Since 1992 more than a half million people have bought The Baby Book, the influential infant-care manual by pediatrician William Sears and nurse Martha Sears. The Searses recommend carrying an infant in a sling — ideally, for “many hours” a day — as part of an approach to child-rearing that they call “attachment parenting” or “high-touch parenting.”
That approach comes under blistering fire in The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women (Free Press, 2004) www.simonsays.com, a witty and irreverent critique of the unrealistic and guilt-inducing demands made on contemporary mothers, by scholars Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels of the University of Michigan and Smith College. Douglas and Michaels write of the Searses:
“When it comes to properly nurturing your child, these two make the likes of T. Berry Brazelton or Penelope Leach look like Conan the Barbarian and Nurse Ratched. The Sears philosophy is as simple as it is impossible: Reattach your baby to your body the moment she is born and keep her there pretty much until she goes to college. If you do not do this, your child will fail to bond properly to you and you to her, and the rest is a straight road to the juvenile detention center for her and the Betty Ford Clinic for you.”
Douglas and Michaels add:
“While Dr. Bill and Martha do acknowledge that working mothers are real and do refrain from saying anything explicitly condemnatory about them, the massive edifice of attachment parenting that they construct is one that no working mother can fully scale and conquer….
“Especially if you are accustomed to high achievement and to cutthroat competition, attachment parenting opens the door to standards of excellence that would put any law partner wannabe to shame.”
Read an interview with the authors of The Mommy Myth on Salon at dir.salon.com/story/mwt/feature/2004/02/19/mommy_myth/index.html. Read an excerpt from their book at www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4163361/.
© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.