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May 15, 2012

Attachment Parenting: Does It Work For Teens?

Attention parents: After seeing the young mother nursing her three-year-old on the cover of Time Magazine, I am now endorsing Attachment Parenting.

Why? Because that mother was ridiculously hot from all that nursing, and her child has probably been admitted to Harvard early acceptance. In fact, I’m going to start a new national movement called, “Attachment Parenting for Teenagers: Take Them Wherever You Go.”

Parenting is hard. In fact, some days it downright sucks. A lot of the time you feel like you can do nothing right. So Attachment Parenting, above all else, reassures you that you do suck. At least it’s good to know you are right for a change.

Attachment Parenting started in California (of course, right?) by Dr. Bill Sears when he wrote, The Baby Book in 1992. I was living then in the eye of the hurricane in Los Angeles. My son Sam was born just a few years later, and I barely had him strapped into the car for the ride home from the hospital when the book was thrust into my hands.

By the way, how do those attachment parents deal with car seats? Because from what I read you are never, ever, supposed to let go of that baby even to take a shower. Or drive a car.

Somehow we got home, and when I woke up from my three-day morphine bender (because I had my children the old-fashioned way, without a surrogate) I realized I did not know what the f*ck I was doing with an infant. Sam was very smart, even from birth, but he had no idea either. Plus, he was also a little stoned from that crazy delivery.

So I strapped him back into the car seat (which means he probably has no chance whatsoever of being admitted to college being separated from me twice in the first week of his life), and we drove to the nearest bookstore to make sure that Mommy did not screw this up. I bought everything I could find.

I had Dr. Spock’s book and Dr. Sears’ book and Dr. Brazelton’s book (who I loved the most), but he had no practical advice whatsoever. Dr. Brazelton would say, “Don’t worry too much and everything will be fine.” Or maybe that’s because I still had some of the morphine in my brain.

Dr. Spock was very specific with his advice. It went something like just put your baby in a playpen and in 18 years he will be ready for college. If you hear him screaming, pour another martini and call the doctor in the morning. I could be down with that, but Sam was not.

So I turned to Dr. Sears. He also was very specific with his advice. It went like this: nurse your baby all the time, sleep with him all the time, and carry him all the time. Oh, and buy this baby sling from my catalog for $79.95 which will help you attach your baby to your body so you can carry him all the time. I can’t make this stuff up!

Let me tell you, my husband loved Attachment Parenting especially at 2:00 a.m. He thought it was fantastic on Sunday afternoon when the game was on. And he thought it was pretty freaking terrific whenever Sam needed his diaper changed.

“Oh honey,” he’d say. “You know I’d love to help, but I don’t want to screw up his bonding with you.”

Listen up people: Attachment Parenting is another form of the Parent Olympics. You know that thing we do to see who nurses more, who makes more organic food and who can stay awake the longest when they read to their kids at night? Attention parents: Parenting is not a competition! Or is it?

I’m not against Attachment Parenting. If you have the time, the economic means and absolutely nothing else to do then by all means attach your child to you. What works for my family may not work for yours. No matter how we raise our children, with attachment or detachment, we all try to do the best we can. There is no one way to raise a child, except with love.  And as long as we love our children, and try to do the right thing, how bad can they turn out?

This brings me to teenagers, which I have right now. Under no circumstances do they want to be attached to me or to any human being that wants to eat organic food and go to bed on time. So I have decided to introduce “Attachment Parenting for Teens.” Yes, I am going to get a giant sling and haul them around on my back so they understand what the hell it is us parents do all day to make their lives easier.

By the way, I’ve also decided for my son’s application to college, I’m going to submit a picture of him breastfeeding from me when he’s 18. I just need to get a little plastic surgery so I can look like that mom on the cover of Time Magazine.

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Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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