Tuesday, June 28, 2011

All mammals are attachment parents.

It's an interesting thought, isn't it? Hundreds of thousands of species of mammals on the planet, and every single one of them practices attachment parenting, except for a large portion of the homo sapiens.
For those that don't know, attachment parenting essentially means being close with your children, nursing them, sleeping with them, and listening and responding to their primal needs and instincts. This is a contrast to the typical western upbringing, which involves disconnect between parent and child from an early age, starting with little to no nursing, putting them in a separate room to sleep, and not paying heed to their basic emotional needs.
I find it ludicrous that a term such as "attachment parenting" even exists. Let me give you an analogy for what this term really is like. Imagine that for a few thousand years, humans began eating by forcing food up their rectums, instead of putting it in their mouth. Then, an "alternative" group of "new age" people come along with this "radical" idea. They say "hey, why don't we eat the way we're supposed to by nature? It's healthier and makes more sense."
These people become known as "oral eaters." Everybody else, shoving food up their rectums, remain simply "eaters" in the official definitions of the species, but those who have returned to the way things are supposed to be are given a special label. "Oral eating." This is exactly the same as "Attachment parenting." They're giving the original, natural, healthy way of doing things an alternative name, as though it is the odd thing, and saying that what everybody else is doing is the norm or standard. Sure, it's the norm among western cultures in the last few hundred years, but are people really that self centered? They determine what is normal and healthy for mammals based on what they and their friends have been doing, and what certain human cultures have been doing in the last sliver of human history?
The type of language we use is important. Language is the only means through which we can communicate complex ideas to each other, and the only way through which we can convey intangible things to each other. I propose that "attachment parenting" be renamed simply "parenting" and the current conventional western parenting method be renamed "detachment parenting."
"Parenting" vs. "Detachment parenting" much more accurately describes the nature of the two ways of raising children, and exposes the reality of what the majority of parents are doing. If we use accurate language, people practicing detachment parenting will become far less comfortable with it than they currently are, and that will motivate them to move back towards Parenting.


  1. I agree with this. Thank you :)

  2. Wonderful article Lennon, and makes so much sense.

  3. Detachment Parenting? I love it! Puts the onus on the ones going against nature instead of those simply following our instincts and doing what evolution built us to to!

  4. :-) This reminds me of the analogy of circumcision, but instead of removing a boy's foreskin, their outer ears are removed, and the people who decide not to practice outer ear removal anymore are considered radicals. It is amazing how society has twisted normal expectations and made them seem weird - "co-sleeping", "extended nursing", "babywearing", etc... Love your writing, btw!

  5. >and every single one of them practices attachment parenting

    Wow, somebody never had pet hamsters. Say what you will about pacifiers, but my pacifier-using friends never ATE THEIR BABIES like my sister's hamster did.

    Rabbits usually spend only about 15 minutes a day with their newborns.

    Pandas who have twins let one starve to death so they can focus their efforts on the other.

    Dogs and cats will nip at their nurslings when they want to wean.

    Actually, many mammals are terrible parents, even by mainstream standards.

  6. I totally agree with Emily. It is natural for many mammels to abandon their young or even, to be close to them up to a certain point, but for them to turn very quickly from children to rivals. At this point they are cast out of the "home" and will probably never return. If they do it will only result in an almighty fight. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

    The fact is that we don't know exactly how our ancestors would have brought up their young, although we can imagine that it is probably similar to the way apes do. This is done slowly, over several years, as the offspring are schooled in the way that their society works, their different roles and how to fend for themselves.

    I think that any parent that belives that bringing a child up by being constantly with them, not allowing them to explore and experience modern life and attempting to protect them from reality will end up with a child taht at some point, hurt and confused, as a teenager will run for the hills.

    There are two facts about this blog. One is that, as interesting as attachment parenting is, not all mammals are attachment parents, and secondly, that sleeping in the same bed as the child goes against The American Academy of Pediatrics's policy on SIDS and The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also warns against co-sleeping.

    While most of us want to be good parents, trying to follow some generic definition of "mammels" I do not believe is the answer.