Time Magazine has a provocative cover story with a mom nursing a 3-year old child.
Not any 3-year old child, but one who has to be in the 100th percentile for height and weight. He looks more like a 5-year old standing on a chair – which only adds to the shock value.
The article is on Attachment Parenting. Obviously the picture is generating a lot of discussion. But so is the title: “Are You Mom Enough?”
It comes on the heels of other books and headlines that all revolve around the same theme – Are moms competent enough?
There’s Amy Chua’s Tiger Mom book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother that suggests that American parents are not strict enough.
There’s Pamela Druckerman’s book “Bringing up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting,” that posits that French children are better behaved, throw fewer tantrums, eat their veggies and are nicer to be around than American kids.
And now a question that will rankle many moms out there – questioning are American moms good enough?
The moms I know work very, very hard. Some stay at home, others work full-time and some work from home.
Some of them breast-fed their children diligently for more than a year. For others it was too painful and after a couple of weeks they switched to formula.
Some of my mom friends have their kids eating homemade granola bars with shredded carrots and eating seaweed as a snack. Others allow their children to eat McDonald chicken nuggets for dinner.
Some won’t allow their children to watch any television before 2. Others have the television on throughout the day and their kids are well acquainted with Barney and Elmo.
But they all have in common one thing: their devotion to their children.
Becoming a parent is baptism by fire. There are those crazy nights of no sleep that seem endless. There are the worries that come with each sniffle and high fever. There are the challenges of teaching another human being to walk, speak, use the potty and have manners.
We all are doing the best we can. I keep this in mind when I see the myriad of parenting styles. I try my hardest not to judge. Don’t judge the moms who want to breastfeed their child into toddler years. Don’t judge those who have their babies on formula from day one.
A mom friend who is a child psychologist and I were talking about Attachment Parenting. She said she doesn’t like the phrase. She said it implies parents who follow the guidelines of attachment parenting (breastfeeding, letting kids sleep in parents’ bed, not allowing crying-it-out) were “attached” and by definition, those who didn’t follow “attachment parenting guidelines” were “detached” parents.
Parenting isn’t a scale or a report card. “Do these 5 things exactly this way and you get an A.”
I did some things that would be considered “attachment parenting.” For example, I nursed my children more than a year. I wore them around in a baby sling. I kept them in a bassinet in our room for their first few months. But I also did sleep training that involved allowing my kids to cry themselves to sleep.
I won’t know for many years how my 1-year old and 4-year old will turn out. But I remember once asking my mother, “What is the secret to good parenting?” She said love and prayer.
So that’s my measure of if a mom or dad is good enough- Do the love their kids? It’s that simple for me. The rest I chuck up to different parenting styles.
And I think saying a few prayers along the way can’t hurt either.
(TIME magazine and my employer CNN have the same parent company -Time Warner)