I've read it. I've also read Ph.D. in Parenting's refutation of it.
Then I read the comments that followed her entry in response to it. When I read the comments in response to things on the internet, this is often where I get into trouble. I don't fully agree with the author of Ph.D. in parenting, but I see her point that Jong made some flawed assumptions based on a limited understanding of attachment parenting. But one of the commenters said this about attachment parenting:
No one I know who practices A.P. to any degree feels like it is stifling. On the contrary, we feel it is freeing because it is easier and creates fewer battles with out [sic.] childrenHere's the thing. A.P. can be stifling.
Wait. Let's back up. I'm going to assume for a few minutes that some of my tens of fans don't know what A.P. is. So, first, a quick and dirty primer on it might be useful. Attachment Parenting is a style of parenting largely advocated by pediatrician William Sears and his wife, RN Martha Sears, that argues that the best way to raise a child is for them to have a secure emotional attachment to his or her parents. The most concise reading material on the subject is the Sears's book The Baby Book. But in a nutshell, they advocate bonding as soon as possible after the child's birth, breastfeeding, baby wearing, sleep sharing, respecting a baby's cry as a communication tool, and finding balance with parenting and oneself. It does put, if one were to aspire to the ideal presented in the books, a large portion of the parenting duties in Mom's lap.
In a lot of ways, this sums up how we're parenting the Bug. She sleeps in our room, sometimes our bed, she's breastfed, we don't let her "cry it out," and the Sleepy Wrap is still one of our favourite things. But I am wary to say that I am an "attachment parent." I am wary of this, because any number of unfortunate things have been perpetrated in its name over the years. Ideally, it is not overly permissive. But in practice, sometimes it is. I've seen how this ends in college students who have never, not even once, been told "no." This isn't how AP should be practised, but sometimes it is. This is certainly a large part of the media portrayal of AP and the "easy" way to interpret it.
My whole goal as a parent is to put myself out of business. I want to raise the Bug to be an independent woman who knows her own mind and can deal with the pressures of the real world. To do this, DH and I will have to craft our own style that deals with the Bug's unique temperament and communication style. Right now, a lot of our tools come from AP. Later, they may come from elsewhere.
But I read the Sears Parenting Library books as references because they give me useful tools. Because I live in the real world, not fantasy mommy-land where magical faeries provide us with food and shelter, I am not the ideal AP. I fall out of balance. I get frustrated. I use the stroller instead of the carrier. I occasionally fantasize about how, in some ways, bottle feeding would be easier. (No public nudity. No fear that I am the cause of any discomfort she may have.)
I read the AP literature and handbooks for the same reason I buy the special edition Martha Stewart holiday cookie magazine every year. (Dudes, it just hit news stands. That's like my porn.) I can't do everything in there. I'm not going to hand pipe 100 gingerbread reindeer then sprinkle them with disco dust or sparkle sugar so they look perfect. But I will use some of what I learn. I won't do every AP thing 100% of the time. I will use other caregivers, I will start solids "early."
Because I live in the real world. And sometimes you just have to admit that you aren't going to make the cute little cookie mice with the licorice tails and almond sliver ears. Sometimes you can't cope with the baby crying, and let someone else handle it. Sometimes your back hurts and baby wearing is just out for the day. But you need the whole tool box to know what does and doesn't work, what you can and cannot balance with your real life.
I resent the hell out of parenting sometimes. And sometimes, I think if we had chosen a different way to parent the Bug, I'd resent it less. But, in the end, I know the tools we've chosen are the ones that will let her grow up into the kind of adult that we want her to become. Sometimes it isn't freeing.
Because in the real world, everything is a pain in the ass sometimes.