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Is Attachment Parenting Over-Attached?

Betsy and Sal take on a recent Time magazine cover story and answer the question, "Are you mom enough?"

Is Attachment Parenting Over-Attached?

Have you seen the shocker on the cover of this week’s Time magazine? Our jaws dropped when we picked up the issue: it’s $4.99! 

We bought it anyway, because of the provocative photo and headline:  “Are You Mom Enough?” Surely you’ve seen the picture of the chilly looking twenty-six year old mother standing erect and staring blankly at the camera as her three-year-old son, old enough to stand on a wooden chair, is suction cupped to her nipple, having a little snack.  

The article details a worrisome trend in child rearing called “Attachment Parenting.” There’s a lot of posturing in the article, which we’ll sum up as follows: as soon as the doctor cuts the cord, a mother’s life is over. 

We paraphrase, of course. Here’s what it states in the magazine. “Attachment parenting [claims] that the more time babies spend in their mothers’ arms, the better the chances they will turn out to be well-adjusted children.”

We’re not experts, but if you carry your child into kindergarten class, we’re guessing the child will not be labeled well-adjusted. And if snack time involves mom showing up with her shirt unbuttoned, the kid is not going to be that popular until sometime in middle school when other kids discover it’s fun to watch. There might be an Adam Sandler movie about this.

Much of the current attachment theory stems from Dr. William Sears and his wife, Martha. Dr. Sears was raised with an absent father, a working mother, and highly involved grandparents.  This resulted in his becoming a successful doctor. Martha, who was raised by a “diagnosed schizophrenic” mother and a father who died when she was four, grew up to be a practicing nurse. They’ve been married for decades and have eight children. 

Despite their seemingly successful adult lives, together they’ve looked back and decided their childhoods were troubled and what was missing was full-time, sane mothers whose sole purpose in life was to tend to their every need.

As a new mother, Martha determined that leaving a child to cry, even a little bit, could lead to brain damage. Buoyed by her personal theory, no substantive scientific research, her husband’s medical degree and their phenomenal business savvy, they’ve turned attachment mothering into big, big business. 

Go ahead, visit their website. Once there, you will have the opportunity to buy more than 20 books they have co-authored, purchase baby-carrying devices they endorse, and receive page after page of helpful parenting tips. In case you don’t have time to actually visit the website, here are a few suggestions they offer:

Job Alternatives for Breastfeeding Mothers: 

  • Bring your baby to work 
  • Try to “work and wear” (The Searses note that if you wear your baby in a Sling during work, you may have to work a longer a day and accept less pay as a result of time spent with your baby while on the job, but still better than daycare)
  • Quit your job and learn to live with less.

Helpful tips on losing that pesky post-baby weight:

  • Take a brisk one-hour walk every day while carrying your baby in a sling.  (Our backs hurt thinking about this)
  • Wear loose clothing 
  • Breastfeed into eternity

With these tips, they’ve built an empire. 

Who are these twenty-first century women who follow Attachment Parenting? And what types of creatures are they raising?

We think they’ve created monsters. And we’re not talking about the kids. Those will be judged later in life, most likely by a team of professionals whose offices feature couches and soothing lighting. And note: those office hours are going to be filled with a lot of lonely dads who have no role in parenting and no company at night. 

According to current scientific research, what the Searses urge mothers to do in the name of raising healthy kids “is alarmist.”

Alarmist? It’s frickin’ crazy.

Here’s what leads to harmful neurological effects: being a mother who can’t let her baby learn to self soothe. Being a mother who needs to jump up whenever her baby whimpers. Being a mother who must subsume all of her own needs to the needs of her infant.  Being a mother who sleeps every night with her child.

So to answer Time magazine’s question, “Are we mom enough?”  Well, we are moms who know enough to know when enough is enough.


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