I was recently reminded of Erica Jong‘s recent piece on motherhood in which she called attachment parenting a “prison” for women. I was poking around the internet looking for blogs/articles/whatever about attachment parenting & working moms. I didn’t find much, but what I did find was, sadly, not very encouraging. There’s Erica Jong and others who dismiss attachment parenting as bad for mom & baby, there are others who think attachment parenting is only for the stay-at-home-mom set, and then there’s some not-so-practical advice (at least for us lawyer-types).
This is too bad, in my opinion. Recognizing, of course, that everyone approaches parenting differently (given, among other things, the fact that every child is different), I have to say that attachment parenting absolutely can work for working moms (and dads). There’s a lot of negative stuff out there, and I just want to encourage professional/working/student moms to not dismiss this approach out of hand because they think it would be impossible or horrible or I-don’t-know-what. I’ve been pretty gun-ho about it from day one & have learned that indeed you can wear a suit & still practice AP.
In that spirit, I’m going to blog in the coming weeks (months, depending on how this whole “studying-for-the-bar” thing goes!) about my own experiences with attachment parenting and my take on how this approach to parenting can actually be great for working moms. My intent is to discuss the challenges and benefits of this approach and to just generally demystify the idea of “attachment parenting.” And given that a lot of the criticism out there stems from a basic misunderstanding of the ideas behind attachment parenting (ahem… Ms. Jong…) I am going to start with the basics.
If you’re curious and just can’t wait to learn more, please check out the Attachment Parenting International link on my blogroll — It’ll take you to a section of their site dedicated to the issues working parents face.
I plan to post about each of the 8 principles of attachment parenting. These principles are laid out by Attachment Parenting International (or API). First, I like that API recognizes all sorts of family configurations and that working out of the home is a fact of life for many mothers. Some of their suggestions may seem daunting at first, but what isn’t daunting about motherhood?! And while I may not follow everything on the API website, I do buy into the argument that the 8 principles can lay the foundation to a strong parent-child relationship. And I appreciate that many of the 8 principles… Aw, heck, I better just list them before I jump in:
- Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting
- Feed with love and respect
- Respond with sensitivity
- Use nurturing touch
- Ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally
- Provide consistent and loving care
- Practice positive discipline
- Strive for balance in personal and family life
All told, I think these eight principles are rather sensible and do not create a “prison” for women. They provide a set of guidelines for approaching this wild business of parenting and don’t require you do x or perform action y. But I won’t lie, either, following some of these principles can be damned hard (especially the positive discipline and the ensuring emotionally safe sleep). Overall, though, if you think this approach might be for you, it can work — regardless of whether you’re in law school, studying for the bar, or working as a practicing lawyer. Hopefully, that it is do-able will come out in future posts.