I have to admit, I was a little shocked when I first saw the cover of TIME magazine last week. My first thought was not that there is anything wrong with breastfeeding a three or four year old, because there isn’t, but given the climate in mainstream America, that brazen of a photo would turn off people not familiar with Attachment Parenting.
It’s sad that there are so many people in our country that are so flat-out against breastfeeding as a whole, not to mention breastfeeding an older child. And it’s sad that TIME took advantage of a perfectly natural, biological bonding moment between mother and child — to mock this approach to parenting with that headline — to sell magazines!
The articles inside TIME do bring attention to Attachment Parenting, but there are large gaps in what they’re presenting as the basis and essence of AP. More focus is on the techniques – especially those that they portray as odd – than why parents do them in the first place. Oh, except for that part where the author said that parents do AP for themselves, to heal themselves, and that there is comparatively less benefit for the child. (Paraphrased, not direct quote.)
Parents who AP do enjoy the secure attachment relationship with their children, but the majority of AP parents aren’t trying to “heal” themselves. They may be trying to do things differently than how they were raised, or the same, but that’s true for whatever philosophy a parent adopts for their family.
Mainstream parents also say the usual allegations – AP doesn’t work for dual-income families, AP kids will never learn independence, AP is the same as permissive parenting, AP moms can’t let go of their kids. Sometimes, it feels like we’re fighting a battle that can’t be won, like we’re salmon swimming upstream with bears on both sides.
It’s easy to want to tuck away within our families and just go on with life, without speaking out for AP. I have that same temptation. It seems like this whole debate is just too much to handle for the AP community, especially as we traditionally are parents who promote nonviolence and cooperation, and that getting involved in a “Mommy war” seems counter-intuitive.
But there’s a time for assertiveness, and this is it. It is time to educate the public on what AP is. This is a point in history where we’ll look back and say, either AP made great strides or suffered a great setback. It’s an opportunity for us to show that AP isn’t weird or off or harmful for families – that loving our children shouldn’t be considered weird.
There’s still time to respond to TIME. API is working to dispel the myths and educate parents on what TIME magazine missed in its coverage, and we need your help. Advocate for AP by submitting a comment here: http://ideas.time.com/submit-
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.