Natural mothering is fear based mothering

The organizing principle of contemporary mothering ideology (aka attachment parenting) is NOT nature as its proponents like to pretend.

It’s not intuition as its most stalwart ideologues insist.

And it’s certainly not science.

The organizing principle of contemporary mothering ideology is FEAR.

Every aspect, from natural childbirth to breastfeeding to baby wearing, is designed to manipulate women with the fear that their babies will be harmed and not bond to them.

There’s nothing new about controlling women through fears about their children.

As Jana Malamud Smith explains in ‘A Potent Spell: Mother Love and the Power of Fear’:

The mother’s fears of child loss and the derivative fears of harming children or caring for them inadequately have been continually manipulated, overtly and subtly, even aroused gratuitously, to pressure, control and subdue women for a very long time — possibly millennia.

Malamud Smith’s explains what many mothers feel so deeply:

We know that most mothers … feel they will sacrifice even their lives on their children’s behalf. Part of the reason is love. Part is love’s corollary: each mother knows that it would be difficult, if not unbearable, to choose otherwise. How could we live with ourselves if we believed we had not given all to save a child?

When you are willing to give your life to protect your child, how much easier is it to give your aspirations, identity and freedom? The philosophy of natural mothering seeks to deprive women of all three by making them perpetually afraid.

Understanding the depth of a mother’s feelings about child loss is central to comprehending how women who are mothers live in the world… [C]onsciously and, particularly, preconsciously, many women anticipate and fear, often with very good reason, that should they challenge their social role, should they defy the explicit or implicit rules of their environment, they might unwittingly damage their children.

The injunction of natural mothering philosophy is this: unless you do what we say your babies will be damaged: they will be sick; they will be stupid and they will not bond to you.

You must suffer the agonizing pain of labor, and must not dare to expunge it with pain relief, or your baby will be damaged and it will be your fault.

You must endure any discomforts of breastfeeding, any inconvenience and any disruption of your ability to work, or your baby will be damaged and it will be your fault.

You must carry your child constantly and sacrifice any private time, even when you are sleeping, or your baby will be damaged and it will be your fault.

You must buy the books, services and accoutrements of natural parenting (natural childbirth classes, lactation consultant services, fancy child slings and wraps) or your baby will be damaged and it will be your fault.

You must never consider your own needs, desires and ambitions or your baby will be damaged and it will be your fault.

The result is that natural mothering sucks the joy from parenting. Every moment of every day is consumed with the fear that unless a mother does exactly as she has been told, her children will be harmed.

As Malamud Smith notes in regard to parenting “experts”:

The authorities’ admonitions have often harshly and incorrectly punished mothers by suggesting that their children’s suffering or death is a consequence of their behavior — usually any behavior deemed to be ambitious, sexual or independent.

The ultimate irony is that the women who subscribe to the philosophy of natural parenting imagine themselves as independent and transgressive, bucking the hegemony of the medical profession. The reality is that they are being manipulated by fear.

The philosophy of natural mothering is not a requirement for happy, successful children — indeed it has nothing to do with happy, successful children — but the fear it generates is a requirement for making women easy to control.