May 10, 2012 2:36 PM

Time: Attachment parenting gone too far?

The Left's War on Women continues:

Time magazine cover suggests attachment parenting has gone too far

05/10/2012 1:16 PM

Time magazine's latest cover photo has created quite a buzz: A super-trim, blonde 26-year-old mother standing in skinny jeans and a tank top, hand on hip, chest thrust out with an exposed breast -- affixed to which is the mouth of her 3-year-old son, who's standing on a stool to reach it. The magazine is marking the 20-year anniversary of "attachment parenting", a phrase coined by Dr. Bill Sears and his wife Martha in The Baby Book, a best-seller that came out in 1992.

Attachment parenting advocates for keeping your baby as close to your body as possible -- at pretty much all times. Parents are supposed to wear their babies in slings, instead of pushing them in strollers. Mothers breastfeed their toddlers, some through nursery school. And parents co-sleep with their kids in the same room, with babies in attached bassinets and older kids in the bed.

"The essence of attachment parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children," reads the website of Attachment Parenting International. "It is to raise children who will become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection. It eliminates violence as a means for raising children, and ultimately helps to prevent violence in society as a whole."



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I don't know that I would say this is an attack on motherhood. It is a comment about one style of motherhood and I have to say I would agree that attachment parenting can be taken to an extreme that I don't think is healthy for the mother or the child. While having a positive relationship with one's children is important so is recognizing that you are more than just a mother. A woman has many relationships among them is wife focusing too strongly on only one role, that of mother, is unbalanced and thus unhealthy.

Posted by: Diane | May 10, 2012 3:40 PM

Full disclosure - I nursed my babies (a boy and a girl) until each weaned at around age 3. Historically, there is nothing weird or sick about this, and only in recent times has early weaning been pushed as the right way to mother a baby/toddler.

By age 18 months or so, nursing became limited and basically occurred at bedtime or naptime.

The problem I have with this photo is that it deliberately sexualizes the mother and little boy. No mom in her right mind would allow that position. And neither I nor the moms I knew who nursed toddlers dressed that way while nursing. We always wore loose tops that lifted from the bottom when in public.

The magazine has done this for nothing more than sales, attention, and the attempt to discredit a mothering style that ought to be a private choice for a family. By allowing the photo to be published, the mother has fed her own ego and reinforced many false ideas about the relationship between a nursing toddler and his/her mom.

She has done nursing moms and her own child a great disservice at a minimum.

Posted by: Gmommy | May 10, 2012 4:18 PM

Gmommy, you have spoken well. I agree.

Posted by: Barbara | May 10, 2012 5:17 PM

Did you notice the end of the article? It says they want to know your opinion about Time's cover and attachment parenting in general. But the question is "do you think attachment parenting makes sense?". If you have a negative attitude towards the magazine cover, you might go ahead and answer NO to the question. You just said that you disagree with attachment parenting, when maybe you were just offended by the photo.

Posted by: Sandra | May 10, 2012 5:31 PM

Gmommy, thank you for that.

I wish they'd put a picture of a toddler cuddled up to his/her momma with that look of pure love & peace that they get when they take a break from the craziness of their days for little nursing.

Right now I have both a newborn and a two year old nursing & I'd love if people really could see it for what it is. My big little guy really views his time snuggled up with me while nursing as a real, tangible sign of how much I love him.

There is nothing gross about it! There is nothing sexual about it! Just peace & contentment.

Posted by: Dianna | May 11, 2012 3:05 AM

Breastfeeding my children was one of the most precious aspects of mothering to me. This picture is so very disturbing, as it takes something so beautiful, intimate and life-giving between mother and child, and tries to turn it into a 'in your face, immodest, rebellious and just flat out gross' activist statement. There is no virtue expressed in this picture.
What this young mother is doing in this picture is not normal. I don't know ANY mother who has or does breastfeed who would do this in public.

Posted by: Lily | May 11, 2012 6:05 AM

I find this picture extremely disturbing, especially because of its sexualization of both mother and child. I find nursing into the toddler years disturbing as well, but not because there is anything inherently bad about it. I assume that weaning ends at different times depending on culture, food availability, etc., and we live in a culture where healthy food is abundant and most children do not stay with their mothers 24/7. So I find that many of the people I know who nursed well into the toddler years were a little odd. So sue me, it's true. On the other hand, they certainly were not ALL odd by any means. Some just took things to extremes, which is true of anything. My own children weaned themselves at 12 months. I let them nurse whenever they wanted to, and they stopped wanting to. But who knows what other babies would have done or wanted? In my limited experience, most of the moms who continued nursing through a second pregnancy, etc., initiated nursing and offered it throughout the day. The kids seemed to do it out of habit and for comfort, and there are other habits and ways to comfort. I do think this is an example of aggression toward women, and especially mothers, on Time's part. They shot and published that cover deliberately, to make people feel revulsion.

Posted by: Gail Finke | May 11, 2012 9:07 AM

Do you think it’s possible that we could spend just as much time and energy warring about the real problems that negatively affect children? What about the kids who are sold for drugs or living on the streets? What about all of the children that go to bed hungry and starving every night or scared of the abuse they know will be coming after they fall asleep? Can we just take a moment and focus on some of the real parenting problems that exist and are worthy of our attention? I have a perspective shift here:

Posted by: The Mommy Psychologist | May 11, 2012 1:11 PM

I think of all the grief I got about breastfeeding my babies, people who thought it was gross or sexual somehow...and I was covered and I even had people talk with me who were disgusted by breastfeeding who had no idea I was actually feeding my baby at the same time they were talking to me because I did it so discretely and then someone puts this pictre out for the shock value IS a war against women...and babies.....and family. What in the world does that picture have to do with attachment parenting....

Posted by: karen jones | May 11, 2012 2:15 PM

Dianna and Lily - I think we are kindred spirits. I have pictures of both my children nursing at about 18 or 20 months, and it is tender and sweet, and very discretely done.

Gail - I would say that I did what worked for my family to give my little ones the best start I knew how. The weaning process was mutual, and I never forced or initiated nursing with my two. It all worked out very naturally and easily for us.

When I was young, I was much more opinionated, but I now have two grandchildren, one of whom was nursed for about 10 months, and the other is still nursing at 15 months (different mommies). Both my daugther-in-law and daughter are doing great jobs of mothering in their individual ways, and I applaud and admire them. Neither of them is doing things exactly the way I did, and that is fine.

I would love to see more moms give each other the grace to be different in mothering styles and offer one another support instead of criticism.

Posted by: Gmommy | May 11, 2012 2:30 PM

I am one who walks the tightrope between full blown scheduling and attachment parenting. I think there are benefits to each. I breastfed my children as long as they would go. With support, we may have worked at it longer.

But the Time article as, others have said, seems to have been written solely for shock value.

Makes me wonder what the writers would think of this blog post...

Posted by: j dan | May 11, 2012 8:08 PM

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