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Time breastfeeding cover: Attachment parenting vs. an attached parent (+video)

Time breastfeeding cover: It's as controversial for its breastfeeding toddler as for the actual content, and is all about 'The Baby Book,' the William Sears philosophy that has redefined the mother and baby relationship. But the Time magazine breastfeeding cover aside, aren't we all into "attachment" when it comes to our kids?

By / May 11, 2012

The latest Time Magazine cover has sparked a new debate over attachment parenting and what it means for the mom-baby relationship. But aren't all parents into "attachment?" Here, mom Evangeline Bushey helps her son blow bubbles in Owensboro, Ky.

Jenny Sevcik/Messenger-Inquirer/AP


With all the hullabaloo over Time magazine's cover story on attachment parenting (not to mention the omg-did-you-see-that cover photo of a mom breastfeeding her 3-year-old son) I went to go find my well-worn copy of  William Sears’s “The Baby Book.”

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is a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, her two young daughters, a South African Labrador retriever and an imperialist cat..

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The author of "What to Expect When You're Expecting," Heidi Murkoff, weighs in on the Time breastfeeding cover story.

Sears is the focus of the Time article, and is often described as the father of American “attachment parenting” – a philosophy, Time’s Kate Pickert writes, that has “helped redefine the modern relationship between mother and baby.”

“The Baby Book” has become a bible of sorts for moms like the ones in her story; moms who breastfeed their children through toddlerhood, who eschew date nights with husbands in favor of nursing, who never leave their children (ever), and who happily give the marital bed over to the baby.

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Indeed, attachment parenting, as Ms. Pickert describes it, is based on three tenets: baby wearing (no bouncy seats or strollers here – baby goes in a sling next to mom), breastfeeding (as long as possible) and co-sleeping (baby in bed).  As such, this “demanding brand of child rearing” asks a lot of moms, she writes, and also slips into the anti-feminist, since being a good mother in this philosophy seems to require a rather large dose of self-annihilation.


Where’s that darn book?

Because, I’ll admit it, I consider myself an attachment parent. I cuddled or wore Baby M in a sling for most of her first months. (“Are we going to a Star Wars convention?” one friend asked as I expertly criss-crossed the Moby wrap around my shoulders.) She slept next to our bed in a cradle. I nursed her on demand.

But I don’t see myself in this story.

It’s quite possible, I guess, that I’m just a slacker attachment parent. I mean, ever since the baby was a week old I put her down when I wanted to take a shower.  (All that new mom talk about not having time to bathe? I’m telling you, just put the kid down. It can’t move yet.) And although we spent the better part of her first year letting her take naps on us, we never let her sleep in our bed at night. That was our space; no squirmy kiddos allowed.

Still, I carried Baby M enough that one of my grandmothers worried about her future independence.  I encountered more than my share of “you’re still nursing her??” To this day I haven’t let her “cry it out.” We spend an awful lot of time snuggling.

And she’s just a perfect, confident, happy little nugget.

Because – and here’s what I feel is lacking from this debate about attachment parenting – we followed our instincts to do what was best for us. As a family. That’s baby, mom, and dad. (Poor dad gets left out of a lot of these debates – an indication, I might venture, of a lot of the problems with parenting conversations these days.)


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