Time Magazine and Their Attack on Attachment Parenting

Everyone has seen the Time magazine picture. All English speakers have an opinion. I will tell you this, I see it all the freaking time in Rio de Janeiro.

Ok, I should qualify that statement and say that normally kids don’t stand on a step stool to reach Mom’s boob. Not really how the whole process is done.

Regardless, when did it become ok to attempt to sexualize a parenting method? Ignore that question because I have a better one. When did it become ok to misconstrue a parenting method based on giving absolutely all your attention and love towards the well being of a child? Even better question: Why the hell are you attacking parents who are honestly trying to do their best for their children?

I’m sorry but we are far out of the phase of a cultural norm or societal standards. Has society not realized that we parents are so overly educated in how we are supposed to raise are children that we are practically leaving society to raise them as bushmen?

And I have never been so judged as when I am at home visiting the US. You can’t have your kid accidentally fart without another parent giving you the evil eye. This is coming from an American women who puts her kids to bed, gasp, before 8:30pm in Brazil where the average bedtime is 10pm +.

The thing that they get here that they do not get in the US is that you are a family. You raise your children in the way that best fits them and the family they are a part of. Do I necessarily agree with the ways others raise their children here? Actually, I don’t even think of it that way. It doesn’t concern me. I raise my children the way that is best for them and in the way that I believe, while obviously taking care of all emotional, physical, and mental needs, is the best.

That is the thing that I don’t think people see with attachment parenting. Americans see it as an overindulging and enabling parenting method. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because a family shares a bed and a Mother carries her child in a sling doesn’t mean that they don’t have boundaries. It is a far cry from saying a child is running amok. It is actually a family that is willing to give absolutely all their energy towards their child developing emotionally, mentally, and physically in a healthy way.

You should know that this is coming from someone who does not consider herself an attachment parent. I did not breastfeed my children after a year. Given, they did stop beforehand. My children do have their own beds and have a bedtime routine. That being said, that bedtime routine does include my and Mr Rants’ bed when they or us want. They are also welcome to join us in the middle of the night. We cuddle. We talk. We discuss feelings and use a time out method when feelings are running too high to use verbal communication.

I live in a country that celebrates Motherhood in all ways, breastfeeding being among one of the most celebrated. While Brazilian women in metropolitan cities may not choose a vaginal birth most times (like 9 out of 10), the breastfeeding rate is still quite high. Breastfeeding is celebrated.

I can not tell you how it is to be an extended breastfeeder in Brazil. It wasn’t how it went for my kids and I. I can tell you however that 1/3 of the Moms I know here, expat and not, breastfed until 2 years old. I can also tell you that they didn’t get crap from anyone, not that they told me.

Because it comes down to what my Mother told me right before I delivered my first child: “Being a Mother now is much harder than when I was a Mother because you know too much… or think you do.”

That says it all. What do you think of all this?

22 thoughts on “Time Magazine and Their Attack on Attachment Parenting

  1. I honestly think there are just too many shades of grey when it comes to many things in the US and it causes a whole crap load of confusion. I mean seriously…you mention you’re a stay at home mom in the US and people look at you like you’re a freak or a worthless piece of dung. I agree with you that there is nothing wrong with attachment parenting. I actually enjoyed being with my children so much I didn’t send them off to school until Kindergarten despite the negative comments that I was neglecting my children’s educations and guess what…they all did better than most of the kids who had gone to pre-school. I also found a 3rd shift job when it became necessary for me to work so I could be home during the day to take care of them. I think people get confused and think attachment parenting is narcissistic parenting . They appear the same to the outsider, but are two completely different things. Parents who practice attachment parenting do it out of love for their children. Narcissistic parents do it for themselves. One is healthy… the other one is extremely unhealthy.

  2. I agree with your main point: I parent my kids in a way that is best for them and our family. I have recently felt an overwhelming social pressure to homeschool my kids, because its SO much better than public school, because we’re Navy and it will provide a more stable environment, because all the good moms do. But I know me and I know my kids, or at least my oldest. She and I would butt heads all day long and she would never learn anything, not to mention that she is very social and loves being with others. So I am trying my hardest to ignore all those who think I’m terrible for sending my kids to public school because that is what is best for us.
    Oh, and my kids are 4 and 1.

  3. I still don’t understand a country that recognizes the benefits of BFing and encourages it (until 2 years old), but is also si pro-cesarian birth.

    • Breastfeeding is important for the baby’s health as breast milk helps the child’s growth and immune system . But it doesn’t really matter if the birth is vaginal or cesarian, it won’t affect the baby, only the mother’s body.

      • I completely understand the benefits of breastfeeding. But you’re wrong about the vaginal vs cesarian birth. Of course the vaginal birth is better for the baby.

        Take a look:
        http://www.budapest-doula.com/vaginal-childbirth.html

        http://www.mnn.com/family/family-activities/blogs/study-claims-vaginal-birth-is-better-for-babies
        “According to the study, babies born by caesarean section are more vulnerable to asthma, allergies and infection as they miss out on receiving their mothers’ good bacteria during birth. Alternatively, according to researchers, babies delivered vaginally received protective bacteria as they passed through the birth canal. Left on the baby’s skin, this bacteria could then colonized the baby’s intestine and help inoculate her against immediate and future germs and illnesses.”

        http://www.healthoma.com/why-choose-vaginal-birth-over-c-section/
        “If we go for C Section over vaginal delivery the risk of maternal death increases three to five folds.
        Researchers also studied that the consequences of C Section included the risk of the mother requiring a hysterectomy after a caesarian and that it was almost 3 times higher than vaginal birth.
        Babies, which are born by C-section, don’t receive the natural stimulation that comes from the process of moving down the birth canal. This is the reason C Section born babies are often given oxygen or a rub down to help them start breathe. Also they do not receive mother’s natural hormones released during vaginal birth, which help the infant during their first moments of life.”

    • Totally agree with you on this one! I think many women are just uneducated about the risks c-sec is for both the baby and mother. When we moved to Brasil I was so exited to see all the natural mothering but I was shocked to find the most natural thing turned into unnecessary surgery.

      That being said each mother needs to do what is best for them and their baby. In the end I needed a cesarean and am greatful for it to save my baby :)

      • I agree with both you and Meredith. I will say though that I had a friend who is a head doctor at a hospital in New Zealand. She said they are having a big surge in under qualified midwives. Infant deaths are on the rise as are defects related to labor issues.

        C-sections were created to prevent this. As long as they are treated as such they are not a problem. I do not believe in elective c-sections… though we are in a time of choice and I will not block a woman of that. It comes down to education

  4. There are a lot of campaigns encouraging BF in Brazil and no one ever makes you cover or go elsewhere to BF. That said, the reason there is a lot of encouragement for it is that most mom’s stop breastfeeding when they go back to work (or at least breastfeed very little) and for some, using formula is a status symbol (see the book, Death without Weeping about infant malnutricion and death in the Northeast). I constantly hear mothers say they did not have enough milk and could not breastfeed. That said, there are no “parenting wars” in Brazil, although that does not exempt you from criticisim (“what, no socks, it is only 22 degrees”; and if your kid’s shoes are not impectable, you will hear about it).

    • I used to argue with old ladies about my baby having no socks on in 80 degree weather. Of course they didn’t care at all when I popped out my boob to feed him. Honestly, I was praised for it. Maybe for the reasons you said…

  5. @Meredith – you can definitely value both. I live in the United States, but both my kids were delivered by “elective” c-section and if I ever had any more children in the future I would “elect” to do the same once again. BUT, having said that I breastfed by oldest until she was 2.5 years old and my youngest until he was about a year old. Mothers should be given the choice to raise their children however they want, as long as its within reason (I saw a talk show where there was an 8 year old girl in Australia that is still breastfed – to me that’s quite absurd and unnatural!) I seriously don’t understand why people are making such a fuss about this Time magazine cover. It makes me sad that our society has to be so sensitive about everything!

  6. Hi Rachel! I´ve just got the link for your blog from my husband (he doesn´t remember who gave it to him, sorry) As a Brazilian living overseas (right now we are in Argentina) it is very interesting It was very interesting to see what a ex-pat has to say about my country. Brazil can be a very complex country and parenting in Brazil can sometimes be a trap. When I had my first son, we were in Brasilia and it took me a while to realized that somethings better stay unspoken and to be very careful around mothers that were actually competing about size, weight, what they eat, skills… It is true that most won´t butt in about the way one decide to raise their kids, but they talk, a lot, behind your back. And old ladies will always share their wisdom. Regarding C-section and BF, thinks are not always what they seams. According to some surveys most Brazilian women would like to have a vaginal birth, but they say that when it gets close to term the doctors find something “wrong” can scares them to the c-section. My obgyn in Brazil says that she got tired to fight her patients fights in the hospitals, and more than once she had to leave the patient to talk the board of the hospital to let her to her job. The truth is that most doctors get out of school without actually performing a delivery, they rather do their rotations in surgery, so right now the professors are not exactly experts in the old fashion way to deliver a baby. The ones that still know how to do it are the midwifes, but there is a strong prejudice against them and their work. The breastfeeding is a weird thing, from all the mothers I know, most nurse and give formula (some won´t tell), and after the baby is 6 months, just a few continue, most stop before the baby is one. The same people that don´t bother you when you nurse your newborn in public will give “the look” if the baby looks older than 6 months.

    • I know what you mean about the competition. I learned early on to say little and just agree with people, especially the old ladies. That went double with my second. My oldest was a large easy to breastfeed baby that would eat any solids I gave him and slept like a dream. My second had medical issues and is skinny to this day. Of course he is 1 meter and 2 cm at 3 yrs old so he is growing up just not out ;)

      As for the doctors, it is true. Many people here are scared into c-sections. A lot of it is because of health insurance companies. They pay far more for a c-section and the scheduling is much easier. Put that together and a doctor, if not honest, can find a way to make it happen.

  7. While I do agree that the picture is a bit risque (come on, would you buy a magazine that had a boring cover photo?), the article isn’t. Did anyone read it? It’s not negative towards attachment parenting. If anything, the picture is a bit misleading as most of the article is actually focused on William Sears, a pediatrician who wrote a book on the topic.

    I will say this, I am not like a super patriot but one thing that America does and does well is always maintaining discourse. Open dialogue is very important to us. A lot of Americans and foreigners alike may find it to be “nit picky” to continually discuss these topics but I believe that not letting these important issues go forgotten, always debating, researching, debating, researching etc. has made the U.S. great. A lot of countries set policy and then no one questions them anymore. I think that things like this Time article bring attention to an important topic. If we don’t talk about these things, if we don’t debate and discuss, popular opinion will be set, following generations won’t think for themselves and important issues will get lost. I applaud Time for bringing this up and I do not think that they were trying to sexualize or scandalize this topic at all. Were they trying to get readers? Yes. Were they trying to sell magazines? Yes. But if anyone thought the article was scandalous, I think a reread might be in order. Also, hopefully now that extended breastfeeding (or even breastfeeding) is on the forefront of the [short] American attention span, younger generations will begin looking into it, its benefits and it won’t be quite so shocking anymore.

    • I sadly didn’t read the article because I do not have an internet subscription and have yet to find it on the few newsstands that sell international magazines. They normally arrive late. I did read that the article wasn’t bad. The picture though, as you said, was to get attention. They succeeded.

      As for my picture, I freaking love it because it is so wrong. Then again that is the story of my blog post pictures.

      I think the younger generations will hardly look at this issue. They will have their own. Like us and the ones before us. They will find what we did wrong and focus on that ;)

  8. Being a mom will always be a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. Stay-at-home vs. working. Breastfeeding vs. bottle. C-Section vs. vaginal. I like your approach of, “We do what is best for our family, for our situation.”

  9. Believe me, Brazil can be pretty judgmental about parenting.
    This week-end I went to pay a visit to one of my friends who just gave birth in Sao José hospital in Rio. She was crying in her room, without her baby.
    Apparently, as she chose to give him the bottle and not the wonderful “seio”, she could not feed the baby in her room. She had to walk to another floor to the nursery, give the bottle in front of the nurses and then stand during 15 mn to show the baby was ok before taking him back to the room.
    As she gave birth the previous day, she was really tired and could not walk to the nursery. When she tried to object and insisted on feeding her son in the room, the nurses just said that it was her choice not to feed the baby, so she should not care if they did it elsewhere.

    I’m 7 months pregnant and I was planning to give birth in Sao José but I now switched to Perinatal because my pediatrician told me they did not have this horrible “policy”.

    • I love Brazil and am glad that I was pregnant and gave birth here, but I agree that people here are too judgmental. It just makes being a new mother that much harder.
      As my son won’t latch on I pump and feed him my breast milk in a bottle. EVERY asks me how the nursing is going and it’s sad and frustrating for me. I also feel like when people see my husband or I give him a bottle that I have to defend myself and explain that he is “breastfeeding” because I know what they’re thinking.

      =(

      • I’m sorry Meredith. Brazilian lack of boundaries is difficult the first 6 months to a year. They feel that they can say anything, ask anything, and suggest anything. I know it is because they feel they are helping but it is not always the case

  10. As a child psychologist and a mom, one of the things that is so misleading about attachment parenting is the name. It is only called attachment parenting because of the theory it was based upon. It is not called this because it is the only form of parenting which allows parents to develop a secure attachment relationship with their children. There are numerous ways to develop a secure attachment relationship with our kids. I explore more of this myth here for anyone who is interested:
    http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/04/15/what-does-the-mommy-psychologist-have-to-say-about-attachment-parenting/

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