Saturday, May 19, 2012

Open Letter To Mainstream Media

Dear Mainstream Media;

I am not being oppressed by my parenting style. Thanks for your concern but you are missing a key piece of the story. You see; I am not solely responsible for building and maintaining my child's sense of attachment.

If I were I would most certainly find the weight of such a responsibility oppressive; I may even find the idea of shouldering that responsibility impossible. I may laugh or rage or otherwise dismiss it entirely. Instead I embrace the piece of mind that comes of following my child's cues with my heart and my instinct because I don't have to do it alone.

My son has a secure emotional attachment to me. My son is also attached to his father. He is attached to his grandparents. He is attached to his aunt and his uncle. He is attached to his other caretakers who all accept that they have a role to play in meeting his needs. He trusts these people to meet his needs because, though we have all made mistakes, he knows we have never failed to love him. I trust these people because, while mistakes are always a part of life and relationships, they have never failed to love me.

He has a village. I have a village. We have a village of people who love us, who trust us as much as we trust them, and who support us in every way they can without question or condition.

This kind of community is so rare in the culture we currently live in that it seems you can’t even imagine what it is like. You feed us images of strong women with headlines designed to imply competition, you feed the resulting public take down of strong women by releasing article after article about her body and her dress, you debate my status and power within my community on daytime talk shows, you create within the public awareness the illusion of ‘good mom’ and ‘bad mom’ and pit them against each other.

Your point is quite clear; if you can’t parent this way you aren’t enough, if you can you are either oppressed or an extremist. In your sphere there is no win for any woman. The point you are missing is all the ways our culture is failing our children, is failing women, and men, failing families. The story you are missing is how we could be doing more to support all families to make choices based on what they feel is right and not what is necessary to measure up to your standards.   

Attachment parenting isn't about mothers. It's about families and it's about community. By continually dismissing and denying the roll that other family and community members have to play in attachment parenting and child rearing in general it is you who are adding unneeded shame, guilt and stress onto women. 

Please stop.


Julian: Feminist & Attachment Parent


Lauren @ Hobo Mama said... [Reply to comment]

Yes — exactly. Attachment parenting wasn't meant to exist in a vacuum of one isolated mother and her children. It's a natural child-raising culture, but it reflects the millennia of how parents raised their children only if the village is intact. On the one hand, having been plenty isolated myself, I totally sympathize with parents who find AP hard due to lack of support. On the other hand, refusing to acknowledge the role that other trusted caregivers have in AP (particularly partners, who I think get the shortest shrift in these conversations) just reinforces those silly modern stereotypes that parenting is meant to be done alone. Thanks for calling the media out.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I'd like to add that I have much less of a village and I don't feel oppressed either. I think it's more about your mindset than even your support system. Obviously having a village plays a huge role no matter what your parenting style, but I think your attitude going in - How much of yourself you are willing to give, at the hardest moments - is equally important. And getting past our society's constant insistence that your life is worthless if you don't "have it all." Personally, I don't want it ALL. I just want the best parts. :)

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