Friday, July 20, 2012

Extreme Parenting: Enough Already

When I was pregnant with my son five years ago, I first heard about "attachment parenting." Apparently, AP moms (as they call themselves) have decided it is a lifestyle to keep your baby in a wrap or sling and spend as much time together as close as is humanly possible. I am sure I am oversimplifying this, but the idea is that physical closeness brings emotional bonding. Okay, not a foreign concept.

Recently, a friend of mine told me about "free range parenting." This is where your kid plays freely while you watch, fostering independence. Again, I am very loosely summarizing the mission of this group, but that is the general idea I get. So now I sit here, and excuse my teenage text speak, but I can't help but say "W...T...F..."

Why? Do we adult women carry that teenage need to belong and the young adult desire to stand for something into parenting? Why do we need to define ourselves like this? How about this approach- moderation? How about just being a mom? When my toddler is teething and crying and wants to be consoled, I hold her close. It is natural. I did not read it on a website for attachment parenting. When my children want to explore and play, I foster it. I watch and encourage and ask and answer questions ad nauseum. Not a novel idea. Why do I have to choose one of these approaches? And why do we grown women have such a need to belong?

Yep. I can be reasonably green. I am not going to cloth diaper. Good for you if you want to. I conserve water and recycle. There is a middle ground between pureeing organic kale and feeding your kids McDonalds. My preschooler loves Easy Mac and is underweight and picky. Shoot me. He eats organic bananas and carrots. He also eats a chocolate chip cookie every day. Pick your battles.

And, really... is "everything in moderation" dead? It never will be to me. My four year old does not drink pop, but he also does not exclusively drink organic milk or breastmilk. He has regular old 2% from the store, juice now and then, and juice boxes at parties or when we have guests. I am a firm believer in the fact that extremes turn people off. Your attachment parenting makes me want to set your kid free. Your free range parenting makes me want to cuddle your kid for you. How about getting off the internet (which would seem rather difficult anyway with your organic moby wrap) and just doing whatever it seems your kid wants you to do? It is pretty easy when you focus on your individual kid.


  1. It isn't surprising to me that there are these extreme approaches to parenting, there seems to be no normal mothers left. I am new to parenting and am trying to find moms to be friends with. It seems like there are no normal mothers out there. Were things this way when are parents were new parents?

  2. Pauline, right now the news spreads stories in which children are hurt or worse. They sensationalize these stories and maximize the dramatics in order to sell advertizing. At the same time, they scare the hell out of parents. Parents then hover over their children everywhere, they demand that every moment of the day their children remain safe. They don't put monkey bars in playgrounds and outdoor play areas are now padded. Parents don't let their children get hurt anymore. Parents don't let their children walk home from school, or their pre-teens take mass transit. There is a perception that this world is a less safe place then it used to be. No, the news is just tries to scare us more. There was a time where the news ticker at the bottom of the screen only was on when there was a real emergency. Since 9/11 it is on 24 hours a day of all news sources. The news makes money from all of us being on high alert and being scared to death.

    Parents are now scared of everything. They helicopter hover over their children who are wrapped in padding and helmeted. Free range parenting is a movement toward moderation. It has a name because the problem and solution needs to be identified in order to be addressed.

  3. Excellent piece!