Saturday, July 14, 2012

Attachment Parenting

Attachment parenting recently made the cover story for Time magazine, which admittedly went for the sensationalistic cover that sold a lot of magazines in airports (see below).   It even carried an implied challenge on the cover: Are You Mom Enough?

The idea of parent-child attachment is currently an accepted topic in developmental psychology.  Basically, this idea originated through the work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, holds that the quality of  infant-parent attachment could be affected by parental style.  According to Ainsworth, children could become securely attached, insecurely attached, or avoidantly attached, and this could be diagnosed using the Strange Situation Test.  While the major emphasis was on mother-infant attachment, infants could (and desirably) become attached to fathers and others.  Furthermore, social psychologists have found that securely attached infants are more likely to have successful love relationships later on when they are adults.

Getting your baby securely attached sounds like a good thing, and the way to go.

[Let me say that I would try to breast-feed mine if and when I had one.  But I would do it quietly and privately.  I don't go in for the public flaunting of breast-feeding or getting on the case of mothers who don't.  To me, it's a private decision, not to be decided by group consensus.]

A few years ago, William Sears offered some general principles of attachment parenting.  Three of those are co-sleeping in the same bed, long-term breastfeeding (perhaps up tofour or five years old), and holding your baby close to you at all times (commonly called baby-wearing).

Attachment parents seem to have developed a cult of the supermom: incorporating this to an extreme degree; but also sometimes combining it with homeschooling, unschooling, organic foods, naturism, and even a paleolithic diet style.  In short, a smorgasbord of fads, cultic practices, and other practices out of the mainstream.  While these practices are certainly out of the ordinary, is there any evidence that the quality of the child's life or his/her attachment to the parent superior as a result of prolonged breastfeeding, babycarrying, or co-sleeping?  There needs to be some serious and critical research; but at present, not proven.  Neither Bowlby nor Ainsworth at any time suggested that those techniques be used.

In the meantime, perhaps a middle-of-the-road approach to parenting might be the way to go.  Margaret Ribble, in her book The Rights of Infants, advocated tender loving care and trusting one's natural inclinations as a mother (or parent).  Too often child advice has been concocted with an axe to grind, whether it's the puritanical notion that a dutiful parent should suppress the old Adam in her child to save his soul, or the unemotional, rigid scheduling parent style advocated by John Watson.

I asked my Mama about what she and Dad did, and their approach was pretty mainstream.  She did say that she enjoyed each of her children and now her grandchildren, and I certainly felt loved and that she could be a confidant.  That may be the key to it all, conveying through little things that you're glad the child is yours and responding to the small stuff. 


Completely unrelated, today is Bastille Day!  Long live France!

One other thing: Today is National No-Bra Day!


Svejk said...

Some people can make motherhood into a competitive sport.
Speaking of National No Bra Day, how about a pic or two, Angelique?

Banana Oil said...

This sounds like something from the west coast.

Mike said...

I saw the kid and mom on TV. He acted like a three year old. But in the picture he looks like an eight year old in camo and combat boots.

Nice slide show at the Huffington Post site.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

No way, Svejk!

Bilbo said...

Your mom sounds like a great lady. And - in honor of National No-Bra Day, I am not wearing a bra and will not object if you don't, either.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

It seems more au courant there.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

She was, thank you!!!

FYI, there's a Go Topless rally in Asheville Aug. 26th.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I wonder about the advisability of the child being in that cover photo.

Nothing Sacred, as Usual said...

Are you going to Asheville?

eViL pOp TaRt said...

For that event, no.

Dianne said...

Maya Angelou said that one of the best things to do for a child was to be genuinely pleased to see them and be with them each and every time
I do that with my granddaughter, and I see her respond
I can even diffuse a temper tantrum, something I couldn't do for her Dad
we live and learn
I don't like the cult mentatility and I really don't like the one mom judging another - I see it with my DIL and her friends
it's an endless competition and they pull their children into it

great post, really interesting
and yay!! for no bra day :)