The latest celebrity to fan the flames of the Mommy Wars is famed feminist Erica Jong, who wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend saying that Attachment Parenting amounts to "a prison for mothers," representing "as much of a backlash against women's freedom as the right-to-life movement."
Katie Allison Granju, who blogs at MamaPundit and is the author of Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child, fired back in a guest post at The New York Times' Motherlode blog, suggesting that Jong "quit blaming mothers for the things the feminist movement has yet left undone."
And the rest of us, feminists or not, are caught in the crossfire -- again. Instead of simply agreeing that what works for one family might not work for another, we're back to slinging barbs about blame.
As in so many other aspects of the Mommy Wars stay-at-home vs. work-out-of-the-home, bottle vs. breast, single parent vs. married parent, one child vs. many, bio-mom vs. stepmom -- this "attachment parenting is evil" issue is as much about ego and insecurity as anything else. As women, we tend to tear one another down for not validating our own choices, making ourselves feel superior at someone else's expense. Sometimes, it's unconcious. Sometimes, it's right there in black and white.
"It seems we have devised a new torture for mothers -- a set of expectations that makes them feel inadequate no matter how passionately they attend to their children," Jong writes in her WSJ article before ironically going on to make readers feel inadequate for not doing what she does. "[Attachment Parenting] certainly serves to keep mothers and fathers out of the political process," she writes. "If you are busy raising children without societal help and trying to earn a living during a recession, you don't have much time to question and change the world that you and your children inhabit."
The main thing that Jong's essay seems to overlook is the fact that, if you're choosing Attachment Parenting because you feel it's what's best for you and your child, then it doesn't feel like prison -- it feels satisfying. The idea of it being restrictive and/or detrimental to a woman's well-being depends on whether the woman is practicing Attachment Parenting because she wants to, or because she thinks she should do it, or that she has to do it, and doesn't want to.
Comparing our parenting choices to those of celebrities (who, it's probably safe to say, have many more resources than we do) just feeds our insecurities -- and there lies madness.
Here's where I stand: I consider myself a feminist by default (that might be a generational thing; I certainly haven't faced anything like what Jong did when she was my age). I think there's a difference between helicopter parenting and attachment parenting. And I think that if co-sleeping and baby-wearing -- or cry-it-out sleep training and stroller-pushing -- work for you and your kid(s), you should go for it.
Did you read either Jong's or Granju's essays? What do you think?