Enough about the Time Magazine cover photo, what about the actual article?
And I would love to hear yours.
To sum it up, I felt as though the article itself was an unfair representation of both Attachment Parenting, and Dr. Sears. The underlying tone was one of mockery, and not unbiased reporting. It paints Dr. Sears as an overly religious man, who is now profiting tremendously from the sales of Attachment Parenting products, where his initial interest in the principles of AP was sparked by reading about an unscientific observation of a tribe in South America. And from there he’s launched an empire that has all of these naïve parents blindly following his lead.
Dr. Sears did not invent Attachment Parenting. Attachment Parenting is not new. He HAS been in the forefront of bringing awareness to these principles in a culture that has prioritized other parenting practices, and I commend him for that.
Unfortunately, the article falsely states that there is no research to support the benefits of these practices. This is simply not true.
About six months ago, I interviewed Dr. Linda Folden Palmer, author of The Baby Bond: The New Science Behind What’s Really Important When Caring for Your Baby, about attachment parenting. (By the way, her book alone has over 1,200 references to scientific journals supporting these practices). One of the questions I asked her was, “What was the most surprising thing you found when you began researching this topic for your book?”
I shared her response on a previous post. (the 3 minute audio response is available on that post).
Her response surprised me as well. In a nutshell, she could not believe the abundance of evidence-based research that already existed that consistently showed the benefits of attachment parenting practices on a baby’s physical and emotional long-term health. She had assumed because her pediatrician didn’t emphasize the attachment parenting practices she instinctively did with her son, that she was going to have to search far and wide to find physicians willing to do research to see what they’d find out.
“Hidden in plain view” is a term I often hear about things that go against “societal assumptions” and the answers are there only if you start to look. That is why I am so passionate about Conscious Parenting. It means asking some questions, and not blindly following what “they” say. It is about being thoughtful and deliberate, about what you choose to do with your family.
Besides Dr. Palmer’s work, there is a lot of other evidence-based research to support Attachment Parenting principles.
According to myriad research about brain development and early parenting practices, in reality this little boy on the Time Magazine cover will likely grow up see the world as a place to be explored, live outwardly and connect well with others, instead of having the instinctive orientation that the world is to be feared, and everything and everyone is not to be trusted.
At a basic scientific level, every experience in a young child’s life orients them (neurologically and emotionally) towards either “growth” or “protection.” Especially up until age 6, during which the child’s brain wave activity is in the delta and theta range (similar to an adult brain’s dream state). The predominant orientation pattern established before age 6 is the one to set the stage for the rest of the child’s life. Some are familiar with the term “imprinting.”
I myself, am oriented towards “protection.” I work daily to try to shift that deeply ingrained neurological pattern towards growth and openness. I know firsthand how hard that is to do. They affect my daily life in many ways, especially in my relationship with my spouse. When I am stressed or overwhelmed, no matter how much I try to be different, my natural instinct is to revert to this well-established pattern. I am aware of it (which is the first step) but it is incredible how powerful that pull is to stay in that pattern when push comes to shove.
And I think to myself, how wonderful for this little boy, and my little girl, to not have to deal with the struggles that I face around these patterns.
It is only because I am very familiar with Attachment Parenting, that I can point out these observations of the article.
The general population who reads this article will, unfortunately, walk away with an inaccurate perception of Attachment Parenting. (if they don’t read this post, that is….) ☺
I pray that I can do my part to represent Attachment Parenting in a more balanced light, and let all parents know that what works best for YOUR heart, is the best for YOUR family. Having an open mind, and an open heart, to learning about other ways of doing things, and even changing how you’ve parented in the past, is all good.
For me, I’m so grateful for having respectful and open discussions about parenting, as it challenges me to really think about how I feel. In some cases, I’ve changed how I have parented because of them. In other cases, discussion and learning has further solidified my stance on my parenting practices.
Either way, I’m not afraid to admit when I wish I had done something different in the past. I strive daily to do the best that I can, and learn from every day. It’s all we as parents can do, whether we practice Attachment Parenting principles or not.
Like I said in the television interview last week, the best advice I would have for parents is to follow your heart. If you do that, your child will feel it. If you are conflicted about your parenting, it’s a sure sign you are usually in a battle between your head and your heart, and your child will feel that as well.
Early on as a mom, I battled between my head and my heart. Often. I now always consciously choose my heart. The only regrets I have are the early parenting times I let my head win over my heart. While I still make mistakes now, I no longer have regrets.
That’s my wish for all parents.
How do you feel about the article itself? Do you think it paints a positive picture of AP? Why or why not?
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