First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day to all the fellow mamas out there! I don’t fully buy into the concept of commercialized holidays but I do fully appreciate the idea of specific days (especially in today’s modern lifestyle of go, go, go!) to help remind us all to be grateful, conscientious, and respectful towards different beliefs and the many roles we have in life.
I’m glad to be back to do my first guest post on… you guessed it, TIME magazine’s cover for attachment parenting! (I know, you all are shocked.) We thought it would be an interesting idea for all of us to give our two cents on the matter since it’s such a hot topic right now that relates specifically to our ideals and lifestyles. Also, because it’s a little insane to me that it’s this huge of a discussion for many, many reasons.
So let me begin by saying, they chose that photo and that title for a reason. They are a huge company; they are in the business of selling magazines and making money. They have to make your head turn and create a desire for you to want to look inside and read more. They succeeded. By using bold photos and questionable statements (often, like most forms of mainstream media, with the pursuit of making you feel insufficient and as though you need whatever they are “selling” this week) these businesses lure you in under the guise that they can help cure whatever deficiency you suffer from, whether it be that trendy new product you are lacking, your flawed thought process, an inadequate opinion, or worse yet… behavior that they consider unacceptable for societal standards.
My only issue with the cover is the fact that society has already deemed this a “taboo” topic (breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding, and attachment parenting in general) and this bold photo, posing the question, “Are you mom enough?”, along with the implication that attachment parenting is “extreme” and that we have essentially a self appointed cult leader (Dr. Sears) is a bit much for me. If you successfully make it past the cover and look at the online photo gallery you will see a variety of photos (in much more natural situations), one including a local mom right here in the Kansas City area who’s a member of the parenting group we are in. Once beyond the sensationalism that sells, you truly look at what is going on; these are real women just doing what they believe is best for their children. It’s as simple as that.
Attachment parenting isn’t new. It’s not crazy, it’s not weird, it’s not a cult with a leader and a rule book, it’s not a bunch of hippies nursing their kids until they are in college, it’s not judgmental women condemning the rest of the world for parenting otherwise, it’s not letting your kids do whatever they want with no boundaries (permissive parenting), it’s not sheltering them from every possible bad thing in the world, never letting them be themselves (helicopter parenting)… It’s just women (and men- although you couldn’t tell from this magazine!) who love their kids and are doing what they think is best for their individual family and their individual circumstances. Most of these people don’t even know there is a name to their parenting, they just parent intuitively. The women breastfeed because they know they are biologically intended to and it is what is nutritionally best for their baby, they sleep near their baby because they both benefit from it and so she can breastfeed more readily, they carry their baby in a wrap or a sling because they want to be close and know the baby benefits from it (as well as they have stuff to do and need their hands to do it!), and so on.
A woman doesn’t lovingly parent her children in a manner in which she believes will make her better than you. She parents in a way that she thinks benefits and works for her family. As long as the child is happy, healthy, and safe, what does it matter how a women handles her own personal situation? What does it matter that these woman breastfeed past what society deems “acceptable”? The World Health Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months and afterwards, continuing to breastfeed as a main source of nutrition for 2 years or beyond. Just because our country is uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding, or worse yet, extended breastfeeding, doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t do what they think and/or know is best for themselves and their family.
We all have a choice in life… we don’t have to conform to societal standards. If we all attempted to live in accordance with our own standards and our own ideals with respect towards other humans and their right to do the same, our country and our world would be in a much better place. Next time you catch yourself looking at someone else (whether you know them personally or particularly if they are a complete stranger) and you begin to notice you think they are weird, gross, disgusting, wrong, unacceptable, or different… ask yourself why. Truly question why you are uncomfortable with them or what they are doing/wearing/thinking/saying. You will likely be surprised by how often the only answer you come up with is because that’s how you are “supposed” to feel. When we become increasingly aware of and alter our thoughts, our acceptance increases, we become more genuine people, and our world changes. Our minds open and we are suddenly able to experience and appreciate so much more.
Celebrate this Mother’s Day by looking at all the fellow mamas around you (whether you know them or not!) and at your own reflection in the mirror and say, “Good job! I respect you.” Being a parent is hard work. For all the beauty there is encompassed within, there are also doubts, questions, struggles, hurdles, and grief. We don’t need war, we need compassion. We need support from one another. Don’t let the mindless media and their constant battle with greed fuel the fire of judgment and criticism between us all.
And just because I love her oh so much, the very articulate Mayim Bialik doing an amazing interview with CNN discussing TIME magazine, attachment parenting, (extended) breastfeeding, and the science behind it all.