Jamie Grumet Was A No-Show For Dr. Phil

Last week, I was contacted by the producers from Dr. Phil and asked if I would be willing to appear on the show as a parenting expert to discuss some of the controversies surrounding extreme attachment parenting and to provide some of the hard science that the research in developmental psychology shows about the potential risks this form of extreme parenting has on subsequent development. I gladly accepted their offer. I’m always eager for the opportunity to be able to set the record straight whenever bogus propositions are being presented as fact. Attachment parenting is one of those instances.

They went on to tell me that Jamie Grumet would be one of the featured guests. I’ve never made it any secret that I think she made a very poor parenting choice in choosing to exploit her son in that manner. In addition, I think she succeeded in perpetuating all of the stereotypes and stigmas that stand in the way of women breastfeeding.  Would I be able to talk about the effects of this exploitation on the show? Again, the answer was yes.

However, when we showed up on the set this morning the producer informed us that Jamie had cancelled her appearance on the show.  Jamie recently returned from being out of the country and had gotten very ill (side note: I hope she feels better soon and that her illness is not serious). What this meant was that the show went on to Plan B.

Plan B meant a lot less talking about attachment parenting and a bit more talking about some of the other controversial parenting techniques that are out there as well.  The piece on attachment parenting was only a small piece of the rest of the show. It was really interesting to be a part of an active dialogue between so many opposing viewpoints of parenting.  My favorite moment was being able to point out to Dr. Sears that the studies he was citing were being misrepresented and having Dr. Phil agree with me. Oh, and having an enmeshed grandmother call Dr. Phil a quack was a highlight as well.

But, there was a lot that I didn’t get to say. There was more I wish I would have been able to say. Most of you know that my posts have been a bit slow lately given that we had a recent death in our family and other life situations that presented themselves. I thought I’d put my Mommy Psychologist hat back on and take some time to identify the problems inherent in the attachment parenting philosophy. Warning: This may take a few days. So if you are sick of attachment parenting, check back in a few days and I’m sure I will have moved on.

One of the things that I said on the show this morning was that attachment parenting is a demonstration of self centeredness at it’s worst that is misrepresented as loving parenting. Why do I say this? Because it is a parenting approach that focuses almost exclusively on the relationship between the mother and the child. The father is almost non-existent in the equation. If you read the literature you see it everywhere: mother, mother, mother. Where’s the father? What about dad?

It makes the assumption over and over again that the bond between the mother and the child is the most important bond in the child’s life. This simply isn’t true. Parenthood is plural. It is a dual relationship not an exclusive relationship. Any style of parenting that leaves out the other parent in regards to the child’s development is incomplete and insufficient.

It makes sense that there is this glaring hole in the theory, though, given Dr. Sears’ background (Bill, the founder. Not his son). Dr. Bill Sears had a father who left when he was only a month old and he was raised by a single mother. It’s not surprising at all that the theory of parenting he developed is devoid of a father.

I’m thinking we should change the name from Attachment Parenting to Attachment Mothering. It seems it would be a better fit.

 

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57 Responses to Jamie Grumet Was A No-Show For Dr. Phil

  1. Mel says:

    How amazing! They couldn’t have picked a better representative for what I’ll dub Common Sense Parenting. Congrats! I read all the time even though I never put my 2 cents in. The point you raised was spot on though and as far as I’m concerned, the AP style of parenting IS inherently self-centered. That’s so interesting about Dr. Sears, I never knew that! Talk about a man with a God complex, and I might add one that comes off as extremely sexist in his books. I’ve never understood how so many women could fall for this AP stuff when it seems to be all about keeping women in their rightful place in the home, this coming from a SAHM! The point about the non existence of the father in AP parenting is brilliant. But it’s not just self -centered as it regards the other parent, but also as it regards the child. It is NOT about the child and what’s best for the child, it is about the woman’s experience of motherhood! It reminds me a little bit of the women who have such a rigid idea of what they want the birth of their baby to be like that they often, unwittingly, endanger the baby. People, not everything is about your experience and sometimes we have to put others first in life, especially our children. This is their childhood, not their mothers newest phase.

    Well done Mommy Psychologist and thank you for speaking out for all of us!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Mel. I’m stealing “common sense parenting.” Don’t worry, I’ll give you credit. I love that you brought up that it is their childhood. I always wonder how many mothers practice this type of parenting as a reaction to their own childhood…

  2. Miranda says:

    Is the video online anywhere? Would love to see it. We get Dr Phil here, but it’s only screened in the middle of the day when I’m at work. And it’s probably months/years behind the US.

    Totally agree with you and Mel. Adopting an official hardline AP line to raise a baby is inherently mysogynistic and self-centered. Having said that, some of the baby-wrangling techniques claimed by AP are perfectly sensible… But AP gives them a bad name (or a good name, depending on your perspective!).

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Miranda. The show won’t air for like a month or something. I don’t even have the date yet. When I do, I’ll be sure to let you know. Oddly enough, one of the leading directors from the API group here in Southern California was also present for the show and we talked a lot after the show was over. She gave the most down to earth and practical approach to AP that I have ever heard. And she made an excellent point about only getting to witness those who practice such extreme forms of AP because they are the only ones who end up in the media for their antics. She really gave me a perspective on AP that I really appreciated.

      • Miranda says:

        Interested! A topic for another post?

        • Mommy Psychologist says:

          Yep:)

          • Korenna says:

            Hello Heather.

            I wanted to stop by your blog and let you know that I really enjoyed meeting you & reiterate that I agree the examples of extreme/permissive parenting you (and other guests) described are quite problematic and NOT in line with the principles of Attachment Parenting.

            In fact I think the parenting paradigm you describe is very much in line with the principles of Attachment Parenting and, despite you taking offense to my resent blog post, I hope we can stay in touch.

            I am sorry you felt slighted by my recounting of Wednesday’s experience . If you have suggestions/requests regarding how you how you would prefer to be (anonymously) represented please feel free to email me personally.

          • Mommy Psychologist says:

            Thanks, Korenna. Just to clarify, I didn’t feel slighted by your recounting only concerned with the discrepancies between what happened and your recounting of the events. There were things you said occurred that never actually occurred. Likewise. If you’d like to discuss it further, shoot me a personal email through the contact form on the blog.

  3. Barnmaven says:

    I had Dr. Sears book when my daughter was born. I did not know that he was raised by a single mother, that puts an interesting slant on things.

    I think some of the best parenting is the kind where you know yourself and you learn your kid and you do what works for your family. We did some things that would be considered “AP” and others that would not. We used disposable diapers but I nursed the kids for two years apiece. While they were nursing they slept with us. When they were two they moved into their own bed and we did three days of graduated sleep training. Those things might not work for someone else, but they worked for us. There are things we tried that the Dr. Sears books suggested that didn’t work or didn’t fit our family. Other things did. Its like they say in 12-step: take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. But don’t assume everyone’s journey is just the same as yours; its the insistence of any author or “expert” or proponent of a certain method that their way is the only way that drives me batshit cray-cray.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Barnmaven. Dr. Sears’ absent father is not something that is mentioned often. In fact, you have to REALLY dig in order to find any history regarding him or how he developed his theories. And even when you do, it’s very vague at best. I stumbled upon someone’s dissertation who had tried to piece together his background and he continually referred to how difficult it was to get straightforward answers.

  4. bmommyx2 says:

    I’m not sure why, but you sound like you have a lot of anger & resentment in regards to the topic of AP Parenting & towards Jamie herself? I agree that many of the AP parenting topics that make it to the news can be very extreme & don’t represent the average AP Parent. The same can be said for any kind of parenting. Did you hear about the lady potty training her twin girls at the table in a restaurant? I don’t think she’s an AP parent. I personally would consider myself an AP parent & I know lots of like minded parents. We don’t all follow a cookie cutter list of things we do or don’t do. We all just want the best for our children like most parents. Just like conventional parents we are all different. I have never met anyone who practiced AP who is self centered in regard to parenting or ridged like you describe. I personally take offense when you refer to AP as Extreme parenting & self centered. If you really wanted to be educated on the topic you would spend some time with real world AP parents. The reality is that all parenting tends to be mom centered. I most definitely do not feel that AP leaves dad out in the cold & if you met real AP families you would know this. Like all families some dad are more involved & some less, but in my experience AP dads tend to be more involved. I’m not sure why someone would even bring up Dr. Sears’ father, but I think we all parent the way we do partly because of our life experience good or bad and the relationsip we had with ours & there is nothing wrong with it. I can’t speak for others, but for me AP parenting is about doing what just feels right for my child & my family. I listen to my gut and since each child is different I have parented both of my boys different. Since you mentioned pregnancy and birth both of mine were also very different. I hope that you can invest some time into educating yourself more about your topic before your next post.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thans, Bmommy. I have to respectfully disagree with you, though. The reality is that not all parenting is mom centered as you indicated. And if it is, then that is problematic. It’s interesting that you bring up education. It is my education that makes it so difficult not to speak out against the significant holes in the theory of AP. If I didn’t have a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology, thousands of hours working with children and families as well as ten years studying the theories of child development, I would probably not be as aware about how potentially damaging enmeshed parenting can be if continued past infancy. If I was a mom without such an extensive background in clinical psychology, it would be very easy to be unintentionally misinformed and to rely on evidence that is anecdotal. But I’m not. I’m Dr. Harrison so I can’t.

      • bmommyx2 says:

        I am not a writer & I guess I didn’t make my point clear. My point is that the “AP parenting” you describe is not how most AP parents parent and that is what you need to be more educated about is the real world AP parenting that most of us follow. I think you have read many books & followed studies & seen some of what you refer to as extreme AP parents in the media. It doesn’t matter how much education you have or how many studies you have read you do not have a grasp of AP parenting in the real world & if you spend some time with typical AP parents you would know that. You make lots of accusations & base your judgement on a type of parenting that isn’t really out there except for possibly a very tiny minority.

        • bmommyx2 says:

          I still disagree with you & believe that all parenting is mom centered. Just take a look around the world & here in the US. I’m not saying that dads are not important they most certainly are, but lets face it even if you partner is the most modern involved dad mom still does the bulk of the parenting. Unless there is a stay at home dad or a really horrible mother, mom’s still do the bulk of the parenting.

          • hmom says:

            What do you mean by “parenting”? My husband and I make most parenting decisions together. I might change more diapers and make more bottles, but that isn’t “parenting” to me. Those are just daily tasks. The decision to move baby to crib, quit nursing, pick a bedtime etc. were all made with dad. I wouldn’t call that mommy centered.

          • Lesliej says:

            Thank you bmommyx2. In my reading of The Baby Book and several other parenting books I found Dr. Sears to be the most flexible of them all. The main point I took away from his style was to do what felt right to you as a mother. He emphasized working with your child for what meets their needs at that given time. Which I have a very hard time seeing as “self-centered” on the part of the mother. I’m not really sure how you’ve come to think meeting the needs (needs, not wants) of your child when they need them as being a selfish thing… I have to agree with bmommyx2 that while I’m sure you are very educated and well read, you don’t have that much experience with how real families are making attachment style parenting work for them. All of your statements are being based on the sensational stories that pop up every now and then which makes me wonder if you’re doing your research in real pediatric settings with real families or just “surfin’ the net.” A child who has had their needs met in infancy and has been supported in their early development will be hard pressed to be psychologically damaged. As with anything, it can be taken to extremes. therefore it’s hardly fair to group all attachment parents into the extremes, just as it would be inappropriate to say that parents who let their children “cry it out” are abusive. The parents who use attachment parenting as an excuse to let their children do whatever they want are few and far between to the ones who simply use it as a guideline to support their child and parent by their instincts. What the mommy psychologist states is her opinion, stemming from her experiences, the same as Dr. Sears. Bringing his father’s abandonment into the argument is more than a little unprofessional, and just kind of bad taste.

          • Mommy Psychologist says:

            Thanks, Lesliej.

  5. Yay! Can’t wait to watch. As always, another well-written yet passionate yet real post.

  6. Louise says:

    Well the alarm bells in ANY parenting style here is SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Irrelevant of how many letters we have after our name : ) we really only have the right to input into our own children. Certainly fathers are involved in “attachment parenting” any of you actually read the book. Oh and Dr Seears does have a wife yeah? How he was himself raised is a blessing to many people today. To call any parenting choice (which by the way a re a continuous and daily choice) selfish is spot on….we are after all HUMAN BEINGS naturally selfish. Give a baby a bottle so I can rest – yep that’s selfish. LOL Come on people grow up. Yeah I have some letters at the end of my name to – so what? Prima Dona rings a bell here. Just let people be. We don’t need “proffessionals” to tell us how it’s done. NOBODY had a perfect childhood and what you do everyday of your life SHOULD affect how you parent. And at the end of the day remember to ask yourself “am I perfect?” No you aren’t and nor is anybody else : )

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      It’s unclear what you are upset about, but thanks for taking the time to comment.

      • Melissa says:

        Seriously? How can anyone who colored their instincts and does the best they can for their kids NOT be offended by someone starting they are being self centered. I completely agree with Louise….lay off!
        By the way, my husband is ALSO an APer…so ate most of the dad attachment parents out there. Sorry, gotta go, I’m nursing my 4 year old soon to sleep in my bed before his dad moves him to his bed in our room. And this sleepy boy, this amazin, loving, gentle soul- constantly complimented by adults for being well behaved, sweet, charming, kind, intelligent, creative, strong and healthy. I know I’ve made the right parenting choice for us, but it saddens me that you’ll be turning impressionable NW moms against attachment parenting.

        • mommabear3 says:

          You need help and you need to let your son have his OWN room with his own bed. Do you guys still have sex while he is in your bedroom? He is old enough to notice and young enough to be psychologically damages by witnessing intercourse. He is a child, let him be his own person already . That is just not healthy.

  7. MrsRuk says:

    My husband and I are attached parents, and we LOVE it! How is our decision to be respectful, responsive, and gentle with our child self centered? I can’t come up with a single aspect of attachment parenting that is selfish; just the opposite in fact. Is it possible you’ve confused AP with another style of parenting. My husband is so involved with every part of o our son’s life. They sleep snuggled up most of the night, they bath together, go on long walks in the evening, when we go out my husband wears our son the majority of the time unless he needs to be breastfed. We would of course love to get more sleep, but we would miss his sweet face and talking in his sleep. Our backs would be appreciative if we put the b baby in a stroller, but we would miss out on all the hugs and kisses. The way we parent is exhausting and challenging, but our son is worth every ounce of effort.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, MrsRuk. I appreciate it. I think it’s great that your husband is so involved in your son’s life. I was mainly referring to the theoretical underpinnings of Dr. Sears writing. He uses almost all maternal language.

  8. C.J. says:

    I would very much like to watch the Dr. Phil episode. I don’t usually watch much daytime tv so I hope I don’t miss it. I don’t really like parenting technique labels. I think it can lead to extreams. Not that every parent will be extream but many will. I also think it leads to a lot of parents judging others. Some people think their “label” is the only right one. We probably parent our children with a little bit of every parenting technique depending on the situation and the child. Seems to be working, they are happy and healthy.

  9. Margie Wilson-Mars says:

    I had to whip out the old books… and yes, I see he Sears) does use mostly maternal wording. However, he also has sections, and an entire book on AP fathering. Personally, I could care less about the holes in the theory, I care about the results of the child-rearing. I am far from the by-the-book AP mom but I believe that many parents today are far detached from their babies and that is sad.
    I look forward to hear what you have to say. We should never quit exploring everything out there. BUT, after knowing the results of Dr. Phil’s child-rearing…his sons (yikes), I will cover my ears and hum while he speaks!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Margie. I agree it is sad when a mother isn’t attached to her child. It’s heartbreaking.

  10. moni says:

    Funny, I’ve always called BFing, cosleeping and babywearing common sense parenting. I never read Dr. Sears, or heard of AP until recently. The only thing their dad doesn’t do is BF obviously, but he is very involved in the rest of their raising. I also never understood how responding to your children’s needs supposedly makes them clingy. My older two are some of the most self sufficient and compassionate kids I know at their ages, 12 and 15.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Moni.

    • Korenna says:

      I whole heartedly agree with you, Moni!

      Attachment theory is so much bigger than Dr Sears (or any of the other proponents of Attachment Parenting, and there are more than just his legacy!) When I first discovered the AP literature my first thought was: “Oh good, there is a name for this and some guidelines to help ground my practice!” I think, if we were free to follow our instincts, most parents would choose to raise children in these ways :)

      Thank you for pointing out that DADS can parent in an attached manner just as easily as mom’s (without the breastfeeding, of course!) I think it’s an important fact that our society needs to recognize!

      Kudos to you.

      • Liz says:

        Amen, moni! I also have a PhD in clinical psychology and have also logged countless hours working with parents, families, and kids. I BF, co-slept, and wore my babies in wraps and pouches. Especially for my reflux, milk-protein intolerant second daughter, the wraps and pouches were a godsend!! FWIW, my husband is a very involved father. And none of the above means that I am a permissive parent. I use 1-2-3 magic with my kids and believe it is very important to set limits and boundaries. And before bashing co-sleeping, why not read some of James McKenna’s research? The point is that we should all do what is best for our own families, and really at the end of the day, that is a big part of AP.

  11. Mama Bear says:

    Mono, I had the same experience. I enjoyed Dr Sears’ book, but no one but a straw man slavishly follows someone else’s advice to the letter.
    My husband slept with me and our babies, took turns changing diapers–the whole nine yards–he loved that time of fatherhood and I could not have prevented him from taking part. He did everything but breast feed and he even got up at night to soothe sick babies, reasoning that I lost enough sleep from nighttime feedings.
    Truly connected families have parents who are aware of their children’s maturing needs. Babies’ needs differ from toddlers and on and on into adulthood.
    These critics can’t get past their own simplistic black and white thinking enough to comprehend more nuanced parenting styles and they paint people whom they’ve labelled with an overly broad brush.
    My four kids have a nice mix of independence and willingness to listen and I not only love them, I like them as individuals, too.

  12. I can’t wait to read it! And I noticed the whole lack of fathers involved in AP, as well. When I was really into AP with my first child, my husband didn’t do much because I wouldn’t let him. I knew what I was doing (because I had experience with my nephews as babies), so it was easier for me to do it all and I never let him figure out what his parenting/fathering style was because his job (according to Dr Sears and me) was to support me, not to actually take any role on himself. So when I was extremely sleep deprived and angry, I wouldn’t let him take the baby because I was supposed to deal with it all by myself and he was just supposed to encourage me to get through it instead of taking the baby and letting me get some sleep. I know quite a few other AP families where the dad is simply not involved because he doesn’t like interacting with babies (so he might start interacting with his kids after they’re 2), or dad works out of town half the time so isn’t around, or (as in my case) mom won’t let him.
    I was so crazy AP. And it was all about me. I was going to be a better mom than my mom was to me. Since I didn’t have a loving mother, it didn’t occur to me that you don’t have to be physically present and the only source of comfort for your kid in order to be a normal loving parent. I’m so glad I ran into other sources and hard data that shows that kids turn out normal even if they aren’t AP so I could actually find a healthy parenting style, to where my needs (to be alone, to shower, to have hobbies outside my kids) could be met as well as my kids and my husband could be trusted to be a parent. I’m not fully there yet, but I’m getting there.
    While I know not all AP people are completely rigid and dogmatic, I have to say that all the ones I have met seem to have this total fear that if they don’t raise their kids AP, they’re going to turn out damaged. Hence the need for a label and the need to make sure they’re doing things “right” and not a “non-AP” way.

    • Sandra Langstaff says:

      germfinnchick
      How wonderful if all parents took the time to really look at their own behaviour (as you have) and decided to make a change for the better!
      Also, yes, you really do need to take time just to be yourself, not feeling like ‘Mommy’ defines you 24/7. As you said, showering, taking time for yourself, these kinds of needs are real and often parents brag or joke around that none of these are being met, but it really is necessary – no-one wants to be around tired/cranky parents. People can’t just be parents all the time, there is nothing wrong with a night out or an afternoon of reading a good book – and parents who understand their own needs and make time for them are more refreshed and balanced, therefore, better parents. : )
      I can relate to the perfectionism and ‘mommyism’ of wanting to do everything, that feeling that you are the most important (the ONLY important) person in your child’s life, as I had many moments like that myself. What helped me was my husband’s insistence to being involved with everything, it kept me a little more humble and made me realize that the more people who love your child and spend time with them, the better. It’s not only about baby and mommy. But I’ll be honest and say I made mistakes through worry, criticism of others wishing to help out, etc. It was that nagging feeling that I should be the only person performing even routine chores and I really don’t know how I lived like that – I really needed to have more ‘fun’ and less worry and to spend less time in the baby’s presence – even just getting a babysitter for an hour now and then would have helped.
      Also, maybe a little ‘break’ is good for young children as well, allowing them time to stretch their wings and get to know other adults better, to learn that there are others who care for them, or that it’s okay and normal for Mommy to go out, to take time for herself. What a great lesson for them to learn for their future as parents!

  13. Liz says:

    I am also a PhD licensed clinical psychologist, and frankly, you are misinformed about “attachment parenting.” It is rooted in attachment theory. Hence, the name. The name wasn’t intended to mean that parents who don’t follow the approach are not attached to their children. It couldn’t be further from the truth that fathers are not involved. Also, attachment parenting does not mean permissive parenting, and I am sick of the two being confused. You sound angry and resentful and as if you have an ax to grind. If you could be a little more open-minded, you might find some tenets that make sense to you.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Liz. However, this is one of the common misconceptions about attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is only called attachment parenting because it is the name Dr. Sears gave to it. It is NOT called attachment parenting because it is based on attachment theory. As you know, original studies on attachment theory were only conducted using infants. There was not any empirical studies conducted by Bowlby and Ainsworth past infancy. It is one of the primary flaws that developmental researchers have always identified regarding the theory. In addition, it is why researchers began looking at more ethological theories to describe attachment because in order to be a complete theory, attachment needed to be described in a comprehensive manner throughout the life span. Attachment theory is considered to be a theory of attachment that applies to infancy, but is incomplete as there have not been any subsequent studies able to support the basic premises of the theory into later stages of development. I’ve got some great references for you if you’d like to check them out. Send me a private email and I’ll send them your way.

      • Liz says:

        I am very familiar with Bowlby and Ainsworth. The bulk of Dr. Sears’ books is written with infants/toddlers in mind, so I would argue that it is compatible with Bowlby/Ainsworth’s work. It doesn’t really matter to me whether or not Dr. Sears named this parenting approach specifically after attachment theory. So, keeping infants in mind, it does seem aligned with attachment theory. I would love to see research indicating that breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and babywearing have detrimental long-term outcomes as it seems you are suggesting.

        I think the medical community is failing new mothers by not offering enough support to promote breastfeeding during the postpartum period. It’s not easy for many women. And again, James McKenna has a wealth of information about the benefits of co-sleeping. You may already be aware of this, but Richard Ferber himself said that Ferberizing is not meant to be used on infants younger than 6 months old. He also admitted that he wasn’t as rigid with his own children about letting them sleep in his bedroom. And there are studies documenting that the elevated cortisol levels from leaving infants to “CIO” may be associated with harmful outcomes later on.

        So I guess I have to ask again why you have such an issue with attachment parenting? I can understand that the name might bother you if you choose to interpret the name as meaning that other parents who use a different approach or bottlefeed their children are somehow less attached to their kids.

        Ultimately, as a psychologist, you know that any parenting modality taken to the extreme is probably not a good thing, whether that be babywise, behaviorism, attachment parenting, etc. I get that some parents may take attachment parenting to the extreme, but those parents are outliers. The same could be said for families who subscribe to other parenting approaches.

        • Liz says:

          Actually, attachment theory was expanded later on due to the criticisms you mention. The majority of the sensationalism surrounding AP is when it is taken to the extreme, and when Time magazine decides to publish an obnoxious, polarizing cover. And as far as Jamie G., goes, you and I are in complete agreement that posing for that cover was poor judgment. But, most folks in real life who BF, co-sleep, and babywear are not taking it to the extreme with 4 and 5 year old kids and setting no limits. I just think your tone sounds very defensive.

        • Mommy Psychologist says:

          Thanks, Liz. I just published a post describing in detail my major issue. I think I may have been unclear. My issue is not with AP in infancy. This is what AP was intended for. Attachment theory as both of us have indicated is a theory of the development of attachment in infancy. It is not a theory that goes on to explain attachment past that period of time. However, many proponents of AP continue to use research in infancy to support their decisions when their children are toddlers and school age. And frankly, this is a misuse of the infancy research.

          As a child psychologist with a specialization in trauma, I would like to point out that in order to create what we call in the field a “trauma brain” a child must suffer repeated, extensive, and intensive abuse over a considerable period of time. This is when the brain can become altered due to prolonged release of cortisol. However, even in these kids, the brain has a high degree of plasticity and often makes alternate pathways. The idea that the average crying that infants engage in would result in brain damage if not immediately attended to is almost insulting to the children and babies who suffer actual real trauma.

          • Liz says:

            Agreed, but even the cortisol elevations in infants left to CIO for prolonged periods can be harmful. I am talking about what babywise promotes in early infancy when frequent nightwakings are actually the norm. I think moms might misinterpret this to mean catching a break for 5 minutes or letting an infant “fuss” for 5 minutes is harmful, but that isn’t the case. Doing a 45 minute CIO on a 6 or 8 week old is not recommended though, and there are folks that do that-

          • Mommy Psychologist says:

            Thanks, Liz. I’m never heard of anyone doing CIO on a 6 or 8 week infant. Even the hardcore sleep training experts recommend to wait until the baby is at least 4 months old.

  14. Stefany says:

    Isn’t all parenting common sense parenting? I don’t read a lot of parenting books. I started to with my oldest, but got freaked out and quit. I wanted to focus on our family rather than a book telling me how our family should operate. I have BF both my daughters (currently nursing my youngest), not a co-sleeper ( none of us would have gotten any rest), and I “wear” my children tons. I do what I need to survive, have fun with my kids, and maintain a balance. I also have an amazing, bright, spirited child. She is well-mannered, fun, and sleeps in her own bed. My point is we all do what makes sense to us. I’m not defensive about our parenting choices. I mess up a lot and learn from my mistakes. Why are others so defensive? I don’t think Heather is trying to attack, but rather shed light. Maybe all the AP parents aren’t as AP as they thought? When we constantly need to defend our choices, it’s time to reevaluate. Own your choices happily.

  15. Samantha says:

    Heather….Congratulations on your affiliation with the Dr. Phil show! You have certainly made your mark, and I always knew you would do great things! So proud of you…..
    I agree wholeheartedly on the AP issue by the way…..We are supposed to bring our children up to be responsible, caring, loving, spiritual beings….This is tough to do, no doubt…but much easier if you’re not carrying a 9 year old around in a baby bjorn! Kids need experiences, not bubbles, and parents need time to be a couple as well. No degree here, just lots of trial and error! Luv ya babe…Sam

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Sam. Somehow we got a bit lost along the way and forgot that the ultimate goal of parenting is to develop a healthy, well adjusted adult who is able to function successfully in the world. Love the line about kids needing experiences and not bubbles!

      • Ali says:

        I think everyone should cut your comment out and tape it to the bathroom mirror, fridge and their forehead. It’s exactly what we’re trying to do raise children into being capable adults. I truly believe a lot of parents forget that when they go to actually raise a kid on a day-to-day basis.

        One of my child’s friends came over the other day and the girl couldn’t even buss her own dishes after a meal. No-one had ever made it necessary. She’s 8 years old!

  16. Jackie says:

    Thank you for publishing this. I honestly have been disturbed by the sexualization not just of breastfeeding, but the other day I saw an ad for a Cougar dating service. How far are people willing to normalize what in some cases could be female pedophilia?

  17. Kendall McEwan says:

    I love Jamie Grumet! She is doing such great things with Fayye Foundation – fighting the global orphan crisis by addressing maternal mortality. She does so much humanitarian work and is a great advocate for children’s health issues. My guess is that if she wasn’t able to attend this show, she likely was engaging in far more important activities. I admire her so much!

  18. Beth Gauthier says:

    “My favorite moment was being able to point out to Dr. Sears that the studies he was citing were being misrepresented and having Dr. Phil agree with me. ”
    Can you please cite exactly what study/studies you corrected Dr. Sears on?

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Beth. Certainly. Dr. Sears was vaguely referring to World Health Organization studies demonstrating the benefits of breastfeeding in regard to increased immune responses, decreases in diabetic illnesses, and assistance with other regulatory functions of infants. However, he was referring to these studies in support of extended breastfeeding beyond the age of 2. I asked him if he was referring to the 2007 WHO study which is repeatedly used as evidence to support extended breastfeeding and also if he was referring to Dewey (2001) published in Pediatrics. He indicated that he was. The key point I made was that the studies he was referring to examined children under the age of 18 months. In actuality, there are only a small handful of studies that have ever examined breastfeeding beyond the age of 2. I pointed out that it was an error to conclude that the information from these studies would be replicated in a similar controlled study with children who were over the age of 18 months. Dr. Phil agreed with me and went on to discuss how it is a misrepresentation of the data. If you want a formal APA list of references, shoot me a message via the contact page. Hope this helps to clarify things a bit for you.

  19. Beth Gauthier says:

    Based on the above study that you have referenced, would it be a fair statement to say human breast milk then, must cease to provide any benefit to a child on the child’s second birth day? ( Or rather in this case, the child’s 18 month?)

  20. Ray Ortiz says:

    Hi there, I just happen to come across your blog. My wife was the guest on this show. She reached out to the Dr Phil show and asked them to do an episode on Attachment Parenting. They ended up asking her to come on the show and explain why she chose attachment parenting. I would like to point out that we are attachment parents and Dr Sears is only one person who endorses the theory. I will say his books tend to be pointed towards mothers. Please read the book The Attachment Connection by Ruth P Newton, Ph.D. It is written for both mothers and fathers. And as for the show, the producers were intent on making my wife’s segment about attachment parenting into a segment about extended breastfeeding. Attachment Parenting was never their point. Their film crew spent the entire Saturday at our home getting footage of us interacting with our children but they wouldn’t leave until they got footage of our then 3 year old son breastfeeding. We explained that he weened himself 4 months earlier. They ended up leaving and we sent them an older video we had of him breastfeeding just to get on the show.

    It was interesting being a part of the show and getting behind the scenes but keep in mind that most of the stuff is staged and does not always pan out they way it’s originally presented to the guests.

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