In a recent column, I referred to "attachment parenting babble," which is to say, I called a spade a spade. The column in question concerned parents whose three children had been sleeping with them for eight years. In one night, these parents ended the arrangement. They did so by simply telling the kids that co-sleeping was over. They did not explain themselves or ask the kids to please "cooperate." Nor were they especially sensitive to the children's feelings. In fact, they really didn't care whether the kids liked the new bedtime policy or not.
Since then, the kids have carried on as if nothing happened, which in and of itself is testament to the blatant falsehoods of -- here I go again -- attachment parenting babble.
Anyway, some people have since expressed their disdain for my disdain of attachment parenting. I forgive these folks for having been taken in by the babble; after all, some of the people dispensing it have impressive capital letters after their names and impressive academic credentials from places like Notre Dame. They are best-selling authors, pediatricians and directors of places with names like mother-baby sleep laboratories. They encourage mothers to "wear" their babies for up to a year, breast-feed until the third birthday, and basically devote every fiber of their beings to their kids, which is to say, said moms usually begin acting as if their husbands are characters in dimly-remembered past lives.
Attachment parenting babble qualifies as babble because there is no good science with which to support it. To be perfectly fair, there are people who run attachment parenting "laboratories" who would say they are doing good science, and I'm sure they believe they are. However, by "good" I mean research conducted by impartial people. The folks in question are not impartial; therefore, what they are doing does not qualify as good science.
I am not impartial either. I have heard many horror stories from parents who bought into the babble and then, several months to several years into the attachment parenting process, greatly regretted the decision. A good number of these parents have told me it was the worst decision they ever made; some have described attachment-mother groups as cults, and some have told me that the decision to buy into the babble led to divorce court. In the latter instance, most of the reporters are ex-husbands.
These many testimonies have led me to conclude that attachment parenting causes the mother to surrender her life to her child's supposed needs, none of which are needs at all. The proof lies in the fact that research done by truly impartial people has found that attachment parenting produces no measurable gains in the children in question. I also conclude that it's very bad for marriages and that couples who would say that it's good -- and I've yet to run into any -- are way, way up that river in Egypt.
A number of attachment mothers have told me that attachment parenting is the most "natural" way to go. My question then becomes, "If it's so natural, and if it makes mothers so happy, then why the support groups?"
I don't need a support group to be gluten-free, eat no processed food and drink mostly water.
John Rosemond, a family psychologist, answers parents' questions at rosemond.com.