The Attachment Parenting philosophy isn’t fair to underprivileged kids

I met my “parents” when I was 6, which means I was never going to be worn in a wrap or exclusively breastfed, so you can save your sermons on conscious attachment.

If you Google the words “benefits of attachment parenting,” the very first result will take you to Dr. Sears’s website, where you will find all of the validation you will ever need if this particular philosophy is your jam. “Attachment-parented babies are smarter,” for one, or the somewhat hazy “grows better.” Keep digging and the claims keep rolling in. These wonder babies are healthier, better behaved and may or may not fart rainbows.

As a rule, I don’t have anything against any parenting style, as long as it isn’t abusive or neglectful, and the same is actually true for AP. I don’t dislike it. I just think the attitude surrounding it is a little unfair to underprivileged parents and their kids.

I have had many a person argue this point with me, and I think they truly come from a good place. “Breastfeeding is free!” they’ll remind me, or “Hey, I stay at home because after child care, it would just be a wash. I’m not privileged!” Listen, I get that. I stayed at home for a long time because of the cost of child care, and never once did I roll home in a Bugatti Veyron.

The issue with both of these statements is that both are irrelevant to the very poor. Breastfeeding could actually rain money out of your nipples, but if your crappy under-the-table job won’t even give you a bucket to collect it in, let alone a pumping room, what’s the point? Also, me staying at home because day care is grotesquely expensive is not the same as my friend, who circumvents this issue entirely by working the graveyard shift. Suffice it to say, she doesn’t co-sleep with her kid.

You may think that I’m harboring some kind of secret resentment as a poor mom who didn’t AP so now she’s bitter, but you’d be wrong. I mean, yeah, I was an icky poor person, but I actually accidentally attachment parented sometimes. It wasn’t called that, though. Or maybe it was, but without the internet, it’s not like I could tell.

I’m resentful for a different reason entirely. My parents never co-slept with me. They never breastfed me. Since I was 6 when we met, that would have been pretty freaking weird, actually. We definitely didn’t do any skin on skin, and since I was kind of a troubled little turd, they said “no” to me. Often. And loudly. I wouldn’t call it gentle parenting by any stretch, more like triage parenting.

And yet, the bond I have with my parents is extraordinary. I have never doubted that they will be there for me when I need them, and I can say with certainty that I’m pretty “attached” to them. In a way the lack of a “biological bond” makes that relationship much more special to me. There was no rush of hormones. We had to work at loving one another.

So if you attachment parent, is your bond with your child stronger than mine with my parents? Is your kid smarter than me? Doubt it. I bet I could whoop your toddler in Boggle any day of the week, not that I’m bragging or anything. I even came out pretty well adjusted, challenging toddlers to wordsmithery notwithstanding.

The point of all of this is that whatever way you want to parent is fine by me. But once we start to head into “better baby” territory, I start to get a little itchy. If you really believe that attachment parenting is responsible for the smartest, healthiest babies, than you have to admit that the inverse is also true: The mom who doesn’t have the luxury of adopting your philosophy is raising an inferior child, and that isn’t fair, let alone true.

More on attachment parenting

How attachment parenting may be harming your marriage
What’s so extreme about Extreme Parenting?
Is attachment parenting right for you?


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