Forget TIME, Are You Human Enough for Nature’s Intent (Attachment Parenting)?

14 May 2012 Categories: Attachment parenting

Laurie and her teen son: Attachment Parenting is embracing nature’s intent for children

Humans have become a species that have lost almost complete awareness of our nature and of our mammal instincts. In our efforts to prove superior to nature, we have created a twisted wreck of an alternate reality, where we kill anything “nature” inside of ourselves and in others and we replace it with a synthetic, prosthetic lie. When the “nature” in us whispers and the void begins to burn, we violently attempt to drown the thirst and gorge the hunger with more of our plastic paradigms, our digital addictions, our helpless civilizations and our neophyte attempts to transcend biology, holism and life itself. We have reduced our awareness of our nature to some nice patch of green outside of ourselves. Our nature has become a foreign backdrop where we visit, snap cellphone photos and condescend the “pretty” sights and creatures like some museum of what we’ve rejected and drugged ourselves to believe we’ve improved upon.

If the natural world around us could convey their critique of how we must appear to them as we stand on this stage of concrete, steel, philosophy and technology, what would they say? No doubt humanity’s story would be described as a tragic slap-stick comedy, propelling itself into a compulsive self-sabotaging drama that seems to endlessly implode into its own obliviousness.

We are a species that has built the technology to blow up the planet 100 times over, yet, we are a species that does not even know the most rudimentary facts about how to be human. By rejecting our awareness of and connection to our nature, we have lost our humanity.

Last week, in typical domesticated human style, the United States mainstream was in a heated frenzy over a magazine cover depicting full term breastfeeding.

While humans, like all mammals, were full term breastfeeding their young for millennia, suddenly, the new-and-improved humans who believe they’ve upgraded obsolete nature screamed out the following (paraphrased) dirges:

“Breastfeeding on a magazine cover is obscene!”

“Breastfeeding a four year old is extreme!”

“Attachment Parenting goes too far!”

“Attachment Parenting oppresses women!”

“Attachment Parenting spoils children and makes them dependent!”

Decorated by the provocative title and subtitle, “Are You Mom Enough?”, a buzz-haired older toddler sporting army camo shorts looks bored, arms drooping. He stands on a chair, propped up to reach the breast of his mother who stands, posing guardedly with one arm on her hip as if she is about to drop into a martial arts stance. The pop-cult-ish pose was no doubt part of the intent to make Attachment Parenting appear like the latest fad that TIME was the first to report. It was as if TIME was implying that sticking a breast in a child’s mouth without warmth epitomizes Attachment Parenting.

It is interesting to me that basic Attachment Parenting principles, such as full term breastfeeding and unschooling, are finally beginning to seep into the mainstream this year. However, like any other piece of ancient wisdom picked up by the mainstream media, Attachment Parenting’s principles are being butchered, sensationalized and sliced into empty, candy-coated scraps. Mainstream media serves to pamper and coddle the politically correct, obedient masses in attempts to make money. The controversies they create do not really stimulate any intelligent discourse, but simply trigger predictable, scripted tantrums from ideologically, politically and religiously motivated sub-masses. Emails pour, talking heads babble, blogs churn, Tweets tweet and statuses update. Yet, nearly all of this hissing down the triggered fuse ends up pooling into the same chlorinated conclusion: Human belief is superior to nature’s wisdom.

Laurie and her son, at age 12: Are we human enough to meet our children’s needs?

TIME challenged, “Are you Mom enough?” However, I’d like to challenge, are any of us HUMAN enough? Are we human enough to realize that mothering and fathering are the greatest honors, the epochs, of being mammals? Are we human enough to understand that when we take the colossal responsibility to have a child, that how we parent that child affects humanity as a whole? Are we human enough to entertain the thought that most of civilization’s parenting compulsions, beliefs, trends and philosophies (that we justify with endless excuses) are contrary to what human children actually need? Are we human enough to consider for a moment that our ideological bickering is deforming and enslaving our species into an engineered nightmare? Are we human enough to accept that nature already had it perfectly right and that if we align ourselves with nature, our philosophies might die, but our children and our species will thrive?

Are we human enough to parent the way mammals are intended to parent; the way humans are intended to parent?

Attachment Parenting isn’t about doing a few showy tricks for five years of a child’s life. Attachment Parenting begins in the womb and continues through late adolescence. It is a conscious connection, an intimate symbiosis of empathy, meeting needs, soothing distress and being present. It begins at the top of the circle when one’s child expresses a holistic need.  It continues with the parent empathizing with the child’s need and then meeting that need as nature intended. It is completed full circle while feeling the deepening bond as one’s child is soothed to homeostasis, joy, trust, safety and calm. That cyclic dance is called attachment. It is delicate, primal and precise. Nature intended for it to be a natural instinct for mammals; it intended it to be serious business. In fact it is so serious, so delicate and so precise that very serious consequences result when parents decide they know better than nature.

Since the origin of agriculture, every culture has been moving further away from our natural instincts. Everywhere we look we see humans hurting humans, humans hurting the planet and children growing up being shown how to do the same. Perhaps worse than the violence itself are all of the excuses that people make for playing their part; all of the justifications humans give to convince each other that their special form of contempt or aggression is necessary, acceptable and noble. At the root of this suffering is a multi-generational, multi-cultural cycle of child trauma that became the norm many centuries ago with the birth of the agricultural lifestyle.

Hospital births, minimal breastfeeding, bottle feeding, Male Genital Mutilation, crib sleeping, ignoring cries, rushing development, “potty training”, obedience, punishment, shaming, spanking, day care, forced schooling, compulsory academics, sitting at desks, involuntary same-age peer grouping, parent-child emotional disconnection, lack of touch, no time to play, religious and political indoctrination, pathologizing distress, psychiatric drugging, junk food, materialism, pop culture addiction, media intoxication, family violence, abuse, neglect and pushing teens out of the nest: These are the modern conditions for attachment disruption, disconnection, suffering, trauma, depression, addiction, rage and violence. With these conditions, we are not meeting even a fraction of children’s holistic needs at any age or stage.

Laurie and her son, age 11

Are we human enough to put our children’s needs before our convenience and beliefs? Conscious pregnancies (and conscious adoptions at any age), gentle birthing, leaving our sons’ penises intact, baby wearing, full term breastfeeding, cosleeping, the family bed, trusting each child’s unique developmental time table, elimination communication,  democratic parenting, parenting for connection, meeting needs, honoring children, unschooling, youth-led learning communities, passion-driven learning, mixed age friendships, deepening parent-child connection as children grow older, physical and emotional closeness, snuggling, compassion, organic living food, dramatic play, playing outside, physical activities, the arts, community, spiritual principles, parental modeling, family peace, honoring  interdependence and holding our older teens close while allowing them to fly at will: This is Attachment Parenting, the way of life intended for us by nature. These are the conditions for joy, compassion, brilliance, holistic health, peace and connection to self, family, community, humanity and to the planet.

As Attachment Parents, we are not expected by nature to be perfect, extreme or self-rejecting. We are only expected to be human.

12 Responses to “Forget TIME, Are You Human Enough for Nature’s Intent (Attachment Parenting)?”

  1. vonna 14 May 2012 at 9:57 pm (PERMALINK)

    wonderfully put!! Thank you! I believe that I am raising human beings to make positive contributions to our society. They need to be loved the way human beings were meant to be loved and that is why I attachment parent. I didn’t know when my first son was born that what I was doing was attachment parenting because I just instinctively parented – responding to his needs, nursing, cuddling, wearing him, not circumcising him, not putting him in a crib to cry it out. why? because every instinct in my body screamed NO. how thrilled I was to find after a few months that I was an attachment parent, an intactivist, a peaceful parent and that I had a community of others doing the same.

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  2. jen 14 May 2012 at 11:28 pm (PERMALINK)

    Powerful. I agree that the cover of Time was not very well thought out, as far as depicting attachment parenting to the mainstream. I can’t help but think, though, that the picture does in fact depict how this one woman, in particular, does it.
    “Plastic paradigm”, “chlorinated conclusion”…so true. Excellent excellent article…thank you!

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  3. Jenny 14 May 2012 at 11:42 pm (PERMALINK)

    I could not agree more. I also was basically unaware of AP as a movement, with principles until my son was 2 1/2. Most of the basics were what I was doing though, instinctively- breastfeeding, co-sleeping, (some, wish I had done more) babywearing. I do feel now that I probably weaned too early at 22 mos. He definitely wasn’t ready and I do regret that. I don’t feel too guilty because I didn’t know about child-led weaning. I did what I thought I was supposed to do at a certain point. I “discovered” AP by doing some research for our positive discipline workshop because we were having a hard time parenting on the same page when it came to toddlerdom. Nothing could have helped us more than learning about positive discipline. It was the missing key. With those tools, we are a much happier, closer and loving family. I too, though, found comfort in finding the community of support for natural and peaceful parenting choices.

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  4. Jen 15 May 2012 at 9:12 am (PERMALINK)

    Thank you! I found myself nodding all the way through this article! I too was puzzled by the photo on the Time cover, my son self-weaned at a little over 2 years old and every single time he nursed, he wanted to cuddle up in my lap or snuggle up at bedtime. That is the essence of attachment to me, connection.

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  5. Corinne Grimes 15 May 2012 at 9:49 am (PERMALINK)

    This is one of the most powerful commentaries I have read in a long time. I’m almost . . . almost . . . happy the TIME Magazine piece came out, because the responses I’ve seen to it have been passionate, thought-provoking, wonderful, intuitive, and just plain awesome. Unfortunately, I realize that the responses are not reaching the same amount of people the damn magazine did. But this is one for my bookmarks. I am so saddened and sometimes despondent at the state of our culture in our parenting and so many other things. Children are treated like objects to be carted from plastic container to plastic container, anything to free up our hands so we can do so many other “important” things as parents I’m expecting child #2, and I’ve had people say to me,”I hope you teacher her to sleep on her own, not like [your first]” or “you’re going to have to put her down this time!” alluding to the fact that I will now be caring for two children. When I politely explain the conveniences of a sling or the Ergo, there is silence and pronounced skepticism and disapproval. And the best part for me is that those of us who are consciously nurturing, attending to, and responding to our children as a regular part of our parenting have wonderful kids. And the worst is that surrounding family and friends who don’t understand and our culture at large deems us “lucky,” because we “got the good kids,” as if that has anything to do with anything or “good” means anything or that we don’t try consciously–every day–to live up to our own ideals of what parenting in a conscious, attachment-oriented way means. It makes me crazy. My daughter is who she is because of who she was meant to be karmically and who we assist her in being by being attentive, open, and loving (and certainly not perfect . . . ). We are such a troubled society . . . people would rather give less effort to their kids and then find an anti-drug (depression, anxiety, whatever) when the existential crisis of not having been nurtured comes around. And it always does. I was that child and have been that adult. And I am doing my best to help my daughter “fill” herself with herself and the world around her, so she doesn’t have to fill herself with alcohol, food, sex, drugs, technology, and all the other things we try to use to substitute human contact and nurturing. I loved this and will reread it many times. Thank you. It’s a gift.

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  6. Mel 15 May 2012 at 10:18 am (PERMALINK)

    Thank you… this brought tears to my eyes… and has inspired me to be even more attached every second of every day… we forget, all the time, that we are human and that we know what to do… we join facebook pages on natural parenting to get help, and then get frustrated when the help is never natural enough, ap enough… when all we need to do is realize that parenting as human enough, as mammalian enough, is already within us, the answers are already there if we are willing to seek within ourselves and away from society’s idea of family.

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  7. Jennifer 15 May 2012 at 4:43 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thank you! I would add the great need for real multi-generational communities of support for families striving to make the things in your last paragraph a reality.

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  8. Debra 15 May 2012 at 6:04 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thanks for an excellent article and response to that almost grotesque TIME cover… so detached from the true warmth and bonding in that magical mammalian milk… that cures all ills and allows a baby to grow their digestive tract naturally and so efficiently… you can’t beat Mother Nature… though she has definitely been challenged …
    But have hope… the times they are a changin…
    just look at how many evolved and caring men there are out there these days…

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  9. Jenny 15 May 2012 at 8:16 pm (PERMALINK)

    Wow! Loved to see what you’d written in response to that ridiculous, sensation-grasping TIME cover. When I saw the cover for the first time, my immediate thought was, “I bet Laurie has something to say about this!!”

    I can’t say that I’m a purist when it comes to attachment parenting in all the ways you mentioned, but I’ve got enough sense to know that breastfeeding is as natural as the day is long, and there are a lot of solid, scientific reasons to do it for as long as mama and little one are happy doing so. I, too, am so sick of the arrogance of our current human society. Everything we do or consider normal is somehow supposed to be superior to anything and everything around us or that came before. It makes me furious. I swear I about shot Piers Morgan right through the TV the other night. Ignorant, pompous, blow-hard.

    Anyway–I was happy to read your response. Insightful and thought-provoking. Well written.

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  10. Kelly 15 May 2012 at 10:00 pm (PERMALINK)

    You write, “hospital births, minimal breastfeeding…” etc. I looked over the list and not only was I raised that way, I raised my own children along those lines, to varying degree and in many different ways. Even now it is hard not to revert to what I always knew. If it weren’t for passionate Attachment Parent writers, adherents, mentors, or those not self-labeling AP but passionate about the other rights and responsibilities you mention, I never would have seen a way out of these strategies. I am very grateful. Yet I have compassion for those who employ poor and harmful strategies.

    Thanks again for a lovely piece. I’m glad you responded to the TIME cover.

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  11. Lisa 2 July 2012 at 8:37 am (PERMALINK)

    “..full term breastfeeding..” –Love the terminology!!

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  12. Family Bed 3 July 2012 at 8:41 pm (PERMALINK)

    This article was fantastic. There is a core idea to the AP movement you brought out with this, and it’s that we all have the ability to naturally parent inside of us. We don’t need help – we just need support. The way you put this idea into words — perfect. Thank you.

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