Sunday, November 8, 2009

Response to Dr. Rosemond

I am an advocate of Attachment parenting, but I am also an advocate of parents using common sense and setting age-appropriate boundaries for their children. I believe the two actually go hand in hand.

The little that I had read of popular author and speaker John Rosemond in the past led me to appreciate his practical common sense approach to parenting. Recently I had lunch with my good friend Lysa Parker, one of the founders of Attachment Parenting International. Dr. Rosemond was planning a visit to Huntsville; therefore, he came up in our conversation. I told Lysa I appreciated his common sense approach (remember, I haven't read a LOT of his stuff...just a little and mostly dealing with older kids). Lysa explained that he is a strong opponent of all things AP. I was quite surprised.

I wasn't able to go hear him speak, though I would have liked to, but I did see an article in the Huntsville Times today that I found to be quite enlightening. Apparently in his address to about 250 people at Huntsville High School he said " 'psychobabble' about fostering a child's self-esteem and being ultra-involved in a child's life has had a disastrous effect on children's behavior." According to the article, he also said "his mother 'never paid much attention to me,' but she set clear ground rules for what she expected from him at an early age."

I read that line and felt sorry for him. Setting ground rules with clear expectations is wonderful. However, as a 61 year old adult his memory is that his mother never paid much attention to him. And now he is advising a generation of parents not to become too attached to or involved in their children's lives.

According to the Times article, "One of the biggest errors parents make, he said, is that they are in relationships with their children rather than being figures of leadership and authority. Because of those relationships, he said parents hunger for popularity and acceptance with their children, something which he said nullifies their ability to lead."

I agree that the roles of parent and friend cannot be one and the same when a child is growing up. However, I consider my grown children dear friends. My son and I talk every day about everything under the sun. I wonder if Rosemond counts his grown children among his closest friends? Attachment parenting does not mean that we seek to be "popular and accepted" by our children. It does mean that we create a relationship with them which fills them with a sense of security and well-being. The relationship begins at birth and continues throughout the child's life. It does not mean that a parent does nothing but cater to her child's every whim.

The problem is that authors like Rosemond equate Attachment Parenting with Permissive parenting or parenting without boundaries. They fail to understand the premises set forth by Dr. William Sears. As both a pediatrician and a father, he has years of experience working with patients, but also a proven track record of raising terrific kids who are making a real contribution to society.

Rosemond believes that his approach to parenting is a Biblically based method. Yet the picture I see of God in the Bible is one of a loving Father who tenderly cares for His own or a shepherd who cares deeply for each sheep. Specific imagery related to breastfeeding and attachment can be seen in Isaiah as God talks about His loving care for His people. I think it's time that Christians begin advocating for strong Biblically based Attachment Parenting. If we truly want to raise a generation of selfless, giving, confident young adults, then we must teach them the most basic lessons of trust from infancy on.

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