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Apodaca: Don't listen to parenting naysayers

May 26, 2012|By Patrice Apodaca

There's nothing quite like the sight of a woman's breast to get the conversation rolling.

That, of course, is exactly what the publishers of Time magazine had in mind when they put a photo of a mother breastfeeding her nearly 4-year-old son on a recent cover. I'm sure it was also no accident that the mom pictured was young, pretty and model-slender, and both she and her boy gazed directly at the camera with expressions that could be construed as self-satisfied.

The photo was a provocative lead-in for an article on the latest controversy over the issue of child rearing, the practice of what's called attachment parenting. Now the subject is all over the news, providing fodder for talk shows, playground discussions and late-night comics.

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And once again, mothers are on the defensive about their child-rearing choices.

Ever hear the saying that kids don't come with instruction manuals? It's not true. I'm starting to think there are far too many parenting how-to guides, and it's making many of us a little confused.

In the past year alone, we've had the Tiger Mother telling us we should stop coddling our kids, followed by an American mom living in Paris who tells us the French are better at raising children because they're, well, more French.

Now we're getting the message that we need to cuddle our kids more, breastfeed them longer, let them sleep with us, and not let them cry. These are some of the basic tenets of attachment parenting, a philosophy that has actually been around for some time and has a strong link to Orange County.

The so-called father of the movement is Dr. William Sears, a famous, media-savvy pediatrician based in Capistrano Beach.

The septuagenarian father of eight has written several books, including what's commonly known as the bible of attachment parenting, "The Baby Book," first published 20 years ago.

Many of Sears' assertions seem rooted in a common-sense, loving approach to bringing up babies: Breastfeeding is superior, kids benefit from physical contact, and a baby's cry is a means of communication, not manipulation.

But it is the extent to which attachment parenting takes these concepts that draws the controversy.

Breastfeeding isn't just better for kids, according to attachment-parenting theory; it should continue well past the age that many American moms would consider it practical or suitable.

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