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.
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.
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.