Attachment Parenting and Phrenology.

seriously? Did someone really make that comparison. Oh yes they did. Jennie Bristow on parenting and junk neuroscience The article, makes many interesting and salient points, especially about the rise of early intervention theories and encroachment of the state in family life. Unfortunately, instead of seeing attachment-parenting families as part of the solution (most of the attachment families that I know relish their freedom from all types of authority, from medical to state to educational to expert to etc and etc) the writer and others from the site see attachment parenting as part of the problem. I gather it’s because of the emphasis on the early years, which lends credence to the early interventionists (the state wanting to create properly behaved children). But the ones existence has nothing to do with the others behavior.

Attachment parenting is a belief that kids get here pretty perfectly, that they are exactly right for this world. The breastmilk we make for them feeds them, the arms we have carry them, the life we make has room for them.

People who believe in Early Intervention believe that children do not arrive exactly right, they believe that they must be molded and educated and overly-protected and coached and trained.

The two philosophies are as different as night and day.

The people who gathered for the conference that is recounted in the above essay dismiss both of these philosophies as too child-centered, but this even-handed discounting shows that they don’t really know what they’re talking about, because attachment parenting is family centered. It’s not authoritative, it’s not goal-oriented, it’s about living cooperative in the here and now.

A few of the speakers described in the above essay seemed to want to give up the idea of child-centeredness (intervention) and family-centeredness (attachment) and instead go back to the hey-day of adult-centeredness (authoritarian) households. As in, ‘We don’t need an expert telling me how to parent because I’m the parent damn it and what I say goes.’ Which is reminiscent of the glory days of ‘parenting’ you know…when? The latch key days of the 70s? The child labor days of the 10s? The nursemaid days of the 1820s? We should be careful what we wish for.

There are many times in human history where parents and children and families have gone in and out of style. But for a long time, before we got so civilized and confused by all of our choices, there was a relative stasis in behavior and we can look at that time to see what it may be that human babies are born expecting. Jean Liedloff did it pretty succinctly when she wrote The Continuum Concept based on her acquaintance with stone age indians and some of her thoughts are here: The Continuum Concept Defined

As you can see I enjoyed the article because of its provocative angle, I spent a lot of time dwelling on it, there are probably more comics coming, and oh yes, I want to flesh out the whole attachment vs. early intervention theory ;o) FUN!

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