Does attachment parenting require feminism?

by Dave Taylor on December 14, 2011

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I’ve been exploring the topic of attachment parenting and fathering as part of launching my new Go Fatherhood site and bumped into a thought-provoking article on a mom blog that claims attachment parenting requires the mom to be a supporter of feminism.

I don’t buy it.

The author’s point is that “traditional” attachment parenting is based around the baby being with the mother 24×7 for the first year or two, and it’s easy to then assume the woman’s role is as mother and that anything outside of mothering is irrelevant and should be eschewed. Author “Blue Milk” specifically states:

Attachment parenting needs feminism because without feminism women’s lives have a tendency to be decontextualised and devalued, and that isn’t good for mothering.

I’m torn on this, because on one hand I think that in modern culture a successful woman needs to be able to speak up for herself and establish her own identity outside of her roles as mother and partner. I’m just not sure that the identity requires everything that comes along with the loaded, hard to define concept of feminism. More to the point, are women who don’t care whether there’s true gender equality but follow the tenets of attachment parenting not actually attachment parenting mothers? I certainly don’t think so.

I’m also very conscious that the author hasn’t acknowledged the role and importance of fathers in this situation. I’ve always supported gender equality as a baseline from which men and women can make their own decisions about who they want to be and how they want to live their lives, but that’s not really feminism as I understand it: Feminism is about women not just having the opportunity to be equal but taking the opportunity, not deciding that they are perfectly content with a possibly less equal role both in a relationship and in parenting.

When we had our babies (now 8, 11 and 15) and decided to travel the path of attachment parenting, my now-ex and I also decided together that she’d stay home and nurture them for the first year or two while I worked and brought in what income I could. Was that a feminist-inspired decision, were we unwittingly decontextualizing and devaluing Mom’s role?

I don’t think so, but that’s just me. What do you think, API Speaks reader?

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Dave Taylor (5 Posts)

Dave is a single dad with three children, a 15yo daughter, 11yo son and 8yo daughter, and blogs about life and parenting both here at API and at his popular Go Fatherhood Blog.

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