Attachment Parenting Needs Better PR

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You didn’t need to skim the thoughts of Mommyish commenters to know that the mere phrase “attachment parenting ” can leave many a mother wincing. It’s not all about extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping, and yet attachment parenting myths aside, the practice seems to have a distinctly rabid reputation based on the dark abysses of parenting forums. The answer? A better public relations team.

Art Yuen, knowledge coordinator at non-profit organization Attachment Parenting International (API) who demystified several attachment parenting myths for us already, says that distortions in the media are pretty constant. Although the recent slew of press for attachment parenting “has stirred the pot afresh on the parenting debates,” according to Art, journalists consistently miss the mark on attachment parenting’s core values.

“Many of us have had had the unfortunate experience of having quotes taken out of context,” Art tells Mommyish. “While we recognize that this happens to everyone and even responsible journalists can get things wrong or not quite right, it’s not often that an AP story gets complete, accurate and balanced coverage in mainstream press.”

She maintains that API promotes “broad principles,” many of which you can take or leave. Of course, sentiments like that don’t warrant a reality TV show on extreme parenting. While Art and her colleagues are prepared to contest any absurd parenting stereotype, she agrees that the practice could benefit from a PR team ready to police any future hypothetical TIME covers to the floor. This means you, attachment parenting moms and dads.

“There are many who have done and continue to do wonderful work promoting AP and API — none more than Dr. William and Martha Sears and the API founders Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker. Attachment parenting is indebted to their dedication and constancy, but the next generation has to step forward to carry their work forward,” she says.

Work that includes perhaps tackling and addressing the icy encounters of many a mother when left face-to-face — or rather WiFi connection to WiFi connection — with some not so nice practitioners.

One Mommyish commenter who goes by Another Steph described her AP experience as less than thrilling:

I started to condemn [attachment parenting] after reading a heartbreaking post by a single mother who obviously wasn’t coping and was sort of asking her AP sisters for permission to back off a little. Not one of them encouraged her – it was pretty much a dozen or so pages of, “Think of the children, won’t somebody please think of the children!”

Another named Lite Brite wrote that she had a similar experience:

After I had my son, I joined a new parents group at my hospital. The leader of the group was very pro-AP, and she encouraged me to do some research on the Internet. That was probably the worst advice she could’ve gave because every site I looked at had forums filled with comments that basically condemned any parent that didn’t practice AP in its entirety. I don’t really remember any specific post that stood out to me, but it was enough to turn me off from exploring it any further. I know some pro-AP person will come along and say extremists are everywhere, you can’t judge AP by some random posts on the Internet, and yeah, I agree, but I think it’s natural an AP newbie would look to Internet groups and forums, and screaming judgments aren’t going to offer the newbie much support.

Something now tells me that the notorious “are you mom enough?” tagline was not the mark of an ingenious editor, but rather a line mined from a fiery mommy list-serv.

(photo: saiko3p/ Shutterstock)