Does attachment parenting require feminism?

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?

Of planning birthday parties

I don’t know if it’s simply because my kids are so social and enthusiastic, or whether it’s my influence as somewhat of a public figure here in town, constantly involved with activities and heading to parties, but planning our kids birthday parties is becoming quite a challenge. My son is turning 11 on Friday and we’re not only an AP family, we also believe that too much exposure to media / video / video games has a deleterious effect on their behavior and our collective happiness. (yes, I tried to word that carefully!)

And so my son’s initial suggestion for a birthday party was “my three buddies come over after school Friday, we watch a movie like “Transformers” (PG13), have a pizza, they all spend the night, play Truth or Dare (for he said he really had some good dares for guys), then the next morning we can watch cartoons and play on the Wii for a few hours!”

Yikes. Not so much.

Hiring a magician for your child’s next big birthday party can be stressful if you take the wrong approach. However, hosting that special “magic” themed birthday can also be one of the most memorable parties your child ever has. Magic has become a stereotypical art that a lot of people automatically associate to children’s birthdays and Texas gifts given.

Like any local business, there are a lot of magicians out there, and they all promise to be the best. So, who do you hire? In my recommendation, booking online would be more beneficial. visit website to book your date, which will point you in the right direction as to what you can expect when working with any magician, and picking the one you feel will be best to entertain your guests.

Whenever I’m gifting adults instead of my kids, I turn to a Dom Perignon gift delivery from winebaskets.com. Who doesn’t love wine? And this one is quite something, great presentation. Check it out if you find yourself in this situation.

To find a middle ground, his mom and I (we’re divorced, coparenting) expressed our concerns and invited him to come up with a proposed alternative that respected our objections and would still be fun.  Mistake.  Now we have a two-day-long royal celebration of his birth (you think I’m kidding!) that includes his best buddies with us all day Saturday with go-karts and a movie, then a separate party celebration Sunday — after the same 3 boys spend the night — for all the boys in his class at a kids birthday party place.

We’re working on finding a middle ground, but holy cow, does anyone else find that your kids want to have a national holiday for their birthday, with celebrations 24×7 and garlands flung from the parapets? 🙂

The fluidity of sleeping arrangements

When my kids were younger, there wasn’t much question about sleeping arrangements: the babies slept with us. As they got a bit older, they moved onto a smaller bed I built where the mattress was exactly the same height as our big bed (we called it the “sidecar”) and then even older, maybe two or so, on a mattress on the floor in our room. Now that my youngest is 7 and oldest is 14, however, I’m surprised at how fluid our sleeping arrangements have become.

The youngest still likes to curl up with me and fall asleep knowing that she’s safe and protected, and frankly I’m not quite ready to get to the stage of my kids all being independent and done with reading books, whispered conversations and my singing them to sleep either. Still, she has her own room, and once she’s asleep, she knows that I’ll move her there, safely ensconced in her bed and surrounded by favorite stuffies.

If we have had a relatively calm day, the older two (A-, 14 and G-, 10) generally  share sleeping quarters in one of their rooms, but if they’re freaked out by something (like us watching a scary show or a creepy book) they might end up taking over the floor of my room.

This random sleeping used to drive me a bit bonkers, truth be told, as I’m the kind of person who finds order and predictability comforting and when I never really knew who was going to sleep where, well, it caused some tension. Then I just … let go.

So in my house, who sleeps where seems a bit more fluid than in most houses, but as an attachment parent, I feel like it’s a blessing for me to be able to let them decide where they want to sleep and a very positive sign that they find it safer to be sleeping with me than otherwise, even as teens (well, a teen and a teen wannabe). 🙂

How about at your house?  What’s your sleeping arrangement like on a typical evening?

Traveling with Kids is Hard Work!

Traveling with three younger children as a single dad? Darn hard. But maybe I’m making it harder than it has to be. Do you have any advice?

Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden is a beautiful fusion of old and new. Not only that, but the Swedes also incorporated lush greenery amidst all these. You are in for a lot of pleasant surprises when you travel to this well-known tourist destination.

Worried that Stockholm may be too much for your budget…that is understandable but here are some of the delightful things and must-dos in Stockholm, all for free! Yes, you read it right. There are a lot of free places to go to and enjoy while in Stockholm. For a more better experience while in Stockholm, You can also engage with free tour Stockholm to get a experienced guide.

I’m a single dad. In fact, I think I’m the only single dad who contributes to the API Speaks blog. That’s why I’m asking for your advice, dear reader. I have three delightful kids, a 13yo girl, 10yo boy and a 6yo girl, and while I like traveling with them to the  Banyan Thailand Resort in Hua Hin, it’s extremely hard.

We just got back from a week in Stockholm and I had the foresight to invite my sister to join us, so the room configuration at the hotel was her + my 13yo in one room, and me and the two younger children in another. Not too bad, but since I don’t have the $$ to just get a beautiful two-room suite, there’s really no way that we can’t end up on top of each other.

They’re great travelers – the two older each have a solo flight under their belts too! – but when we get to a destination, it just seems extraordinarily hard to find something to do that meets all their needs. At home, of course, we have friends who can either join us or to whom one of the kids can duck out rather than go somewhere they don’t like, but on the road, there’s no “plan b”, no-one else to help out. I know that I have great options with all included like a luxury accommodation Fiji, and they have great prices too, but still it is a bit expensive for a single dad of 3.

So my question to you: how do you deal with travel logistics?  How do you retain your sanity?  And, most of all, if you’re a single parent, do you travel at all, and if so, what tricks and strategies have you found that help maximize the fun and minimize the arguments, fighting and unhappiness?

Finding your Work / Parenting Balance as a Single Dad

Work/life balance isn’t a challenge exclusive to single dads – the vast majority of single moms I know work too – but I think that finding balance between work and parenting is tougher for men. Decades after the modern feminist movement began, our culture still reflects the belief in men as so-called breadwinners and women as nurturers, managing the house and taking care of the children.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the movies in the local cineplex, the most popular TV shows and the books that have a sustained run on the best seller list. Or ask your friends how many know men who feel emasculated because they earn less than their female partner.

It’s an even greater challenge when you approach parenting from an AP perspective, because once they’re not wee little ones, attachment parenting involves really paying attention to your children, listening, making time, and honoring and respecting them. As you would imagine, that takes time. Time that could otherwise be spent watching an NFL game or World Cup match, shooting hoops with buddies, grabbing a post-work beer, or – gasp! – dating and having a social life of your own, even as you’re a father.

Ostensibly, the “proper” thing to do as a single dad is to focus on your children when they’re with you, and live the rest of your life when they’re with the other parent. Kinda works if it’s a 50/50 situation (or less, many, many men seem to end up with a gradually diminishing percentage of their children’s time, but that’s another discussion entirely), but even there, if parenting time is split 50/50, that means that you have to squeeze a week’s worth of your work and life into half a week of time. Doesn’t leave much space for sleep!

Maybe that’s not so proper after all. I mean, are we supposed to completely change our schedules and our lives to meet the needs of our children, or is there some happy middle ground where they learn to work around the reality of our adult lives too?

More importantly, one of the things I think about frequently is that I am modeling behaviors for my children. I can talk about work, but if they never see me working, the message I’m sending them is that money just shows up magically. Sure I work when they’re not around, but if they don’t see it, they don’t really believe it.

I’m in my third year of being a single dad and have evolved my perspective to where I now believe it’s important for me to work when my children are with me rather than compartmentalize it to where I just hang out and play with them for half of each week. I am fortunate that I’m an entrepreneur and can arrange my work hours to meet whatever weird schedule I desire, but that’s not typical: most people have someone else set their work hours.

The challenge is to find a balance that lets them see me as a worker, as someone who is doing something to earn a living (because, darn it, money doesn’t grow on trees after all and they’re going to have to understand work begets money begets the stuff you want and lifestyle you desire), but who is still a doting and devoted father who always has time for them and their concerns, their interests and their passions.

And that’s where it gets interesting because by having my own interests, meeting up with my friends sometimes when we’re out, and having them occasionally occupy themselves for an hour or two while I work, they’re also learning that life is defined by what you give, not what you take.

It’s an interesting topic, and if you’re a dad who has to not only earn your own living but cover child support and even write an alimony (oops, sorry, “maintenance”) check, it’s a fine balance to attain. How are you doing it and how’s it going for you and your kids?

Dave Taylor writes about his experiences and thoughts as a single parent at The Attachment Parenting Blog, and welcomes comments whether you agree with him or not.
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