The recent Time Magazine cover of a mother breastfeeding her 3-year old son has sparked a wave of controversy over whether the cover is appropriate, as well as the merits of “attachment parenting.” This type of upbringing involves breastfeeding your child for several years, co-sleeping, carrying your child in a sling, and other methods of heightened physical and emotional closeness between a mother and her child for a longer period of time than what American parents traditionally do. Some people feel that this “attachment parenting” is absurd and have attacked the method and mothers behind it.
Parenting seems to be the topic that people know the least about but are the quickest to judge others about.
Bookshelves and websites are constantly packed with parenting advice – from what to feed your child, how long to breastfeed them, how often to read to them, and a whole host of often shifting advice about what to do where, when, and how. While there may be some common-sense, commonly accepted guidelines for raising kids, there are very few hard and fast rules for how to raise kids; though parenting advice and good health is important to be aware of, the controversy over this cover is unwarranted.
I’m not saying attachment parenting is good or bad, but either way, let’s hold the judgment. From midwifery to hospital births, from strict diets to types of social interaction and play, there are many different methods of having children, raising children, and caring for them. Amy Chua and her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, similarly created a firestorm of controversy last year over her more hard-line approach to raising children; she even received death threats and was called the “worst mother ever” by many American parents (despite the fact that even her own daughters feel differently).
The reason parenting is so difficult, and so terrifying, is exactly because there is no guarantee of what works and what doesn’t. Discrediting a certain practice because it makes us uncomfortable is premature. The "right method" can differ based on family dynamics, the personality of the child, and a host of other physical and environmental factors. While research and science should certainly be taken into account when looking at the healthiest way to raise a child, there is no proof that Dr. Sears method of child-rearing is any better or worse than a tiger mom or a hands-off parent. The Time article was an interesting profile of another method of parenting that, like all the rest, cannot be proved right or wrong.