There is still a lot of discussion centering on attachment parenting, even though the controversial TIME coverage was almost three weeks ago, which is equal to eons away in our instantaneous, cluttered, sensationalism-saturated mass media. You know that something – some issue, some news story – has made it big when it’s still being talked about this long after the buzz first began.
Of course, TIME is hardly the first to bring attachment parenting into mainstream light and not necessarily in a good light. In all fairness, the articles included in the TIME package on May 21, 2012, were probably the most fair, least biased of any mainstream coverage on the parenting style that I’ve seen. But it still perpetuated a lot of myths: One that particularly irks me is the claim that there is no research to back up attachment parenting, when in fact it is very well researched and one of the branches of research where there are very certain results, with studies all pointing in the same direction rather than some studies contradicting one another.
One of the myths that is particularly virulent – but then again, always has been – is that attachment parenting equals mommy martyrdom, that it asks too much of parents. I find this a little humorous, because what does that say about you if you think that there is a parenting style that asks too much of you? As if your child isn’t worth it. Are there parents who think that way? I hope not.
What the argument is really, is revealing an overall lack of a sense of individual balance in our Western society. Asking us to do a little more for the betterment of our children, whom we love, wouldn’t be such a big deal if the majority of parents didn’t already feel tired and overworked and severely lacking some “me” time. If our emotional cups were already full most of the time. But they’re not. As a society, we seem to be constantly seeking contentment, chasing happiness.
There are plenty of theories abound of why this is, but I see it as our society asking too much of us. Mothers are supposed to work and raise children, and really, there are not many mothers who have a choice between working and staying at home. I feel fortunate that I am able to work from home, but the truth of the matter is, if I couldn’t work from home, either I would have to work outside the home and put my children in daycare or my husband would have to get another job. We just plain could not make it on one income, and we don’t use credit cards and very little debt in general. Actually, what kills our monthly budget is rising food costs and fuel costs, as we need to commute everywhere and we have chronic medical issues that require special dietary needs. Sometimes, I think about what it might be like to not have to work – or at least not work as much I need to – but that’s not reality.
Fathers, thankfully most in the younger generations, recognize that women simply cannot do it all. They are beginning to realize that being a female does not automatically relegate all the housework to the woman. Especially if both parents work, it’s only fair that both should do the housework and parenting, right?
What scares mainstream parents about attachment parenting is that it’s another thing to do, that it’s something else that they really need to do but just cannot get to, that not doing it could have real and lasting consequences and they already feel guilty of what they perceive to not be giving right now. Attachment parenting isn’t asking too much of parents but too much of people who already have too much going on in their lives. To give our children as much time and energy that mainstream parents are imagining that we “attachment parents” give, well, it would require that they give up on something in their life – and that would probably be the only thing in their life that gives them in sense of personal balance. It would require mainstream parents to re-learn how to be happy.
It’s not that I’m judging mainstream parents who scoff at attachment parenting. I have strived to understand that point of view for a long time. I don’t agree with it, but I understand it. And I think I know how daunting that must be for mainstream parents who are faced with the drastic change in thinking that it would require to change to an attachment parenting style – without first addressing their own unmet emotional needs.
For attachment parenting to become more mainstream, it couldn’t come by force or policy – but that isn’t our way as “attachment parents,” anyway – it would have to come by a shift in our societal attitude. And I think it’s coming, slowly, but it won’t be quick. It’ll take a few more national spotlights on the level of TIME magazine’s attention to get there.
Article by Rita Brhel
Rita Brhel is a stay-at-home mother to three children. She is also a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for the Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska, the Publications Coordinator for Attachment Parenting International, the managing editor of the Attached Family magazine, an API Support Group Leader, PSI Postpartum Support Coordinator, Sidelines High-Risk Pregnancy Peer Counselor.
Rita has written 41 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.