If you consider the typical actions and philosophies of an attachment parent, the label definitely applies to my parental approach. I respond to my baby’s cues, have made the decision to wear him and hold him as much as possible, and plan to practice positive discipline. We even co-slept for a while with Baby E, though that wasn’t our initial plan. Despite these many overlaps between my parenting style and the tenets of attachment parenting advocates, I do not and will not call myself an attachment parent.
My main reason for bucking this label is my dismay that so much of modern parenting seems to involve an adherence to binary and divisive parental decisions. Do/did you:
- Breast or formula feed your child?
- Co-sleep or have a separate room/space for your little one?
- Stay at home or work outside of the home?
- Decide to circumcise your child or choose to leave his genitals intact?
- Vaccinate your child, either on schedule or a delayed approach, or choose not to?
- Use cloth or disposable diapers?
- Have a natural birth process or utilize medical interventions?
The list could be endless. Each of the above decisions, and so many more, have proponents and opponents, with research to support either claim. At the risk of sounding like a sanctimonious mommy (or sancti-mommy), I will openly admit: if you are a parent, I have, at one point, judged your choices. It’s not fair and I’m working hard to challenge myself around this practice because I know how it feels when it’s directed my way. Hell, a parent on an online forum recently insinuated that a mom who smokes and breastfeeds her child is the lesser of two evils than one, like me, who feeds her baby formula. Nice.
Parents – moms especially – have enough challenges and lack of support. We don’t need to do this to each other because systems have already set up barriers to our success. This world would be so much easier for us all to traverse if we accepted the notion that we’re doing the best that we can, making decisions that feel right to us in the moments we make the decisions.
I’ve decided not to label my collection of parenting choices because I have found, sadly, that when many of us do so, others with similar or overlapping labels take exception to ways that we seem to deviate from some staunchly held set of beliefs. Let’s be honest, how many of us truly adhere 100% to a set of experiences or beliefs of any particular identity group?
I suppose my identity as a parent will be a lot like that of my sexual orientation: too queer to neatly fit within another’s construct or standards.