Amid the hoopla surrounding the new “Can we have it all” parenting debate, I wrote yesterday about a new survey suggesting that younger feminist mothers are embracing more intensive or attachment parenting methods.
Is it a rejection of an earlier feminist credo or are there other issues at play?
I spoke with one of the lead authors of the study, Miriam Liss, an associate professor in the psychology department at the University of Mary Washington, about her thoughts on why the results of “Feminism and Attachment Parenting” seem at odds with our cultural ideas about feminism.
Here’s what she said:
“I think the reason that feminists embrace attachment parenting is complex.
“First, attachment parenting is appealing to the earth mother, cultural feminist component. It is anti-materialistic and anti-consumerist and that is appealing to many feminists.
“Of course, consumer culture has certainly taken the opportunity to market slings and co-sleepers as attachment parenting has gained in popularity. Attachment parenting is likely also associated with other types of environmentally conscious parenting that feminists likely embrace. Many feminists are advocates of breast-feeding and are educated enough to know all of the good data behind breast-feeding. Breast-feeding and getting involved in breast-feeding communities such as La Leche League is often an introduction to other aspects of attachment parenting.
“I think a really interesting argument about why feminists might embrace attachment parenting practices has to do with how mothering became tied up with the rhetoric of choice in the second wave. If a woman has become a mother due to choice (as is often the case in a post Roe v. Wade world), then it becomes her responsibility to raise her child in the best way possible. Feminists may turn to attachment parenting because they see it as the best way to raise their child, and feminists are likely women who strive to achieve and be successful in everything they do.
“It should be noted that while there is a great deal of research that suggests that being bonded with your child leads to positive outcomes and some good research about the benefits of breast-feeding, there is not really good research about the other components of attachment parenting and child outcomes.
“Attachment parenting is also very problematic from a feminist perspective and that has been discussed widely. It is possible that feminist attachment parents have more egalitarian approaches to attachment parenting than attachment parents who are not feminists, but we do not have data to show that.”
What do you think? Why do you think younger feminists may be embracing attachment parenting?