Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I've been debating whether or not to post about this:

After all, most people have talked up a storm already.  I spent most of Friday in an outrage about the cover, and probably not for the reason that you think.  Every free moment I had with colleagues, I engaged in a debate over the cover.  Here's why:

This is ridiculous.  Perhaps I will lose some readership on this fledgling blog as a result of this post, but guess what?  I guess I don't give a shit.  I'm breaking all the rules and judging both Time Magazine and the women who discussed the ridiculous parenting choices they make.  Oh, well.  But I think it's important for me to explain why I'm judging them.  It's not because the thought of breastfeeding a 3-year-old weirds me the hell out, though that is definitely a part of it.  And it's not because I am one of those women who goes around judging the choices of other women.  I'm not.  Instead, my frustration and, frankly, borderline hatred of people who go down the route of attachment parenting derives itself from both my experience and my job.

Those of you who know me well and know about my personal life (specifically what I do for a living) probably understand a bit better what I'm about to say and where I'm coming from.  But for those of you who don't know what I do for a living, I think you will still find my reasoning logical.

Here's why you have every right to judge parents who do crazy shit to their kids, like sleep with them in the same bed or breastfeed until their child is pre-school age (or older):  because these decisions, no matter how personal, affect other people in society.   If you raise a child who needs you at every drop of the pin, you are not raising an independent member of society.  Imagine working with someone like that.  We probably all already do this.  

Parenting has become incredibly insular and many parents make a lot of decisions for their children based on what they think is best for them (the parents, not the children), not what is best for all the other people these children will have to deal with in their lives: teachers, future employers, future girl/boyfriends, etc.    I'm not saying you should navigate all parental decision making with future bosses in mind, but you must consider what kind of end product you are creating.  How will your "attached" child function in society?  

Plus, all this feminist bullshit about how we shouldn't judge other mothers is such crap.  As members of society, women already judge other mothers ALL THE TIME.  If we see a mother hit their child, we would call the police.  Guess what?  That's a form of judgement.  If you knew a child was being neglected, you would call DCFS on the parents.  Again, a form of judgement.  Not that those judgements shouldn't be made, but you get where I'm going with this.  People make snap judgements about other people's parenting choices all the time.

Somehow, the message has become, these are educated people, let's not judge their wacky decisions.  Well, perhaps that's the problem.  I see attachment parenting as a syndrome among, for lack of a better term, over educated yuppies.  Mostly white.

When I was putting myself through grad school, I nannied for people that would fit into this same category and who practiced attachment parenting in various forms.  Let me tell you just some of the effects of attachment parenting on a non-family member:
  • These children were always the worst sleepers and eaters.  They needed a million comforts to fall asleep and they were the pickiest eaters.  
  • These children lack a lot of discipline.  One day, in the not so far future, I will discuss my view on discipline and how it's a huge, necessary component of parenting that many are either too afraid to do, too guilty to do, or simply believe it's more harmful than helpful.  All of these are problematic in our society.
  • These children were often some of the saddest I nannied for.  This wasn't always the case, of course.  But definitely a few were sad when they, for instance, couldn't have a non-organic ice cream cone when all their friends were having one.  Or they were sad that they couldn't do the things their peers were doing because of all the rules their parents had in place.  So, while I'm sure many children whose parents practice attachment parenting are extraordinarily happy children, there does come a point for some when the rules become more of a hindrance to your child's happiness than the cause for it.
Of course, the retort is always that I haven't given birth and I'm not a parent, so I have no right to judge or comment on others' choices.  I vehemently disagree with this close the book argument.  I have EVERY right to comment on ANYTHING that affects the society in which I live and my job.  And just because I choose not to be a parent does not mean that I don't have a right to be a part of this discussion.  Especially given my extensive experience with children.

Let's go back to an earlier point in rant, though.  My nickname for these decision makers: over educated yuppies who are mostly white.  Let's think about this for a second.  Breastfeeding your child and having them sleep with you is a decision only certain members of this society can actually make and get away with.  Imagine if that Time Magazine cover featured a black woman or a Latina breastfeeding a child old enough to ask for it.  Imagine if that woman was lower income, but again not so low that it is nutritionally necessary to breastfeed (because I want to be clear that breastfeeding a child in order to actually feed them because you have no other options is not the target of my wrath). Do you think that so many people would be crying in outrage about judging mothers???  I don't.  I like to call problems like this white people problems.  And it has nothing to do with most white people.  Because I love white people.  My husband is white.  My mother is white.  I'm not hating on the white race.  My point is simply that no one is going to bat an eyelash at a blond, somewhat wealthy woman who makes crazy decisions about parenting.  But if you change the race and the income level, there are a number who would not only bat an eyelash, but who would also call the authorities.  That's not to say that there aren't people of color practicing attachment parenting, either.  I'm sure there are.  I'm just saying that more often than not, these are, well, white people problems.

Okay, I think that about sums up my angry rant.  I understand if you hate me now, but I hope that you really just hate crap like this.  : )

And to make up for the rant, I give you Seth Myers's take on the cover (and the inspiration for my post title):

(Time Magazine Photo cover via Time; SNL clip via Huffington Post)


  1. Let me add my 2 cents to that. This is sick on many levels. Breastfeeding is nature's way of feeding a baby until it's mature enough to eat real food. Which starts at about 4-6 months AFAIK, and gradually you add more and more food and before they turn 2 yo kids are totally fine with no milk AT ALL. A 3 y.o should NOT be breastfed at all, it's not what nature has foreseen. And let's not even start talking about the fact that at that age, kids already have some form of sexuality (yes, people, and that's normal) and I think breastfeeding at that moment is creepy to say the least.
    But the sickest thing of all, to me, is in the name: "attachment". Yeah, right. There's a reason why we say we bring a child "to the world". Because it's really TO THE WORLD - kids are not meant to be "attached" to their parents, they're meant to become free individuals. That doesn't mean there aren't links and love, but attachment is a toxic word to me. I think those kids will make good candidates for long years of therapy.

  2. Never thought about it in terms of how the child functions in society...I guess I always thought raising a child who can function well in society was so common sense it didn't need to be thought of. But apparently that's changing...also liked your point about how differently we judge mother's decisions based on their race. Never thought of it that way. In terms of attachment parenting, I think it places unbearable pressure on women to give themselves over so completely to their children that there isn't anything left of themselves, and I think that's a sad example to set for our babies. I want my children to see a woman who excels at a career she finds fulfilling, values her family and treasures her husband.

  3. you've raised some good points here MJ...I'd have to disagree with you a bit; when it comes to extended breastfeeding (ie past the age of 1 but not over the age of 2/3. Many studies show there are many benefits of moms extending the 'standard' nursing age to babies (reduced SIDS, o-no ear infections, diabetes, obesity etc etc). Co-sleeping...interesting thoughts here are well; this isn't just a 'white people' thing I have to disagree. In many countries/cultures co-sleeping is the norm. It seems to become an issue primarily in the U.S....too many other points for me to discuss..perhaps this might be a good time for me to start blogging AGAIN ;-) lol


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