Adventures in Attachment Parenting Annie’s Mailbox by Allison Silver
This past week my hubby and I were looking through the local newspaper when he noticed a headline on one of the pages. The headline read, “Father is upset that wife allows three year old to sleep in parents bed.” Knowing this would intrigue me, he showed me the headline. After looking at it closer it turned out that this was the headline of an advice column. At first glance I thought this was a local advice column, but it was an actual syndicated column called Annie’s Mailbox. Being that it is a syndicated column I thought perhaps the author would discuss attachment parenting in their response so I read the entire column.
The father who wrote in to ask “Annie” for advice was upset because his wife still nurses their three year old son to sleep and then allows the boy to sleep in their bed when he wakes up around midnight. This man wanted validation that this was not appropriate behavior and that his wife should stop. He also mentioned that having the boy in their bed was preventing his wife from being intimate with him.
After reading this man’s concern I instantly thought that his wife is practicing attachment parenting, but he has no clue about it. As I read the response from “Annie” I was beyond flabbergasted! Not only did she not mention anything about attachment parenting but she agreed with this man that his wife’s behavior was inappropriate and downright detrimental to the boy. She also went so far as to say that the mother was avoiding intimacy with her husband and was using their son as a substitution. What the hell?! Who are these people? Where do they get off giving this kind of advice?
I could just imagine this man reading the response from “Annie” and shoving it in his wife’s face and saying, “See?! I’m right. You need to stop.” Yeah I’m sure that will help increase the intimacy in their relationship. Way to go Annie!
The funny thing is that my husband had a more severe reaction to this advice column than I did. He was so upset at how “Annie” responded that he took time out of his busy day and decided to write a letter to “Annie” explaining his point of view as a father whose wife practices attachment parenting. With his consent I wanted to share the letter that he wrote.
“Dear Kathy and Marcy, (Authors of Annie’s Mailbox)
I am writing in response to your recent column regarding the husband frustrated with his wife for allowing their three-year-old to sleep in their bed. Please use caution when dispensing child development advice without the proper background, education, and knowledge.
Based on your response, you are most likely unaware of the attachment parenting philosophy, which includes co-sleeping. While differing from traditional parenting styles in western cultures, attachment parenting is grounded in research and has the support of many mainstream medical professionals, most notably Dr. William Sears.
To say that this man’s wife is “using her son as an excuse to avoid intimacy” is negligent, irresponsible, and downright mean. Such advice takes a one-sided, I’m right you’re wrong approach that will only serve to drive a wedge further between this couple. A better approach would be to steer this man toward resources that give insight as to why his wife wants to practice co-sleeping, and then engage her in respectful dialogue about how they want to raise their son. I highly recommend the book Becoming a Father by William Sears, MD.
My wife and I practice attachment parenting and it has not always been easy. But reading the research and understanding why my wife wants to do this has helped me tremendously.
If this man just wants validation that his wife is crazy and should see a counselor, then he should get that from his guy friends. I expect a more professional response from you.”
After my husband wrote this letter he asked me to read it before he sent it off to Annie’s Mailbox and the local newspaper. I have to tell you I was beyond proud. My husband has been tremendously supportive of all my crazy parenting suggestions over this past year. But the fact that he felt strongly enough to defend our parenting practices on a public level made me feel appreciated, valued, and loved. I am so lucky to have a great partner on this adventure!