|Chris in the NICU|
|Sleeping with Kieran|
|Cuddling with babies|
|Newborn in papoose|
"In the oscillations of feminism, theories of child-rearing have played a major part. As long as women remain the gender most responsible for children, we are the ones who have the most to lose by accepting the 'noble savage' view of parenting, with its ideals of attachment and naturalness. We need to be released from guilt about our children, not further bound by it. We need someone to say: Do the best you can. There are no rules."I agree that women remain the gender most responsible for children. More dads are staying at home like Mike to be the primary caregiver, but in most cases it's still the mom who puts her career on hold. Even if the mom is working full- or part-time, she tends to do the majority of the childrearing and domestic chores on top of her outside job (this is often the case even if the dad is very engaged). It's only when dads put their careers on hold as well and begin staying home more to care for the kids...or take on the equal share of domestic and child care if both partners are working full-time...that parenting responsibilities will become more equal. The times they are certainly changing, but slowly. And as Jong reminds us, we need to be released from guilt.
Attachment parenting (lack of, or what others perceive as inadequate) can carry a great amount of guilt. Are you nursing exclusively (ban that formula!)? (The woman who gave my sister shit about going back to work also never gave her baby a bottle--ever--she nursed completely, exclusively--and didn't even pump.) Do you use a stroller? Or heaven forbid, a Baby Bjorn (the "proper" baby wearing is a sling or wrap)? Some people claim that Baby Bjorns do not qualify as "baby wearing." Did you drink alcohol while you were nursing? (I did.) How about send you child to day care? Bad mommy.
This is what we do to each other...and that's not what feminism is about, making other women feel guilty about their choices.
Jong's daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, writes about her mother's mothering in this linked essay. Even though Erica Jong was obsessed with her career and certainly was not an attachment parent, Jong-Fast turned out just fine.
Bottom line is...love your kids and show them that both women and men can be loving, equally engaged caregivers. You don't have to attachment parent for them to turn out fine. The reality is that growing up secure contributes more to your child's success than whether you babywear, breastfeed, or practice the family bed. And women, let's stop berating each other for our parenting choices and instead focus on getting men to carry an equal load!