Media Monday – Natural Parents Under Attack – Are You Mum Enough?

This provocative magazine cover has caused quite a stir!

The accompanying article in TIME magazine states that attachment parenting is on the rise as more parents feel drawn to a more natural parenting style. There are  two sides to this story. Some believe this philosophy places pressure and unrealistic expectations on mothers whilst others believe doing what comes naturally instead of flowing with popular culture is empowering. There is also the argument that attachment parenting undermines feminism and is therefore degrading to women.

Do you know what I think is degrading? The title of the article: Are you mom enough? It is insulting to mothers who don’t live up to the attachment ideal. It’s provocative and guilt inducing.

It’s a far cry from the real heart of attachment parenting which is less about judgement and more about doing what comes naturally despite popular opinion.

So which is it? Is attachment parenting empowering? Or degrading?

My argument is that it is both. For one person, washing cloth nappies may seem degrading but to another it may be empowering as they make a wise environmental and financial choice. Co-sleeping may be empowering as many of us reject the social pressure to put babies in cots from birth whilst another may feel burdened by the lack of space.  Extended breastfeeding may be empowering as mothers reject the influence of formula companies to wean prematurely whilst others believe toddler formula gives them freedom to take a well-deserved break.

It’s not black and white. This is simply about choice.

Does a sensationalist image like this help break down the stereotype of natural parents?

The photographer from time suggests he chose the cover image to portray there is no stereotype when it comes to attachment parenting. Clearly. The woman looks like a super model and the little boy looks a lot older than three. This is not your ‘average’ depiction of an attached parent. But, is this actually a good thing?

If we can break down the stereotype of an attached or natural parent then perhaps it will allow more modern mothers to feel comfortable making choices that are right for them even when it goes against the flow of the mainstream.

Will natural parenting ever become mainstream?

There is no doubt the ideas are gaining more popularity or at least recognition.

The danger with anything becoming mainstream is that it places social pressure on mothers to conform.  We want to avoid the expectation and pressure for mothers to conform to ANY style of parenting. We desire that more mothers are empowered to find what is right for their own family regardless of what is ‘mainstream’ or ‘popular’.

I want all parents to be empowered to question and challenge the mainstream popular culture that drives so many aspects of our lives including our parenting choices. By doing this, we can be set free to discover our own unique parenting style.

Some may feel that sensationalist articles like this do more harm than good. I disagree. It is only when we dare to question and challenge social boundaries that social change can occur. This issue isn’t all about attachment parenting. This is about challenging our perception of normal and realising we have more choice in how we parent then we realise.

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