Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Attachment Parenting: America's Newest Westboro Baptist Church?

So reactions to this blog post are popping up all over my Facebook news feed. It was thoughtfully written and I honestly feel like if I met the author in person, we would become fast friends. Everything she says is absolutely true. One "crunchy" Facebook group I am a part of actually IMPLODED and a bunch of us broke off and created a NEW group. Luckily, this new group is extremely supportive, welcoming, and friendly. I think maybe it is because it has remained relatively small, so a real community of trust has been created. Unfortunately, a lot of groups kind of spiral out of control and there seem to be power struggles over who can be the meanest, crunchiest badass mama. It's just not necessary and it's detrimental to the community as a whole.

However, just as I was about to craft a thoughtful reply, I found this blog post that took all of my words right out of my mouth. Again, wonderfully written with many points that resonated with me. Everything she wrote is also very true. Again, I imagined that the three of us would all be able to meet for tea and chat for hours or meet up at a bar and party all night together and get along just fine.

Since this is America and furthermore this is the internet and I can feel and say whatever I want, what the hell, here's my 2 cents on the discussion:

First of all, what people have to remember is that Attachment Parenting, up until a few years ago, was fairly obscure. Like anything else, it started more like a movement. Parents reaching out for and to support other like-minded parents. They were looking for something more than the mainstream theories, answers, and strategies they were hearing from parenting books, magazines, news stories, pediatricians, etc. More and more parents started to feel at home with the values and ideals of this movement. Then it gained media attention. It came under attack and whenever someone spoke out to defend it, it came across as defensive and even combative. So yes, I do think there are many APs who are so tired of defending their beliefs that they have become a little bitter and snarky. But I understand that.

I also think that there are some flagships of AP that have to be understood and respected. Consider these statements:

"I'm a Muslim but I eat pork."
"I'm on a gluten-free diet but I eat white bread."
"I'm gay but I only date members of the opposite sex."
"I'm a vegan but I eat meat."
"I'm Jewish but I celebrate Christmas and Easter."
"I'm pro-life but I get abortions."
"I'm a Christian but I pray to Satan."

These things sound a little strange. Yes, there are people who are like this, but it's not generally accepted. It is atypical. I think it is okay to have some non-negotiable beliefs. America has taken the "different strokes for different folks" notion to the extreme. It's like no one believes in anything but everyone believes in everything nowadays. What is that? I don't think I am a bad person for having gut feelings that tell me some things are right and some things are wrong.

Just like Tea Partiers who truly feel in their hearts that any American should have unrestricted access to any and all firearms, I believe that there are some things that are AP and some that are not. When people say "I practice AP but we did CIO with our children" it sounds as warped to me as the other statements I have listed above. So if some of those non-negotiables don't jive with your parenting style, it's not that we are being judgemental assholes, it's that you are not really AP. And that's okay!

That being said, I do believe there are a TON of negotiables and variables when it comes to good parenting. For example, an area I know that I am weak in is discipline. I have gotten some great suggestions from non-AP friends. Also, I'm always worried that I don't have Lydia involved in enough activities. I have non-AP friends that have their kids in swim and dance, etc. and I'm like "Ah crap, I suck."

Look, I know most moms really have the best intentions at heart. Most women do not set out to purposely be crappy moms. We ask around, we do our research, we observe those around us and figure out what would work for us. Let's just be honest with ourselves about what works for us. AP is starting to cast a pretty wide net. It's becoming "I don't hit my kids and use cloth diapers so I must be AP" and I think some hardcore APers are becoming irritated by that.

Disclaimer - I'm not saying that EITHER of those archetypes is me. Please. I'm just trying to discern why there seems to be an element of hostility in these "crunchy mom" groups these days. Maybe subscribing to AP is kind of like a religion, and that's okay, too! People are passionate and sensitive about truths they hold dear. Just like the Seinfeld episode about the dentist who converts to Judaism and Jerry is miffed because he feels like it's inappropriate for him to make Jew jokes, there are a lot of people who there who are not even semi-crunchy but claiming crunchiness and ruffling the feathers of diehard APers.

Again, this is not my passing judgement as a devout APer or an AP outsider. These are the musings of an objective third party from conversations I engage in with both parties. I want to high-five all moms out there who lovingly guide, protect, encourage, and teach their children everyday. Regardless of your affiliation, as long as your kids come first, I consider you a sister. Can I get an amen?

2 comments:

  1. All "groups" of this that or the other thing have their own ya-ya sisterhood aura about them. What people don't realize is that nobody, ABSOLUTELY nobody is the perfect parent. Whether you are non AP or an APer, you have a lapse, or you do one thing or another that may not agree. Ultimately, every parent (or at least every mother), parents on instinct.So, whether one group or another suits you, that's great, but stressing about who belongs to the sisterhood is a funny thing to stress about. We are all parents, one way or another, and unity as mothers and women should be the goal. Whether I'm a granola mom or a Lucky Charms mom (haha) doesn't make me any better or worse. I don't judge those who breast feed or don't, or those who stay home vs those who work. We're all mothers, facing the same struggles, all the same stages and all the same changes. Unity should be the goal.
    P.S. Don't stress the activities with Lydia- she'll get there. For now, let her be a kid. She will voice when she wants to do something. If you are worried- ask her if she'd like to learn something new.

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    1. i absolutely agree. the damage happens when someone DOES think he/she is the perfect parent or, worse, when someone ASSUMES that another person with a differing parenting style thinks he/she is the perfect parent. i try to follow the parenting practices that i think are best. (obviously you think your parenting practices are best or you would not follow them!) but i fail. frequently. we all do. and you're right, we need to support each other more on that front.

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