Last week I was banned from a fellow mom blogger’s Facebook
page. My offense? Cautioning
restraint when categorizing other people’s parenting styles and encouraging
compassion towards other parents.
honesty, that ban made me feel like a badass. I own it like a badge of honor. Ban away, you close-minded individuals who decry
being shunned in a close-minded society!
This particular banner advocates for attachment
parenting, the approach to baby raising that's all about co-sleeping, baby wearing, unschooling and elimination communication. Not to be flip, but some
of my best friends and family are into attachment parenting.
My issue is not about attachment parenting. Have at it, I say. Birth those babies at home, breast-feed those
little ones until they can cook for themselves, unschool to your
heart’s content, carry that bum bowl around all you want. Full disclosure: I really wish you would
vaccinate, because, you know, science.
But I know you, too, think science is on your side in the vaccine debate, and
there is no reasoning there.
A few days after my ban, I saw that a friend posted an article
from a “peaceful” parenting page. “Huh,”
I thought to myself, “What is peaceful parenting?” That’s when I made the mistake of clicking on
the article and reading that African Americans use corporal punishment because
“they” come from a “culture of violence.”
Shut the front door. Enough
I’m going to say this loud, and I’m going to say this proud: I DO NOT FOLLOW ANY PARENTING
THEORY. That does not make me a bad
parent, just as it does not make those parents who rely on parenting theory
The way I see it, the older I get — and the fact that I am now raising a third baby — parenting theories are quite a bit like
organized religion. They answer
unanswerable questions. They provide
structure and security where otherwise there would be chaos and endless
questions about the unknown. They
purport to know the right way. Those
that practice and follow a particular one may tend to proselytize the merits of
their chosen belief and condemn those who do not do the same. They, like their religious counterparts,
often result in war. In this case, the mommy wars we are all so tired of hearing about. It's virtual and bloodless but full of righteous indignation nonetheless.
Attachment parenting is all about unconditional love, being attuned to your baby and demonstrating compassion towards that baby.
Just as I do not practice an organized religion, I do not
subscribe to a specific parenting theory. I just can’t embrace that there is only one
right way to parent. I can easily believe that there is one right
way for individuals to parent – I mean we all look for something that fits our
unique needs, skills and values – but I can’t endorse condemning others for following their own, perhaps different, style of parenting. Doing so requires a moral smugness that is
beyond my comprehension.
The Facebook parenting page that banned me had posted an
article about the practice of letting babies cry it out. The followers of this attachment parenting page appeared to be very
happy and content to refer to parents who practice Ferberizing, or other sleep-training methods for babies, as
“lazy shits” who are abusing their children. More than one questioned why people even chose to have children at all
if they were just going to neglect and ignore them rather than care for
There was the occasional timid comment from a parent,
usually a mother, who would admit to putting the baby down for a few minutes
to settle, just so they could settle themselves. Those posts were met with either a condescending, “We’re so glad you’ve
come here to learn a better and loving method to raising your babies,” or the
more condemning, “What you are doing is abuse and violating the rights of your
baby.” A few went so far as to compare allowing your baby to cry it out to rape or, inexplicably,
The social worker in me couldn’t help but leave my own
comment. It was along the lines of,
“Wow. There are some very judgmental
comments on this thread. I wish folks
understood that there are all different types of parenting and allowing a baby
to cry it out, while not your preferred style, is in no way akin to rape or
incest. Attachment parenting is all
about unconditional love, being attuned to your baby and demonstrating
compassion towards that baby. I wish
more of you showed that same compassion for people choosing to parent
differently than you are.”
BANNED. You just
have to shake your head at the ridiculous nature of it all, the sad irony.
I can’t help but wonder whether those messages and values, which allow one to refer to perfect strangers on the Internet as lazy and abusive, trickle on down to those babies who are so loved and adored and exalted that they never pine for their mother’s arms, not even once.
When we start to tune out the parenting methods of others,
when we refuse to allow that there are different styles and means in which to
raise healthy and loved human beings, when we only wish to be exposed to
like-minded individuals, well, folks, we’re missing out.
I can’t help but wonder whether those messages and values, which allow one to refer to perfect
strangers on the Internet as lazy and abusive, trickle on down to those babies
who are so loved and adored and exalted that they never pine for their mother’s
arms, not even once.
I reject the hypocrisy of it.
In those months leading up to the birth of my first child,
when I was pregnant at the same time as some close friends, and when, together, the topic of conversation would invariably
turn to this parenting book or that parenting book, I learned to tune it
out. I said to my husband, so clearly
that I remember it still, “You know what my parenting theory is? Love my
baby. That’s all.”
Ten years and three babies later, it’s still working.