How is this for a quote?
Indeed, although attachment parenting comes with an exquisite progressive pedigree, it is a perfect tool for the political right.
The quote is from a seriously thought-provoking article by Erica Jong in The Wall Street Journal. I share the majority of sentiments Jong expresses in this article questioning attachment parenting – concerns about unidentified privilege in the movement; the use of ‘the noble savage’ in half-baked theories; the collision between trends in parenting intensification and workplace and institutional resistance; the invisible gender implications of the workload; and the tendency to manifest itself as ‘mother guilt’ – with one notable exception. Unlike Jong I do ‘attachment parent’ my children, and I like it, and it hasn’t particularly trapped me. So how to reconcile my experiences, and other mothers like me, with the very real problems Jong and some other feminists are identifying in the movement?
And anyway, why is everyone picking on attachment parenting? Well, certainly things like this don’t help. In reality all parenting philosophies have their share of zealots promoting ideas as doctrine, attachment parenting is not alone. The Baby Whisperer anyone? And because all parenting philosophies, by their very nature, say something about the way in which women should be leading their lives they all deserve close feminist scrutiny. However I suspect attachment parenting is copping an extra dose of censure. Why? I have a hunch that attachment parenting, with its attempts to better value ‘mothering work’ and also elevate the needs of a disempowered group of people (ie. babies and children) has accidentally tripped some kind of misogynistic alarm system.
Finally, Jong’s article should probably be read together with this interesting companion piece from Jong’s daughter, reflecting on Jong’s mothering.
I am a mother myself, so I am loath to judge another’s parenting. If there is one thing my three children have taught me, it is that parenting is an imperfect science. The road to dysfunction is paved with good intentions, and effort doesn’t necessarily equal results. That said, I think my mother’s essay begs the question: What kind of mother was Erica Jong?