Attachment Parenting: Does It Work For Teens?

Via Michelle Marchildon
on May 14, 2012
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Photo: Time lightbox

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


About Michelle Marchildon

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist, and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. Her second book, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, is for yoga teachers who want to inspire their students. Michelle is a columnist for elephant journal and Origin Magazine and a contributor to Teachasana, My Yoga Online and Yoga Journal. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches in Denver, Co where she is busy raising two boys, two dogs and one husband. You can follow her on Facebook at Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse. You can find her blog and website at And you can take her classes on


8 Responses to “Attachment Parenting: Does It Work For Teens?”

  1. shaydewey says:

    Post to Elephant Family Facebook page.

  2. yogasamurai says:

    Thoroughly enjoyable read, especially at 5:20 EST!

    "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."

    So you're saying, in effect, that the Jamie Grumets, Kate Bartolottas and Ann Romneys of the world are all one and the same?

    This AP stuff is basically a showy, right-wing GOP parenting model?

    Somehow that's my take-away – and I don't even have morphine as an excuse. Thanks again!

  3. Jane says:

    Mwahhh! I am up to my eyeballs parenting 3 teenagers, a recovering Dr Sears kind a mom, and rethinking the wisdom of "running for the shelter of my mother's little helpers" whilst I kiss the most beautiful 16 year old daughter goodbye this morning, who, btw, is teary eyed and convinced she looks horrible in all her outfits, but must soldier on because she has way to many AP classes, after school activities, and a society that just doesn't quit! (one breath/one sentence) Anyway, I love you Michelle and wonder if you are interested in starting a grassroots movement to save our kids from the insidious violence of being overworked! In the mean time, I will see you on the mat. (unless, I'm at the pharmacy beginning the trial of better living through prescription drugs) Signing off from the drenches of modern parenting, mama j

  4. I love you Jane. Really I do. The teenage angst in my house on Mother's day sent me straight to the mat. Mwaaaaaah!

  5. Great POV as always Michelle. I wonder about that kid when he is a teen. Will he be thought of a cool for getting so on the front page of a magazine…or as a dweeby mommas boy?!?

  6. @KatieCannot says:

    We are an AP family and we are low to middle income… I'm not sure where the needing money part comes in. I got an ergo in hand-me-down fashion from a swap. It's really not all-or-nothing. It's easy to brush it off that way, but if you're a real human being, you take what works for you, and toss the rest. We vaccinate, we co-sleep, we use disposable diapers, we baby-wear, we have a baby swing, I'm nursing past a year (god-willing), we introduced solids at 7 months, we baby-led wean. Take what works for you, and toss the rest. No need to be negative about it all.

  7. Rachel says:

    Agreed with Katie. When you go grocery shopping you dont buy the whole store, instead you take what you need. Same with parenting. Do what works, and toss the rest. We practice AP and I worked the whole first year and a half of my sons life. We dont happen to vaccinate, we do cosleep and at 2 years he is still breastfeeding. Is he at my hip all day? nope. Do I think I have a smart Harvard material child? What mom doesnt? 😉 I think when we "fail" at any style parenting we tend to feel insecure and unsure of ourselves as parents. Part of parenting, is learning to forgive yourself for the mistakes you do make, and giving yourself the knowledge and ability to do better next time. I think this article was a bit on the hateful side, and definitely an unfair portrayal of the average attachment parent.

  8. Rae Elizabeth says:

    This is a terribly uneducated article. To think that parents did not breastfeed, sleep in proximity to their children, or carry their babies around prior to a book being written in 1992 is absurd. Attachment Parenting is about being educated and making the best choices you can for your children. It is too bad people can’t take the time to research before they write an article.