Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why I Choose Attachment Parenting: A Rebuttal to Nicola Kraus

WARNING: I won't be censoring my language here because I'm ignoring my own advice and writing a blog post before having a "cooling off" period.

Yesterday, Huffington Post blogger Nicola Kraus posted an entry titled 
"My Message To Dr. Sears: Why I Choose Detachment Parenting." Since her friends with high-needs children practice Attachment Parenting, she concluded that Attachment Parenting must be "masochism." You know, instead of wondering if maybe parents use Attachment Parenting to help meet the needs of high-needs children, and not that Attachment Parenting CREATES high-needs children. No, no, attachment must produce hell. Her words, not mine. "Um, Dr. Sears, I'm sorry, but that sounds like hell."

Bitch, let me tell you what it really is.

" I understand full well that we all had narcissistic parents, post-war babies of trauma victims who subsisted on rationed sugar and rationed affection. Our parents divorced en masse, were closeted if they were gay, left us to "find themselves" and smoked and drank -- not just through our gestations, but throughout our childhoods -- and this is just a quick snapshot of what pops into mind. It was awful -- I get it. But trying to keep your child in your bra is not the answer."

First of all, a closeted gay parent is not the equivalent of a parent who was an abusive alcoholic, you homophobe. Secondly, Attachment Parenting has been the default parenting style for thousands of years, not a random new desperate response to post-war trauma. 

"We've all seen Blossom nursing her 25-year-old on the subway. Is she doing it for him -- because he "needs" it -- or because it fills her with a sense of security and purpose robbed of her as a working child actor? Does a 3-year-old need to be rocked to sleep or do you need to be needed that badly because your own inner 3-year-old still isn't sure if it was? "

Biology puts the natural age for absolute weaning from our mothers at 6-7 years of age, which is why our baby teeth are called "milk teeth." The world average for weaning is 2-7 years and the World Health Organization recommends that children be breastfed AT LEAST until they are two years old. I'd post my sources, but my readers already know them, and you don't come across as someone interested in facts and shit.

"I nursed her often and for hours, but I always put her to bed awake in her own room, and by 6 weeks, she was sleeping through the night. By 12 weeks, she was sleeping twelve hours. She loves her crib. To this day, I pop her in at 7:30 p.m. and kiss her goodnight. While I prep dinner, I listen to her on the monitor. Sometimes she just moves her animals around once and blacks out. Other nights she sings to them for awhile. Either way, I'm on with my evening so my husband and I can have a nice dinner together when he walks in the door. Babysitters love her because she's easy to put to bed."

Since you only have one child, I'm going to help you out here by letting you know that your next child would probably be NOTHING LIKE THIS. We have parenting styles that help or hurt our children, but our children also come with their own temperaments and personalities. Those parents you judge for their kids who can't sleep without help at age 3? They probably wouldn't be able to sleep on their own if their parents HADN'T practiced Attachment Parenting, either. Some children are high-needs. They have personalities that need more reassurances. We have used the same techniques and parenting practices with all 3 children, and all three have had their own unique approaches to sleep, tantrums, and independence. So while you are feeling pretty self-righteous about your parenting right now, there's a good chance a second child would smack that smile right off your face in a heartbeat. 

"As I stand across from parents who sometimes spontaneously burst into tears they are so sleep-deprived and miserable, I am so grateful I knew to take the long view. And that really is the thing, Sears; I have yet to meet a parent of a child over 9 months old who isn't in some kind of agony trying to undo the attachment crap. "

Really? Look over at my subscribers and I can introduce you to over 100. Go to Mothering.com and meet thousands. Go to other countries and meet millions.

My first born made me sleep-deprived because he had colic. Once we found out he was allergic to dairy, I cut dairy out of my diet, and he became a whole new child. He's been a pretty good sleeper ever since he was 4 months old, with the exception of when he is sick, and the year he struggled with night terrors. With our second baby, I cut out dairy right away and she slept pretty well. Third baby, same thing. The TECHNICAL exception is that my babies woke up to nurse in the night. WHICH IS DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE, and also more humane if the weather is hot. We adults keep cups of water next to our bed. Why shouldn't my child have a drink if she's thirsty?

While you're proud that your baby was sleeping pretty solidly at just a few months old, the American Academy of Pediatrics themselves has stressed that feeding schedules can lead to dehydration and failure to thrive. So, I'm glad she turned out, but you were actually threatening her health and well-being. Brag about that, sister. Your baby thrived DESPITE YOU, not because of you.

"That also seems to be the moment that it dawns on a parent that there is no exit strategy. Sears' whole they'll-just-get-up-and-leave thing doesn't seem to be panning out. For the record, I've never heard of a kid who has. "

You're right. I know a lot of parents who still have their kids in bed with them. All 3 of our kids still spend most of their nights in our room with us. The difference, though, is that we aren't trying to get them to leave. Most of the other parents I know who still have their kids in bed with them are doing it ON PURPOSE, too. I know very few parents who struggled to get their children out of their room, and in general they were children who simply had more tender personalities. The others were able to transition their children over just a few weeks. 

"Following that window, it's the marriages that really seem to fray -- some to the point of breaking. A recent divorcĂ©e said to me, "Well, of course, we never had sex anymore with the kids in the bed -- why couldn't he understand that?" Because I'm betting that was nowhere in your vows. "

Your friends are boring and probably secretly frigid. We have been married almost 13 years and have more sex now than we did before we had children. In bed, on the floor, on the couch, in the kitchen, in the closet, in the shower, on the coffee table, often all in the same night. The mom who never had sex in her bed while the babes were there, and got a divorce? I'd bet money she didn't want to have sex and the kids were an excuse, because I haven't met a single Attachment Parent whose love life problems are because there's a kid in the bed. The ones who are having sexy problems would be having them no matter where the children were.

"Set your life up so it can be full of sleep, sex, movies, dining and travel, so that the marriage that produced the child is as healthy when that child trots off to the great world that awaits them as it was when you said, "I do." 

Trade in the sling for a slingshot and think about the kid you want to shoot out into the world when you're no longer there."

Sex? Check. Sleep? Check. Movies? Not really, but that's because I think movie theaters are a rip-off. Dining? All the time. Travel? Our kids have been on planes  several times and only once had a problem (ear infection). Emotionally healthy children? People often tell me how kind my children are. Thinking about the children I'll be sending into the world? That's precisely why we chose Attachment Parenting in the first place. 

Ignorant Harpy called out on her Bullshit? Done and done.


  1. Brilliant. I wish I were a parent so I could learn from you. This just makes intuitive sense to me. Children need parental warmth, validation and attention. AP seems to provide that very naturally.

  2. OK, I haven't read her whole article (because, ya know... I have enough anger), but this part:

    "...I am so grateful I knew to take the long view..."

    WHAT?? Depriving your child of nurturing and food so you can sleep 8 hours in a row every night approximately 12 months earlier than you would have anyway. Yes, that's the long view.

    "...or do you need to be needed that badly because your own inner 3-year-old still isn't sure if it was?"

    And how do we prevent this supposed problem? By showing your 3-year-old that she's needed and wanted!!!

    Good grief, leaving aside the fact that she clearly doesn't actually know any attachment parents, the leaps in logic are epic.

  3. Not only should you avoid the article, BUT DON'T READ THE COMMENTS!!! I read them because I left a comment, and now I want to cut people!!

  4. My mom practiced AP before Dr. Sears coined the term--when I told her, she said, "I only did what felt right!"

    I'm doing the same for my baby. I say, baby your baby. Everyone will be happier that way, and they will be happy, secure adults.

  5. I don't consider myself an "attachment parent," but I also try not to label myself either way. I'm of the mind that you figure out what works for you and just do that. Everyone else can just suck it. :) I have two children who are night and day when it comes to sleeping, needs, wants, and personalities. And that's ok! I never co-slept with my first (except maybe the first 2 weeks or so) because it wasn't working for everyone, especially for me. I think things need to work for everyone for them to be successful. No one was getting enough sleep, including him, so into a pack'n'play in our room he went for a few months, before we moved him into his own room. He's always been a good night time sleeper (I was really spoiled as a first time mom!). My daughter is still a crummy sleeper at age 2. Co-sleeping worked better for her, and was the only way she'd sleep at all for the first 8 months of her little life. Each kid is different; your parenting styles change as you get to know that new little person more, and as you add new little people--and their various personalities--to the mix. People who are unwilling to adapt to the needs of their children and themselves are the ones that are in hell. If Mayim Bialik wants to nurse her kid until he's 10, good for her. If it's working for them, it's a win-win. I don't know if this rambling is making sense at all. :) My advice to new parents is always what I said at the beginning of this master's thesis...figure out what works for you and everyone else can suck it. :)

  6. I'm pregnant with my first, so I have yet to experience what it's going to be like to parent. I have no idea what kind of baby I'm going to have. I don't know if he's going to need me constantly or if he'll be an independent little turd like I was. All I know is that I'm going to do my best to adjust my parenting strategies for HIM, and not for ME. That's what really bothered me about Nicola's article. It wasn't about what was best for her child, it was about what was best for her and her lifestyle. I'm glad her strategies have worked out for her so far, for her child's sake. But what if she'd had a child that didn't respond to that kind of parenting? Based on her tone and opinions, I don't think she would have adjusted at all. And that's the problem. Our babies are our responsibility. They rely on us to care for them the way they need, not the way that's easiest for us. Why have children if you're not prepared for that?

  7. I love this. Thank you xxx hope you don't mind if I share this with an online support group for parents of high needs children, many of whom were deeply offended by Nicola krauss' ignorant article xxx

  8. Yes, please, spread it around. Nicola's claims were not only false but insulting.

  9. While I don't agree with either of these (the original article or the rebuttal) I have to say there is some wrong thinking on your part (Nicola's too but this isn't his blog). Attachment parenting while maybe prevalent in third world countries (for a very different reason than yours or any other Americans) it is new here in America it has never been the norm and the further in history you go the less and less you see it. My Mom is 49 and when she was being raised people would have laughed at the idea of attachment parenting (not saying that was right just saying it's true) the more and more society "developed" and the more and more the "feminist" movement took hold the more and more we saw different parenting styles including attachment parenting. You can post all the articles and research you want to validate your choice as a parent but I guarantee you this he can post just as many to validate their choice. For instance the claim that co-sleeping interferes with the marriage...well I can post studies that validate that...and as a Mom who doesn't co-sleep and never has it is hard enough without kids in the bed to find time for all that, in our house the couch, the coffee table, ect are not an option because my kids rooms are connected to the living room and the kitchen and well I wouldn't want to get up to use the bathroom and see that. I chose to not co-sleep because my husband and I need OUR space a place that is just ours, a sanctuary for us, our kids have their own rooms, why the heck would we not deserve the same? If it works for you awesome, but in studies done a lot of times at least one of the spouses desires more alone time, wants the kids in their own rooms, they just are not as joyful as the spouse pushing the attachment style. The fact is everyone just needs to get off their high horse and realize that no one has everything all figured out and everyone does different things and sometimes different techniques can produce the SAME result, no one is better at anything than another.

  10. No, I won't. And here's why. While it may be true that co-sleeping doesn't work for everyone, "we need our space" is not a valid reason to isolate an infant who DOES need it. If you need your space that bad, don't have kids.

    Our parents, their parents, and probably one more generation had to deal with some very anti-children policies, including the belief that breastfeeding boys for "too long" would turn them gay or too effeminate, that circumcision curbed masturbation, and that God commanded them in the Old Testament to spank their children or risk the wrath of God, ignoring all the other OT commandments such as burning down your house if you find mold in it and never companion planting crops. Prior to the industrial age and often during it, families lived in small homes, children usually shared beds with their parents and then one another, and ample paintings from that era show mothers breastfeeding openly with both infants and toddlers. The modern age demanded that parents value obedience above all other values because society needed obedience above all. THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT NORMAL, IDEAL, OR RIGHT.

    I know parents with babies who did not like anyone near them while they slept, and I now not everyone has a bed with room for all. I know not every little Attachment Parenting practice works when you get down to it. Attachment Parenting is about valuing a baby's needs as much as your own, and following their cues instead of artificial schedules or the latest trendy parenting author, for optimum development and emotional growth. It is a biological fact that human infants are born earlier than any other mammal. They are less independent and more in need of contact and assistance. If sharing your bed doesn't work, keep your baby's bed close so that you can meet her needs without her having to panic first. If you want a convenient baby, don't have one. They are not convenient. They are helpless human beings about to increase their brain size and capacity faster than at any other time in their existence. They NEED us. When we birth them, we ACCEPT that.

  11. I have to object that AP is new to America. My family is from Deep in the mountains of KY. True hillbillies-some still have dirt floors, even. Where do you think I learned AP? That's right-my family. All breastfed, held their babies, attached at the hip, and never left them to cry. We have a very tight and loving family. That's not uncommon for many ethnic areas I have encountered. Post-WWII America nearly killed it for the mainstream, but luckily it's on a comeback.

    As for the same result...the scientific evidence disagrees with you. Just sayin'.

  12. Desiree - thank you for sharing that about Kentucky. Any way I can talk you into making a huge blog post about it? Or do you have one? That would make for a fascinating read!