Attachment parenting is contradicted by everything we know about attachment

harlow monkey

Scientists have found that the average infant needs approximately 100 kcal/kg/day dropping down to about 80 kcal/kg/day during the toddler years. That works out to about 430 kcal/day for newborns to nearly 1000 kcal/day for toddlers.

Imagine that as a result of that finding, parenting gurus wrote books and ran websites advocating that infants and small children should be offered 2000 kcal of food each day, claiming that if some calories are good, more calories are better. But wait, you say! Just because there is a minimum amount of food that is necessary each day doesn’t mean that lots of food is better. In fact, in many cases it’s worse, resulting in overweight, obesity and associated health problems. Offering massive amounts of food to infants and small children is contradicted by everything that we know about nutrition.

You’re right. Now consider:

Attachment parenting is the emotional equivalent of offering babies and toddlers 2000 kcal of food each day. Far from representing a better way to raise children, it is directly contradicted by everything we know about attachment.

What do we know about attachment between infants and small children and their parents? The field of attachment theory was defined by a trio of intellectual giants, John Bowlby, Donald Winnicott and Harry Harlow. Each  studied the minimal requirements for infants and small children to form attachments to a parent or caregiver. To do so, they looked at extreme emotional deprivation.

In 1949, Bowlby’s earlier work on delinquent and affectionless children and the effects of hospitalised and institutionalised care lead to his being commissioned to write the World Health Organization’s report on the mental health of homeless children in post-war Europe. The result was Maternal Care and Mental Health published in 1951.

… The 1951 WHO publication was highly influential in causing widespread changes in the practices and prevalence of institutional care for infants and children, and in changing practices relating to the visiting of infants and small children in hospitals by parents…

In other words, by studying children who had experienced extreme emotional deprivation, Bowlby identified what he believed to be minimal requirements for maternal-child attachment.

According to attachment theory, attachment in infants is primarily a process of proximity seeking to an identified attachment figure in situations of perceived distress or alarm for the purpose of survival. Infants become attached to adults who are sensitive and responsive in social interactions with the infant, and who remain as consistent caregivers for some months during the period from about 6 months to two years of age… In Bowlby’s approach, the human infant is considered to have a need for a secure relationship with adult caregivers, without which normal social and emotional development will not occur.

As the toddler grows, it uses its attachment figure or figures as a “secure base” from which to explore. Mary Ainsworth used this feature plus “stranger wariness” and reunion behaviours, other features of attachment behaviour, to develop a research tool called the “Strange Situation Procedure” for developing and classifying different attachment styles.

The attachment process is not gender specific as infants will form attachments to any consistent caregiver who is sensitive and responsive in social interactions with the infant. The quality of the social engagement appears to be more influential than amount of time spent.

Winnicott refined attachment theory with his concept of the “good enough” mother:

He thought that parents did not need to be perfectly attuned, but just “ordinarily devoted” or “good enough” to protect the baby from often experiencing overwhelming extremes of discomfort and distress, emotional or physical.

Harlow looked at extreme deprivation in primates:

… Dr. Harlow created inanimate surrogate mothers for the rhesus infants from wire and wood.[8] Each infant became attached to its particular mother, recognizing its unique face and preferring it above all others. Harlow next chose to investigate if the infants had a preference for bare wire mothers or cloth covered mothers. For this experiment he presented the infants with a cloth mother and a wire mother under two conditions. In one situation, the wire mother held a bottle with food and the cloth mother held no food. In the other situation, the cloth mother held the bottle and the wire mother had nothing.[8]

Overwhelmingly, the infant macaques preferred spending their time clinging to the cloth mother. Even when only the wire mother could provide nourishment, the monkeys visited her only to feed. Harlow concluded that there was much more to the mother/infant relationship than milk and that this “contact comfort” was essential to the psychological development and health of infant monkeys and children. It was this research that gave strong, empirical support to Bowlby’s assertions on the importance of love and mother/child interaction.

Harlow also looked at monkeys raised in total social isolation:

In the total isolation experiments baby monkeys would be left alone for three, six, 12, or 24 months of “total social deprivation.” The experiments produced monkeys that were severely psychologically disturbed. Harlow wrote:

No monkey has died during isolation. When initially removed from total social isolation, however, they usually go into a state of emotional shock, characterized by … autistic self-clutching and rocking. One of six monkeys isolated for 3 months refused to eat after release and died 5 days later. The autopsy report attributed death to emotional anorexia.

… The effects of 6 months of total social isolation were so devastating and debilitating that we had assumed initially that 12 months of isolation would not produce any additional decrement. This assumption proved to be false; 12 months of isolation almost obliterated the animals socially …

Bowlby, Winnicott and Harlow elucidated important principles: simply attending to the bodily needs of infants and children is not enough to ensure health; infants and small children must be given the opportunity to form an attachment to a caregiver; the caregiver does NOT need to be extraordinarily attuned to the child’s needs, merely “good enough”; and total social deprivation of infant primates leads to deranged behavior.

Attachment parenting, as described by William Sears and others, is supposed to be based on attachment theory, but clearly has little if anything to do with it.

Attachment parenting is designed to increase a child’s attachment security through specific practices including unmedicated vaginal birth, breastfeeding, baby wearing, and infant co-sleeping. Yet everything we know about infant attachment tells us that unmedicated vaginal birth, breastfeeding, baby wearing and infant co-sleeping are NOT required for secure infant attachment. Indeed, attachment of the infant to the mother (or other primary caregiver) is virtually guaranteed in all but the most extreme cases of abuse and neglect. Moreover, there is nothing in attachment theory that suggests that attachment security can be increased or needs to be increased above the attachment that all infants and children will naturally form with their caregivers.

Attachment parenting is, in fact, a perversion of attachment theory. Attachment theory tells us that all that is necessary for secure attachment is a “good enough” mother. Attachment parenting warns that anything less than a perfect mother poses a risk to secure attachment.

Attachment parenting is the equivalent of advising parents to offer infants and small children massive amounts of food on the theory that if some food is necessary, lots of food is better. Yet we know, when it comes to food, that more food isn’t simply NOT better, but can actually be worse. Similarly, attachment parenting may be more than simply NOT better. It might actually be worse.

401 Responses to “Attachment parenting is contradicted by everything we know about attachment”

  1. Kate
    July 17, 2015 at 4:11 am #

    All well and good but there is no actual evidence cited in this article. There have been several studies showing increased probability of secure attachment in infants whose mothers follow some of the principles of attachment parenting such as so called ‘baby wearing’. In general the factor that has consistently been shown to promote secure attachment in infants is responsive parenting which is something which is again promoted in attachment parenting although by no means guaranteed in parents who choose to follow this philosophy. I also do not think it is helpful to compare giving a child more affection to force feeding it food which would be tantamount to child abuse really.
    Finally your article implies that forming an attachment to a primary caregiver is something that will always happen in the absence of serious neglect or abuse however in Ainsworth’s original study 30% of American infants were placed in categories other than ‘securely attached’ in results that were generally replicated internationally.

    • Cobalt
      July 17, 2015 at 8:55 am #

      Responsiveness in parenting is very important. Where AP fails is in defining what responsiveness must be. Slings, breasts, and cosleeping aren’t the only tools available or the best tools in every circumstance. A baby fussing in a crib doesn’t necessarily need to be breastfed and held, the baby might need a few minutes of absence of stimulation to settle and sleep.

      AP sells itself as being all about responsiveness and meeting each child’s individual needs, but in practice it’s about throwing away a lot of perfectly good tools (strollers, sleep training, bottles, cribs) whether or not your family might benefit from them. From there it gets turned into a series of parenting status marker “badges”- she who uses the most time and labor intensive tools wins (no jarred baby food ever, no disposable diapers ever, no DIAPERS ever, never fed with a spoon). And THAT isn’t about the benefit of the child, is it?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      July 17, 2015 at 9:00 am #

      To my knowledge, there are NO studies that even looked at the impact of contemporary attachment parenting on children, let alone studies that support it. If you believe otherwise, feel free to share the scientific citations.

  2. Kristen
    April 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

    Yeah good for you. Let’s promote “good enough” parenting. The “natural” attachment a child would get WOULD be from a mother that breastfeeds, has an unmedicated child birth, baby wears , AND co sleeps. That’s the human norm. And don’t get me started on the absurd comparison to calories!! This is ridiculous.

    • demodocus' spouse
      April 5, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

      My husband and I have carried our child around for the last 17 months, we co-slept for a few months, despite the fact that our full sized bed does not comfortably sleep 3, and I breastfed until the morning I realized laying curled up and shuddering on my bed after nursing my child desparately hoping neither husband or child touches me ever again is probably a bad sign. I HATE nursing. I did it anyway for 11 months, but if Mommy has to ignore you so she can tolerate you eating, how can she be forming an attachment with you? But thanks for judging.
      Why should a baby give a hot damn about whether Mommy had pain medication? It’s a day in his life, and a single day isn’t going to scar him, unless you leave him alone on a mountain or something.

      • Nick Sanders
        April 5, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

        A day they are physiologically incapable of forming memories of, no less.

        • demodocus' spouse
          April 6, 2015 at 10:51 am #

          Heck, who remembers their 2nd Christmas or birthday party? I don’t, and my birthday is 2 weeks after Christmas. I have 1 pre-2 memory, visiting my father in the hospital at about 20 months. Everyone expected him to be dead by the next day. That is not an exaggeration. (cancer, but he managed to survive, the happy freak, to plague me to this day with embarrassing childhood stories.)

    • LibrarianSarah
      April 5, 2015 at 10:34 pm #

      Aww someone is insecure about their parenting choices. So are children “naturally” unable to form an attachment to fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts, etc because they don’t breastfeed or have unmediated births? Are adopted parents unable to bond with their kids? How about this, I’ll give you a special “best mom in the world” medal if you promise to stop being a judgy asshole to those who dob’t mirror your parenting choices.

    • Nick Sanders
      April 5, 2015 at 10:44 pm #


  3. sapphiremind
    November 17, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    I’ve never read the books, but I have a self-described “attachment parenting” type philosophy. I wore my baby when I could, I didn’t do cry it out, I extended breastfed and coslept. Any behavior taken to an extreme will be pathologic. I responded to my kids’ crying – sometimes what they needed was just to be rocked or cuddled. If I were to have felt that I couldn’t stand the crying, you put them down and walk away (safety first!)

    I think AP gets twisted by critics and even parents. It’s about paying attention to the normal developmental stages of a baby/infant/child. A baby is not independent. They will not be able to become independent until they are older. Trying to train them to be “independent” when they are physically incapable of it is silly. It’s normal for them to go through that stage, and then during toddlerhood they start differentiating from their parents and that is good and what is supposed to happen. The “point” of AP is that if you support them in their dependency stage, they’ll be confident in their emerging independence. What seems to be cited by a lot of commenters, and even Dr. A, is people who are not allowing their child to progress to the next stage.

    I have an acquaintance and they were recently out with a group of friends that included me, and they had brought their 6 or 7 year old. It was late, he was sleepy and grumpy and clearly had been wearing on the mom’s last nerve. He wasn’t behaving and just was a mess because he was exhausted, I’m sure. Now, having him with them in this case is *not* AP, because they were ignoring the child’s needs (which was to be at home in his bed, not out at a Denny’s at midnight).

    When people get dogmatic, *any* advice, idea or books can become potentially dangerous. But, just because some people are idiots does not mean we should ignore some basic information we know about child development.

    To sum up: Don’t be stupid, people.

    • KarenJJ
      November 17, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

      How is AP any different from any other form of parenting though? How is a baby that is happy in a stroller any different from a baby that is happy in a sling? I’ve one both depending upon baby’s temperament (the baby that didn’t like the pram also really liked the sling – but only the “crotch dangler one that let her kick her feet easily), the outside temperature (very very hot at times), the state of my knees (early osteoarthritis).

      And how are babies that aren’t in slings, breastfed, co-slept any less confident? My formula fed kiddo was exploring every single kitchen drawer and walking at ten months. How could he have been any “less confident” in his emerging independence?

      • fiftyfifty1
        November 17, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

        Yes, it really is insulting when you think about it, isn’t it? AP proponents claim that what makes AP different is “paying attention to normal developmental stages” as if non-AP parents are a bunch of blind idiots who don’t know or care about development. And that their goal is to support infants so they can develop into confident children as if conventional parenting is all about aiming to make them cower in the corner.

        • sapphiremind
          November 17, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

          Because arguably, if you are paying attention to their developmental stages and fostering them, you are doing AP, but just don’t call it that.

          You are looking for an insult, but I won’t give it. You see it as I am saying I am better than you because I did this, but my guess is that you probably did about the same as me but didn’t call it AP. Hence why it gets twisted by critics and other parents. You wouldn’t put that label on it, but if I were watching you parent, I probably would.

          • KarenJJ
            November 18, 2014 at 2:56 am #

            So what’s the point of the label “AP” if there is nothing different from conventional parenting?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            November 18, 2014 at 7:26 am #


          • Carolyn the Red
            November 18, 2014 at 7:29 am #

            So if I pay attention to my child’s developmental stages and never breastfeed, stop night feeds when it’s appropriate, put her in a safe sleep space separate from mine (in the same room, say) and never use a wrap or carrier, I’m attachment parenting? If I encourage her relationship with her father as well as with me, and maybe her grandparents too, that’s an attachment parenting concept too?

            I don’t think so.

          • Mnf321
            November 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

            But, yes it is!

          • KarenJJ
            November 19, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

            So what’s the point of the label “attachment parenting” when the vast majority of parents are already doing it? Why would anyone self-identify that way?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            November 19, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

            Why would anyone self-identify that way

            …except to be a pretentious asshole?

    • fiftyfifty1
      November 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

      “I think AP gets twisted by critics and even parents. It’s about paying attention to the normal developmental stages of a baby/infant/child.”

      As opposed to conventional parenting which is all about ignoring normal developmental stages then?

      • Squillo
        November 17, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

        As I’ve said ad nauseum, “AP” is a brand name that gets stuck on a bunch of parenting choices that work well for some families, and not so much for others. Like most brand names, it only gets trotted out when someone wants to feel superior about their choices.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          November 17, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

          Nope, there’s no true AP.

          • Roadstergal
            November 19, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

            Seriously, the recent commenters are defining AP out of existence.

            So if I went to an AP parents group in Anytown wanting to learn more about AP, I would be told that there are a variety of parenting methods and not any one is inherently better than the other, that formula feeding is a viable and guilt-free option in the developed world, that transporting a baby in a stroller or a sling is fine, that the mom leaving the baby with another caregiver can be a valid option to deal with stress and sleeplessness, and that co-sleeping is potentially dangerous?

        • sdsures
          November 22, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

          It definitely has nothing to do with “attachment theory” as I learned about it when I was studying psychology. Then, when I came across the term as related to AP, I was befuddled by its ridiculousness.

      • sapphiremind
        November 17, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

        It depends which “conventional parenting” you are using. Some really do ignore developmental stages – Lots of parents recommend forcing a newborn to sleep through the night, making them “independent” in infancy and hitting your kids for discipline. Now, I don’t think that everyone who is “non-AP” falls into that camp, but that is the contrast I’m talking about. Especially some of the religious-based child-rearing books like “to train up a child” by the Pearls.

        There are many people who are still in favor of victorian-style child-rearing – not realizing they drugged the kids to make them sleep and be compliant. Of course not everyone was screwed up by that, but the point is to try and improve as we go on.

        • KarenJJ
          November 17, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

          “Lots of parents recommend forcing a newborn to sleep through the night, making them “independent” in infancy and hitting your kids for discipline.”

          Really? I don’t know many people that will leave a newborn to scream through the night. Who are these other parents and what has it to do with breastfeeding, co-sleeping or “baby wearing”?

          • sapphiremind
            November 17, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

            I was replying to the previous poster who was asking what parts of “conventional parenting” ignore developmental stages.

          • KarenJJ
            November 18, 2014 at 2:55 am #

            But your example wasn’t one of conventional parenting? What are we trying to prove here? That parenting by dogmatic extremes is unhelpful and potentially dangerous for the kids? Well I’d agree with that. I still don’t get what Attachment Parenting has over conventional parenting considering most parents I know are conventional and have happy kids that haven’t had any issues regarding confidence with their emerging independence.

          • Mnf321
            November 19, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

            Just because you don’t know those people doesn’t mean that they

            Don’t exist

          • Poogles
            November 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

            “Just because you don’t know those people doesn’t mean that they Don’t exist”

            No one said that they absolutely don’t exist anywhere, but honestly it would have to be a very small minority that actually advocate leaving a newborn alone all night, screaming or not.

        • fiftyfifty1
          November 18, 2014 at 9:02 am #

          I have never met any parents who recommend forcing a newborn to sleep through the night, not from any country, culture or socioeconomic bracket, and I have met countless families in my role as a physician.

          Now there ARE plenty of families who feel that a 4 month old can sleep through the night–and they are right about that.

          • AmyH
            November 18, 2014 at 11:20 am #

            I’m not saying this as part of any agenda, but I vividly remember running across a pediatrician who had an article on his site about forcing a 2 month old to sleep through the night, cold turkey. He said by that time they don’t need anything to eat. His recommendation was to put the crib as far to the other side of the house as possible and have as many doors closed as possible between you and the baby and not go back until morning.

            He said his wife had a hard time with it the first night or two, but after she saw how well it worked, she was glad she did it. I try not to be a judgmental person, but for a few nights after reading that, when I was trying to fall asleep, I was mentally trying to formulate the snarkiest, most judgmental comeback possible if I’d had a pedi recommend such a thing to me, to use prior to getting up, walking out of his office, and never returning. I also felt some general queasiness thinking about a 2mo left to wallow in its own tears and snot and probably vomit and dirty diaper for the entire night while its parents tried to overcome their own good sense and peacefully sleep.

          • fiftyfifty1
            November 18, 2014 at 11:55 am #

            Sleep training is something that parents should know about. It is an excellent choice for many families. Families can choose to do it or not, but I think it’s good for pediatricians to at least let families know it exists because it can be a health and sanity saver for the whole family. If you don’t want to do it, then there are plenty of other ways to approach the sleep issue.

          • AmyH
            November 18, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

            Honestly, I don’t have a problem with sleep training in and of itself. I didn’t do it because my baby developed good sleep habits very easily, but then when I thought he was ready to move to his own room, his daddy couldn’t take it … and you can’t really do sleep training with the baby in your room and able to see you from his crib at 6-8 months old, at least I couldn’t, so we regressed sadly and he didn’t sleep through the night in his own bed until two years old (we did partial co-sleeping, if that’s a thing). But that is beside the point.

            I’ve never seen anyone recommend such an extreme approach for an eight week old baby. …….OK, i found the link.

            He says “over two months/ten pounds,” but I’m not interpreting that to mean “at least three months.” I mean, at this age, the baby is not able to roll over from his back even if he vomits, and my son cried till he vomited a time or two during the infant stage. He is advocating not even checking on the child under any circumstances. (OK, maybe if the fire alarm sounds.) I think at two months old, it is more appropriate to begin soothing the baby without getting it out of the crib – in fact, I began this before two months IIRC. Waiting to see if it’s really going to cry or will self-soothe. There are a lot of sleep-training techniques that will probably work for the average family without recommending this extreme approach, in my opinion.

          • Who?
            November 18, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

            This is so much my experience too. We did sleep trainiing-which for us was really teaching him to self settle-when our son was 6 months old, at which time neither of us had had more than 3 hours unbroken sleep since he was born.

            Fed, bath, settled, patted, cry 30 seconds, pat, cry 60 seconds, pat, and so on. We didn’t double times-I think the longest we ever left him was 5 minutes-and it took 2 hours. Done.

            We were sane again, he was fine, and is still a star sleeper at 22.

            We had taught him to wake up every couple of hours by scooping him up every time he made a peep-just because, so cute, why wouldn’t you. And that was unsustainable.

            With the second one we were a bit smarter about waiting for the self-sooth, and conscious of not developing habits that we would find unsustainable. And she slept fine, though never was good a sleeper as he is.

          • KarenJJ
            November 18, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

            I get people’s reluctance with regards to sleep training. We were one of the unfortunate families that it didn’t work for and made things worse (distraught baby made so anxious she refused going into the cot completely). I didn’t realise that it could fail so spectacularly. We had to do a lot of reassurance and playing in the cot over the next couple of weeks to get her confidence back.

            For the next baby I waited until we absolutely had to (baby started waking every couple of hours through the night and needed bouncing to get back to sleep – baby was 12 months and 12 kg and I have problems with my joints). It worked like a charm and he’s slept really well since.

            But I don’t believe that either of these anecdotes point towards “attachment parenting” is best or “conventional parenting is best” but that different parenting tools work for different babies at different stages. Which is why I still don’t see the point as to why “attachment parenting” is meant to be any better than what most parents do.

          • Kelly
            November 19, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

            I read that article and he only recommended that if your child was at least ten pounds, two months old, and healthy.

    • DiomedesV
      November 17, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

      Why is it so easy for AP to be twisted by parental practitioners?

      • sapphiremind
        November 17, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

        I think *any* of the parenting books are easy to twist because they encourage the dogmatic approach. People want to be able to have the “right” answer and they want to be good parents and when they get sucked into a book that says “just do this and you’ll be good” they try and do just that, especially if they had an unpleasant childhood or parents who were abusive.

  4. Julie
    November 12, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    While I am no Attachment Parenting advocate, I have a hard time believing that Attachment Parenting is any worse than any other kind of parenting method. I have no evidence to back this up, only anecdata: when I was in college I got to spend some time in rural West Africa. The women there almost invariably give birth vaginally or die trying. If mother and baby survive childbirth, breastfeeding ensues. The baby is fed on demand (sometimes several times an hour) because he is carried constantly during the day and sleeps next to his mother at night. In spite of this, I saw no signs that caring for a baby this way results in children who are abnormally self-absorbed and over-dependent on their parents. On the contrary, the people I met struck me as extraordinarily devoted to their families and communities as well as hospitable to strangers.

    In the US, I think mothers are drawn to Attachment Parenting for philosophical or emotional reasons, but in West Africa it is more a question of practicality. Carrying her baby, breastfeeding on demand, and co-sleeping allows a mother to meet her baby’s needs without interrupting her daily work too much. Besides, she doesn’t have any of the equipment (formula, crib, swing, etc.) that would facilitate her parenting any other way, so she really doesn’t have a choice. But the women I talked to preferred it that way. They thought cribs and bottles and strollers were sad and that American parenting was too child-centered.

    What I did not see in West Africa, however, were preschoolers being carried and nursed. A lot of AP’ers advocate for that and wax poetic about how natural it is, but I never saw it. It isn’t practical for their mothers. Once children reach that age, they are turned over to the older children in the family or village and free-range the neighborhood until they are old enough to work.

    • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
      November 12, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

      AP is not just babywearing, breastfeed, natural birth and feeding on demand.

      The damaging part of attachment parenting is a) the mother must always be present. No giving the kid to Grandma for a night, no Dad covering while you take a week on business, no babysitters. This continues until school age and sometimes longer; b) the mother must always give love and positive reinforcement. You don’t scold or punish; and c) The mother’s focus is on the child’s needs and wants.

      I suspect in rural West Africa you are not seeing this. For starters, you do not focus on the needs and wants of a child when your priorities are obtaining food and keeping a roof over your head. They are secondary. You may let them nurse on demand but you don’t let them play with the shiny spoon if you need it to cook.

      Second, these soecities have large social groups. There’s usually someone else breastfeeding who can take the kid for a couple hours. And as you say, once they can toddle they free-range.

      Third, in these areas there is not an expectation of privacy at home. In the US and other developed nations, you have an expectation that when you are home you can have time alone, and there are very few places other than home where you can be alone. Obviously if you have one or two rooms in your home that is not the case, and you have an expectation that you sleep and eat at home and things like sex or masturbation happen elsewhere (or in some societies these are not private affairs at all and can happen in front of families– but I don’t think that’s the case in West Africa). This different expectation means that a preteen West African boy will go off into the woods to explore his body, while an American boy will try to find the few private times at home that he can, and taking away having privacy when he sleeps can be a problem for developing a healthy sexuality.

      • Mnf321
        November 19, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

        I know many”attachment parents” and NONE of them militantly ascribe to the “damaging ” things that you mention. And how is meeting your child’s needs an AP philosophy?!?

        • Poogles
          November 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

          “And how is meeting your child’s needs an AP philosophy?!?”

          They didn’t type “meeting the child’s needs” they typed “the mother’s focus is on the child’s needs and wants.” Meeting the child’s needs is part of parenting. Having the mother’s sole focus be the childs needs and wants, usually to the detriment of other aspects of her life (such as her realtionships with other adults), is the problem.

          “I know many”attachment parents” and NONE of them militantly ascribe to the “damaging ” things that you mention.”

          I’m just gonna quote you back to yourself: “Just because you don’t know those people doesn’t mean that they Don’t exist”

        • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
          November 19, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

          Well, I imagine it’s like any philosophy. You can be Christian and ignore or reinterpret the parts of the Bible you don’t agree with and be a great person, or you can be super rigid and literal, follow Leviticus, and stone adulterers and non-believers and be a terrible excuse for a human being. Similarly, there are probably people who call themselves AP but are not ascribing to the tenets of AP as laid out by Sears and Attachment Parenting International.

          AP advocates not just meeting your child’s basic needs, which are pretty simple (good nutrition, clean water, safe shelter, healthcare, supervision at developmentally appropriate levels, education, and love) but going above and beyond. In AP you are not just responsible for your child’s physiological, safety, security, and familial love needs. No, you are responsible for the whole freakin’ pyramid. And they must NEVER have a need unmet. Child cries because they’re lonely or bored? You’ve failed, you must go entertain them. Child got a bad grade and was ashamed? You’ve failed, time to go bolster their self esteem. Child afraid of the dark or can’t sleep? You’ve failed, you must sleep with them every night so they never feel insecure.

          That’s what I mean by an extension of yourself. You strive to meet all your needs, because no one else will. But your child needs to learn to strive to meet their own needs. As long as Mom fulfills every need, what are they fulfilling for themselves? And how will they ever learn to make THEMSELVES feel safe, and secure, and loved, and successful, if they’ve never had to do it because Mom did it for them?

  5. disqus_ok9xndxFPu
    November 12, 2014 at 7:20 am #

    My fiance was raised by an attachment parent.

    Last weekend at a local arts event a woman introduced herself to our table and handled out pamphlets. She was an attachment parenting expert, she explained.

    “Oh, my mother was big on attachment parenting,” he replied casually.

    “Really?” she replied, excitedly. “That’s great!”

    “Yeah, we were really close when I was a kid.”

    “See, that’s exactly what–”

    “And then I became an adult, realized how much she’d fucked me up, and now I haven’t spoken to her in 6 years.”

    She closed her mouth and moved to another table. My fiance carefully gathered up her pamphlets and threw them in the trash.

    For reference: He has OCD, PTSD, sexual disorders, and bipolar. The PTSD, sexual issues, and the severity of the OCD are directly due to his mother’s attachment parenting, according to every doctor who has met his mother, which is a lot since she kept trying to find a doctor who wouldn’t tell her she’d fucked him up. He was disabled for years. Only by completely severing ties with her was he able to recover and now work again. He and his doctors consider her to be abusive, particularly for the family bed which caused his sexual issues, the responding with sensitivity that caused him to be unable to develop a thick skin and thus was brutalized by his peers, the constant nurturing presence which caused him to struggle to develop his own personality. His longtime psychiatrist is planning to draft a case study on him and several other similar cases as evidence against attachment parenting past the first year or two. I hope he actually gets around to it, since his patients are high-needs, he teaches at Harvard, and he’s overworked. But he’s one of the few professionals who’s actually seen these patients through to adulthood and there’s a lot of evidence he’s collected that indicates just how damaging AP is. Seriously people recover faster from spending their formative years chained to a radiator.

    So fuck yes I judge you for being an AP mom.

    • noelle
      November 12, 2014 at 10:31 am #

      This is what upsets me about how people perceive child abuse – ‘oh, so-and-so can’t be an abuser, they’re so nice!’ It’s like they assume that everyone who abuses their children deliberately sets out to harm their children. I’d say 80% of the time (or more), that’s not the case. Parents can do more damage through ignorance than they can through deliberate harm.

      The most coercive manipulations, the emotional ones, can come across as normal to everyone else. That doesn’t erase what happens behind closed doors.

      (Source: Growing up with an incredibly emotionally abusive parent, and two plus years of working with kids in foster care [and their parents].)

      • noelle
        November 12, 2014 at 11:08 am #

        *manipulators, not manipulations – darn typos

    • Carolina
      November 12, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

      If she didn’t have AP to cover her abuse, it would have been something else. The hyper-scheduled, parent-driven parenting style of Babywise and its ilk could just as easily be abusive.
      My siblings and I were AP-raised and are well-adjusted, well-educated professionals. I did/do a bunch of AP-ish things with my 4 year old, and she seems confident, happy and well-adjusted. So, I judge you for judging all AP parents as abusive based on one extreme example.

      • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
        November 12, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

        Here’s the thing. Most AP kids grow up okay, because kids are resilient. Most kids are who are physically brutalized by their parents turn out okay. Kids can be neglected to the point of CPS involvement and still be well-adjusted, well-educated professionals as adults and even confident, happy, and well-adjusted as children. I know some people like that.

        But when AP fails, it REALLY fails. Catastrophically. Horrifically. And it looks like it’s working. Unlike physical abuse or neglect, where the kids show early signs if they will have long term effects, AP kids always look healthy and well adjusted right up until they start to transition to adulthood and then the ones who have long-term effects completely fall apart and show serious mental problems. Which is of course 10000 times worse if they have comorbid conditions.

        Let me clarify too– I don’t think “APish things” are enough to be abusive. Hell, many AP things are good things– breastfeeding, preparing for giving birth, and balancing personal and family life are all good, and the latter two are basically essential. The AP parents I object to cosleep after age 2, almost never let their child be without them even to be babysat by Grandma for the weekend, always respond to their child’s every need, solve problems for their kid, block sources of conflict from their child’s life, babywear after the child can walk on their own, and fail to establish for the child that they are a distinct person and have a right to refuse physical contact and affection. It’s an attitude– the idea that the parent must always be there for the child over all else, and that the parent and child are a dyad and not two separate people with their own paths– that is destructive.

        • Guestll
          November 12, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

          The obsession with rules and labels and…control. Do you even see it, in your own writing?

          My heart hurts from your objecting to my wearing my 3.5 year old, I swear it. How damaging to her this must be, she’s not following your rules.

          • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
            November 13, 2014 at 6:14 am #

            No, actually, I barely think about it unless I actually interact with a victim and it comes up… I believe the best parenting is parenting without ideology. If the only AP thing you did was carry your kid after they can walk, they’d probably be fine. It’s the ideology that is hurtful– the idea that they are part of you, that there is some natural continuum between pregnancy and adulthood and it doesn’t involve a screaming separation. Your child is not a continuation of yourself and believing so is very harmful to them.

          • Siri
            November 13, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

            All parenting is based on some form of ideology. Your very rigid, very specific set of ideas about parenting amounts to an ideology. I would venture to guess that you are not yet a parent, and I hope that when you become one, you are able to loosen up a bit and become less fixed in your thinking.

          • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
            November 14, 2014 at 6:50 am #

            My “rules” are to not plan and not go into it with rules. Recognize reality– your child is not a part of you and you should treat them as such– and then don’t stress your parenting. When they’re a baby, carry them or push them in a stroller or whatever you want. Once they can walk, let them– they aren’t a part of you and you wouldn’t carry an adult you loved, so don’t carry them. Use common sense and their own development to dictate your life, not what the child “wants” or an ideology about what a “good” parent does.

            Saying “Don’t follow the AP ideology” is not an ideology, like atheism is not a religion.

          • kerlyssa
            November 17, 2014 at 10:16 am #

            …you’ll change your mind once you have kids…
            I have BINGO!

          • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
            November 17, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

            Yeah, for some reason people always think that… because for some reason having a child will make me want to engage in actions that I expressly consider abusive? That’s like saying “Oh, you object to pedophilia NOW, but once you have kids, you’ll be like “Uncle Bob just wants to love them!””

          • fiftyfifty1
            November 17, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

            No, I think it’s more like they think that once you have kids, that you will gain perspective and be able to more correctly differentiate between abuse (Uncle Bob) and not-abuse (carrying a child).

          • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
            November 19, 2014 at 7:13 am #

            Eh, I’ll leave that difference up to the consequences it leaves. When I meet, in person, a child raised by an AP parent who isn’t royally screwed up by the experience, I might actually reconsider (The “success” stories are the kids who never cut ties with their parents and thus can’t even buy a rug without calling Mom for advice, even if they aren’t sexually dysfunctional and suffering from PTSD). Until then, I’ll look around at my peers and say “Hmm, treating a child like a sexual being makes them have sexual issues later in life, and treating them like an extension of myself makes them have independence and self-determination issues later in life.” Again, there’s nothing wrong with carrying a baby, or carrying a toddler when you’re walking a long distance and they get tired. The issue is WHY. Are you doing it because it’s quick, safe, convenient, etc? Or are you doing it because you believe that the child needs you, personally, to constantly be present? The latter means you are seeing your child as an extension of yourself and not as a separate human being with their own trajectory that you can’t control. And that causes serious damage.

          • fiftyfifty1
            November 17, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

            ” Once they can walk, let them– they aren’t a part of you and you wouldn’t carry an adult you loved, so don’t carry them. ”

            But kids are different than adults. My kids could walk at about 1 year, but were total whining pains on walks until they were 5. You can’t leave them home alone at that age, so if you plan to get out of the house for some fresh air you better be prepared to lug them around in some form or another. But you think I should make the kid walk because “you wouldn’t carry an adult” and you don’t want to just give in to what the kid “wants”?

            You can use a stroller on some terrain. On other terrain carrying them on your body works better. There was this backpack thing (brand Kerry?) that worked well for me. Giving in to their whining was a heck of a lot easier than insisting on independence.

            And then all of a sudden they can hike for miles, and wipe their own butts and make themselves (and you) breakfast, and poof! the little kid years are over.

          • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
            November 19, 2014 at 7:16 am #

            Meh, my mom just made us walk, and we stopped whining when she stopped caring. Which isn’t to say she didn’t pick us up if we HAD to walk from point A to point B and we were tired, especially late at night. But she was doing it for convenience, not because she thought we would be emotionally harmed if she didn’t provide close contact, which is what AP philosophy states.

    • DiomedesV
      November 12, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

      Yeah, I don’t buy that AP was the problem here. And I don’t care who the researcher is or where he works. The child psychology literature that claims to address child rearing techniques and their affects on children often fails to integrate what we know about genetics, and have known for many decades now, with child development. I also don’t believe that this researcher has anywhere near a reasonable sample size and distribution of children to conclude that AP techniques are damaging.

      Children tend to resemble their parents. It’s much more likely that your fiancee is/was messed up because his mother is messed up.

      • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
        November 12, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

        He has maybe a hundred case studies, not a comparison study. The case studies show a pattern though. There is a specific set of sexual and emotional disorders that is exclusively seen in young people, usually men, with attachment parenting mothers. It is not seen in other people who seek mental healthcare.

        Now, there’s probably a ton of people who were raised AP and don’t need mental healthcare. AP usually doesn’t cause long-term damage. Similarly, neglect and sexual abuse of children usually still results in healthy adults who don’t need therapy, because humans are resilient. However, like neglect and sexual or physical abuse, when a child cannot withstand AP, the results are pretty horrific. What’s worse, there’s no warning signs– they are happy and cheerful children who transition to adulthood and completely break down.

        His mother is messed up. That’s why she thought AP was a good idea. She was one of 8 kids with a working single mother and she was convinced that you couldn’t give a child too much love. She wanted nothing more than to love the shit out of him. She approached parenthood with an ideology, and the number one rule of being a good parent? Don’t use your kid for your ideology.

        • DiomedesV
          November 12, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

          Again, you cannot rule out the possibility that he has simply inherited his mother’s mental health problems. You’ve also said absolutely nothing about his father. Many over involved parents have mental health issues, only some of them are AP parents. Children tend to inherit their parent’s problems. It’s called genetics.

          100 case studies is not actually that many especially when they’re being compiled by a researcher that relies on case studies instead of controlled studies. Case studies do not conclusive science make in disciplines that have rigorous standards.

          How many of those case studies include children raised by parents with their own mental health conditions? How on earth can you separate that out? And yes, there is a heck of a lot of literature out there indicating that children raised by parents with mental health problems suffer similar problems. We know that it is both the tendency to inherit the parent’s problems, and the environment produced by the problems, because parents who have their mental illness controlled do a better job.

          • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
            November 13, 2014 at 6:25 am #

            His mother does not have known mental health problems. His absent father does, and yes, he inherited bipolar disorder and a predisposition to anxiety, which I do not blame AP for. PTSD and sexual dysfunction is not inheritable and not related to the other illnesses.

            His doctor is not an anti-AP crusader doing studies on AP. He’s a national expert in abnormal psychiatry who has noticed a pattern of disorders that is exclusively seen in young people who were raised by AP parents. Many have comorbid conditions because children with mental illness are less resilient against emotional abuse in general. However, there is no clear comorbid condition and there are lots of people who have the sexual dysfunction and PTSD without any preexisting conditions. More importantly, the victims suffer from sexual dysfunction and PTSD which are not heritable conditions. These symptoms are normally seen in people with childhood emotional or sexual abuse, but the emotional abuse that these victims have suffered is exclusively the AP variety– there’s no non-AP emotional abuse present.

          • DiomedesV
            November 13, 2014 at 10:30 am #

            I don’t believe his mother does not have mental health problems. Period.

          • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
            November 14, 2014 at 6:52 am #

            Why not? You don’t know her. She seems like a pretty typical AP mom to me. He inherited his mental illness from his father.

          • DiomedesV
            November 13, 2014 at 10:34 am #

            There have always been neurotic, overcontrolling parents before AP. Always. And will continue to be.

            Let your world-renowned researcher publish his work in the peer-reviewed literature.

            If you want a really good critique of some of the failings of the fields of child psychology and social science, you can start with Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate.

          • disqus_ok9xndxFPu
            November 14, 2014 at 7:02 am #

            HAHAHAHAHA you think Pinker’s work advocates for ATTACHMENT PARENTING? He is one of it’s more outspoken critics! The Blank Slate is based around the idea that most parents are one of the smaller influences on a child’s life, and only really bad parents have long term effects. And he does not argue that mental illness cannot be caused by environment. More he is arguing that PERSONALITY is mostly genetic.

            My fiance’s doctor is not a child psychologist. He is a psychiatrist, an MD. He handles children who are so severely mentally ill that they are unable to function without causing physical harm to themselves or others, and follows them to adulthood. His research has nothing to do with social science research or psychology and a lot to do with how to manage these cases.

          • DiomedesV
            November 14, 2014 at 11:26 am #

            You are fucking idiot. Truly. I never said Pinker supported AP parenting. I am very familiar with his work. I am in a similar field.

            Pinker not only is critical of AP parenting, but he is critical of the idea that intensive parenting of any kind matters. The point of the Blank Slate and a preponderance of data on actual outcomes of children over the long term, is that as a general rule, people grow up to be the people they are because of their genetic predispositions. Even IF the environment influences the emergence of mental illness, which we all know it does, the evidence is clear that people who do develop mental illness also have a predisposition to do so.

            You don’t want to seem to accept the possibility that parenting doesn’t matter all that much, because if it this is true, then AP Parenting doesn’t matter very much either. But that is the most likely explanation given the data we have.

            Simply put: the simplest explanation for the emergence of your fiance’s problems is that 1) he has a genetic predisposition to mental illness, and 2) he grew up in a negative environment dominated by a neurotic, controlling mother, with #1 being more important than #2. But there is nothing about #2 that is *dependent* upon AP in particular. Neurotic controlling parents have always existed.

          • DiomedesV
            November 14, 2014 at 11:27 am #

            “His research has nothing to do with social science research or psychology and a lot to do with how to manage these cases.”

            There are two separate questions here: 1) how to manage these questions, and 2) the causes of these cases. Case studies sheds little to no light on #2. Period. The inability to acknowledge the primacy of genetics in causation of personality is major failing in the fields of psychology AND psychiatry.

        • Bugsy
          November 13, 2014 at 7:39 am #

          “She approached parenthood with an ideology, and the number one rule of being a good parent? Don’t use your kid for your ideology.”


  6. mostlyclueless
    November 12, 2014 at 1:24 am #

    I have been a long-time reader and infrequent commenter. This is the first post I have really, really disagreed with. I never set out to be an “attachment parent” but it turns out the AP stuff is just what worked for my daughter. I don’t think it makes me a better mother than anyone else, but I also don’t think it makes me any worse.

    I think it’s really important in these conversations to stick to the evidence. If you don’t want AP proponents to insist they’re better — because there’s no evidence they are — then don’t insist they’re worse — because there’s no evidence they are. Don’t stoop to the NCB level — don’t insist something is true simply because it comports with your world-view.

    This is your conclusion: “Similarly, attachment parenting may be more than simply NOT better. It might actually be worse.”

    Where is the evidence for that, Dr. A?

    I ask you to consider retracting this article, or at least that sentence. You can say all that you want that there are no demonstrable benefits to AP and when you are talking about group averages, I would agree — that’s like saying there are no demonstrable benefits to wearing a size 7 shoe. It is only beneficial if your foot is also a size 7! I don’t think AP suits every parent, every child, or every parent-child dyad/unit. But for some, those are the practices that fit. Just like a size 7.

    • fiftyfifty1
      November 12, 2014 at 8:43 am #

      Huh? If you say something IS worse you have to have evidence. But you don’t need to have evidence to say something MIGHT be worse, you just have to give a plausible hypothesis as to why it MIGHT. If a person couldn’t say MIGHT without first having proof, the scientific method would have to be abandoned. Imagine a scene from the early 1980s: “Say, this mysterious problem killing young men MIGHT be some sort of virus spread by sex.” “What?!, Retract what you just said because you have no PROOF”.

      • Bugsy
        November 12, 2014 at 9:04 am #

        Great points. I was also puzzled by the comment, since it strikes me as completely hypocritical. If you say “don’t insist something is true simply because it comports with your world-view,” then why in the next paragraph would you ask the original author to retract statements that don’t agree with your own worldview?

        This blog has always been incredibly refreshing, for the very reason that Dr. Amy is willing to state what so many of us new moms need to hear: no, we will not f*** up our kids if we don’t co-sleep, have a natural childbirth or do extended breastfeeding. Yes, sometimes her language is a bit more blunt than I would use myself. But does that mean it is not needed as a means for turning the tide against the myriad of forums, blogs and groups who use guilt and false data to validate mommy martyr hood and put themselves on a parenting pedestal?

        Frankly, I’ve found this blog to be the perfect antidote from the dozens of pages I’ve found from AP-style moms who criticize any of us who dare step out of line with their precious beliefs on how to raise perfectly their sensitive little flowers. There is no one way to raise a child; the goal of being attached to one’s child is one I believe that many moms (both AP and non-AP) share. There’s a huge difference between raising happy, attached kids and being an Attachment Parent, however. I applaud Dr. Amy for being willing to stand up against the AP tide, and hope that it encourages more forums and bloggers to follow suit.

        (Pardon the French; I’m doped up on my synthetic hormones right now.)

        • Guest
          November 12, 2014 at 10:09 am #

          Umm, yeah, not sure why my post appeared here as a guest post? I edited it and reposted it above.

      • mostlyclueless
        November 12, 2014 at 10:02 am #

        Epidurals might be the reason autism rates are rising.

        Republicans might be the reason for Hurricane Katrina.

        Of course you can claim anything you want “might be” true without any evidence supporting it. But it sounds foolish.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          November 12, 2014 at 10:28 am #

          Apparently you missed the part about … “you just have to give a plausible hypothesis as to why…”

          With _plausible_ being the key word.

          Plausible, by definition, is not foolish.

          • mostlyclueless
            November 12, 2014 at 10:35 am #

            I didn’t see a shred of evidence in Dr. A’s post that attachment parenting techniques are harmful.

          • fiftyfifty1
            November 12, 2014 at 10:42 am #

            Ok, yet again, it doesn’t have to be EVIDENCE, but rather a PLAUSIBLE hypothesis. Her hypothesis is that there might be a “sweet spot” for parental attention. WE know too little is harmful, and so MIGHT be too much. She gives food as an example of a system that works that way. Exercise is another. There is evidence that praise/rewards works that way. So it’s plausible to suggest that parental attention MIGHT be the same.

            I wonder why even just raising this as a hypothesis is so beyond the pale for you?

          • mostlyclueless
            November 12, 2014 at 10:44 am #

            I think it’s incredibly hurtful to claim that someone’s parenting decisions might be harming their children when there is NO basis for that argument. I don’t think I’ve ever met a parent who just brushes off explicitly or implicit statements that the choices they are making are harming their children — we are all sensitive to that.

            I apologize but I am going to have to bow out of this discussion now. I have a lot going on in my personal life and don’t really have the constitution for protracted internet arguments.

          • noelle
            November 12, 2014 at 11:06 am #

            You obviously haven’t met enough parents, then.

    • Bugsy
      November 12, 2014 at 9:56 am #

      fiftyfifty1: Great points. I am also puzzled by the comment, since it strikes me as hypocritical. If you say “don’t insist something is true simply because it comports with your world-view,” then why in the next paragraph would you ask the original author to retract statements that don’t agree with your own worldview?

      Mostlyclueless: this is a very personal issue for me because I lost my oldest friendship to AP. NCB was the first part of a slippery slope to AP, public extended breastfeeding, toxicophobia, etc. As she became absorbed by AP, I saw my strong friend disappear and get replaced by a shell of a mommy whose singular focus was to martyr herself to provide the perfect childhood for her kids. Each conversation became peppered with non-stop, slightly possessed descriptions of how perfect her mothering was and how wonderful her child was. After I became a mother, my parenting became subject to a litany of positive judgments when I followed AP dogma and silent disapproval whenever my parenting did not suit her; she played a large role in exacerbating the new mom guilt that caught me off guard. As I mourn the friend I had pre-kids, I believe that she’s truly mastered the AP scorecard…at the expense of her individuality, personal conviction and self-trust. It’s these AP-obsessed parents to whom I believe this blog is directed.

      This blog has always been incredibly refreshing, for the very reason that Dr. Amy is willing to state what so many of us new moms need to hear: no, we will not f*** up our kids if we don’t co-sleep, have a natural childbirth or do extended breastfeeding. Yes, sometimes her language is a bit more blunt than I would use myself. But does that mean it is not needed as a means for turning the tide against the myriad of forums, blogs and groups who use guilt and false data to validate mommy martyr hood and put themselves on a parenting pedestal?

      Frankly, I’ve found this blog to be the perfect antidote from the dozens of pages I’ve found from AP-style moms who criticize any of us who dare step out of line with their precious beliefs on how to raise perfectly their sensitive little flowers. It’s helped me understand that my NOT wanting to be a martyr for my child is actually one of the better gifts I can give him, and that in no way does it mean he’s not attached or I’m not caring; there is no one way to raise a child. There’s a huge difference between raising happy, attached kids and being an Attachment Parent. I applaud Dr. Amy for being willing to stand up against the AP tide, and hope that it encourages more forums and bloggers to follow suit.

      Pardon the French; I’m doped up on my synthetic hormones right now. Heh.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      November 12, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      I didn’t address the potential harms of AP in the post, but there is growing concern that we are raising a generation of children who require constant praise, can’t deal with criticism or frustration, and have trouble managing the normal activities of college, professional school and job life without parental involvement.

      • Smoochagator
        November 12, 2014 at 11:05 am #

        This is something that truly worries me about the generation of kids that followed me (I think they’re the millenials? Or maybe Gen Y?) – they are so reliant on their parents’ involvement, and so full of themselves, that it’s truly fearsome.

        • baileylamb
          November 12, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

          Kids now days are just so horrible, why can’t they be like me…. I’m sorry as a millennial with a good grasp of history I just have to chuckle at that comment. You do realize that many milliners are in our early thirties right?

          • Carolina
            November 12, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

            Exactly. I’m Gen X and we were supposed to be slackers, etc. Most people I know are gainfully employed and working for the man.

          • Smoochagator
            November 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

            As I said to baileylamb above, I shouldn’t have made such a sweeping generalization. My apologies.

          • Cobalt
            November 14, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

            As a totally awesome and self reliant millennial, I have to say you’re totally wrong about my awesomeness, but I agree with you completely when it comes to my younger siblings.

            : )

          • Smoochagator
            November 14, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

            I forgot, when commenting, about my wonderful coworker, who’s just a few years younger than me and who is one of the most responsible, hard-working, respectful and downright nice people I’ve ever met. I hope *I* can grow up to be just like him! Sadly, though, it seems like a lot of “kids these days” (and “kids” my own age) have been raised to think they can do anything they like and not suffer the consequences. Like flunk out of a college course and then have their mom meet with the dean and say pretty please can’t my baby graduate after all? It’s something I saw even when I was at university and it mystified me then… so obviously it’s just as much a problem with my peers as the “whippersnappers” coming up 😉

          • Smoochagator
            November 12, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

            You’re right, certainly not every person in every generation has all the bad traits of their peers… just like not every person in the “Greatest Generation” was all that great 😉 I’m sorry, I meant no offense, and I shouldn’t have made such a sweeping generalization.

      • Carolina
        November 12, 2014 at 11:49 am #

        Eh, I feel every generation has thought that the next generation were creating a bunch of wimps. I’d be curious to see actual evidence – not a bunch of anecdotes. I started “The Myth of the Spoiled Child” and it was enlightening in this regard (I left it at my parents’ house and haven’t finished). In any event, I don’t think breastfeeding my daughter until 2 or letting her hop in our bed when she wakes up scared is going to ruin her. She seems like a pretty confident pre-school student to me.

        • Smoochagator
          November 12, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

          It seems rather Freudian that you left that book at your parents’ house 😉

          But yes, every generation thinks the next one or the next after that is nothing but sissy whippersnappers. I’m not sure Dr. Amy was saying that occasionally letting your child sleep with you or breastfeeding past a year are necessarily harmful… I think the issue is parents who are OBSESSIVELY over-involved in their children’s lives and have NO separation at all from their preschoolers are the ones who are taking it too far. Some AP practices are just things that parents do to make life for themselves and their kids easier, like co-sleeping or baby wearing. But taking those practices to a dogmatic extreme may very well be dangerous. For instance, some parents brag about having a family bed well into their kids’ adolescent years. I’m not sure that’s healthy (but I’ll admit I’m not a child development expert… my speculation is just that, speculation).

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          November 12, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

          I agree that the idea of kids these days is as old as it gets, but I suspect there are objective measures that would indicate that kids are under parents care longer than before. Marriage ages are older than before, right? Age of maturity is older now – 18 used to be the drinking age in lots and lots of places, but nowhere now. The ACA requires that kids are allowed to stay on their parents healthcare policies until they are 26, so again, under parents care.

          And I think it is legit. I absolutely think it’s harder to get going in the world these days. Jobs are harder to come by, with lots of educated people fighting for them. Starting jobs don’t get you very far, so you need help getting started.

          It’s really hard for an 18 yo to go off by themselves and make it. That’s the reality of the modern world.

          • DiomedesV
            November 12, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

            ” I suspect there are objective measures that would indicate that kids are under parents care longer than before.”

            First, there may be objective measures that indicate that American kids are under parents’ care longer than before, but many western, industrialized nations keep families together longer than we do. It is not uncommon in Greece and Italy for children to remain at home with their parents until they marry.

            Second, the labor market has changed. A bachelor’s degree is now an essential component of getting and maintaining a middle class lifestyle, and people who want to make really big money need even more education. Education is competitive, expensive, and represents a huge investment on the part of parents. While we live in an era where consumer goods like food, clothing, and technology are comparatively cheap, the real components of the good life are very expensive: quality education, housing, and medical care. That’s why parents are caring for their kids longer.

      • DiomedesV
        November 12, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

        Please cite some quality literature that demonstrates that AP–not just modern, super involved parenting–is actually damaging children. In measurable ways.

        Over praise is a problem and it is not by any means confined to AP parents.

        My understanding is that outside of extreme abuse and neglect, we really don’t have a lot of evidence that parents have that much influence over the outcome of their children. Honestly, I think that’s what frightens so many parents, and why so many people have to believe that AP parents are screwing up their children. Because if they’re not really affecting them in meaningful ways, then neither is anyone else.

        • guest
          November 14, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

          I have to share this sort of off topic memory. Last day of a preschool swim class a couple of summers ago in a large public pool. Three kids in the class. One child’s mom, dad and grandparents show up, and proceed to cheer very very loudly from the pool deck every time their child is completing a task. So loudly that no one can hear anything else – I suspect not even the teacher or the kids in the pool. At one point, she manages some flutter kicks and the father leans back and screams to a grandparent – “Do you see that? Dry land training! Dry land training!” This was just a class, not a competition! It was insane. Now, were these AP parents? I don’t know, but I doubt it. I think uberloud overpraiser is its own ideology.

        • Box of Salt
          November 16, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

          Aria Clements: “What isn’t a need is to ditch a child to their own devices so that they learn to survive on their own because Mommy and Daddy aren’t going to be there to soothe their fears of monsters under the bed”

          What is it with you folks who need to portray everything as black and white? Have you not become more mature than your own young offspring? Life has nuance. Rejecting William Sears’ ideals of parenting in favor of my own individual childrens’ needs does not mean I am neglecting my children.

          Why do you think that a parent who rejects AP is automatically failing to meet their child’s needs?

          You accuse Dr Tuteur of conflating AP with helicoptering.

          I think that you are conflating normal parenting with AP.

          What is AP, then? Did you cospleep? Did you breastfeed on demand? Did you continue well into your child’s toddlerhood? Did you babywear your infant later diagnosed with autism (did she like it – honestly, I’m curiosus)? Do you endlessly babble on (online and/or in real life) about how you are a better parent than those who don’t label themselves “AP”?

          Finally: as you brag about how you “meet our daughter’s NEEDS on demand” did you ever wonder how she will learn to distinguish what she wants from what she needs?

          • Box of Salt
            November 16, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

            ^ Meant to be in direct response to Aria, rather than DiomedesV.

      • Aria Clements
        November 16, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

        It’s pretty clear you don’t know what AP is. I am an example a parent who does AP, and so is my husband. We meet our daughter’s NEEDS on demand. We am always there for her. She does MANY things with us. But this doesn’t mean we are leashed together. It doesn’t mean she is never disciplined, or never has to be frustrated. Our daughter is autistic. Guess what. Because her NEEDS were, and still are, always met on demand, whether that’s a hug or a glass of milk, and because we let her be frustrated while building her through so that she learns how to problem-solve and adapt to her challenges, she is a independent child who is now able to do most things for herself. You’d be hard-pressed to tell she has autism. AP isn’t about spoiling or smothering a child. It’s about meeting their NEEDS. And since kids need to be allowed to be frustrated so that they can learn to deal with challenges they face, and to keep calm, frustration is actually a NEED.

        What isn’t a need is to ditch a child to their own devices so that they learn to survive on their own because Mommy and Daddy aren’t going to be there to soothe their fears of monsters under the bed, or won’t be there when their tummies are rumbling with hunger. AP is about meeting NEEDS.

        I think you are conflating AP with helicopter-parenting. Helicopter-parenting isn’t AP. That’s the type of parenting that’s about making Snowflake never has to deal with adversity, work for their own A’s in school, or even go to their own job interviews (yes, there are parents who attend their kids’ job interviews with them to make sure the interviewer doesn’t make Snowflake sad, thou Snowflake won’t ever get the job and will be sad anyway). I do know some people who call themselves AP, but who are actually helicopters. No one under the sun, aside from the helicopters themselves, think that this style is positive. I know you’re pretty much allergic to actual research, but at least type “helicopter parenting” into Google, and then click on “search.”

        • DiomedesV
          November 16, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

          Are you saying that parents that don’t identify as AP are not meeting their children’s needs?

        • Bombshellrisa
          November 16, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

          It could be argued though that meeting everything “on demand” creates a child who can’t cope with frustration. I don’t think that the piece here is talking about children with special needs-so your parenting, tailored to the needs of your child, is not being criticized.

        • Box of Salt
          November 16, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

          Aria, please see my response to you posted in error under DiomedesV’s comment.

          I’d really like to hear your thoughts in reply.

  7. Tara
    November 11, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    I actually think AP can be dangerous. I have given birth in military hospitals on 4 different occasions in 3 different states. I have also given birth in civilian hospitals on 3 different occasions in 2 different states (so 7 births total in 5 different states). The biggest difference between the two that I noticed was the attention to preventing shaken baby syndrome that was given in military hospitals. It’s not just discussed. You’re required to watch a video before you’re allowed to leave with your child. It feels like each medical professional reiterates the fact (not opinion) that crying is NOT harmful to babies; that it’s best to set your baby down in a safe place and walk away if your baby is crying and you are becoming stressed. This is in direct contradiction to the endless string of opinion pieces on why you should never ever, under any circumstances, for any reason let your baby cry for even a second or you are a bad parent and your baby is going to suffer brain damage/not attach to you/some other horrible and arbitrary consequence. Surely I am not the only mother in the world to hold a crying infant that was not going to stop crying no matter what I did. Babies cry. Some babies cry a lot. Some babies cry while they are in a sling even though they just breastfed and have a clean cloth diaper on. I firmly believe that telling parents they must NEVER let their babies cry can only lead to higher incidences of shaken baby syndrome. You are practically forcing the parents into an incredibly high stress situation with no escape! Has someone already done a study on this?

    • Dr Kitty
      November 11, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

      I direct all new parents to Cry-Sis UK.
      They are excellent (except for recommending a homeopathy site in their links).
      Putting the baby down and walking away is absolutely a safe, necessary step if you are at the end of your tether.

    • Young CC Prof
      November 11, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

      My son was released from one hospital, then admitted to NICU in another hospital. (Long story). Before he was released from the second hospital, we had a whole lesson on basic stuff, from how to fasten a carseat correctly to coping with inconsolable crying. The first place just gave pamphlets.

      (Seriously, they give you a giant stack of pamphlets AFTER THE BABY IS BORN. If they wanted these pamphlets to be read, why didn’t they give them out beforehand to the 90-99% of women who get prenatal care with one of their doctors?)

      • Samantha06
        November 11, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

        So true! I’ve had to hand out those stacks of paperwork and it’s ridiculous. What new parent has time to sit and read all that after the baby is born?

        • Anj Fabian
          November 12, 2014 at 10:52 am #

          I went through my hospital bag of swag YEARS after he was born. It got more or less tossed in a corner and then shuffled into a pile of paperwork I wasn’t sure I was allowed to throw out.

      • Tara
        November 11, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

        They could ditch the gossip rags in the waiting room and just leave pamphlets everywhere. 🙂

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      November 11, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

      I don’t know if I have ever mentioned, but Dad’s Boot Camp was, in fact, created to combat Shaken Baby Syndrome, with the idea that the most important way to prevent it is education. Telling people “don’t shake the baby” doesn’t work, and see the goal is to teach effect strategies. And the #1 strategy is, put the baby down and step away. Leave the room even. Crying won’t kill the baby. Shaking the baby will.

      • Tara
        November 11, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

        YES! So doesn’t it stand to reason that if teaching parents to walk away from a crying baby prevents Shaken Baby Syndrome, then teaching parents to never ever let their baby cry under any circumstances would CAUSE Shaken Baby Syndrome?

        I have read so many articles that claim you should ANTICIPATE your baby’s every need so they never even have the opportunity to cry. When taken this far, a crying baby becomes a symbol of the parent’s failure, causing even more stress and perhaps raising the likelihood of Shaken Baby Syndrome even further.

        I just really feel like there is a genuine danger here and that it isn’t being properly addressed. It seem like these AP zealots are completely undoing the good done by prevention education.

      • fiftyfifty1
        November 12, 2014 at 9:00 am #

        A practical plan ahead of time for when the baby won’t stop crying is SO important. This idea that babies always cry for a reason and that the crying must be stopped is so harmful to parents.

        The shaken baby prevention plan I was taught was to go through the checklist of common crying causes twice: Hungry,Tired, Diaper, Too hot or cold, Hair Tourniquet. If it is none of those things and baby won’t stop crying, then feel free to put baby down in the crib and walk away and take a break. Following such a plan allows parents to stop worrying that they are missing something important, and also feel that they are doing something right.

        I went to high school with a really nice kid who was in all the honors classes and came from a nice family. He married and had a baby and tragically ended up shaking it. Baby survived with brain damage. He went to prison. I have heard he is out now and has devoted his life to something within shaken baby prevention IIRC. So incredibly sad, because it’s preventable.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          November 12, 2014 at 9:14 am #

          A practical plan ahead of time for when the baby won’t stop crying is SO important.

          And the first step in that plan is actually to know and accept that it is going to happen – you are going to face a point where you have gone through your list of basic needs, satisfied them to the extent you can, and it doesn’t help, and in that case, you will get frustrated. Consequently, you need to know to recognize that situation and how you are going to deal with it.

          The key to preventing shaken baby is not to insist that the baby will never cry, nor to deny that you will get frustrated, but to have a plan for coping for the situation when it arises.

    • Bombshellrisa
      November 12, 2014 at 11:40 am #

      We had to watch a video too-it was called “The Period of Purple Crying”.
      I wish I had known about this with my first child. I felt so guilty when I couldn’t soothe her. I ended up putting her in a bouncy seat in front of the dishwasher while I ran it and it’s the only thing that soothed her. I was so paranoid this was somehow dangerous and I felt guilty because I laid on the couch a few feet away and within a few minutes, she AND I were both asleep.

      • Samantha06
        November 12, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

        We give a copy of the video to parents at our hospital. It’s a great video.

    • MH
      November 13, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

      Best newborn care advice I ever received.
      Me (holding my screaming firstborn): “I’ve fed him, changed him, rocked him – I don’t know what he wants!”
      My mom: “That’s OK. Neither does he.”

      • Cobalt
        November 14, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

        This should be hung in recovery and postpartum rooms.

  8. yentavegan
    November 11, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    If only all those heartbreaking news stories about beaten and abused murdered children did not have the common denominator of single mother, poverty, siblings with different fathers, drug abuse etc… I would rather live in a world of indulgent hyper involved attachment parents …

    • An Actual Attorney
      November 11, 2014 at 1:25 am #

      Um, except they don’t. Confirmation bias, maybe?

      • yentavegan
        November 11, 2014 at 8:19 am #

        Oh come off it! I am the only one here who has the guts to get off the politically correct high horse. Oh yes you are all so right. Those numerous abused/ neglected children being reared in loving religious two parent households. YEs, it is indeed that nasty middle class that is creating chaos. How about spend some time in family court volunteering as a child’s advocate.

        • Amy
          November 11, 2014 at 9:43 am #

          I cringe every time I hear about a hospitalized or murdered child on the news…most of the stories begin with “the mother’s boyfriend.” I get what you are saying, Yenta, I really do.


          Upper and upper-middle class families are really *really* good at hiding dysfunction. Keeping up appearances is a critical social skill.

          • Who?
            November 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

            My son is a cop-he says when they get called to domestic violence in middle class homes, it has generally gone far further than when they are called to poorer environments.

          • araikwao
            November 11, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

            The male partner who is not the child’s biological father is most often the culprit, IIRC.

          • Guestll
            November 12, 2014 at 9:32 am #

            Yes, this!!!

        • baileylamb
          November 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

          I find it interesting, how those in the natural movement, ignore all the emerging evidence that lead had a huge affect on previous generations (and still plays a role in areas that are polluted today).

          I guess it is easier to go with comfortable comfirmation biases. Crime, teenage pregnancy, and many other things (including officers injured due to violence) are at historic lows.

          Moreover, as many on this thread have pointed out our justice system is really good at focusing on those who do not have means and money.

          There are a few hoarders in my neighborhood (not uncommon for this city btw). I call that neglect. However, since I live in a middle class neighborhood CPS does not do anything. Look up the story of the Duke twin heirs to see how social services responds to abuse among the uber wealthy.

          • Guesteleh
            November 12, 2014 at 8:44 am #

            I wish I hadn’t read about the Duke twins. Total horror story and they’re still not out of the woods and maybe never will be.

        • baileylamb
          November 11, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

          Also if you ever read “get off my internets” you will find an umber of middle class and upper middle class people who have abused their kids, or hop from relationship to relationship. Again just because it isn’t on your evening news doesn’t mean it is rare. As far as cycle of poverty goes, lead abatement would probably help a lot, but unfortunately those in charge doesn’t have the foresight to see it (probably because they are lead damaged themselves).

        • Sara Lucy
          November 11, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

          “How about spend some time in family court volunteering as a child’s advocate.”

          I am a child advocate and I’ve spent many hours in family court. Evidence of bonding and a minimum sufficient level of care is the basis for making recommendations to return children to or leave them in their parent’s homes.

          You’re right that poverty and those other factors often play a role in abuse/neglect cases, but maybe you missed the significant point that most people who meet those descriptors that you point out in your OP are *not* abusive or neglectful and actually have strong bonds with their children.

          Check your biases?

          It’s not “politically correct” to admit that you’re a human and you make wrong judgements based on circumstances or appearance. It’s cautious and appropriate, actually, and the only way to be a good advocate.

        • MaineJen
          November 11, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

          “Those numerous abused/ neglected children being reared in loving religious two parent households. ”

          Things are not always as they seem, yentavegan. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that those numerous children don’t exist. You may not see them in family court, but they are there. I knew two of them when I was a child myself…their family was pious and churchgoing and they were the picture of happy domesticity from the outside. To this day I shudder to imagine the horrors those two girls went through behind closed doors. DO NOT tell me abuse doesn’t occur in the middle class, in seemingly happy families.

        • November 12, 2014 at 1:09 am #

          Yentavegan, I have admired your journey out of lactivism, but this is too far. Nor only do you say children will be sociopaths if they aren’t in a two – parent household, now you add “religious” to the mix?!


          How dare you slander single parents, unmarried parents and nonreligious parents, on a post that is about none of those things?

          Who the hell are you to make such ignorant judgements?

          Way to blame mothers. Way to throw parents and families who don’t conform to your narrow worldview under the bus. Way to judge.

          I am utterly disgusted.

          • yentavegan
            November 12, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

            I think my initial comment was over-interpreted and maybe misunderstood. I was referring to newborns and infants. I certainly do not have a narrow world view. And I emphatically believe that parents are as parents do…maturity and stability counter balance all other factors

          • yentavegan
            November 12, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

            where did I slander anyone?

        • AlisonCummins
          November 12, 2014 at 1:54 am #

          As Amy says below, people with money hide things better. When the mother’s new husband is assaulting the kids, they go to boarding school. When the children’s father is breaking their arms, their mother divorces him and gets a nice settlement. (Both situations I know of personally.) When their fathers are sexually assaulting them they are still going to lessons and clubs, forming relationships with adults and observing functional families. (Two of my friends that I know of.) Alcoholism is kept more private by very high-functioning people but that doesn’t mean their home lives are ok. (Not only was/am I close to people from these kinds of families, they assure me that they’re extremely common in the posh neighbourhoods they live in.)

          When you live in a single-family home the neighbours don’t hear the screams and don’t call the cops.

          Have you read Dare To Discipline or To Train Up A Child? Favorite texts of US christian homeschoolers. Since homeschooled kids are tightly controlled by their parents they have very limited contact with mandatory reporters. There’s a lot more stuff going

          • AlisonCummins
            November 12, 2014 at 1:55 am #

            There’s a lot more child abuse and neglect in some of these apparently perfect communities than ever make it to court.

          • Sara Lucy
            November 12, 2014 at 10:34 am #

            THIS is absolutely true. Resources make all the difference. People at different economic levels may be more or less cultured by appearance, but the problems are everywhere. It’s just a matter of, not only how well can you hide it, but how much help can you command when there is a problem?

            The alcoholics I grew up with as a poor kid (including my dad) aren’t much different than the alcoholics I dealt with in my professional life. The wealthy board members in my line of work, and their rich friends, party as hard as hillbillies in my experience (I use that term affectionately). They just do it with nicer houses, nicer clothes, better alcohol and professional catering.

            Is a police officer more likely to pull over a crappy, beat up old car that’s drifting/swerving on the road, or a nice Mercedes SUV that’s drifting? Hopefully either one would be a target if they appear to be a danger. But when the guy sitting in the seat of the Mercedes is the attorney whose name is also on billboards all over town, you think he’s going to get a ticket?

            Hahaha. Not in my small town.

            The child maltreatment is kinda the same. It’s just that people from the outside are trained to overlook it when the perps have more status/power.

        • Who?
          November 12, 2014 at 3:08 am #

          You do get that ‘politically correct’ is just a rude expression for ‘polite’?

          • SuperGDZ
            November 18, 2014 at 4:09 am #

            Like, like, like.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          November 12, 2014 at 9:08 am #

          Formal studies of risk factors for child abuse do identify being a single parent, being on welfare, and drug (including alcohol) abuse as risk factors for child abuse. Other risk factors include maternal dissatisfaction with marriage, parental conflict, low maternal self-esteem, poor marital quality, and large family size as risk factors. In other words, staying married is no guarantee that the risk of abuse will be lower. Trading the multiple risk factors of a bad marriage for the single risk factor of a single parent is likely a good decision in many cases.

        • Guestll
          November 12, 2014 at 9:29 am #

          Loving religious two parent households.

          Okay. Raised in a fairly-observant Roman Catholic family, by educated, affluent parents. Dad went to Cambridge and Mum went to the University of Toronto, both have grad degrees.

          As I stated below, my father was an alcoholic, and my mother resented us. My siblings and I had a mostly miserable childhood, rife with emotional and verbal abuse and at times outright neglect. I am certain, however, that my parents loved us to the best of their abilities.

          The world’s just not as black and white as you’d like it to be.

        • Guestll
          November 12, 2014 at 9:31 am #

          The other thing — my parents just had the tools, the ability to hide their dysfunction, probably for much longer than people with fewer resources.

    • Bombshellrisa
      November 11, 2014 at 2:39 am #

      What news are you watching? Child abuse happens to children in families where parents are married, where the family has many children and adopted some more (meaning they had a visit from a social worker at least once for placement) where the family attends church and have never touched a drop of alcohol.

    • Alanah
      November 11, 2014 at 2:40 am #

      Do you honestly believe that child abuse is limited to the lower social classes? Don`t worry, there are plenty of managers, doctors and entrepreneurs who abuse their children physically, emotionally and sexually.
      Health care providers and childcare professionals need to keep their guard up with people from ALL walks of life. Rich people do horrible things too!

    • Bombshellrisa
      November 11, 2014 at 2:56 am #
      Stay at home mom, hard working father, Christians with biological children who adopted two special needs children.

    • Who?
      November 11, 2014 at 3:57 am #

      If they did, which they don’t, it would be about clickbait. ‘Unwed mothers’ their barefoot children and casual men have been the pariahs of the world since biblical times.

      And there are plenty of disfunctional middle class families around, but they shake our confidence in ourselves: much better to assume that bad things are done by, and happen to, the undeserving.

      • yentavegan
        November 11, 2014 at 8:10 am #

        whoa… that is a skewed world view. In my limited experience unwed mothers who continue to complicate their children’s lives by entering into a series of failed relationships with troubled men create societal, emotional and educational hurdles for their children. IS it possible that Attachment Parenting might actually be a saner way to raise children. Is it not preferable to focus a mothers attention to her children rather than where her next baby daddy can be found?

        • FormerPhysicist
          November 11, 2014 at 10:09 am #

          Well, sure, there are other problems than overly APing a kid. And some of those problems are worse. But those aren’t the only choices. And adults deserve adult company. You can’t really AP as a single mom anyhow, not unless you have a trust fund.

          Methinks you have the skewed world view. And an oddly binary one. AP, or unwed single mom in a series of horrible relationships. I’m neither, myself.

        • ForgetfulGuest
          November 11, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

          True, a series of failed relationships with troubled men would create so many issues and dangers for children. But then again, I look at some of my married friends and the stuff their children have to put up with. Endless arguments, domestic violence and abuse on many levels, affairs and a generally volatile environment. It’s not really that different from the emotional turmoil you describe, even though these kids live in a seemingly intact, happy family where both parents are present.

          (Following on from that, I could actually argue that as a single parent who has never entered another relationship, I may just have one of the sanest, calmest and most stable environments to raise children in. I won’t, though – I know it’s not that simple. And either way, AP or not AP isn’t really part of that equation.)

        • Who?
          November 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

          And married couples who continue to complicate their children’s lives by treating themselves and others with contempt, exist too.

          We’re all skewed by our experiences: recognise that and assumptions start looking less solid.

          • toni
            November 11, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

            Is it not the case though that children from two parent homes poor or not, statistically, do better than children from one parent homes? Especially ones with new partners coming and going all the time. No guarantee that a two parent home will result in happier children of course but just talking in general. Honestly I often think my child and I would be better off as a single parent family as my husband is the biggest cause of stress in my life so I have no real dog in this fight. But it makes sense that there would be a correlation between married parents and successful kids as stability is important to development. I don’t even know where I fit in with all this. I was brought up mostly by nannies as a young child and sent to boarding school from the age of seven. So not particularly attached to my mother but still managed to have an enjoyable childhood.

          • Cobalt
            November 11, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

            My parents splitting up was one of the best things to happen to me as a child. We (the kids) were way better off without all the yelling, screaming, petty violence, etc. The poverty and my mother’s issues continued, so it wasn’t instant rainbows, but it was better.

            None of us turned into sociopaths, in fact we’re all boring functioning adults now.

          • Who?
            November 12, 2014 at 1:46 am #

            I think you’re onto something with your remarks about stress. If we correlate low stress with married couples, we might be missing a step or two along the way, is all I’m saying. As you experience, marriage is not necessarily a picnic, and extrication from a difficult marriage is a long and painful process.

            Stability, whatever that looks like, has to be a positive.

            Sounds like you are doing a great job, and I hope you find some peace in your living arrangements.

        • fiftyfifty1
          November 11, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

          Yenta, your worldview is seriously limited. I grew up in just the sort of family and community you seem to revere: married parents, highly religious community, AP (1970’s style). The abuse was everywhere. Physical and sexual too.

        • Fuzzy
          November 11, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

          I’m pretty sure the son of my niece wishes she would give up and be a single parent rather than letting her alcoholic abusive stoner boyfriend watch him.

        • SuperGDZ
          November 18, 2014 at 4:08 am #

          An unwed mother may believe that her child needs a father, or the family may need financial stability? I also can’t imagine how a working single mother could even realistically manage “attachment parenting”.

      • Anj Fabian
        November 12, 2014 at 10:59 am #

        I always hold up “Octomom” as an example.

        Every high order multiple mother was congratulated on her amazing achievement….until Octomom, who didn’t have a partner. Who wasn’t married.

        So why was it an amazing achievement for every other mother of quints, sextuplets and septuplets? But not for her?

        The biology is the same….but it’s not about biology. It’s about morality.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      November 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

      Caution, anecdata ahead…I’ve never hit my kid. Despite being an ebil single mother (though people who know me roll their eyes when I describe myself that way since my partner of 20 years lives with us). My kiddo’s friend whose mother is a definite single mother, no man of any description in sight, has, as far as I know, never hit her. She certainly doesn’t act like a child who has been abused. I do make a conscious effort to discipline my kid with reason rather than force, but even if I didn’t, I would never have hit her. She just doesn’t behave in ways that make it ever seem necessary.

      I was never hit growing up. Despite my parents divorcing when I was in my teens. I always thought it was a decision on their parts to not spank me or my sib, but my mother now says the issue just never came up: we were “good” kids who never got that rowdy.

      Know who I know that has been hit? My parents. Both products of two married parent families. No divorce, no affairs (that I know of), no drug abuse (again, that I know of). What they did have plenty of was old fashioned poverty and the stress that goes with it. My parents managed to climb out of that trap and become middle class. And somehow their kids never got hit. Hmm…

      My conclusion? It’s not the single parenthood. It’s not the divorce. It’s not the adult affairs. It’s poverty that causes the stress that leads to parents hitting their children, whether in “discipline” or in anger. Take away the poverty and the lifestyle is much less important. So personally I wish we lived in a world where welfare queens had Cadillacs and swimming pools. They’d be better parents if they weren’t worried about where next month’s rent or even the next meal’s food is coming from.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        November 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

        I should add that, of course, not all abuse or even most abuse occurs in poorer families. Just that that stress makes it harder for families to cope and increases the risk of a parent or a child lashing out in unproductive ways. And limits the ability of families to get help.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        November 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

        It’s poverty that causes the stress that leads to parents hitting their children, whether in “discipline” or in anger.

        So the case of Adrian Peterson shows it’s not just poverty, it’s culture as well.

        Now, it may be that Adrian Peterson grew up in poverty, and that is where he learned that abuse is acceptable, so it could have a foundation in poverty.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          November 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

          Culture can drive people to hit as well. If a parent is told that they MUST hit their child or risk “spoiling” the child and that any act of emotion on the child’s part is an act of rebellion, then they’ll hit the child. Or if they simply can’t think of any other way to negotiate with the child. There are other factors and my apologies for oversimplifying.

        • Jennifer2
          November 11, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

          But there are also plenty of poor people who don’t abuse their kids. I’m amazed at how wonderfully many of my clients do as parents when they also have to handle the stressors of poverty.

        • SuperGDZ
          November 18, 2014 at 4:05 am #

          Possibly also that whatever factors make a parent hit eg poor impulse control, emotional maladjustment, alcohol abuse, are also factors that can lead to poverty.

      • ForgetfulGuest
        November 11, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

        I’m not sure how a discussion about AP turned into single parent bashing anyway… someone took a huge leap there. But I agree with you – poverty (the real, true kind, not the middle class can’t afford a new car kind) and stress would play a massive role and may just be the thing that pushes some people over the edge – which is a type of existential stress a middle class family will likely never experience.

        I also think those stories and ultimately the figures derived from them are skewed. I don’t think single parents are inherently more likely to be abusive – just more likely to be caught. They are under closer scrutiny exactly because they are single (as a single parent, I know that), whereas a couple will not automatically attract that level of suspicion. A middle class married couple could get away with a lot, yet a poor single mother may have child protective services knocking on her door for a relatively minor thing. As someone below me said, a lot of it would be about keeping up appearances, and it’s much easier to do that when you fit into the socially accpetable definition of “normal”.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          November 12, 2014 at 10:24 am #

          FWIW, my intent was not to bash poor people who have children. My intent was to bash society for not supporting all members well enough so that no one has to raise children while stressed by uncertainty about food, shelter, or other basic necessities.

      • Who?
        November 12, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

        I never really ‘got’ hitting kids. Tried smacking (open hand to clothed buttocks) few times, found it useless and I felt terrible doing it. But then I was never hit myself as a child, so I don’t have any context for how it might work.

        Some people think burning their children with cigarettes is reasonable discipline-my uncle did that to my cousins. Some people think hitting is reasonable discipline. I don’t necessarily think it is unreasonable, I just don’t understand how/when/why you would do it as discipline, that is, in a measured way to achieve a desired lesson or result.

        Hitting in parental rage is a whole other thing-never ever acceptable, though I understand how for some people it happens.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          November 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

          If you ever want to absolutely feel terrible and have a complete breakdown, look up the story “The Murder of Robbie Wayne, Age 6” and remember as you are reading it that the parents involved thought it was reasonable discipline.

          I read it in Readers Digest when I was young, and it sticks in my mind to this day.

          Especially now that I have a 5 yo nearly to turn 6, the thoughts kill me. I look at my guys and ask, “HOW could anyone do that?”

    • Sara Lucy
      November 11, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

      What about whenever the hyper involvement leads to medical abuse? Look at the profiles of moms with Munchausen’s.

    • Bombshellrisa
      November 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

      But again, it’s not really about the children’s needs or wants when it comes to hyper involved attachment parents. You are a parent forever and the whole concept of AP doesn’t address the fact that at some point you are going to have a 30 year old who is still your child and you may still want to be hyper involved and they would like to be valued as an adult. I have smother/absent parents. The big thing that bugs me about the indulgent hyper involved attachment parents is that they tend to get their needs and wants mixed up with their kids and miss that gift that you can give your child no matter if you are poor, single and have children from different parents: the gift of being observant, listening to them so as to discern what you can do as a parent to meet their needs.

      • Who?
        November 11, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

        So much.

        And the gift of showing them-not telling them, showing them-you believe in, trust and are proud of them. My experience as the parent of adults is that my children come to me for advice, comfort and support because they know my parenting is about what they need, not what I need.

        Parents who want to swoop in and solve every problem their adult child has are meddling and exacerbate rebellion and resentment, in my experience.

        It’s a paradox that for some parents, the more they put into their parenting the less confident they seem to be that they have produced capable adults.

        • Sullivan ThePoop
          November 12, 2014 at 7:57 am #

          I never made my children clean up after themselves. I always swooped in and did it for them. That is the only thing that even today they are not very good at. I tell everyone I know that they should get their children cleaning up after themselves as early as possible.

    • fiftyfifty1
      November 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

      ” I would rather live in a world of indulgent hyper involved attachment parents ..”

      “Is it not preferable to focus a mothers attention to her children rather than where her next baby daddy can be found?”

      Anybody else hearing the dog whistle here?

    • November 11, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

      If only all those heartbreaking news stories about beaten and abused murdered children did not have the common denominator of single mother, poverty, siblings with different fathers, drug abuse etc.

      They don’t. They really, really don’t all have all of (or even most of) those factors. Single parenthood isn’t even a factor in child abuse as far as I know. Poverty and drug abuse are. Multiple siblings by different fathers may be a risk factor for paternal/boyfriend child abuse, but I don’t think it increases the risk of the mother being abusive.

      Some of the worst, most abusive cases I’ve read about involve a mother and father abusing their biological and/or adopted children, especially special needs children. They were not poor, single, or using drugs. They were just ideologically invested in the idea of beating their kids for Jesus and didn’t stop in time. Should I argue that all Christianity should be banned because some Christians beat their children to death for religious reasons? No? Then maybe you can stop using that dog whistle about Those People.

    • Sullivan ThePoop
      November 12, 2014 at 7:54 am #

      My dad was abusive and we were affluent, my parents were married, and only had two children with the same father.

  9. Are you nuts
    November 10, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    This falls, like most parenting decisions, under the heading of “do what’s best for your individual kid.” I bought all the wraps and slings and my baby hates them. Strongly prefers a stroller. And when she’s inconsolable, it’s often a swing, not me, that calms her down. Sometimes it bums me out because I would rather snuggle, but then again sometimes it’s awesome because she’s happy in the swing and I get to make dinner or do something productive. Maybe I gave birth to an independent child, not unlike her mother.

  10. john
    November 10, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

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  11. john
    November 10, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    My name is yurich jerry am from USA. i want to use this opportunity to thank my great doctor who really made my life a pleasurable one today. This great man DR.Ogboni brought my husband back to me, i had three lovely kids for my husband, about four years ago i and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me for one lady. i felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, until one day i met a good friend of mine that was also in a situation like me but her problem was her ex-boyfriend who she had an unwanted pregnancy for and he refused to take responsibility and dumped her. she told me that mine was a small case and that i should not worry about it at all, so i asked her what was the solution to my problems and she gave me this great man email address. i was doubting if this man was the solution, so i contacted this great man and he told me what to do and i deed them all, he told me to wait for just two day and that my husband will come crawling on his kneels just for forgiveness so i faithfully deed what this great man asked me to do and for sure after two days i heard a knock on the door, in a great surprise i saw him on his kneels and i was speechless, when he saw me, all he did was crying and asking me for forgiveness, from that day, all the pains and sorrows in my heart flew away,since then i and my husband and our lovely kids are happy.that’s why i want to say a big thank you to DR.Ogboni spiritual temple. This great man made me to understand that there is no problem on earth that has no solution so please if you know that you have this same problem or any problem that is similar, i will advise you to come straight to this great man. you can email him at: .. . …

  12. john
    November 10, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

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  13. Pillabi
    November 10, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    I’ve heard about a theory according to which the human pregnancy lasts 9 months not because they are long enough to make the baby ready to live in the outer world, but only because if the baby kept on growing in the womb, its skull then wouldn’t pass through the birth canal, and therefore the first (9) months of human life should be considered as a further pregnancy. In italian they speak of “endogestazione” and “esogestazione”, that could be literally translated with “inner gestation” and “outer gestation”, and these theory, as far as I understand, is largely used to validate attachment parenting. I’m not able to find sources in English since I don’t know how endo/esogestazione are actually translated. The only thing I found is the theory of neoteny by Ashley Montagu, but after a quick research I’ve got the impression that Montagu’s theories were far more complicated than the simple: “the baby needs to be constantly touched, hold and wrapped for 9 more months after birth”. I’m curious to understand if there can be any sort of scientific basis for AP (which I don’t think, but one never knows!). Anybody can help?

    • Young CC Prof
      November 11, 2014 at 9:14 am #

      The types of brain development that most mammals do in the womb, human babies are still working on up to age 1. Human babies are also utterly and completely helpless for much longer than any other mammal, with the possible exception of the marsupials, who have a built-in solution. This is basic biology, and many cultures historically have recognized the inner and outer gestation phenomenon.

      It does not necessarily tell us the best way to manage the outer gestation. After all, getting novel stimulation during infancy helps the brain build the pathways that will be needed later on. Staying in a totally womb-like environment would not be ideal!

      • Pillabi
        November 11, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

        Young CC, I was sure you would answer… you are the one with enough patience to read my complicated posts and give a sensible reply! 😉
        Anyway, over night I kept on thinking on my very question and I concluded pretty much the same things you are saying. I think this is one of the many cases where NCBers start from the observation of a natural phenomenon and draw totally arbitrary conclusions from that. Even assuming that human gestation has to be “completed” after birth, what on earth tells us that the “right” way to do it is trying to recreate a womb-like environment? The main features of pre-natal life, those that really make the difference, are anyway bound to cease at birth: liquid environment, no lungs respiration or digestion needed…
        All in all, nice as this theory can be (the poetic correlation between before and after, the supposed repeating of the same pattern of experience made of three trimesters and so on…), it is just fantasy. Once again, a sentimental interpretation of biological issues that has nothing to do with science!

      • SuperGDZ
        November 18, 2014 at 4:12 am #

        “Staying in a totally womb-like environment would not be ideal”

        Unless you’re trying to raise a chimp.

        • Young CC Prof
          November 18, 2014 at 8:24 am #

          Maybe if you want a blind chimp. I’m not sure when the development window for the visual cortex starts to close, but staying the dark without patterned stimulation for too long WILL cause blindness.

  14. Zoey
    November 10, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    Amusing (to me anyway) anecdote: some mothers in a local attachment parenting group attended an attachment theory lecture from an academic targeted to professionals (social workers, clinical psychologists, etc.). They were really excited to hear about how attachment parenting is so wonderful and all the benefits of cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, and babywearing. They left very disappointed when these topics were not even mentioned and after the lecturer made some critical statements about attachment parenting in the Q and A session at the end (in response to a question they raised). Apparently the consensus in the group is that the lecturer has no idea what attachment means.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
      November 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

      Apparently the consensus in the group is that the lecturer has no idea what attachment means.

      Put’s them right up there with creationists…

    • Young CC Prof
      November 10, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

      Present them with a Dunning-Kruger award.

  15. The Computer Ate My Nym
    November 10, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    So Harlow’s work, horrifying as it was…doesn’t it more or less disprove the lactivists claim that breast feeding is The Thing?

  16. yentavegan
    November 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    So what’s the beef? A whole bunch of over privileged upper middle class women want to elevate their sense of self worth by outdoing each other on the mommy wars? If only this was the real issue impacting our civilization. Meanwhile in the real world, an overwhelming number of newborns are being raised without the stability of an intact 2 parent married family. No one , neither mother or father puts the infants needs before their own desires. Hence we are left with sociopaths populating a new generation. Care to discuss?

    • FormerPhysicist
      November 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

      No one? Use hyperbole much? You do realize that you are included in that statement?

      I put the needs of my infants, and children, above my own desires. But only their needs/my desires. I don’t put their desires above my desires as a matter of course, and I sure as hell don’t put their desires above my needs.

    • November 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

      Sure, I’ll discuss. But first I’m going to need you to be more specific about your concerns. Just to be clear…kiddos growing up in homes where their biological parents aren’t married are the sociopaths, right? And kiddos who grow up in homes with one man + one woman + marriage are not sociopaths. Am I clear on your argument?

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        November 10, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

        Children raised by lesbian couples actually do better on some outcome measurements and are less likely than children raised by married hets to be abused. I am, of course, in favor of allowing GLBT people to marry but the data from times and places where they couldn’t suggest that being raised by unmarried (but stable partners) lesbians is better than being raised by married hets.

        • November 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

          For sure. I tend to make the assumption that happy adults are the best parents – Gay, Straight, Married, Divorced, whatever. Happy is key.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            November 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

            The key, I suspect, is that you can’t become unintentionally pregnant through lesbian sex. So the vast majority, if not all, children of lesbian couples, are there because two people decided that they wanted to raise a kid or more together. That seems to me a much better situation than a kid being born because its parents (married or not) couldn’t figure out the birth control or feel it’s their duty to have buckets of children, whether they want them or not. Not many quiverful lesbians out there, as far as I know. (Not meaning to be judgey of people who have lots of kids because they want lots of kids: have as many as you want. But only as many as you WANT.) Happy adults with kids they want to raise is more likely (but not, alas, guaranteed) to mean happy kids.

          • An Actual Attorney
            November 10, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

            This exactly. As Dan Savage pointed out, you don’t go out one night, get rip roaring drunk, and accidentally adopt.

          • Poogles
            November 11, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

            “So the vast majority, if not all, children of lesbian couples, are there because two people decided that they wanted to raise a kid or more together.”

            I agree, though I would point out that it is definitely the “vast majority” and not “all” simply due to rape; I have an aunt who is a lesbian and was raped and that’s how my cousin was conceived, though she was then raised by a lesbian couple.

      • yentavegan
        November 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

        I should have allowed time for me to calm down after reading about a mothers plight with homelessness in a New York Times article. 3 children, no father involved in their lives and we wonder why a 3rd generation of people grow up unattached-disenfranchised? So no Sally, I was not lamenting about children living in loving nurturing homes that just so happen to include their non-bio related parents. I was referring to children being raised with out any adult stepping up to the plate.

        • Guestll
          November 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

          So, um…poverty?

        • DiomedesV
          November 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

          Lack of access to long-term birth control?

          • yentavegan
            November 10, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

            Do you think that is the problem? I think perhaps disenfranchised women are so brainwashed into thinking that unprotected sexual intercourse really proves love to a guy that he will make her his number one priority and that producing offspring imparts status.

          • DiomedesV
            November 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

            I think there are many factors involved in creating the kind of family you described. But if the default were to put teenagers (of all incomes) on long-term birth control, and if this were accompanied by meaningful improvements in education and employment prospects for men and women, I think you would see fewer such tragedies.

          • fiftyfifty1
            November 11, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

            Get over yourself yentavegan. You so obviously do not know the first thing about reproductive choices and family options in the communities your pretend to understand. I am so sick of ignorant middle class white women thinking that they know what motivates people in low SES/non-white communities and how to “fix” them. You do not know the first thing about it.

          • Roadstergal
            November 10, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

            Access to no-cost long-term birth control decreases the incidence of both unwanted pregnancy and abortion substantially.

        • staceyjw
          November 10, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

          It did not sound like that (no adults), because you specifically mentioned a nuclear family and the necessity and superiority of it.

          Sorry to tell you, but Dads are NOT needed. Kids can be just fine without them. (I know Dr Amy disagrees on this) The claim that having no dad makes them “unattached” and “disenfranchised” is really a stretch. If they even unattached, it would be more the callousness they have lived through, seeing their value as humans while homeless. That is enough to make anyone hate the world (though, surprisingly, it doesn’t usually). It is an ugly world out there if you don’t have a healthy family and money.

        • LibrarianSarah
          November 11, 2014 at 2:36 am #

          I am pretty sure that calling these unattached and disenfranchised kids sociopaths is not going to do them any favors.

        • MH
          November 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

          Ummm do you mean the article about the woman whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and then she was a victim of domestic violence? Yes, how dare she not practice attachment parenting.

    • Poogles
      November 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      “Hence we are left with sociopaths populating a new generation.”

      I hope you do realize that unmet needs during infancy/childhood alone does not a sociopath make:
      “Stout (2005) sums up the research well, explaining that as much as 50% percent of the cause of sociopathy can be attributed to heritability, while the remaining percentage is a confusing and not-yet-understood mixture of environmental factors. (Notably, a history of childhood abuse among sociopaths is not always present.) ”

    • Guestll
      November 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

      I was raised in an intact two parent family with an alcoholic father and a mother who put my needs before her own…and resented motherhood because of it. From a very young age I wished that my Dad would die in an accident on his way home from work. Happy happy joy joy all around at my house, just ask me and my siblings.

      Your facile leaps, they are…facile and leapy.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      November 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

      we are left with sociopaths populating a new generation.

      What’s the evidence for this statement? Violent crime is actually going down, at least in the part of the world I’m in and it’s my understanding that we’re at an all time low for nation based violent conflicts (aka wars). If this is what we get for having fewer people marry before having children, what’s the problem?

    • Bombshellrisa
      November 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

      These over privileged women make plenty of noise, not happy to keep it within their like minded circle. They apply a lot of pressure to people to make the same choices they do, and use the guise of concern for a child’s well being to hide their real intent.

      • yentavegan
        November 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

        so what do you think their real intent is?

        • DiomedesV
          November 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

          Self promotion.

        • Guestll
          November 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm #


        • DiomedesV
          November 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

          Both men and women live within social hierarchies that determine their social status. For UMC women, parenting is one of the activities that mediates status. Other things that mediate status: income, attractiveness, intelligence.

          Jockeying for status is simply a part of being a social animal. Everyone does it. Some people are more honest about it than others.

        • Bombshellrisa
          November 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

          There are better answers below, but I would say to feel better about themselves because deep down, they feel SAH parenting is a sell out. They have to put a lot of work into it, make elaborate rules and make martyrs of themselves so they feel like they are doing something superior, instead of making a choice that makes them “ordinary”.

          • Ellen Mary
            November 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

            What am I selling out by being a SAH parent exactly? Feminism? No. My Education? I guess maybe but one of my degrees is in Early Childhood Ed, so . . .

            I could agree that many might feel that way but there isn’t an inherent truth to it.

          • Who?
            November 10, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

            We all need to do what feels right to us. I had no intention of being a sahm, but confronted with a baby I didn’t feel good about leaving him with a stranger or strangers. We were in the fortunate position to be able to tighten the belts and make that choice, and I ended up at home for 6 years with 2 kids.

            Then woke up one morning and decided that if they were off at school and kindy, I could be at work a bit, and then worked part time for the next 13 years, until the second one left school.

            No biggie, just what felt right.

          • Bombshellrisa
            November 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

            I don’t know, you would have to ask these women who deep down don’t value parenting. How else can anyone explain the amount of scorn they serve up for women who “take the easy way out” by seeking pain relief during labor, feed their baby formula or who use pacifiers and disposable diapers? Make no mistake, if it’s easy, it’s ordinary and these women don’t want to be just what they view as ordinary moms. It’s why they are insistent on giving what they are doing a title.

          • Ellen Mary
            November 11, 2014 at 1:45 am #

            I avoided an epidural with my first & it had nothing to do with an easy or hard way, it had to do with my belief @ the time that epidural a increased the incidence of Cesarean. Not moralizing. Now research has come out that disproves that, but access to research has also changed dramatically since I had my first, due to PubMed, iPhones & yes, Dr. Amy breaking it down for us.

            I believed with my first that pacifiers would impede BF, that is why I didn’t use them, not because of morals, because of what I was told about mechanics. And I did use one eventually. Any cloth diapers I have used is out of a sincere desire to minimize my footprint/trail, same reason I recycle or compost. Not moral. Just something I felt called to because I was blessed with the time & inclination . . . I manage a staff of Master Recyclers @ local events & I can assure you that some do see these as moral issues. And it creates anger & hostility. I scored a leadership role in that area specifically because I don’t waste management as a moral issue, because it isn’t . . .

          • Bombshellrisa
            November 11, 2014 at 2:11 am #

            women who want to make an issue not about IF you are a good enough caregiver but about the minutiae surrounding feeding, diapers and how you choose to hold your children being somehow arranged in a value system are the ones who are making you feel like you are undervalued. Again, what you do may be extremely valuable to you and that has to be enough. Extended breastfeed or formula feed, whatever, but STOP imagining that someone is going to come along and pat you on the head for simply feeding your child.

          • Life Tip
            November 10, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

            I’d say there’s a lot of truth to it. This generation was raised to believe that girls can do anything. We are overachievers. We have college degrees. It can be hard to decide that, after all, you want or need to stay home with your kids. So, to compensate, we don’t *just* stay at home. We have to be the best SAHM mom ever. We have to tell ourselves (and everyone else) that we are doing it because it’s the superior choice for our children. Apparently, we even have to blog incessantly about it.

            It’s an understandable reaction to a society that values work for the payment it garners. Being a SAHM is not rocket science. And it’s quite ordinary. For many women, boring even. It’s also a pretty thankless task. That can be hard to accept. One way to deal with those feelings is to create an elaborate system of rules that allows you to do it better than other people.

          • Ellen Mary
            November 11, 2014 at 1:37 am #

            ‘Selling out’ traditionally means like accepting some type of monetary sponsorship in exchange for abandoning your principles. It is needlessly derogatory & doesn’t mean what we are talking about (staying at home vs. achieving in the public space). Maybe part of why we don’t feel important are subtle insults like calling it ‘selling out’

          • Bombshellrisa
            November 11, 2014 at 1:59 am #

            Well, to be able to devote ones time to exclusively working in the home parenting, many women must rely on a partner or spouse financially. So many women from this generation DO feel that is a sell out because we have been taught NOT to rely on a spouse or partner to support us financially, that doing so somehow undermines feminism and the freedoms women before us have fought so hard to win.

          • Ellen Mary
            November 11, 2014 at 2:07 am #

            Well I am sure I needent point out where THIS line of discussion is headed. :O

            I was taught that smart women had careers, but I personally was not taught that there was any shame in being in an economic partnership . . . Still, selling out is needlessly seedy & frames partners as nefarious.

          • Bombshellrisa
            November 11, 2014 at 2:29 am #

            I don’t known what you mean. I don’t think this way, it’s the women who want to bludgeon other women over the head with their perceived superiority for feeding or diapering a certain way.

          • Lindsay Beyerstein
            November 10, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

            It’s not about the truth, it’s about how people feel. If they don’t feel like being a SAHM is good enough, they’ll find ways to make themselves feel more important.

        • fiftyfifty1
          November 10, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

          I think their real intent is to let everyone know that they aren’t one of THOSE mothers, you know the ones who can’t even manage to provide their child with an intact marriage, the ones who are populating the next generation with sociopaths.

        • Bugsy
          November 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

          Not an intent, but I think a lot of attachment parenting has to do with perfectionism, fear of the unknown and uncertainty. None of us have any idea what parenting will be like before that child enters our lives, even if we have prior experience with children…and there’s no set answer for how to raise a child “perfectly.” It’s so easy to feel lost and scared, and a framework such as attachment parenting does offer structure where parents may otherwise have none. My guess is that’s part of the reason why so many new parents latch onto it, especially when mommy guilt is added to the mix.

          • Therese
            November 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

            I can only speak for myself, but my major draw to attachment parenting was thinking that it would be a way to prevent my family from becoming as dysfunctional as the one I grew up in. Like maybe if I just followed these attachment principles, that would prevent me from having the kind of resentful relationship with my children that my mother had with me.

          • Roadstergal
            November 10, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

            I know of another AP parent who has an almost identical motivation.

          • Amy M
            November 10, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

            Me too.

          • DiomedesV
            November 10, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

            I know at least one AP parent similarly motivated.

            But I think many, if not most of us have that fear on some level. We’ve probably all identified things about our home lives that we don’t want to repeat. In my case:

            1) Corporal punishment. I don’t think it scarred me for life (but it may have my siblings) but not acceptable.

            2) Yelling and impatience. My dad yelled — a lot. (My mom never yelled, and was a total pushover.)

            3) My parents had more kids than they could care for well. I still don’t know how to gauge that one.

            How would BF, baby wearing, co-sleeping, and feeding only homemade organic food help with any of those?

            So far, no temptation to go for #1, and #2 has turned out to be easier than I thought, but I still have a lot of room for improvement. And it matters. I worry about it all the time. #3: I just don’t know how people figure that out.

          • DiomedesV
            November 10, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

            And the AP-type parent I know? No patience whatsoever, at least while her kids were young. I honestly wonder at times why anyone would have so many kids, do “so much” for them, and then yell at them all day. Seriously. Why?

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            November 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

            I have no idea if this is true for that mother, but when DD was born I was still very “crunchy,” and virtually never put her down. I didn’t have any time at all to myself–didn’t even shower frequently enough, much less get a half hour here or there to myself to recoup. I am naturally very introverted, and was horrified to discover when DD was about a week or two old that I *really* resented her. I still loved her, but I was furious that she wouldn’t leave me alone long enough to relax by myself for a bit, take a shower, and put on some fresh clothes without being screamed at.

            It took DH–who is one of eight kids, all of whom have a good relationship as adults with their parents–to point out that it was okay to put her down while she was crying sometimes, that she wouldn’t hate me forever/become autistic/become a sociopath/whatever if I just took a few minutes to myself. And it STILL took *months*–really, up until a couple of weeks ago, and DD is now 8 months old–for me to stop feeling horribly guilty for setting her down long enough to use the bathroom or take a shower. I understood intellectually that that was okay, but it’s hard to “deprogram” from the attachment parenting ideal.

            Again a guess, but I imagine that someone who never took that time and in fact couldn’t without the emotional *and* intellectual guilt of “OMG I put the baby down long enough to pee/take a shower/drink a cup of coffee/put on clean clothes, I am a TERRIBLE MOTHER!” would, quite naturally, grow to resent their kids.

          • Who?
            November 11, 2014 at 3:59 am #

            You can’t look after another person if you don’t look after yourself.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            November 11, 2014 at 11:13 am #

            Something similar here. I grew up in extreme dysfunction, plus I still have a tendency towards depression. As a result, I try to over-control things, including kids. :p Hearing “if you just do X, Y, and Z, you’ll have a wonderful, loving family and your kids will be happy and healthy!” sounds AWESOME to those of us who never had those things ourselves as kids. The problem is that there is no one answer for every kid and family, and even when you find the right one for you and your kid, they’re kids, not robots, and aren’t going to fit perfectly into any framework all the time.

    • staceyjw
      November 10, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

      If they didn’t cause so ugh trouble for everyone else no one would care. But their ideas are picked up by not only other moms that feel horrible because they could not do AP if they tried (i.e.single working mom), but professionals and paraprofessionals that use them to judge in ways that can matter (custody, CPS, etc).
      If only it effected those moms only!

    • Poogles
      November 11, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

      “Hence we are left with sociopaths populating a new generation. ”
      “we wonder why a 3rd generation of people grow up unattached-disenfranchised?”

      Ok, I know I already replied once, but something else is really bugging me about these statements.

      As someone who was raised, along with 3 younger siblings, in an abusive, poverty-stricken environment (most of it with only a single parent – my step-father), statements like this seem to imply to me that people like me are destined to be “unattached” or worse, “sociopaths” – that we are unquestionably broken. While my childhood certainly left it’s scars (mental and physical), my siblings and I are not broken, unattached or sociopaths. I earned a undergrad degree, have been in a stable relationship for almost 14 years, have been gainfully employed since I was in college and my husband and I plan to have a child in the near-ish future.

      Now, I don’t believe your intent was to say abused children are destined to be sociopaths/unattached/broken, but it’s something I see over and over in our culture, and I can’t help but point it out when I see it. It’s an over-simplification that only helps to stigmatize those who were unlucky enough to be born to unstable parents.

    • MJ
      November 11, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

      Discuss? No. Tell you how offensive that statement is to me as the adult daughter of a single mother? Yes.

      Do you have any idea at all the additional obstacles attitudes like yours put in her way when she was raising my sisters and I? The churches we went to where they would always look sideways. The social gatherings where married men would think it was harmless to hit on her. The tut tutters like you who scrutinised her every move and decision for signs of depravity and neglect?

      You truly have no idea what you are talking about and your callous judgment does precisely nothing to support the women and children you claim to be so broken up over.

    • noelle
      November 12, 2014 at 11:02 am #

      It’s people like you that make me grit my teeth and refrain from bashing my head into my desk. This is a very, very common mindset that I absolutely, utterly hate. I grew up in a broken, single-parent, low working-class, verbally/physically/sexually abusive family – so according to you, I should be a sociopath. Although I wonder if that’s mitigated by my mother putting the needs of me and my siblings ahead of her own? Surprise! That’s led to incredible resentment and an inability to take care of myself without having to learn from the basics.

      Instead, I’m in a PhD program in the social sciences, with a goal of gaining the statistics and research skills I need to become integral in either policy decisions or in the development and evaluation of intervention programs for the high risk kids that you call ‘sociopaths’.

      Do I have problems? Yeah, I do. Do I know other kids who grew up in homes like mine who are normal, functioning adults? Yeah. Do mindsets like yours contribute to the problem? Hell yes.

      There’s a lot more that contributes to outcomes other than children needing the ‘stability of an intact 2 parent married family’. That’s only one risk variable and tbh, it’s only a risk factor due to other associated variables.

      Although part of me is curious whether or not gay couples fall under your umbrella of ‘intact 2 parent families’.

    • Francesca Violi
      November 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

      Hmm, so in the past, child abuse must have been virtually nonexistent… I mean, those happy times when divorce didn’t exist, and all couples had to live togethere til death did part them, must have been a truly paradise for children! And infact we have no records of domestic violence wahtsoever, right? In the stabilities of intact 2 parents families no child that we know was beated dumb with belts, fireplace tools and the like, no girls raped by fathers or loving brothers, no babies were neglected or hit or “boxed” under mattresses… Not to mention that, since being an unmarried mother was not an option, no single mothers were around to neclegt their kid in their quest for boyfriends! As you son of the sin were born there you went to your local church-door, orphanage or asylum, or to your loving foster family at least as long as your sinner parent paid them enough.

    • DiomedesV
      November 12, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

      Are you trying to tell me that your decision to AP your kids, which in your case left with them with no relationship with their grandparents, was for their sake and not yours? I don’t believe it.

      • yentavegan
        November 12, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

        I regret being hoodwinked by the AP propoganda that convinced me to not pump and store breastmilk so that my parents could be hands on overnight babysitters. That was a big mistake on my part.

        • DiomedesV
          November 12, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

          I know you do, and I sympathize. But are you saying you were motivated by doing what was right for your children? Or were you motivated by a desire to see yourself as the best mother? These are not the same thing.

          My point is that all parents are selfishly motivated. I share your frustrations about the poor outcomes of children born to lower SEC parents, but only up to a point. It seems to me that you’re accusing these parents of acting solely in their own interests, when I think that most parents fall under that rubric and most of the time it’s fine and doesn’t matter. You’re also assigning too much agency, too much control over their own lives, to those with the least amount of social and economic capital. I think that’s cruel.

        • DiomedesV
          November 12, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

          And I say this as a parent who regularly struggles with teasing out my own motivations for making decisions that impact my daughter. I mention the grandparents thing because that is the issue I am most struggling with right now. My mother drives me absolutely crazy. She was not a good mother to me in many ways, and being around her makes me very unhappy. But she’s not the same with her granddaughter. How much should I go out of my way to facilitate their relationship?

          In this context, I often think of your admission on this board that you wish your children had more of a relationship with their grandparents when I think about this.

    • SuperGDZ
      November 18, 2014 at 4:25 am #

      “A whole bunch of over privileged upper middle class women want to elevate their sense of self worth by outdoing each other on the mommy wars? If only this was the real issue impacting our civilization.”

      Actually I think there’s an argument to be made that our civilisation would be greatly enhanced if these women found something more useful to do with their time, education and money.

  17. November 10, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    What a fascinating correlation! And yup, that sure does make sense. Am sharing now!

  18. Dr Kitty
    November 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    Interestingly, the original attachment theory was focused on infants from 6-24 months.
    Much AP stuff is aimed 0-6 months, when we’re really not sure that an infant is even aware that their primary caregiver is separate from them.

    • Amy M
      November 10, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

      Yeah, I got the impression that as long as the infant is content (warm, fed, comfortable, feels secure) it doesn’t really care where it is or who is holding it or if it got put down for a little while.

      • November 10, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

        This is something we have to explain to mamas in the NICU all the time. For instance, Friday and Saturday I took care of a 24 weeker. She was sectioned Thursday due to mom’s extreme PIH, baby’s IUGR and wicked oligo. She came out kicking and screaming at a whopping 470 grams!!! She’s honeymooning right now, but so far so good. Needless to say, this kiddo will be with us for months – where she will have all her basic needs attended to in a womb-like-ish environment. She’ll learn to feel safe, and to trust with us in the NICU. I had to remove her little pencil arms from her ET tubes about 20 times already – she thinks it’s time to extubate! And while it’s clearly not…we still respect her signs of discomfort and attend to her every need. She’s a total 1 pound diva. When February rolls around, her birthday month, the goal will be to send a trusting and content baby home with her parents.

        • AlisonCummins
          November 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

          But didn’t you write a blog lost where a pediatrician explained to a grieving father that skin-to-skin with him was *almost* (that is, not) as good as skin-to-skin with a dying mother? You seem to believe that there is something magical about maternal care that cannot be offered by anyone who is not a biological mother.

          • November 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

            Wrong, I certainly don’t believe that. That was a pretty unique situation, and I don’t really appreciate you using that part of a sacred story to draw such a wonky conclusion. I’m a NICU nurse for crying out loud, I am with most babies WAY more than their moms are able to be most of the time. But, as far as dad’s skin-to-skin being (almost) as good as mom’s – well, yes. The neonatologist who explained this to that dad wasn’t going to LIE to that dad. Mom has pheromones that dad doesn’t have. Mom has breastmilk the baby can smell that dad doesn’t. The neonatologist said it, not me. And he was right to be honest because this dad was soul-searching as to when to remove life support.

            Now, tell me again how I seem to believe that there is something magical about maternal care that cannot be offered by anyone who is not a biological mother.

          • November 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

            That was a tribute written, on Mother’s Day, for the family of a woman who had always wanted to be a mommy, only to die from HELLP Syndrome. It was intended to honor the mother Leila was able to be for that one week. So yes, in that situation, it was important to make Leila the hero of the story, which is probably why I included that little (almost). Because I wanted her family to know that she was able to mother her baby before she died.

            The end.

          • Who?
            November 11, 2014 at 4:03 am #

            Sally’s compassion is in no doubt. Tragedies happen, that post was a response to a particular and thankfully these days rare set of circumstances. That was nothing to do with magic.

          • November 11, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

            Thank you whole-heartedly for that.

    • Smoochagator
      November 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

      Yeah, I also noticed that 6 month mark in the quote above, and that has been my anecdotal experience. My children cared little WHO fed and clothed them for the first few months so long as they were fed and clothed. I joked that my son didn’t really like me all that much, I was just another person who could hold a bottle. But after six months or so, my kids started to recognize their favorite people and at 18 months decided that folks outside of that preferred social circle were suspect.

    • KarenJJ
      November 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

      That’s always been my issue with attachment parenting. From my understanding (I read something about it from Sarah Blaffer Hrdy) the bonding for the first six months or so is largely from the primary caregiver’s side and you need to be bonded enough to feel a sense of duty towards the baby such that it’s initial needs are met and not abandon it in a forest somewhere or kill it (Sarah Blaffer Hrdy studied infanticide amongst other things).

      I didn’t feel overwhelmingly in love at first sight but I did feel very strongly about meeting my baby’s needs (which is why breastfeeding was so emotionally painful for me because I was clearly not meeting my infant’s needs). I also didn’t worry too much about how my baby was reacting to me because I knew that attachment from the baby would come over time. Attachment parenting overstates bonding in a huge way and I think it puts enormous pressure on parents and puts unattainable expectations onto a young baby.

  19. Young CC Prof
    November 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    There’s nothing wrong with doing AP. There is something wrong with claiming that AP is the best way, or the only good way, to raise a baby.

    • Amy M
      November 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

      Or worse, that NOT doing AP is akin to abuse or neglect.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
        November 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

        Or worse, that NOT doing AP is akin to abuse or neglect.

        And note that these accusations tend to be very passive aggressive and subtle. No one is going to come right out and say that if you don’t do it it is neglect, but…

        For example, something like, “I only do that because I want to make sure my child knows I love him.”

        “OIC. So apparently my child doesn’t know that I have him? Because I didn’t do that.”

        “Oh, I didn’t mean that your child doesn’t love you.”

        “Well then why did you claim that your child wouldn’t love you if didn’t do it?”

        “I’m not claiming that my child won’t love me if I don’t.”

        Of course, that’s exactly what was said…

    • guest
      November 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

      I think this is what is bothering Ellen Mary below. These kinds of articles can appear anti-AP, when the intention is instead anti-sanctimony.

    • Guesty
      November 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      Who cares how you feed, clothe, protect, provide for your infant? As long as it gets done. I baby wore, co-slept, nursed to 18 months. It worked for us. But it was just the way I chose to keep the baby alive the first year. The part that made them good people came later, when I held them accountable for their behavior, when I let them know they have to respect legitimate authority, and when I refused to praise them mindlessly for doing what they’re supposed to do.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks
        November 10, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

        Right. As I’ve told friends, I had a C-section, I FF, I cloth diaper, and when the pediatrician gave us the ok at three or four months, we put DD in her own room immediately and we were all better for it.

        That does NOT mean that I am “anti” vaginal and/or natural childbirth, BFing, disposable diapers, or co-sleeping. How you had your kid is none of my business; my business is to leave a new mommy care package on your doorstep a few days later and say “oh, how cute, congratulations!” Likewise, unless I am your kid’s caregiver, how you get food into the kid and catch the inevitable waste afterwards is none of my business, and ditto how the kiddo sleeps.

  20. Amy M
    November 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    In some cases, attachment parenting and offering babies and toddlers massive amounts of food are one and the same. I know a couple of women, who loudly practice AP (Sears style) and whose answer to any sort of baby fussiness is: put breast in child’s mouth. Sure, baby must be hungry and is fussing for food some of the time, maybe even most of the times, but even these women will admit that child is using the breast as a pacifier sometimes. Only, instead of a plastic pacifier, it’s a flesh one, attached to another human, that dispenses food. So, in order to get snuggles/comfort, baby ends up eating on and off all day long.

    • Karen in SC
      November 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

      What seems to happen to those that handle fussing with a breast is that it works great until toddlerhood, then it’s very difficult to wean. I don’t know the answer to this dilemma either.

      • Trixie
        November 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

        For us, they naturally stopped wanting to nurse constantly when they became busy toddlers.

      • Elaine
        November 10, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

        Those are the same people who keep nursing for a really long time. I keep seeing these articles about how awesome it is to breastfeed a toddler because you can stop every tantrum with nursing, and I guess if that works for someone else and they’re happy then hooray for them, but that seemed to me to be a pattern I wanted to avoid.

    • Ellen Mary
      November 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

      Which many interested in balanced blood sugar recommend. There is no way to use a mother as a pacifier because a pacifier is by the very definition, a breast substitute. You can use a pacifier as a breast or infant suckling device, but ‘using a mother as a pacifier’ doesn’t make sense. Frequent suckling is useful for maintaining supply & suppressing ovulation. Just because bottle fed infants eat more in ‘sessions’ does not make that the ‘right’ way to feed an infant.

      • MLE
        November 10, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

        My first definitely used me as a pacifier because he would continue nursing for comfort after the milk was gone, and nurse all the way through his nap – not enthusiastically to increase supply, but every few seconds. As a result, my nipples became deadened to sensation and it was actually more difficult to maintain my supply. So once again, just because you haven’t experienced it, does not mean it doesn’t happen.

        • Trixie
          November 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

          My experience was that I often got pretty large second and third letdowns after 15-20 minutes of comfort nursing.

          • Ellen Mary
            November 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

            But the phrase ‘use the mother as a pacifier’ is at best, a conventional trope that frames pacifiers as ‘normal’ & suckling for anything other than straight nutrition as aberrant, pathological, etc . . .

          • Trixie
            November 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

            To the extent that “using you” implies manipulation on the part of the infant, which I do not think was her intent at all.

          • Roadstergal
            November 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

            No, it’s a phrase that indicates that the infant at some times may have a desire for something related to the experience of breastfeeding that is not due to hunger, and that in such cases, comfort and suckling could be provided without ill effect on the infant without it having to be at the breast.

          • Ellen Mary
            November 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

            Actually pacifiers can have some ill effect. They are meaningfully associated with ear infections. However, used at night they are associated with a decrease in SIDS so there is that.

            Why it bothers me so much is that it frames the infant as a sort of criminal. Like if a mother isn’t careful she will be USED! As a piece of plastic!!! To me it harkens back to a *just as mistaken* generation who used to advocate training & discipline of *infants*.

            I am super tired, personally of the narrative that today’s mothers are totally messed up & wayward & yesterday’s mothers were not. AP has always seemed to me to be an over correction for the generation prior. Like maybe Organic food is not as necessary as we frame it to be, but my brothers are a diet of frozen deep fried foods with a side of frozen peas or corn in air filled with secondhand smoke & that was not good either . . .

            The solution won’t be to revert to the practices of yesteryear but to move forward incorporating the best of both.

          • Roadstergal
            November 10, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

            “Why it bothers me so much is that it frames the infant as a sort of
            criminal. Like if a mother isn’t careful she will be USED! As a piece of

            Odd, because I took from the discussion “Non-nutritive sucking and cuddling can provide a baby with comfort, and can be achieved with nursing or by other means, and nursing is not necessarily the only or even the best way to provide that comfort, depending on circumstances.” Not the whole criminal-infant-plastic-breast thing.

          • Cobalt
            November 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

            I always thought a pacifier was a good way to meet the baby’s need for non-nutritive sucking while leaving the skin on my nipples. Everyone wins.

          • Elaine
            November 10, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

            A pacifier is a good way to meet my son’s need to chew on something constantly. It keeps him from chewing on the skin of his hands until they are red, raw, and cracked. They are still pretty bad, but they would definitely be a lot worse if he didn’t have a pacifier for a large portion of the day.

            I just don’t get the pacifier hate from the AP crowd. Sure, I can see a case for waiting until breastfeeding is established. And I had a friend who took away her son’s pacifier because he’d spit it out and cry until he got it back, every five minutes all night. But it works fine for plenty of people, so why not try it if you want to, and it if it becomes a problem at some point, deal with it then? A lot of the AP mandates seem to boil down to borrowing trouble.

          • DiomedesV
            November 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

            If Ellen Mary can construe a comment as an insult to herself or other women like her, she will.

          • MLE
            November 10, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

            Did anyone say anything like that????? I certainly allowed myself to be used, I knew exactly what was going on, and I let it continue because it “pacified” my kid. Denying that something unpleasant happens is NOT the solution. Accepting that it DOES happen, and that mothers find different ways to deal with it WITHOUT criminalizing their infant should not be too much for you to handle. Breast feeding was a year of really hard to hellish times, and I could freely admit and accept that fact (for me) for the duration, because I am not a child myself.

          • November 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

            Non-nutritive sucking is a natural reflex, and an important one. It’s something we like babies to master well before they are born. In fact, the suck-swallow coordination is achieved around 34 weeks gestation, and is a pretty major milestone for babies to hit before birth.

          • Amy M
            November 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

            My 5yr olds still suck their thumbs (unfortunately), while falling asleep, or to soothe themselves if they get upset about something. They used pacifiers when they were babies, and when we took those away, they switched to thumbs. Great.

          • Cobalt
            November 10, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

            Oh man, that’s why I always encouraged pacifier use for mine, an attempt to avoid thumb sucking, which is a much harder habit to break. The older kids never got really into either, but this one is all about the pacifier. I hope he doesn’t get clever at weaning time and discover the joyous thumb!

          • DiomedesV
            November 10, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

            I can’t believe you have a degree in Early Childhood Eduation. You seem ignorant of basic infant biology. Seriously. Babies suck. That’s what they do. And they’ve been sucking on whatever is available long before modern western civilization.

      • Roadstergal
        November 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

        “a pacifier is by the very definition, a breast substitute.”

        By its very definition, it’s something that pacifies or soothes a baby (‘soother’ being another name for one in some places).

      • FormerPhysicist
        November 10, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

        Mine would clearly use me as a pacifier and comfort device. Leading to a cycle of over-nursing and vomiting until I finally just handed her off to Daddy with a pacifier. Because she wouldn’t use a pacifier from Mommy.

      • November 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

        To pacify = To end anger or agitation

      • November 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

        Here’s the difference between sucking on a boob and sucking on a pacifier:

        Breast: Nutritive suck

        Pacifier: Non-nutritive suck

      • Who?
        November 11, 2014 at 4:10 am #

        A pacifier pacifies. Whether it is breast, bottle of water or something else, thumb, fingers, dummy or cuddly toy or blankie to suck or rub. Failing to help a child learn to settle itself as it gets older isn’t being kind to that child.

      • fiftyfifty1
        November 11, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

        “Which many interested in balanced blood sugar recommend.”

        I personally have never been all that interested in balanced blood sugar. I leave it all up to my pancreas.

        • araikwao
          November 11, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

          I can see you know how to trust your body! Way to go, mama! /snark/silly

      • Samantha06
        November 11, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

        The important thing is that the infant is FED, whether it be by breast or bottle.

    • Trixie
      November 10, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

      Both my kids nursed very, very frequently as young babies. This was not due to a particular philosophical position of mine, but rather, they were just hungry a lot. They slept long periods at night, but then had to cluster feed early in the morning and again right before bed in order to make up for all the calories they weren’t eating overnight. Actually, I STILL feed my kids all day long, and I’m pretty sure that on most days they’ve eaten way more than the caloric requirements mentioned above.
      I’m not sure why comfort nursing an infant would be a problem, though, assuming the mother wants to do it. I don’t think there’s any evidence it leads to any sort of disordered eating later in life.

      • Poogles
        November 10, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

        “I don’t think there’s any evidence it leads to any sort of disordered eating later in life. ”

        I wonder if it’s even been studied? I seems logical to me that if you equate comfort with food that it sets up the possibility of comfort-eating throughout life, which tends to lead to overweight and poor eating habits. Though I wonder if that would happen if that association is only made while nursing, and not carried through to solids. It’d be interesting to look into, I think.

        • November 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

          I’ll do a little EBSCO search to see if I can find anything!

          • Poogles
            November 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

            Awesome! Please share whatever you find 🙂

          • November 11, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

            Ok, I did some searches today, and I think I need to fine tune my key words. I did find some studies linking maternal depression and childhood obesity that I wanted to pursue but then for distracted. I’ll keep searching tomorrow and report back!

        • staceyjw
          November 10, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

          I have wondered this, and when the sibling study showed that BF babies were a little heavier in later life, I wondered if this is why.
          At this point, I don’t worry about it. I am more concerned with the hateful culture we live in promoting disordered eating, not BF.

          • fiftyfifty1
            November 11, 2014 at 10:03 am #

            The Belarus PROBIT study is also finding a weakly statistically significant, approximately 17% increase in overweight and obesity in school-age children from the breastfeeding group. Is it a real effect? The authors of the paper say they don’t think so, but then again everything they find that is in favor of breastfeeding (e.g.decreased eczema ) they say is real, while the results that makes breastfeeding look bad, they say are probably a coincidence. Bias?

          • Young CC Prof
            November 11, 2014 at 10:11 am #

            It might be real, it might not generalize to other cultures depending on HOW they nurse and how they introduce solid foods.

        • Trixie
          November 10, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

          IDK, I’m not the best judge because my kids eat all the time and I can barely shovel enough calories down their gullets and it’s been that way since birth.

      • Amy M
        November 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

        I don’t know if it does or not–just that I’ve seen women feed their babies every time the baby whimpers, so I’m guessing the baby is being offered more food than it necessarily needs. If the mom is ok with it, comfort nursing is fine. When the mom wants a full night’s sleep and wants to go through her day wo/her 2yr old jumping down her shirt whenever and wherever, however, it can get old. At least, it did for a couple of my friends.

        • Cobalt
          November 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

          I saw a woman with an older toddler at the park, and every time the kid squeaked she ripped her shirt up and bra down and basically chased him with her breast and then cajoled him into nursing for a few seconds. The kid wasn’t terribly interested, but couldn’t go back to playing until after “num num”.

          The first time she did it I distracted my nine year old son, thinking she might prefer a moment of privacy with her kid instead of a boggled nine year old boy staring at her completely exposed breast and most of her torso. She then began lecturing me loudly on how it was totally ok for him for him to stare, because that “normalizes breastfeeding”.

          I’ve seen and done a lot of breastfeeding at the park, but I wouldn’t call that normal. I’d call it a toddler only barely cooperating with an overzealous AP mother.

          • Ellen Mary
            November 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

            Yk, this monster AP mother appears mostly in legend. Someone who just judged me by my parenting practices might label me AP, although I have never labeled myself that way. I have nursed well into the preschool years for one of my children, yet if you saw me @ the park, one would be judging me for being on my iPhone, not chasing a child around with my exposed breast. I don’t think crazed breast toddler chasers are really found that much, outside of legend.

          • Bugsy
            November 10, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

            I know of one. She’s the reason why I searched out this blog and why I’ve become anti-AP; the extremism and judgment she gave off was appalling. Never mind that prior to her becoming a parenting ideologue and zealot, she and I had a 25-year friendship (that’s since gone down the tubes).

            Without going into details, she fits Cobalt’s description above to a “T.” So while I agree with you that such extremists may not be that common – and ironically, I have plenty of friends who would most likely self-identify as being somewhat on the AP spectrum – I would also argue that based on my experience, the crazy breast toddler chasing extremists have more than enough superiority and judgment to make up for the rarity of their kind.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            November 10, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

            Don’t worry, Bugsy, it’s just an attempt at a No True APer fallacy.

          • Bugsy
            November 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

            Lol, don’t I wish that people like her didn’t actually exist!

          • Cobalt
            November 10, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

            This is the only one I’ve ever seen, and I see a lot of breastfeeding moms in my area (I currently am one, so they stand out right now). It’s certainly not common, but it’s really disorienting to see.

          • fiftyfifty1
            November 11, 2014 at 9:55 am #

            “I don’t think crazed breast toddler chasers are really found that much, outside of legend.”

            I have a friend who is one. She goes to her son and puts him on the breast at the slightest whimper. If he walks over to her, and hugs her leg, she does not just hug him back but instead puts him on the breast. He will be playing contentedly across the room and she calls over to him and asks if he wants nip-nip. In each of these cases, he will go reluctantly on the breast and suck for about 10-15 seconds before pulling off and trying to get down, and then she complains about how easily distracted kids are at this age and what an exhausting challenge breastfeeding is, and how much it hurts her nipple when he turns his head like that.

          • Trixie
            November 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

            This must be regional because I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.

          • guest
            November 10, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

            OT: What is wrong with nursing covers! I don’t like to watch a dangling boob just because it is natural. Sex and labor are natural too but who’s interested in watching!

          • staceyjw
            November 10, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

            Because I don’t need to wear covers. If you don’t like it don’t look!

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            November 10, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

            And some babies flat-out refuse to nurse under covers. I’ve seen several who flip out, scream, yank at the cover, and basically do anything except nurse as long as that thing’s over them. This gets old FAST.

          • Dr Kitty
            November 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

            Yup, I had one of those.
            Nursing covers were not an option.
            I layered clothing and wore waterfall cardigans.

          • Sarah
            November 11, 2014 at 3:27 am #

            Nothing is wrong with them. Everything is wrong with suggesting that women ought to wear them. If you don’t want to see it, you have the right to avert your eyes or to go somewhere else instead.

          • Cobalt
            November 11, 2014 at 7:52 am #

            I don’t like using the nursing covers, I find them uncomfortable and logistically complicated. Breastfeeding can be accomplished without full exposure without one most of the time. The occasional oops is almost a given, and should be politely ignored by everyone. It’s deliberately exposing everything, loudly, in the name of breastfeeding that confounds me.

        • Trixie
          November 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

          Well, first, I think you have to separate infants from toddlers in this discussion. Some babies go from wimpering to 11 in a few short minutes, and it’s really better to head them off with a feeding before sitting around and deciding if they’re really hungry. But what goes for a 2 month old does not apply to a nursing 2 year old. Comfort nursing an infant doesn’t mean that you don’t teach the child manners and boundaries as they get older, or nightwean when it’s appropriate to do so.
          IOW, comfort nursing a baby has nothing to do with a 2 year old acting innapropriately. A parent who’s not setting age-appropriate boundaries is the problem. When I was nursing my 2 year old, it was only at set times of the day, and she had to ask with words, and she wasn’t allowed to do anything annoying with her hands.

          • Amy M
            November 10, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

            Very good point!

    • staceyjw
      November 10, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

      They are comforted by snuggles and a little milk? OH NOES!!!!

      I will say that this is HELL on the kids teeth, and you have to take extra care with dentistry, but otherwise, I don’t see a big deal at all. It’s not like a few sips of b milk is gonna hurt them, it’s not french fries or anything. I am sure they get love other ways too.

  21. anonymous
    November 10, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    You are missing out on Mary Ainsworth’s work — she showed that healthy attachment is not at all guaranteed in non extreme situations. Although your point that William Sears’ ideas have nothing to do with scientific attachment theory is well taken.

    • Bugsy
      November 11, 2014 at 7:23 am #

      Hi anonymous, could you elaborate on her study? I’m not familiar with her work but looked it up online. The site states flat-out that “Securely attached children comprised the majority of the sample in Ainsworth’s (1970) study.”

  22. Guest
    November 10, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    My friend who has studied Early Childhood Ed. has told me the same thing, that Attachment Parenting is a world apart from Attachment Theory. Dr. Sears simply appropriated the term to label his brand of parenting.

  23. Cobalt
    November 10, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Any Child Protective Services worker can tell you this. They work with kids who were drugged throughout pregnancy, not breastfed, not held, left alone and neglected, abused and avoided, and those kids still suffer from being separated from the really terrible people to whom they’re attached.

    I’ve never met a five year old that wasn’t attached to their caregivers, even the ones with really horrific home situations. Attachment is easy.

  24. Ellen Mary
    November 10, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing ARE my version of ‘good enough’. This time I really did not want to co-sleep, only for safety. However the baby had other plans & after many agonized discussions with my Ped, we continued. As for BF: I can do it, and he loves it, the end. I would have to pay for formula anyway . . . BabyWearing is just fun for us both, when I remember to do it, but there is no scientific reason a stroller would be better for us, it is certainly more expensive to maintain & cumbersome to operate.

    I think SOB blog can go to far into mother shaming on the opposite tip. I was an Early Childhood Educator before I was a mother. Infants love attention. They love snuggles, I don’t think you can give an infant ‘love obesity’.

    • fiftyfifty1
      November 10, 2014 at 11:31 am #

      “Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing ARE my version of ‘good enough’.”
      Huh? I think you have the concepts of “good enough” and “my personal preference” mixed up.

      • Ellen Mary
        November 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

        No, what I was trying to say, is that in some cases, it is the path of least resistance & won’t be damaging my infants to BF & hold/wear them. Bed Sharing is dicier, and certainly room sharing is better, but on that tip, room sharing is actually superior to either bed sharing OR crib in a nursery, which is what the overwhelming majority do. So the answer is neither AP or the opposite, in that case, but something in the middle.

        AP also wouldn’t be the first or the last infant theory that was disproven. Look @ the Victorians.

        • Karen in SC
          November 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

          How is room sharing superior to a crib in a nursery? You don’t want your choices to be devalued but there you go, devaluing others. A crib is fine place for a baby to sleep, and my babies made too much noise to sleep in the room with me. I had a monitor and responded to the night feeds just fine.

          • Amy M
            November 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

            I think she’s going by the AAP recommendations on that one. I may be wrong, though. Mine slept in the next room over too, no problems. Our room is too small to fit any more furniture in there.

          • Karen in SC
            November 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

            Really? I’m gobsmacked by that.

          • Cobalt
            November 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

            Babies that roomshare have a lower incidence of SIDS by statistics. The mechanism responsible is all speculation, but the correlation exists.

        • DiomedesV
          November 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

          “No, what I was trying to say, is that in some cases, it is the path of least resistance”

          If you were trying to say that then you failed utterly. But I don’t think you were trying to say that. You’re backpedaling, as usual.

          • Ellen Mary
            November 11, 2014 at 2:49 am #

            I ignored like the first 3 personal attacks, I am going to call out this one. You can surely find enough room to make your point by responding to what I actually said without attacking my character . . .

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      November 10, 2014 at 11:34 am #

      You are free to choose whatever you want; just don’t tell the rest of us that we have to do the same things in order for our children to have a secure attachment to us.

    • Cobalt
      November 10, 2014 at 11:34 am #

      You can’t spoil a baby by hugging them, but you can train a toddler or preschooler into totally obnoxious behavior by never putting them down and letting them grow.

      Breasts, bottles, carriers, wraps, strollers- they’re all just tools. Attachment Parenting gets to be tool worshipping after a while. Choosing your tools based on ideology, instead of what honestly works best for the circumstances you’re in is losing sight of the real goal. Baby carriers aren’t evil, certainly (and are much more manageable than a stroller if you’re taking public transportation), but the use of it should be determined by needs, not arbitrary standards. Same with feeding and diapering and any other choices. Pick what works for you and the baby, not what someone you’ve never met has declared is the only right way.

      • Pillabi
        November 10, 2014 at 11:55 am #

        What really gets on my nerves is those sentences such as “Western Countries are the only ones that don’t babywear” and all those nice pictures of African and Asian women with babies wrapped on them. I’d really like to know what those women would think of a nice stroller, had they ever the possibility to get one.

        • Cobalt
          November 10, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

          Sidewalks. Any country with sidewalks has strollers.

          • Bombshellrisa
            November 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

            Oh heck, that is what those BOB strollers are for-sidewalk, gravel, dirt-that thing can roll on any surface.

          • AlisonCummins
            November 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

            Some sidewalks are too narrow, crowded and broken to use a stroller (any sidewalk I’ve used in Africa or Asia). If your sidewalk only accepts single-file, you cannot put your child down until they are old enough to manage independently — at about two or three at the earliest. There’s no room for giant strollers on crowded city streets or narrow country walking paths. If you are going 20 minutes to your farm to weed yams, you carry the baby with you then hand it to an older child to look after while you work. This older child may be only six or seven, but because children are always within eye- and ear-shot of an adult this works out ok.

            It’s a practical thing.

          • Bombshellrisa
            November 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

            My grandfather grew up in a rural area in Asia-no sidewalks of strollers or baby carriers. He told me the worst part of being one of the oldest kids was looking after all the younger ones. The solution came to him and two of his brothers: they dug a hole large enough to put the youngest ones in. I always liked that story!

          • Bugsy
            November 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

            Heh, I saw a BOB a few months ago that had been reappropriated as a dog stroller. I can’t remember if it was a single or double, but it was full of small dogs. Those are some lucky dogs!

          • Bombshellrisa
            November 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

            Wow-lucky dogs indeed. I hope my son doesn’t see that. He is almost ten months but he already loves dogs. If he saw that he would probably squeal until one of the dogs was sitting in the stroller with him, which would be a mess (we have a Samoyed and a cattle dog/lab mix)

          • Pillabi
            November 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

            What about Dogwearing? THOSE would be lucky dogs!

          • Bugsy
            November 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

            Not quite dog wearing, but close enough!

          • Roadstergal
            November 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

            That cat looks appropriately wigged out!

          • Bugsy
            November 10, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

            Lol, I can’t imagine for a second trying to wear one of our cats. Can you say “ER visit”? 🙂

          • Liz Leyden
            November 10, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

            My sister, who lives in Harlem and doesn’t own a car, seriously considered buying stroller for her cat because it would make trips to the vet easier.

          • AlisonCummins
            November 10, 2014 at 4:46 pm #


          • Amy M
            November 10, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

            My SIL does that. One of her dogs is a 5lb chihuahua, and is easily stepped on. Also, her other dog is normal-sized, so on walks, the little dog can’t keep up with the bigger one, so he gets carried.

        • Sarah
          November 10, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

          AP generally is pretty bad at appropriating poor, non-Western women and their experiences. The number of times I’ve read stuff about how women in X poor country don’t have problems breastfeeding, or supply issues, or PND due to breastfeeding. Usually in reference to a country where PND isn’t understood in anything like the same way as in the West and where the infant mortality rates are sufficiently appalling that actually, they could be covering a lot of deaths due to poor supply.

        • Amy M
          November 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

          Oh yeah. I saw one recently (comments on an article about cosleeping) that claimed that all Japanese people bed-share with their infants, and SIDS never happens there. I suspect that’s not accurate.

        • Amy
          November 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

          I work with many people from all over Asia, including India. I have yet to meet one who knows what I’m talking about when I mentioned “babywearing.” It’s not a thing that people do in other countries because of love, it’s because they have to go to work in a factory or a field.

          • Roadstergal
            November 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

            The name really gets to me. “Babywearing,” like the baby is a dizam fashion accessory. If it’s just about carrying the baby in a comfortable and safe fashion, why isn’t it called “carrying the baby?”

          • Bombshellrisa
            November 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

            If they didn’t give it a name, how could they possibly feel superior for doing it? It would just be carrying your baby and who gets credit for that? /snark

          • Lion
            November 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

            I refuse to say I baby wear! Though I do use slings and Mei tais and shhh, don’t tell, even a stroller sometimes. I also use a towel or blanket to strap baby or toddler to my back, I’m African, we do that. I don’t identify with baby wearing though. It has to be the silliest term I have ever heard.

          • lizdexia
            November 10, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

            Agreed. Various baby carriers can be useful if optional parenting tools. I see no reason why it needs to be a form of identity. It’s to the point I’m hesitant to recommend anything other than an Ergo to expecting friends lest I be identified with the Babywearing as Religion crowd of parents.

          • Megamechameg
            November 10, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

            I die a little inside whenever somebody says ‘baby wearing’. It is just such a stupid name for something so common.

        • DiomedesV
          November 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

          They’d probably love them, if they got a chance to stop carrying their baby everywhere while they *work* because they have no other meaningful options.

      • lizdexia
        November 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

        I don’t understand when and how parenting choices and tools became ideologies. I like using an Ergo/woven wrap/mei tai to carry my baby around. He likes to snuggle when I get home from work, I still need to wash dishes/do laundry/walk the dog, it works out well for us. I do not identify as a “babywearer” because it’s just so damn weird to elevate an optional parenting tool to a lifestyle or system of values.

        • Junebug
          November 10, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

          I use an ergo and tend to wear hippie skirts and have full sleeve tattoos. These are just things I like, but for others they are status symbols that indicate “yes I want to talk about how vaccines are bad, formula is poison, GMOs are evil, HOMEBIRTH is awesome, and cry it out fundamentally ruined a generation of children- in the toilet paper aisle of Walmart.”

          Everytime a woman approaches me in a store with a baby in a carrier it is pretty much guaranteed an avalanche of bullshit is sure to follow. I thought it was weird the first time a random outspoken chick blasted me with what she assumed were like minded beliefs, but after a dozen times I was ready to just start perching the carseat on the damn cart.

          Oddly, this happens to me all of the time, yet in 4 pregnancies not a single stranger has touched my belly., something all my friends complain about.

          • Junebug
            November 10, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

            Not sure why my iPad capitalized homebirth there, but I wasn’t trying to yell it.

          • Bombshellrisa
            November 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

            Oh god yes-ds was in the carrier at the off leash dog park and I kept getting approached by people asking if I belonged to the “baby wearing club” from the local area. It only got worse when I went to the Whole Foods up the street so I could use their bathroom and diaper changing facilities. Someone there told me she “could tell my son was breast fed” because he looked at everything and everyone intently. Umm, no. He got some breastmilk but he looks at everything intently because he is a curious baby. And those multiple facial piercings are really interesting to everyone, why wouldn’t he be interested too : )

          • Junebug
            November 11, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

            Long before I had kids I worked at a holistic pet store in Redmond where most foods were in the $50 a bag range, and the raw was $10 a pound (avg med dog would eat about a pound a day for ref). So raw feeding was the elite, “best” thing to do for dog feeding in many people’s minds. Imagine if breastmilk were available in any specialty baby store, formula would be even further disdained, even if breastmilk were $50 a day, effectively unreachable to practically everyone outside the microsofties.

            Well, everyone that came in just LOVED to tell me they could tell my dog was raw fed because his coat was so shiny and he was so intelligent. I never had the heart to tell them I bought my dogfood at Costco for $25. Because folks working part time for $8ph totally drop $300 a month on dogfood.

          • Bombshellrisa
            November 11, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

            I forgot you were local-the incidents I mentioned happened at Marymoor and the Redmond Whole Foods.
            I wonder sometimes if what you are talking about is really happening on a small scale because of the possibilities of getting milk from people offering it up on craigslist or wherever else you can offer it up. Because then there is “no reason for your child to have formula” when you could still feed breast milk (albeit it someone else’s pumped breast milk). Before, it was either breast feed of formula but now there is that option.

          • Cobalt
            November 11, 2014 at 8:18 am #

            Yes! I don’t wear long skirts and the baby carrier together when out with the kids because then random people think I’m “that mom” and I end up doing a bunch of mythbusting instead of just being politely ignored by the general public. This AP stuff has become such a “statement”.

        • Amy M
          November 10, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

          I don’t know, but one of my favorite stories (which I’ve probably told here before) was when I was pregnant (with twins). An acquaintance, who was and still is, a huge proponent of AP, asked me what parenting philosophy I intended to follow. I laughed and said “Survival!” She offered to tell me all about AP if I wanted to know, which I politely declined.

          Her daughter is 3yrs older than my sons, she stayed home and was hardcore AP, I work and didn’t do any of the AP things like breastfeed, use a sling or bed-share. Despite these differences, all of the children are, amazingly, doing just fine. Her daughter is a bright girl, doing very well in school, my boys also. Shockingly, they aren’t total degenerates because I didn’t follow some specific philosophy. Who would have guessed?

    • Sullivan ThePoop
      November 10, 2014 at 11:59 am #

      I don’t think you can give your children too much attention, but attachment parenting is not even about the child.

      • FormerPhysicist
        November 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

        Maybe not an infant, but you can *definitely* give a child too much attention.

      • Bugsy
        November 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

        Well-said. It’s about moms’ needs.

      • November 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

        Ding-ding-ding! We have a winner here!

        Nailed it.

    • Bombshellrisa
      November 10, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

      You keep mentioning how your son “loves” this or that. That is missing the point, he would love a bottle of formula too because it would quell his hunger and he would also love to see the world from the vantage point of a stroller. Again, children have basic needs: food, shelter, clothing and a caregiver who is good enough. Things start getting more complicated when we mistake our needs and likes as parents for what our children like or need.
      I do have two baby carriers, grocery shopping is easier that way for me and my son does well so it’s something I do, but I don’t mistake his calm for loving it, he puts up with it or tolerates it or whatever because it is what he knows. And I have never seen an infant carrier of any kind for less than $20, while I can go to Babiesrus and get an umbrella stroller for $20 or the consignment store for much less. Again, it’s preference and it’s good to know what works for your child and you as long as it’s really about what works best and not trying to assign yourself a higher score on the attachment parent value system.

      • Ellen Mary
        November 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

        All my infant carriers have been cheap or free. My double stroller was 80, on Craigslist, originally 160 @ WalMart.

        Just because my son might love formula feeding doesn’t mean Breastfeeding is damaging him! That would be like saying to everyone who genuinely enjoys swimming in a lake that they would like a pool just as well so their stupid lake is totally worthless, and they only like it because it is H2O.

        There must be a way to value the work of BF mothers (because it IS work) while affirming formula feeding an equally valuable, but I don’t think y’all have found it. When I read here, especially this morning, I feel like this blog is trying to call what I do every day stupid & deluded.

        • Amy M
          November 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

          You are missing the point. It’s not about the specific practices you follow. It’s about Dr. Sears and his ilk deciding that his version of parenting is the RIGHT WAY and children not raised that way will somehow be damaged. This philosophy has been very pervasive, and scared new mothers, afraid that they will screw up and their children will be fat, stupid, sickly and hate them are easily led to try to do it “right.” They want to believe that if you just do X, you will get result Y, which is what Dr. Sears is selling. And if Y doesn’t happen, you must not be doing X enough, or correctly.

          Basically, regardless of your parenting philosophy, and what tools you do or do not use, your children will be attached to you and be emotionally normal. Your kids will be fine, and so will mine, and mine are being raised differently than yours. It doesn’t matter, because neither of us is abusing or neglecting our children.

        • Bombshellrisa
          November 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

          “Just because my son might love formula feeding doesn’t mean Breastfeeding is damaging him! That would be like saying to everyone who genuinely enjoys swimming in a lake that they would like a pool just as well so their stupid lake is totally worthless, and they only like it because it is H2O”
          I did not and will never imply that breastfeeding is damaging. When you feed your child, formula or breast milk or a combo, you are meeting a basic need. They will love it because they need to eat. You may prefer it because it’s easier to do or you are enjoying it but an infant doesn’t assign value to how they are fed.
          The only person who needs to be valuing breastfeeding is you. Every time this subject comes up, you insist nobody values the work it takes to breast feed. It’s not that breast feeding isn’t seen as valuable. It’s just that it’s valuable on a personal level only. If you are happy and your baby is thriving THAT is what is valuable, if you are loving that time nursing it’s very valuable. But you can’t expect to be validated and valued for feeding your child.

          • Ellen Mary
            November 11, 2014 at 2:39 am #

            To me it feels like ‘not only must you feed your child and ensure your child survives, not only must you be up on the latest theories of infant care, but now you must also *deconstruct* any theory, and make sure you are not doing anything crazy like actually valuing lactation for its own sake . . . To me the ‘Skeptical’ parenting angle, which I suppose is intended to do away with the bar, just raises it a little higher . . . Like sure you BF, but if you were a REALLY with it mother, you would understand that BF is oversold, and you would be beyyyyond all that, it is SO much better to Fearlessly FF while earning a PhD . . .

          • Bombshellrisa
            November 11, 2014 at 2:43 am #

            Not a “with it mother”-an adult who understands other people don’t have to value her decisions for them to be valid and valuable to HER.

          • AmyH
            November 11, 2014 at 9:49 am #

            I’d say that as a mom, I just read these posts, nod my head, and go on. I’m not trying to be an attachment parent, or a skeptical parent, or any particular parent… I do want to be a SAHM, I must confess, and I’m not ashamed of it or worried about what anyone here thinks. (And a lot of commenters would disagree with my philosophy.) I don’t plan to buy Dr. Amy’s new book, precisely because I expect to agree with most of what it says (I hope she’ll take that as a compliment).

            I come here to read about birth, not parenting, but I do agree that I want to support my friends who formula feed or have had scheduled inductions or elective repeat C-sections. I did feel better deciding to wean at 10 months because of the evidence presented here that my child would not have a significantly diminished IQ, and I was able to laugh inside when the lady at WIC consoled me that I “did pretty good” when I confessed that he’d had formula for two months and joked that I was a failure.

            So a lot of posts are what I call “if the shoe fits wear it” posts – if you’re feeling in bondage to breastfeeding, or scared to accept a medically indicated intervention, or worrying whether your child will be sufficiently attached, then tune in and this post might help. But if you have a home routine that works already and everybody’s happy, it’s probably not for you. (Unless you’re going around making snide comments about other women who FF or induce or have CS or don’t cosleep, or trying to educate your friends out of vaccinating – none of which I assume applies to you either.)

          • Ellen Mary
            November 11, 2014 at 11:39 am #

            No I am checking & calling out the Cesarean hate, but I had a Cesarean (and DH & I both are here because of Cesareans), so I have an unfair advantage there . . . I will buy her book when it comes out though, because I am excited that she is publishing one! Even if I always disagreed (I don’t), I celebrate her achievement!

          • AmyH
            November 11, 2014 at 11:56 am #

            Well if I could afford it, I might buy it because I believe in what this blog is doing in terms of correcting misinformation. I came here planning on a homebirth, and am thankful I didn’t have one. But I seriously try to avoid constantly exposing myself to opinions on parenting, beyond factual information (nutrition, medical, etc.). I think part of what I saw you calling out on another comment on this thread is actually a society-wide tendency to just over think parenting. And I believe Dr. Amy is seriously trying to call it out, and a voice of reason is certainly needed… But I think common sense and the advice of our peers and elders would go a long way. The Internet certainly makes it easier to search out and join like-minded cliques, which in turn increases the pressure to overvalue whatever aspect of your own personal decisions, when you find 500 other people share them passionately.

            I’ve resolved over and over to quit reading this blog, since it just raises my blood pressure to read about some stupidity, and all my non-vax’ing friends aren’t interested in my opinions anyway. But I do try to chart my own path and avoid identifying myself too much with any other movement. I think that promoting an “us/them” mentality is probably the easiest way to start judging “them,” and there’s no one movement that has all the truth anyway.

          • fiftyfifty1
            November 11, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

            Breastfeeding IS totally oversold, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad way of feeding your baby. Not at all! If breastfeeding is what you WANT to do, go for it!

            …but see, that’s the rub. Breastfeeding doesn’t seem to be what you actually want to do. You complain about it almost constantly.

        • Cobalt
          November 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

          Good parenting should only be measured by meeting the needs of the baby within the context of the family’s circumstances. It should not be measured by what safe and available tools are used to meet those needs. If you’re making choices among the options available to meet your baby’s (and family’s) needs, based on the specifics of your particular situation, you’re doing it right.

        • Bugsy
          November 10, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

          I’ve been a regular poster of this blog for a while now, and I’ve never heard anyone say that breastfeeding is evil or that breastfeeding moms are bad. Heck, my now 2-year-old breastfed until last month himself, and I’ve never felt any criticism from this site for it.

          What we are saying, however, is that parents need to make decisions that are internal and in the best interest of their unique families. Frankly, the idea of “attachment parenting” falsely uses external criteria to determine how attached a mother is to her child. That’s where it fails modern-day caregivers, generally the moms.

          Yes, I have no doubt that almost all of us strive to have our kids feel attached and secure. However, the very fact that we worry about the outward appearance of how attached our kids are show that the aforementioned studies don’t apply to us in the least.

          Co-sleeping, breastfeeding, vaccinations or not, the kids will turn out attached. As an educator who is also the child of two educators, for that I am certain.

        • Sara N.
          November 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

          The only person who is going to value the work you put into breastfeeding is the person who doesn’t have to put work into feeding your child because of it. That person is not me. So no, why should I value the work you put into feeding your child? It literally has no value to me. I value the work my husband puts into washing our baby’s bottles. I’m sure that if I were breastfeeding, he’d value the work I was putting into that. Breastfeeding is not stupid and deluded. It is simply one way to accomplish the duty of feeding your child. But I just don’t care how you feed your kid as long as your kid is fed.

        • Cobalt
          November 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

          Feeding the baby is valuable work, always. The method has only as much value as its results in a particular situation, whether breast or bottle. The work of breastfeeding is not inherently more difficult, or more valuable, than using formula in a general sense. It may be much more valuable to you in your situation, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to anyone else’s experience or needs.

          • Ellen Mary
            November 11, 2014 at 2:45 am #

            Breastfeeding is physical, manual labor . . . Like working in a garden sorta, only with your breast . . . I’d challenge you to find a mother out there that doesn’t think it requires physical stamina, it can make you tired, there is definitely caloric output . . . I am not complaining or whining, and no doubt there is work to FF . . . But BF *is* valuable as labor . . . I feel like framing it as a ‘choice’ makes it easier to devalue the labor that goes into it . . .

          • Cobalt
            November 11, 2014 at 8:10 am #

            Yes, breastfeeding is work. Your body must produce milk (caloric cost, have to feed yourself well enough), you have to plan to be available when the baby is hungry and then you must put work into the actual feeding process.

            Formula feeding is also work. You have to purchase formula (get money, get to store), you have to have some sort of planning and preparation for the formula to be ready when the baby is, and you have the actual feedings.

            There is also combo feeding and pumping, which can require all of the above in varying amounts.

            Yes, it’s all work. However, no one kind of work is more special or deserving of support, praise, or value by the surrounding community. It’s the family that chooses which type of work best suits their needs, workloads, logistics, etc. The surrounding community’s only interest is that the baby is fed.

          • AmyH
            November 11, 2014 at 10:01 am #

            But that is part of the problem – I struggled with admitting to friends that I switched to formula at 10 months in good part because I was tired of what it took out of my body. My weight was slipping past pre-pregnancy weight, and I felt that all the moisture was drained out of my body head-to-toe. And the benefits were no longer worth it for me. We were no longer doing night feedings, so there wasn’t that convenience. My baby was so distractable that he never missed it – I just made the mental transition to “don’t offer, don’t refuse” and breastfeeding tapered off and disappeared.

            But because so many in my circle wanted to think of it as an obligation, not a “choice,” I did feel some shame in admitting that I chose not to. I certainly avoid pointing out to them that my child is just as healthy and smart as their children are, because yes, that would seem to devalue their labor. But what about devaluing my choice to formula feed? It has to be worth it to *you.* It honestly wasn’t worth it to me, in my particular circumstances. Maybe if I’d been in exactly your circumstances it would have been. But everyone has not only different circumstances, but different personalities and priorities.

            [I hope you don’t think I’m picking on you – I enjoy reading your posts, because I do share a lot of your philosophy, believe it or not, and I do feel it occasionally gets taken to an opposite extreme here. If I didn’t think your arguments had thought-provoking value, I assure you I wouldn’t be commenting on them.]

          • Ellen Mary
            November 11, 2014 at 11:32 am #

            That is sweet! I sometimes feel like a super pariah on here, although I do enjoy engaging and I don’t mind taking the con position sometimes . . .

            It is really super elusive to affirm both feeding methods equally . . .

            BF my first is a choice I made a long time ago, before the current backlash/adjustement/whatever. Or at least before I was aware of it. Recently I bought some formula & he took the first bottle really well but then no so much after . . . But I will definitely be the first to say that it is physically demanding and interferes with other tasks . . . Just yesterday, when I was expressing the challenges of nursing an older infant plus moving to my mother, she was like ‘but he is 11 months old so BF him now is YOUR choice so I’m not going to feel bad.’ I wasn’t asking her to feel bad . . . I was just expressing a challenge I had. But that is what I meant, when people look at it as some crazy affectation instead of something you are doing to take care of your infant.

          • fiftyfifty1
            November 11, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

            “It is really super elusive to affirm both feeding methods equally . . .”

            It is if you secretly believe that one way is “right” and the other “inferior”. On the other hand if you believe that both are healthy methods, and truly trust women to choose what is best for their individual family circumstances, it is easy to affirm both feeding methods equally.

          • fiftyfifty1
            November 11, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

            “I wasn’t asking her to feel bad . . . I was just expressing a challenge I had.”

            Naw, when people complain, they are asking for sympathy (i.e. for others to feel bad for them). It gets old. And you, Ellen Mary, complain about breastfeeding more than anyone I have ever known in real life or on the internet.

        • Guestll
          November 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

          I think you struggle with the perception that the work you do is stupid and deluded. It’s not us.

        • MLE
          November 10, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

          I have literally never, in four years of reading here, seen anyone claim that except you.

        • AmyH
          November 11, 2014 at 9:35 am #

          Was reading this last night on a mobile device and didn’t have the energy to comment, but on my laptop now… who knows if anyone is still reading.

          Anyway, I think I do understand this specific comment and its relation to the original blog post. You COULD take the blog post to mean – baby carriers, cosleeping, and breastfeeding are the equivalent of force feeding calories; that you are force feeding attachment/affection to the babies and it’s harmful.

          But I don’t think that’s what the blog post DID mean. I don’t believe Dr. Amy has a beef with people who end up doing a lot of common AP practices just because that’s what is convenient for their families. (I do have a beef with cosleeping as the default/preferred sleeping arrangement, as the evidence does seem to indicate it’s more dangerous – but that said, I too found myself doing it at certain points just for survival.)

          To me, the *principles* of AP are problematic. My personal illustration of it is when I was googling something about strollers and found some woman posting on a forum about how she was struggling to find a rear-facing stroller, because her baby-now-toddler had to ALWAYS be making eye contact with HER. A parent may use a baby carrier because it’s more convenient (my 5mo was a little spoiled and wanted to be in the Ergobaby while I washed dishes, and I couldn’t stand to let him cry). But when a parent subscribes to *attachment principles,* and is constantly “pulling” a child to become more attached instead of “pushing” the child to develop age-appropriate independence, then I think that’s where this blog post applies.

          As an example, although I didn’t intentionally encourage my child to ride around in the Ergo instead of playing on his own for 20 minutes, my spoiling him was definitely a factor in his learning to sit up and crawl later than average. I wasn’t AP – just an inexperienced, first-time mom who had the time to hand him whatever he wanted whenever he fussed, and it wasn’t a big deal; he’s not emotionally scarred. But it isn’t an attitude that I encouraged in every aspect of his life, and it isn’t the way I’ll be raising the next one (due in Jan)…

    • DiomedesV
      November 10, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

      Your version of “good enough” if used as a standard to measure up other people is not only inconsistent with what we know about biology, evolution, and the history of human societies, but on a societal level is actually harmful. And it doesn’t seem to make you very happy. Color me unimpressed.

      If you were an Early Childhood Educator before, you should know that parents who don’t AP can give their infants plenty of and more than enough attention.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      November 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

      Actually, claiming that they are your version of “good enough” is what’s known as the “humble brag.” It’s supposed to sound self-deprecating, but it’s just another form of boasting.

      • Bombshellrisa
        November 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

        Oh geez yes! Kind of like if I said “I don’t use organic fruits and veggies when I make all my baby’s food. I wish I was a better parent and could afford them”.

      • Ellen Mary
        November 11, 2014 at 2:02 am #

        You misunderstand my intent, 100%. Would you say I was bragging if we replaced breast feeding with formula? Nope. I am trying to express, that just like the mothers you celebrate, on a day to day basis, I am just trying to get through the day & care for an infant. I suggest you examine the idea that I can’t express that my ‘ordinary devotion’ looks like what you are calling the moral equivalent of over-eating without bragging.

        I was trying to express that I do the things you decry as overkill, but I don’t feel that way, during a typical day I just feel good enough, if not actively guilty (for the co sleeping bit).

        • Bombshellrisa
          November 11, 2014 at 2:35 am #

          The humble brag works both ways. I know family members who use it in the opposite direction with everything from how many school activities their children participate in to how much college is costing them to not hand making everything (or not buying everything) they give as gifts. It may come worded as a complaint or self deprecating but it’s indeed a humble brag.

    • Who?
      November 11, 2014 at 3:53 am #

      So if all that is ‘good enough’, what would be ‘premium’ parenting?

      • Bombshellrisa
        November 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

        Taking a selfie with your baby wearing a “I am fed only nonGMO breast milk onesie”. And posting it to Oh Baby Foods Facebook page.

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