I still struggle to understand modern society’s need for labels and the consequent stereotypes we attach to them. We label people who only eat vegetables “vegetarians” and tend to assume they are all animal rights activists out to guilt-trip us meat eating, “environmentally insensitive” carnivores. And even within this elite group of “vegetarians” we have sub-groups like ovo-vegetarians, vegans, lacto-vegetarians, and so on, each with their corresponding image to live up to. Perhaps because it is human nature to want to “belong” that we do this, but it has really bothered me a lot that this labeling has even extended to the way we parent our children. We have come up with parenting labels like attachment parents, natural parents, continuum parents, dragon mothers, earthy mamas, etc. In the midst of all this, shall we say, “name calling”, we have inadvertently managed to alienate mothers who don’t fit our descriptions for each so-called “parenting type”. With all these labels we see online “mommy wars”, we read blogs on all sorts of parenting, and we read the ensuing debate on their comment boxes. I practice what we have labeled “attachment parenting”, and I actually advocate for its practices, but then I have nothing against parents who don’t co-sleep or baby wear or breastfeed, and I seriously don’t agree we can call them detached parents.
Attachment parenting calls for listening and responding to your child’s needs, to nurture them and be present for them and respect them and love them. But isn’t that what every parent should do? So why do we need the term attachment parenting? Can’t we just call it parenting? After all, aren’t these what parenting should be all about?
I find it sad really that we have become so caught up in trying to live-up to so called “ideal” standards that we sometimes forget that at the end of the day, we all do our best to be the best parents we can possibly be. Not all so-called “practices” of AP work for all families. Just because you don’t co-sleep, doesn’t automatically mean you don’t love your children any less. Just because you don’t breastfeed, it doesn’t make you any less a mother. If attachment parenting is all about raising emotionally secure and socially responsible human beings, then I say that is parenting. No need for qualifying adjectives that may discriminate or inadvertently pass judgment on others. Labels and so called styles help to distinguish particular techniques that may help us in our parenting journey, but they are in no way definitive of who we are as parents.
It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, now if only our global community could decide on truly coming together in support of parenting, without passing judgment on how each family is raised, without discriminating attachment from continuum or natural, we could be a better world for it. If the goal of parenting is to raise the next generation of human beings to be better persons than who we are now, we can look forward to a truly brighter future for mankind. Attachment parenting is parenting, in every sense of the word. And so is natural parenting, continuum parenting, social parenting and so is whatever other label we have attached to parenting. Perhaps the question we should all consider as parents is not on what parenting style we employ but rather how do we use all the studies, techniques, practices and philosophies of each movement to become the best parents we can possibly be for our own children.