be more accepting to the situation as a whole, and to treats my doctor *gasp* like a human being trying to help. I’m also much more open to the epidural, as I realize-it’s okay.:) I will be kicking the “perfect birth” pressure out of the room-that can safely stay on the net this time.:)

      • Allie P

        I think the only true damage from most parenting styles comes from making it the one and only truth. one of my best friends is essentially an AP. SAHM, she does the extended nursing, the babywearing, the cloth diapers, she even tried tandem nursing and then realized there was no way she had the energy for that, and she does not judge anyone else. Someone else has a c-section and formula feeds their kids and socks ’em in daycare at 6 weeks, they are in her playgroup, it’s all the same to her. that kind of stuff is so minor, it’s different for everyone.

        FWIW, though she had a natural, v-birth, she did it in a HOSPITAL where there was staff on hand for whatever she or the baby might need.

    • Antigonos CNM

      And amazingly, in spite of all these special mothering procedures, the kids will turn out indistinguishable from those raised in ordinary homes.

      • mydoppleganger

        Their kids at the playground that day were being horrific in taking my child’s toys and keeping it out of reach. After ten minutes of no other Moms coming to help, I had to beg Thor to hand back the toy peacefully.:)

    • Stacey

      I don’t know where it is, but if you find healing please share where you found it.
      These groups can be either awesome and al inclusive (rare) or the worst type of “mean girl” cliques. They WILL keep you out for just having a different opinion, even if it is never shared, so the group can be “safe”.
      Oh, the irony.

      • mydoppleganger

        Think of all the controlling thoughts on women through out history. Some say you must have female circ to be be pure for a husband. Some say you must be a virgin on your wedding night. That having a boy is greater blessing. All these thoughts on women’s worth in ideals of purity and virtue.

        For me, a healthy dose of laughter and realizing all these ideals are being sold to me helps. It means growing a thicker skin and listening to what my true voice is telling me *not the judgements of others.*

        My next birth may be a c-section, or it may be vaginal…but you know what? I am still me. My value is not in my pelvis. I’m going to “rock my birth” by taking a more balanced perspective to it all.

        Side note: I am careful with picking up Mommy friends. I have no longing to compete in any Mommy group. If a gal just wants to share friendship without the hype, I am there. The two Mommy groups I was invited to seemed very rigid in their procedures, so I kindly did not join before it got messy.(If I take a sip of soda, I’m kicked out? What?!:)

        • KarenJJ

          I had a great mums group. People had a wie range of practices and did what worked and most of us had careers and worked part time. I did try a local breastfeeding group in the very early days, but encountered a vegan member wearing a floral skirt with a box of foul gluten free, dairy free, sugar free ‘treats’. Kid had a teething necklace and she smelt funny? Maybe I’m just used to hanging out with people that wear deoderant? At any rate we struggled to find topics of interest to talk about and I slowly dropped that group..

  • yentavegan

    …if mothers really knew the right away to attachment style and breastfeed then they would not be able to tandem nurse. Because when you breastfeed the right way your fertility is suppressed and you do not produce eggs if you are breastfeeding the right way. Therefore I smugly tsk tsk at mothers who tandem nurse, They obviously are over compensating for not nursing the best most correct way.

    • Antigonos CNM

      Alas, I have seen so many women who thought breastfeeding was contraceptive in my antenatal clinic…I presume there was some sarcasm there.

      • yentavegan

        well they obviously didn’t do breastfeeding right. they probably gave a pacifier, or did not nurse every two hours overnight. Or they gave early solids or maybe used a babysitter. You know breastfeeding is like a marriage, you can’t cheat and expect it to work.

      • amazonmom

        I’ve had more than a few NICU mamas asking why they have nausea and breast tenderness . When I discreetly ask them if they have used contraception with sex they stare at me then start sobbing. Their 6 week follow up turns into a prenatal visit. They thought pumping around the clock was effective contraception.

        • AmyP

          Wait–isn’t 6 weeks when you are normally allowed to START having sex again? Somebody wasn’t listening to their discharge instructions.

          • amazonmom

            Some are cleared earlier if healing is going well. They seem to forget the part where the doc reminded them to use protection…

          • Ainsley Nicholson

            Telling people not to have sex doesn’t work for teenagers…doesn’t work for grown-ups either.

          • Catherine S

            No one is “allowing” consenting adults to have sex. Recommending that one abstain for a period of time after a birth is different from “allowing.”

            I was told by three separate care providers after each of my births by two OBs and one CNM to resume sexual activity when *I* felt up to it. Not some erroneous period of time that had nothing to do with how I was feeling.

      • FormerPhysicist

        I don’t think it’s effective for everyone, but I think it is for me. I had so many problems with low estrogen while nursing, and didn’t get my period until my daughter was 3. Clearly, one is fertile *before* the first period, and if you REALLY don’t want to get pregnant again, use contraception. But, *I* wasn’t fertile for a long time.

      • BeatlesFan

        One of my closest friends is an Irish twin because her mother believed this. My friend and her elder brother are 11 months apart, IIRC. Surprise!

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          See, the problem is that only works when you are malnourished or just nourished enough and not even faithfully then.

  • Zornorph

    Why do people want to imitate mud hut super moms anyway? Just because people do something in a village in Africa, that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do something.

    • stacey

      Google the “Noble Savage”myth, it can help explain this phenomenon.

      • Zornorph

        I first became aware of the ‘noble savage’ myth when my high school English teacher used it to illustrate The Blue Lagoon. Which is funny because all I had thought about that movie up to that point was that Brooke Shields’ body double looked very sexy while naked in the water.

        • yentavegan

          right? watching that movie now as an adult is very uncomfortable for me. Kiddie soft porn,no?

          • Zornorph

            And what happens when you play with it for a long time?

  • The other John

    You forgot to also mention completely wired to every internet source, from Facebook and blogging to google university and mothering magazine. This also includes public decelerations of male child’s most private body part and continuous breast exposure both live and photographed for future reference. One thing for sure, my mother never embarrassed me as much as these poor kids and she showed up at school in curlers once.

    • Bombshellrisa

      Also has Pinterest boards with titles like “Red Tent”, “my home birth space”, “healing yourself with food and herbs” and “Detoxing”

      • Ashley Wilson

        I had to google “Red Tent”. I regret that.

        • Zornorph

          I had to do it as well. Just made me roll my eyes.

        • I liked the book :/. As a guide to any sort of modern anything, it sucks of course, but that wasn’t the purpose of the book either. I’m sad that it’s so associated now with the NCB and woo movements, because it’s also just an enjoyable read.

          For those who don’t know, it’s a retelling of the Dinah story in the Bible from her point of view.

          • Lizzie Dee

            Could you say what it was that you liked?

            I had never heard of it till I came here, and what little I know makes me think it would have me frothing at the mouth. The spiritual strand of feminism kind of makes my teeth ache, but I am curious. Was it the insights or the storytelling that appealed to you?

          • The thing is, it’s not supposed to be a feminist book. It’s a story, and a well-written one at that. I have no idea why the woo people pull from it, but the red tent of the title is where women are banished during their menstrual periods. It’s clearly degrading, but the women claim that space and make it their own, because it’s all they have.

            Dinah clearly suffers from a patriarchal family and society. It’s about how she makes her life in such straitened and constrained circumstances, not about GRRL-POWER or The Wonders of Bleeding Out Your Vagina.

          • GiddyUpGo123

            And let’s not forget that when Dinah chooses a man her father disapproves of, her male relatives cry “rape” and then go on a murderous rampage, killing her beloved and all of his men, too. Rachel miscarries dozens of times and then finally dies in childbirth. Jacob breaks Bilhah’s teeth when he’s displeased with her. It’s hardly a romantic look at life in biblical times, and I really don’t understand how anyone can view it that way.

          • Yeah. It’s pretty brutal in a lot of ways. I really think a lot of women who claim to love the book haven’t actually read it, because they love it for things that aren’t there.

          • GiddyUpGo123

            It’s great writing, and it’s still one of my favorite books even though NCBers have evidently perverted it by trying to draw some parallel between themselves and the women in the story. I don’t know how accurate the book is but I would bet that the author wasn’t trying to say “this is how women should be,” but was instead saying “this is how women once were, in this time and place.”

            I personally have more of a problem with historical fiction that attempts to paint ancient people with a modern paintbrush. I remember going to see the film “Elizabeth” (with Cate Blanchet) with a friend of mine, who got very upset when Elizabeth said “I may be a woman, but if I choose I have the heart of a man.” She said it was irresponsible for the filmmakers to suggest that women were less capable than men. I personally think it would be more irresponsible to suggest that men and women were viewed equally during those times, when clearly they were not. Of course a lot of that movie was false, but that quote was paraphrased from the queen’s own writings.

            Anyway my long-winded point being that I don’t think you should try to rewrite history (even in fiction) to make it seem like it was less sexist than it actually was, just because a few stupid people might lack the ability to think critically about what you’ve written. And “The Red Tent” definitely paints a sexist picture of biblical times because that’s more or less how it was. If NCBers look at that story as a way to validate their ridiculous anti-feminist philosophies it’s because they’re too dumb to recognize that different times and places bred drastically different ways of life. And just because those times were populated by those venerated “ancient, wise ones” doesn’t mean that that’s the way we ought to be living our lives today.

          • I regret I can only upvote this once.

          • Lizzie Dee

            Well, it is attributed to Elizabeth – the Armada speech:

            “I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of
            England, too;”

            MIght be Tudor propaganda, but not historical fiction.

            She also said:

            “I would rather be a beggar and single than a queen and married.”

            “Though the sex to which I belong is considered weak you will nevertheless find me a rock that bends to no wind.”

            My kind of woman, Elizabeth, on the strength of those views. Like Queen Victoria, would have given NCB short shrift. Can’t see her checking into the Lindo Wing hoping for a waterbirth. (No disrespect to our next Queen. She is a product of her time.)

    • realityycheque

      Children have a right to privacy. The Internet isn’t some secret mother’s circle; there are some seriously sick people out there, and they’re not as rare as parents might like to believe.

      Beyond that, I would hate for my child to be bullied in school because the other kids found out that I had uploaded a graphic video of his birth, or because I was publicly announcing the state of his penis… kids can be extremely cruel. All it takes is a Google search of your name.

      I see some women publicly posting photos of their children (sometimes in their underpants or even nude) and I think to myself, “How naive can you be to think that this is a good idea?”

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        There are a lot of people who think that the world wide web is private. Look at all those who complain when Dr Amy has the audacity to talk about some story they posted. We hear it all the time, “I didn’t mean for folks like you to say bad stuff about it.” They just don’t seem to understand that when you put something on the internet, everyone can see it. Unless you actually restrict access to it, everyone can see it (and if you want to restrict access to it, you need to do that intentionally)

      • staceu

        While I wouldn’t post nudes of my kids, I think other harmless, innocent pics are fine. I am not going to let perverts ruin my life, nor dictate the way we live it. There are plenty of pics and other materials online, I am not worried about someone seeing a pic of my kid. One in a billion pics, KWIM? Not worth the worry.

        • realityycheque

          Context is important: if the pictures are unaccompanied by anything a person may use to identify your child or their whereabouts, it is considerably safer than women who run public blogs sharing their location, workplace, the places they hang out and even photographs of their homes. It’s not that difficult for someone to figure out where you live with only your first name and the place you work.

          Unfortunately, predators aren’t as uncommon as a lot of people may think, and whilst we can’t protect our kids from everything, there’s definitely a line and some of these women well and truly cross it with some of the personal things they post online about their kids.

  • amazonmom

    Where I am from there is a whole “attachment parenting” movement that has gotten a bit out of control. Mom shouldn’t work or ever use a babysitter. Mom must breastfeed exclusively and encourage all children to tandem feed past 4-5 years. Bed sharing is mandatory for all family members. Mom must homeschool all children. Vaccinations are to be avoided at all costs. Openly complaining about it but saying “that’s what a good mother does” to your friends who don’t do such things is also a required component. Parents of all political and religious persuasions do this. I’m guessing its a culture bound phenomenon.

    • Zornorph

      I guess they have to use ‘elimination communication’ as well.

      • amazonmom

        30 dollar a piece organic cloth diapers , how could I forget!!!

    • Bombshellrisa

      Don’t forget they also brag about how they have chickens so the eggs they eat are better than what I buy at the store, they can everything and they make their own baby slings and wear more than one child at a time. They also take pride in being one of 70 breastfeeding mothers who donates breastmilk to their midwife so her child can be “breastfed”.

      • Therese

        They are right about the eggs, at least.

        • Bombshellrisa

          The eggs are better, but it’s a another way for them to feel superior and that is my whole problem with them.

  • KumquatWriter

    Cue the AP defenders howling that REAL attachment parenting is TOTALLY DIFFERENT and YOU don’t get it.

    I’m starting to full on loathe the AP movement. I’m a good mom, yet I feel crushed with guilt at times for even being out of my son’s sight. Intellectually I know it’s right for him to nurture his independence and ability to entertain himself. But enough shocked expressions and whispered “concern” and so on gets to me.

    • Let it go

      Honestly, every kid is different and every parent is different. Unless you are neglecting your him ( and I mean not feeding or leaving him alone while you go out and party) he’ll turn out fine. You need to learn to ignore the critics, because no matter what you do, someone is going to have a problem with it. People are EXTREMELY opinionated when it comes to childrearing.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        You need to pick one screen name and stick to it. It is not fair to others to post as if you were multiple different people.

        • stacey

          I use 2 different screen names too, depending on what computer I am using. I hate typing my long email in so I use a different one when I post as guest. My ipad does not like disques at all, and makes it impossible to use it other than as a guest. Even my laptop occasionally has disques issues, so please don’t assume its out of malice people use 2 names.

          Also, some people are “stalked” by NCB friends and don’t want them to know what they post, so they hide the identifying details with a different name. While its awesome to be honest with NCBers, IRL it may not be the best move for a particular person.

          (I have no idea what this persons deal is, I just wanted to add this, since I do it too.)

        • LibrarianSarah

          Sock puppetry? Not cool. So who else is this mysterious stranger Dr. Amy?

    • Awesomemom

      Stay strong! Being a parent is a natural recipe for guilt but you don’t have to let it rule you.

    • Antigonos CNM

      I am a monster. Two years ago the last child left me and my husband alone in the house [my middle daughter and her husband had been living with us until their house was built, and it was a major trial, let me tell you], and we promptly had a second honeymoon. We now almost never come to my house for Sabbath supper; we rotate between daughters’ homes. Ah, the joy of not having to spend all day Friday in the kitchen!

      I don’t feel the least guilt; in fact, I wish there’d been a way to turf the kids out earlier [it gets delayed a bit in Israel, what with the army service and lack of affordable rental housing for young folks]

    • Stacey

      Well, if you get looks of “concern”, then I must be full on negligent. Letting my almost 3yr old play outside w friends all day, and ride his bike- all without me hovering over him. Imagine that. Better call CPS, as my kid does real chores (laundry, dishes, pet care, taking trash out, etc.) and can dress himself, feed himself, and still snuggles like a PRO.
      Even the baby is starting to play outside with the other kids, when she is not velcroed to my boob, that is.

      I am extra evil because I am not a bit guilty 🙂 They are very happy, and sociable.

  • Guest

    Any data to back up these ideas of yours?

    • T.

      What ideas? That women in “tribal” society usually share the care of children with other -usually related- women?

  • I guess

    I don’t know….by all measures my husband and I are practicing “attachment parenting”. I have a career and an extremely intellectual one at that. I am perfectly comfortable leaving my kids with a loving babysitter or daycare provider while I work. I don’t follow any theories when it comes to raising them, I just do what my mom and dad did with us,
    co sleeping, nursing, comforting us when we cried, and baby wearing. Of course there are extremists when it comes to all parenting methods. You don’t sell many books by telling parents to do whatever works for them.

    • Amazed

      OK, there is something that always takes me by surprise: since when have nursing and comforting your crying child become a parenting method? I was most certainly not attachment-parented and just as certainly I was nursed and comforted. It’s a general parenting trait, not a parenting method.

      Once again, I’ll say that at least one of Dr Sears’ books has been heavily edited as to include the ‘do whatever works for you’ bits. I can smell a heavy editorial input when I am near one.

      • Anj Fabian

        So am I an AP parent if I just follow the “whatever works for you” bits?

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Well, you do have to attend to the needs of your child. Because, you know, we non-attachment parents don’t do that, apparently.

          • Luis Vuitton knockoff

            It depends on what you consider a “need”.

          • AmyP

            I suspect that most 2 and 3-year-old toddlers feel strongly that they don’t “need” a younger sibling.

          • me

            IDK. My three year old tells me that my youngest (one year old) belongs to her, she just let’s me borrow her now and then, lol. Of course, we are talking about a child who has been absolutely baby-crazy since she was a one year old. The six year old on the other hand? She would probably trade both of them in for a few cookies 😉

          • Amazed

            I definitely did not need a brother. I needed a kitten. Guess what I got out of the deal.

            Fortunately, my mom says she never asked me whether I need a sibling. She just told me I was going to have one. I hoped to the last that he’d somehow turn into my very own kitten.

            Now, when my mom complains of him, I tell her, “Well, I told you we needed a kitten, not a baby.” And, “Cheer up, Mom. Imagine if it was identical twins? TWO of him?”

            I guess I would have gotten used to that, either. And I still wouldn’t have been asked.

        • Amazed

          According to the editor, yet. According to Dr Sears… well, I am not sure.

        • Amy M

          I was involved in an argument with a friend about this once. She self identifies as AP (though her child is in elementary school now (and she does vax)) and insisted that in order to be AP you didn’t have to follow Dr.Sears to the letter and it was about being responsive to your children.

          So I said that I am most certainly responsive to my children, I just respond differently than she did. She breastfed, I gave formula, she bed-shared for years, mine slept in cribs in their own room since 1month old, etc. We both offered/offer food when the children are hungry, comfort when the children need it, provide shelter, and unconditional love.

          Based on that, I said to her, I am also an attachment parent then? No, no, no! she said, Of course not! According to her, I can’t possibly be an AP because I didn’t breastfeed or cosleep, etc.

          I don’t really care, I never wanted to be an AP, and it never would have worked for me and my husband. We have twins and work full time. I think parents SHOULD do whatever works for them. I am sorry for the ones that get sucked in to a community and find themselves pressured into doing things that aren’t working or that they don’t like. Being a new parent can be isolating enough, wo/worrying about alienating new friends because you don’t raise your children the same way they do.

          • yentavegan

            Ha. I suspect the AP industry had to soften it’s tone in order to stay solvent in the marketplace. 25 years ago AP was hard core. Either you were a true believer and worshipped the goddess of motherhood or you were a non-believer who fed Mcdonald’s to her toddlers and bought plastic toys. Oh if you could have seen me in my heyday. All unpainted natural wooden toys, organic hand-made dolls no sippy cups, no disposable diapers, Every room in the house was alted to be child centered where the word,”no” was never uttered. Babysitters? that was compared to giving your husband permission to have sex with other women. I took my children everywhere. if my children were not welcome then I boycotted the event.

          • Amy M

            Wow, that is hardcore. My friend is not/was not that extreme. I, however, am clearly evil, since we have a lot of plastic in my house and my favorite word is “efficiency.” 🙂 (I know from your previous post you have reformed…how do you like the dark side?)

        • LibrarianSarah

          If that’s the case my mom was also an attachment parent despite all that I wrote above. Oh she will be so pleased! (not really)

      • Therese

        You know, I wonder if the disconnect comes because the people here are secular, or if they are religious, are sane about it. So in everyone’s experience, of course parents respond to their babies, that’s just what they do, so what is the point of AP?? Unfortunately, that’s not what is promoted in some parenting philosophies that the more fundamentalist Protestant types promote. See Ezzo, for instance. It’s taught that babies are sinners and need to be taught to not be selfish by not responding to them right away when they cry. So if Dr. Sears (who is a very religious person of some sort of Protestant flavor, not sure which) was used to being around a lot of those types, it would make sense to him why a philosophy that promoted responding to babies with love would be needed.

        • Amazed

          You might be right. I live in a post-commmunist country so we’re quite secular here and I haven’t had much contact with ultra-religious folks, so I have no personal touch with this parenting philosophy. But even if this was the case, Dr Sears had publishers, editors and so on. Were all these people Christian fanatics, too? I feel it was irreponsible of publishing and health professionals let this book spread like a Bible and not doing anything to counter the message.

          Really, one of the biggest problems I have with attachment parenting is its name – it indicates that any other kind of parenting is, by default, unattached.

        • amazonmom

          I have seen just as many atheists use AP exactly as the fundamentalist Christians use it. All the kids end up unable to function without mommy. Teens that can’t cook or clean, aren’t allowed to be alone while mom goes shopping, it’s nuts no matter who does it.

          • Therese

            I never said that atheists didn’t do attachment parenting, just that it has its origins in Christianity (assuming you consider Dr. Sears as the founder of AP).

            I don’t think learning to cook or clean has anything to do with AP

    • Helen

      Since you leave your children with a babysitter at times, you are not practicing attachment parenting. Just because a person does some of the activities does not mean that he or she subscribes to the philosophy. By all means, do the things which work best for each child, but do them because they work best and not because the philosophy dictates that you do.

      • Therese

        I kind of doubt you could find a single advocate of AP that would argue that AP means never using a babysitter.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Actually, there are advocates of AP who won’t let the grandparents babysit, let alone non-family members.

          • I don’t have a creative name

            I can think of one in particular who comes to mind, who was bragging on a msg board that her MIL begs to babysit her then 4 yo daughter, and how proud she was to “withstand the pressure” and that her daughter has never ever been away from her.

          • LibrarianSarah

            Damn that’s a complex willing to happen. My mom would be considered the devil to these ladies. Daycare starting at 6 mo, nanny/babysitter since 1, c section, bottle feeding from birth, working 12 hour days and often traveling for work, sleep away camp since 10 and boarding school from 6 grade on. And yet if I was any more “attached” to my mom it would be considered a codependent relationship.

          • BeatlesFan

            I’m never sure if I should admire or pity mothers like that. On one hand, if she has so much patience she’s fine with having her kid(s) glued to her 24/7, yay for her. On the other hand, my parents have DS over for sleepovers at least once a month, usually more (sometimes with both my nephews as well… brave, brave people) and just last weekend they took both my kids overnight so DH and I could go out for my birthday. We spent the entire day on the beach, holding hands and having grownup conversations without being interrupted every 5 seconds, or having to worry about if the baby was overheating or if the 4-year-old was going in too deep. It was positively theraputic for me- I’m a SAHM, so on average I get about 15-20 minutes a day alone, in the shower. I simply can’t imagine NEVER having time for onesself, for years on end.

          • Ainsley Nicholson

            That’s a horrible way to treat a grandparent.

          • stacey

            What is wrong with those people?

            I would do ANYTHING to have ANY family near by, let alone ones willing and able to HELP. My mom never even got to see my DD. I would give anything for her to be here.

            They can send their unwanted grandparents to me, I will let them get all the baby time they want, and will appreciate them!
            Oh, I will also take all those “evil” plastic toys too, since they think its “rude and breaking boundaries” to give non wooden gifts. (WISH I was kidding!) They are willing to CUT off gp’s that won’t buy organic toys. The audacity and privilege KILLS me.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            What is wrong with those people?

            I would do ANYTHING to have ANY family near by, let alone ones
            willing and able to HELP. My mom never even got to see my DD. I would
            give anything for her to be here.

            They can send their unwanted grandparents to me, I will let them get all the baby time they want, and will appreciate them!

            Yes, yes, and yes.

            The only thing I can say is that thank goodness for Skype. Because of skype, our kids know their grandparents very well, and love them dearly, despite seeing them in person maybe 2 – 3 times a year, when we go to visit (the folks are too old to be visiting us much these days)

          • KarenJJ

            Skype is great. My toddler used to line up toys on the laptop’s keyboard to share with Grandma.

            We moved closer to family so they get a bit of a village but when we lived away we had some great friends (not so great that they’d babysit two littles but we never asked – which is probably also why we stayed good friends).

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            We have friends around, but most of them have a couple/3 small kids of their own already (same age as our kids – that’s why we are friends with them). We wouldn’t ask (nor expect) them to take on our kids to for an overnight.

            We have neighbor girls who are great for babysitting in small stints, but we don’t ask them to do too much.

            The key to family caring for the kids is that they want to (without being paid). That is priceless.

          • Therese

            Well, is that because they don’t trust their particular family members, or is this something they advocate that everyone should do?

          • yentavegan

            over heard at a AP support group,”..if my husband wanted his child raised by a third world illiterate, he’d have married one.”
            AP is elitist parenting masquerading as progressive and compassionate.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Jaw drop!

            (I’m not voting you down, y, just the comment you quoted – that’s horrid)

          • yentavegan

            guilty as charged.

          • Antigonos CNM

            I guess that makes me the AP grandma since my granddaughter, upon seeing me, runs headlong into my arms and jumps onto my lap and sometimes takes quite a while to be convinced to dislodge herself [well, I’m fat, so I’m cuddly, and Shir is only 2]

        • yentavegan

          “No babysitters” was definitely a fundamental principal of AP

          • Amy M

            We are totally cool with babysitters, even non-family members, but we haven’t hired any because we can’t afford them. So, we’ve just timed our dates to when our family who is willing to do it for free is available. (I am referring to date-type outings here, they go to daycare every day, which if that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, maybe we could afford to pay the teenager across the street and go on more dates.)

          • Therese

            I guess I’ve been fortunate in my run ins with AP types then. I definitely have come across those that wouldn’t use babysitters themselves, but I haven’t come across any that condemn babysitters across the board for everyone.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Oh, I’m sure they won’t come right and and “condemn” those that use babysitters, they will just say something about how they won’t just dump their child on someone who doesn’t care for them.

            Nope, no condemnation there.

    • Squillo

      No, you are just doing the knock-off version of AP, like those folks who sell the “Louis Vuitton” handbags on the streets of NY.

      Stop diluting the brand, man!

      • Louis Vuitton knock off

        LOL! I am a total faker! I also have unmedicated births because I never get to the hospital on time for an epidural. I always tell people I wish I could get an epidural because I HATE the feeling of pushing my babies out. But seriously, I’ve never met anyone who follows all the tenets of attachment parenting, and I run with an extremely crunchy crowd.

    • stacey

      I bet you aren’t pushing it on others as the superior way to parent!

      I think it SUCKS that AP has co-opted the normal stuff modern parents do, like responding to crying, and claimed it as their own.

      My baby DD is being raised “AP’, in that we do all the things that need checked off to qualify as AP (VBAC, EBF, baby wear, SAHM, feed healthy whole foods, etc). She really needed, and demanded, this style of parenting.

      But DS is not AP at all, he was raised exactly opposite as a baby (CS, FF, never worn, stayed with Daddy and male nanny all day.).

      And that is OK, he is awesome!

      I would much prefer a “village” or an extended family, but since I don’t have one, I do the best I can do. My kids play with the neighbors all day, and hang with their big families. We are free range all the way.