Posts Tagged ‘attachment parenting

I can be stubborn about not listening to anybody. Even so, I’ve read three books about raising littles, and The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland is the second.the-science-of-parenting

It’s okay.

It advocates a way of parenting that aligns with what I’m already doing, so reading mostly felt like a continuous pat on the back.

However. If I were parenting differently, I’d probably feel nothing of the kind. I’d probably feel like a recipient of Chinese water torture, an insidious drip drip drip of you’re doing it wrong.

And how exactly is that helpful?

Most parenting tomes are biased in one way or another, naturally. But I expected a book called The Science of Parenting to be, I don’t know, truer to the spirit of scientific inquiry and reportage.

The Science of Parenting is biased interpretation, not scientific synthesis. Really, its neurobiology never moves much beyond “stress chemicals are bad.”

I think we can all agree that persistent high levels of stress chemicals have harmful effects on the developing brain. That’s why we don’t abuse or neglect our children. But is it enough to tout the scientific superiority of attachment-style parenting?

I doubt it. Because the momentary, infrequent stress caused by controlled crying or spanking or time-out is a far cry from long-term neglect or abuse, and to lump them all together is expressly unfair. It’s hard to believe that a child who is receiving plenty of love and affirmation overall will suffer irreparable damage from, for instance, a few hours of sleep training. Besides, I’m sure separation anxiety is stressful, too, but I still need to shower sometimes.

(Not that I mean to defend corporal punishment or controlled crying. That’s a separate rabbit trail.)

There’s nothing really problematic with The Science of Parenting, except that it doesn’t actually uncover the science of parenting. These days motherhood feels more like art than science, anyway. Sunderland preaches nicely to the choir but I don’t see this book drawing new converts. For a more solid foray into the existing body of research, I’d recommend John Medina’s Brain Rules for Baby. The writing is better!


I don’t feel strongly about “defining my parenting style.” (Natural parenting, gentle parenting, free-range parenting? What does that even mean?) However, I always chafe at being pigeonholed, and for some reason I’m especially resistant to the “attachment parent” label, even though – or maybe because? – I practice many of the things attachment parents advocate.

I had a natural homebirth. The “home” part was an accident, but it will forever make an awesome story. I was indeed crossing my fingers for a natural birth, but it was supposed to occur at the hospital. (I felt safer having my first at a hospital, you know, in case of complications. Plus the facilities at BC Women’s are wonderful.) But I held off too long and Ashelyn came too quickly. Strictly speaking, I had a freebirth, or unassisted birth.

I breastfeed. I’m fortunate and thankful to have encountered no hurdles here, so the boob it is. It’s convenient. It’s free. Ashelyn’s a fan. Actually she’s never tried formula; she’s never even used a bottle, because I’m crazy lazy. We’ll probably continue until Ashelyn wants to stop, unless she turns two and still doesn’t, in which case HELP. (I’m no elitist, though. If a mother who is perfectly capable of breastfeeding chooses to use formula just because, we can totally still be friends.)

We chose baby-led weaning. Because who wants to bother with separate food prep for munchkin? Certainly not I. We try to avoid processed foods and excess salt and sugar, although now that Ashelyn’s older I’m less likely to freak out if someone gives her a piece of croissant. I don’t care about buying organic or avoiding GMO; I’m not convinced the benefits justify the price.

I babywear more often than I use a stroller. We started with slings, but haven’t really looked back since acquiring an Ergo. It’s just that I’ve found a carrier to be more versatile, and more likely to result in peaceful cooperation. I’ve also done my fair share of toting Ashelyn around in my arms (and I’ve got the biceps to show for it).

We co-sleep. A while ago we sidecar-ed the crib, but Ashelyn doesn’t spend a ton of time sleeping in her space, preferring instead to cuddle with me. Which is sweet and all, but bedsharing is the one thing I’m not proud to admit, because ideologically I believe in the marital bed, not the family bed. Unfortunately Ashelyn was a sleepfighter from day one, and this is where the path of least resistance has led us. I still haven’t committed to any form of sleep training, not because I’m opposed to CIO, but because I doubt it’ll work on my girl without crossing a threshold of unpleasantness to which I am opposed.

We do EC and cloth diaper and use disposables. Ashelyn has pooped in the potty since she was five months old, because she is awesome. So is poop-free cloth diapering! Still, there’s no denying the convenience and absorption power of disposables; we use them, sparingly, for (longer) outings and overnight.

We vaccinate. On schedule. In all other matters I stand behind the decisions of well-meaning parents, even controversial ones like spanking or crying it out. But unless your child is immuno-compromised, if you don’t vaccinate, I say you’re doing it wrong, and I shake my fist at you for weakening herd immunity.

I’m a proud product of the public education system, and biased in its favour. Although there’s plenty of time for shifts of opinion on this front, presently I’m not very interested in private institutions, and I don’t intend to homeschool.


I’m no expert on babies. I am, however, an expert on one baby. And that’s all the authority I need.