Free-Range Kids and Attachment Parenting

Hi Folks! Just found this post buried in my “to put on blog” cue. Sorry it’s so long after the Time Mag cover (which cover? You KNOW which cover) and the “Take Our Kids to the Park…and Leave Them There Day” piece.

Anyway — after the umpteenth question and comment about Free-Range “versus” Attachment Parenting, I wrote one commenter this note. He had asked, “Have you seen any correlation, either positive or negative, between Attachment Parenting and Free-Range?  Or do the bubblewrap/helicopter parents you see tend to be the Attachment Parenting parents?” My answer


I have, thank goodness, no idea. What I always try to explain is that Free-Range is not a “type of parenting.” It’s an outlook that tries to resist the rampant fear being foisted upon us by marketers, politicians, “experts” and the media, all of whom have a vested interest in making us worried that our kids will be killed.

Or not get into Harvard.
I don’t endorse bashing any parenting decision. I DO endorse bashing all the forces that are trying to make us unnecessarily suspicious, worried and afraid to connect. – L

151 Responses

  1. I’m glad you brought this up.

    I consider myself to parent with both attachment parenting and free-range parenting in mind. I believe in the philosophy behind both of these parenting styles, and I don’t see any conflict between the two (to be fair, I also don’t really label myself one or the other; I’m a parent, just trying to do the best I can for my kid).

    It’s the attachment parenting philosophy that made me decide not to use cry it out methods and that informed by breastfeeding relationship.

    It’s the free-range parenting philosophy that made me let my then-15-month-old daughter climb unassisted on the playground because she was physically capable and wanted to test her abilities.

    Attachment parenting was largely behind my decision to use a baby carrier. Free-range parenting was largely behind my decision to let my baby crawl on the floor rather than in some sort of device that kept her in place.

    I don’t think there’s any conflict between wanting to ensure that your child has a healthy, attached relationship to his/her parents and wanting to ensure that your child has a healthy sense of self and independence. In fact, I think those two go together pretty nicely.

  2. Your timing was perfect. There was a big article in our local paper just today about attachment parenting, spurred by negative comments made by a well-known parenting guy (someone I have a lot of respect for, but I think he did some unnecessary bashing in this case). I appreciate you making a non-issue out of it.

  3. I am a frequent reader of this blog. Commenting for the first time here.

    I think there is a distict difference between attachment parenting and helicopter parenting. In attachment parenting, the parent is always available to the child. This may include things like keeping the child close to you at all times, physically carrying the child as opposed to taking it along in a pram/ stroller, co-sleeping, or keeping the child in your own bedroom instead of in a separate bedroom, attending to the child’s cries as immediately as possible, cloth diapering and early potty training instead of using disposable diapers, breast feeding and feeding on demand. All things that we in India have been doing for generations. It is inconceivable to us that a very small baby sleeps in another room. Easier on the mother, too, who does not need to get up in the middle of the night to go to another room to attend to a child in distress. We follow all this -except for the breast feeding, of course- until the child begins school.

    This method of parenting is not necessarily incompatible with free range kids. Helicopter parenting is, in my opinion.

  4. I agree with the above commenter. I think of attachment parenting as more of a parenting philosophy for babies and very young toddlers. For me, it naturally progressed into Freerange parenting as my kids got older. Both seem intuitive and give kids the security and freedoms they need at various ages.

  5. I love Balancing Jane’s comment above. I, too, am a “reluctant” Attachment Parent–reluctant in that I really hate labeling myself and my choices when I’m simply trying to do what’s best for my child. But I have embraced both AP and FRK because both have given me the freedom to trust myself as the best expert on my child and his abilities. And because of that, I see these two philosophies as eminently compatible. The Time article really seemed to push the misconceptions about Attachment Parenting, and it is those misconceptions that lead people to believe that AP=helicoptering.

  6. I don’t think attachment parenting and free-range are mutually exclusive at all. I think there are misunderstandings about attachment parenting where many assume that it is just another term for helicopter parenting. That would be counter to Dr. Sears’ philosophy. In his books, he stresses that although attachment parenting strives to make sure children can effectively communicate their need to adults and have them met, he goes on to say that if the child can meet that need themselves, they should. I see attachment parenting simply as growing and developing, but with the kids setting the pace, which sounds kinda like what free-range is all about. Gradual independence as the child is ready for it. I consider myself to be both attachment-oriented, and free-range.

    Having thrown that out there, let the discourse begin!

  7. I meant except for continuing the breast feeding beyond a year or so.

  8. I’d love to hear more about combining attachment-focused parenting and free-range parenting in the context of (non-infant) adoption, where a child really does need a level of attention and responsiveness disproportionate to their age in order to build attachments that are normally built beginning at birth but are instead building them at an age when they’re otherwise much more capable and competent.

    Quite possibly not starting from a place of fear is the place to start here, too.

  9. I, too, consider myself both an attachment parent and a free-range parent. My daughter is only 18 months old, so many of the specific ideas of free-range parenting aren’t relevant to us yet, but nevertheless that philosophy manifests itself in how I allow her to interact with her environment. She is allowed to climb stairs, explore new places, play with other children, and spend time amusing herself without having her days tightly scheduled. I don’t panic about leaving her in a room alone while I do some small errand in another part of the house, and I can walk ahead to the car to deposit purses and water bottles when we go out – she’s perfectly capable of getting herself from the front door to the car without oversight. When she falls, I wait to see if she’s upset before attempting to console her. As often as not, she picks herself up and goes on. At the same time, I continue to breastfeed her on demand, she co-sleeps part of the time, we’ve cloth diapered since birth, and I refuse to let her cry it out.

    I think sometimes we all get too hung up on the labels. Both of these parenting movements are pretty big nets that encompass a wide variety of practices.

  10. I think that attachment parenting would give the child a sense of security and love knowing the parent is always available that would then in turn give the child more confidence to free range.

  11. I think they are both complementary – if you read the Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff – the tribes she observes are essentially doing both – that is my style of parenting anyway – I never liked the word attachment parenting but I’ve got used to it. I think when you give things labels you limit them somehow.

  12. Balancing Jane said it perfectly: I don’t think there is any fundamental conflict between attachment parenting and free-range parenting. I don’t really label myself as an attachment parent-er. I breastfed on demand, but didn’t cosleep or baby wear (tried to, but my baby HATED the sling, was much more comfortable being free to kick her limbs). But from what I understand, attachment parenting philosophy focuses mainly on the first few years of life, whereas I’ve always taken free range to be more preschool and adolescent-focused. I do know some attachment-parents though, and I don’t consider them to be helicopter-ish at all. To say that the two philosophies are at odds with one another would require two assumptions:

    1) That attachment parenting comes from a place of wanting to protect your child from anything and everything, to be a physical and emotional barrier between him or her and the rest of the world.


    2) That free-range parenting comes from a place of wanting to provide no such protection at all, and let them “tough it out” on their own.

    Both of these assumptions are false, in my opinion. No situation is that black and white. I think FRP and attachment parenting can actually complement each other really well. AP says “I’m here if you need me, always.”, while FRP says “I’m going to expect you to try things and take risks, and live up to your potential.”, but both come, ultimately, from a place of love.

  13. SLJ, that’s my situation, and that’s what I did with my son. We adopted him at 18 months of age, and were doing infant things with him, like carrying him around in a sling, at the same time as we were feeding and caring for him at a level appropriate to his age. We had no particular philosophy, and mostly took our cues from him – when he was clingy, we let him cling. When he was tantumy and insecure, we waited the bad parts out with him. I did read a little bit about attachment parenting, and found some tips and tricks that were useful. A lot of it was irrelevant, and some of it was not really consistent with our own personalities. But some was pretty good.

    The worst is over now, and the kid is pretty firmly attached. Now we can let him discover the world at a normal pace, free range style. I think a little attachment, a little free-ranginess has worked out well for our family. Of course, it helps that our son is naturally warm and responsive, and almost completely lacks the self-destructive tendencies that crop up in some traumatized children. (In myself, for instance! I’m eternally thankful my son isn’t like I was.)

  14. Definitely agree with the sentiment that they are complimentary (and disliking the labeling too). I think parenting very young children in the “attachement” way, leads very, very naturally into letting them be free range. In fact, as I always understood it, this is what we were setting them up for–to be more independent by giving them the foundation to be so.

  15. i agree with the above posters. I think that Attachment Parenting lays the foundation for Free Range Parenting. Being in tune with your child’s needs and abilities allows you to give them more freedom and challenges with confidence. For example, my daughter has been helping me cook in the kitchen using a sharp (Don’t freak out, it’s not that sharp) knife since she was three. I felt confident doing this because I know she is a methodical person who follows a set of steps exactly. I knew she could do something that she wanted to do and do it safely. On the other hand, at eight she does not use the stove yet except with me right next to her. That’s because she does not want to. She is afraid of it, and I respect that boundary and don’t try to push her into something she’s not ready for. There is nothing more Free Range than that.

  16. I think AP is exactly what others have said – being available to the child. That’s completely different from setting fearful limits on the child. Available doesn’t have to mean right there – it can mean willing to pause and listen when a kid comes home from being out alone. Ideally, having a strong relationship with your child in the early years should lead to a more confident, independent kid, which would seem completely compatible with free range kids.

  17. Interesting that you chose to post this Lenore. In fact since I discovered your blog last night and did some reading on it, I was actually thinking this very morning (before I saw this post) that I truly believe that attachment parenting (which I did practice – I nursed my kids till they were 2 in one case and 18 months in another, had a family bed in which all my kids slept with me, etc) actually lead to my ability to give my kids more freedom now that they are older. The underlying concept of attachment parenting is that the parent is connected and aware of their child’s needs so that when the time comes for that child to grow up and become more independent, the parent is very in tune with what their child is capable of and can let go and allow them to test their wings so to speak. In addition, with attachment parenting, the child themselves feels safe and connected enough to the parent that they feel confident in testing their wings and knows that their parent is there to protect them but not hover per se. Does that make sense? I think attachment parenting, when done right, leads to a free-range mentality, not the opposite! Thank you for the opportunity to post a comment on this topic!

  18. Our four year old still sleeps with us because he’s not ready to sleep by himself. He also rides our horses (closely supervised), helps groom them (suitably helmeted) and helps the girls at the stables with barrows of feed.

    Definitely complementary approaches, assuming you apply a decent amount of sensitivity and common sense to both. Use what applies to your situation and ignore what doesn’t

  19. I’m with everyone else here. When my daughter was a baby and toddler I did extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, I didn’t use a sling that much, no cry-it-out. At that age, babies need to know their needs will be met, they need the security. At the same time, when she started to crawl I let her navigate the two steps between the front and back of the house (and got some very cute videos watching her figure it out!). I considered gnawing on the grocery cart handle (or the dog) as her immune system boosting program. As she got older, and not needing me as much I let her roam. Now at 5 yrs. she goes outside by herself, front yard included. She chooses her own clothes and dresses herself, I leave her alone in the bath tub and she will wash her own hair, get out and dry herself off.

    I think Stephanonymous stated it perfectly: “I think FRP and attachment parenting can actually complement each other really well. AP says “I’m here if you need me, always.”, while FRP says “I’m going to expect you to try things and take risks, and live up to your potential.”, but both come, ultimately, from a place of love.”

  20. I agree with Lisa above. We took from attachment parenting what worked for us – I breastfed just past 2 years of age, did a mix of babywearing and stroller time, never let him cry it out, etc. Now, at 4, he runs around our shared backyards, goes and plays at the park without me hovering and had no problems running up and joining his t-ball team without me running the bases with him (like some parents did….) I think that regardless of labels, you just need to find what works best for your kids and your family and go with it.

  21. *re-reads second comment, and edit*

    What’s so “of course” about not breastfeeding past a year? I’m not going to stand over you and force you to do so, but it’s definitely not an “of course!” thing.

    Off-topic, Lenore, seen this yet?

  22. I’ve defined as an attachment parent and a free range parent. One of the principles of AP is bonding to ensure security so that when the time comes, kids feel strong and safe and ready for adventure! My whole investment in AP is raising strong kids who feel confident taking on the world, not breeding codependence and neediness. I get really irritated when AP is collapsed in to the category of “helicopter parenting” when I don’t see it that way at all. AP principles (which I’m more interested in that specific practices that are considered AP) also encourage us to respect our children as unique individuals, and to trust them: this means encouraging autonomy and not second-guessing everything for them. That’s the opposite of helicoptering, ad totally in line with free range.

  23. I am a free-range attachment parent. You can absolutely be both, because attachment parenting is largely about the needs of infants and toddlers, while free-range speaks more to the needs of older children. So, while I breastfed my kids for 28, 22, and 18 months, I also let them play outside unsupervised from about the age of 5 (4 with an older sibling or neighbor). I wore my infant in a sling to the park, but I sat on the swing with him instead of hovering over my 3 year old as she mastered the merry-go-round. I co-slept with my kids until approximately age 2, but I also let them have sleepovers when I felt they were ready. We delayed a couple of the vaccines (like the HepB at birth – my kids aren’t allowed to use IV drugs or have sex until they’re at least 6 months old!!) but we also let them go to sleepaway camp starting at age 6. I had three pain-medication-free births, but I have been known to watch my kids fall off of things so that they’ll learn natural consequences, rather than constantly saying, “Be careful, be careful!”

    I don’t believe that AP and FR are in any way mutually exclusive. In fact, I might argue that my kids are MORE FR because I gave them the solid, safe foundation of AP so that they could feel confident going out into the world and doing their thing… whether that thing is theater camp or falling off of the monkey bars!

  24. I meant that all that is included in attachment parenting is a matter of course for us here. We do all that well into the child’s first 10 years or so of life, of course, is what I meant. So ‘of course,’ breast feeding is not continued till then. Please, there is no need for sarcasm, here.

  25. This comment is in response to Uly.

  26. It’s a matter of degree… There’s a line between free range and neglect and attachment and dependence. Pay attention to your kids, let them make decisions, and let them fail and succeed.

    I think it all comes down to communicating with your kids and not being judgmental. Personally I think all these labels are silly. It’s all about being parents.

    I really like some of the comments that talk about how we’re not raising kids, we’re raising adults. Give kids the support they need to grow into functioning adults and don’t stress about the labels.

    Each of my kids was dramatically different even as babies; one wanted a lot more attachment than the other. Both have grown up to be pretty good middle and high-schoolers. Interestingly the one more attached as a baby is more independent now as a teenager. But that could also be a matter of age…..

  27. Attachment Parenting is about the CHILD feeling secure and safe by allowing the child to develop and learn in a natural and age appropriate manner. It is child led.

    Helicopter Parenting is about the PARENT feeling that the child is secure and safe by restricting natural growth and activities because the parent feels those age appropriate things are dangerous. It is led by the parent who decides what the child can and cannot do.

  28. I am both an attachment parent and a free range parent. Actually the unschooling movement grows out of attachment parenting and you can’t get more free range then that! Attachment parenting isn’t just about cosleeping, breastfeeding and babywearing, it’s about meeting the child’s emotional needs when they occur. In the older years kids crave responsibility and freedom and with a strong base of attachment those kids grow into kids who easily detach from their parents, are fearless, secure and self assured. They’re both very compatible parenting styles because they both give the child what they need to thrive. My attachment parented kids are now 6, 5, 5 and 2 and my twins were SO CLINGY and moody and crabby for their first few years. Now that they’re older they are outgoing, strong, independent little girls. In fact all of my kids are, I love that 🙂

  29. Stella, that’s very good to hear–thank you for sharing that you were indeed able to apply both approaches with your toddler!

  30. To SLJ, we have adopted an older child and we took an AP focus and responded very quickly to all needs, we also had other adults in his life always bring him to us when he needed something until it was natural for him to look to us to provide for him. Now we are just beginning to give some freedom but it is more on level with what we gave our BC’s when they were two than 5, not because he isn’t capable but because he needs to go through these steps that he missed.

  31. I agree with many others here who have said the two practices are compatible.

    I would go further and say that the two practices really stem from the same fundamental philosophy.

    In both cases we are simply trying to calibrate the level of parental intervention to what is most appropriate for the given child in the given situation. In AP, we are usually consciously intervening more than in mainstream parenting, and in FR we are usually consciously intervening less than in mainstream parenting. But in both cases we are consciously choosing the level of intervention based on attunement to the child and resistance to irrational fears.

    In both AP and FR we are resisting unduly fear-instilling messages. For us AP parents, some of the messages related to co-sleeping, for example, are ”stop coddling your child, or they’ll never learn to be independent…and get into Harvard! Don’t comfort your infant or toddler to sleep, or they’ll never learn their own self-soothing skills! Don’t let your kids sleep with you, or they’ll become sexual deviants! Isolate your infants and toddlers in cages by themselves overnight and ignore their cries with all your might, because if you don’t, that’s it, they’ll never be able to do a single thing by themselves the rest of their lives! Don’t let your kids sleep in your room or you might have to have 10% less sex with your spouse, or be forced to have sex with your spouse at some other place and time than overnight in bed, and then your whole marriage will fall apart and your body and spirit will shrivel up and die!”

    Sorry, that’s starting to become too much fun. Back on track, I echo what others have said that AP is meant to lead to more confident, independent kids capable of ranging freely, and generally does so. Many of us practice AP with our kids so that we can also practice FR with them.

  32. I wouldn’t have thought Free Range is inimical to attachment parenting at all – attachment parenting is about keeping very young children close to help their development, not about hovering over them for their safety. Certainly, as far as I can tell, the Sears see AP as a means of allowing parents to have confidence in their children, and children growing up having it in themselves. NB, I haven’t practised AP myself, though I’ve read up on and found it interesting, and something to bear in mind in my parenting

  33. We are attachment parents to our 6 and 3 year old boys. For us attachement parenting is more about being attached emotionally to your child and their needs as well as physically being close for as long as they need you to be, not pushing them away if they are not ready. This has moved easily into Free Range Parenting.
    I was the parent with a toddler in a sling but as soon as he wanted down he was playing in the dirt and climbing things deemed ‘too big’ for him. I let him explore as much as possible at his own speed, never pushing but also never holding him back. Teaching what is safe and what is not.

  34. I hope I don’t upset anybody, Lenore especially, but I most certainly am anti-attachment parenting. I am NOT here to be ugly to anybody, but I am as against attachment parenting as I am helicopter parenting.

    As I have said before, my 2 main parenting pundits whom I respect & love to hear opinions from: Lenore Skenazy & John Rosemond. I’ve read the teachings of John Rosemond for even longer than I’ve done so Lenore’s (he actually once wrote an article about her in the “subway alone” aftermath & actually congratulated her for her not succumbing to paranoia or something of that nature). He is very much against anti-attachment parenting, as am I–in the aftermath of the Time Magazine cover, I wrote somewhere: “I’d rather get my parenting advice from John Rosemond than Sears & Roebuck [meaning William Sears] anyday.” And I meant it.

    In my opinion, if you are married, your SPOUSE should be first, NOT your kids. Period. As I stated last night: if my kids want to watch Dora but my wife feels like an “adult” movie (not adult as in “dirty” but meaning it’s not Dora the Explorer or Sponge Bob etc) my wife’s preferences win. If the kids feel like McDonald’s but my wife (or I) feel like Italian, then Italian it is. My kids are also expected, if we are watching such a movie and cuddling on the couch spending time with each other, to entertain themselves and to not bother us with anything other than something serious. You don’t dare interrupt us from having husband & wife time on those occasions. By the same token, I am not for having kids watch much TV at all, but I did put a TV in their room (which Rosemond does NOT advise–see, I don’t just do what he says like a robot, in case anyone thinks I do) so that on the very few occasions I do allow “Dora” or “Sponge Bob,” it isn’t shouting in the living room where, frankly, I don’t care to have to listen to it.

    Again, I am NOT HERE to bash anybody, and if I am doing so, please forgive me. But just as I am passionate about us letting kids be kids without going nuts with worry, I am also about teaching them that they’re not the center of the universe. Thus: our kids have never slept in our bedroom, not once, not even when they were 3 days home & it was their 1st day home from the hospital. Even when it storms, they STILL sleep in their own room. When a local mother accidentally killed her child by rolling over onto it while it slept in their bed, and they found her guilty of child endangerment (largely because she had 2 years ago lost a child the same way, and yet CONTINUED co-sleeping with her new child), I applauded the decision. I normally am sympathetic to accidents rather than blaming the parents as being negligent, but not in this case–becuase it involved co-sleeping, and because it was the second time. I am sorry: again, forgive me if I am being ugly, but anyone who says their child “needs” to sleep with them, they only THINK they do. The child needs to be broken from that immediately, and if they don’t like it–tough. I don’t for one minute believe someone when they say their spouse is fine with it or that it doesn’t affect their marital relationship–how can it not, when your own bedroom is now occupied by kids old enough to not have any business seeing what 2 heterosexual people are doing in there?

    In fact, they were sleeping through the night interrupted by the time they were 3 months old. And yes, we used “cry it out” BIGTIME. A cry because you’re hungry–fine, because you have gas, sure. But crying because you wish to be held 24/7 & skip the napping, and you think I’m going to rock you to sleep? Heck no. If I had to, I even used an MP3 player to drown out the noise, even going outside & playing basketball in the yard during those moments.

    The minute my kids were old enough to eat real food vs baby food or breast-feed, they were put on it, no complaining allowed (they didn’t complain anyway, but had they done so–oh well). Again, I am sorry if I am preaching, and I hope I am not out-of-line by turning this thread into the “John Rosemond Sermon” or something like that, but one of his main principles is that we should not do for a child what they are fully capable of doing for themselves, and when our son was capable of eating real food vs having it done for him, the expectation was held to. Besides, they ended up liking real food better anyway. We taught them to use forks & spoons early on (age-appropriate, not at 3 months obviously)

    For the most part, I am all for NOT bashing people, and I hope I am not bashing anyone personally. Any opinions shared should be out of love, not out of condemnation (unless we’re talking about molestation etc). I am just saying I am strongly of the opinion that all of this wearing a baby on a sling, having them sleep with you until they’re 8 almost, letting them have the run of what’s on TV watching “The Lion King” 3011 times in a row, making all of your time be about them and not enough about your marriage–it’s not what I think is right, period. To me, anyway, Free Range goes hand-in-hand with this–you teach them to fend for themselves age-appropriate, you let them play outside without going nuts with worry–you do this because it’s good for them in terms of development, but it’s also good for the parents to not have kids “underfoot” 24/7 and dominating their attention so much their spouse ends up feeling neglected.

    My 2 cents worth, and again, I hope I’m not attacking anyone PERSONALLY, that is NOT my intention.


  35. @CrazyCatLady: Very good summaries IMO. Attachment parenting focuses on the child’s needs, helicopter parenting on the adult’s fears.

    I think people read the words “attachment” and “free-range” and assume that they must mean opposite things. I summarize attachment parenting as recognizing that babies who call out for their parents in the night, want to be close, etc., are expressing needs that are just as important as their needs for food and warmth. All neurotypical, healthy babies express these desires all over the world, which suggests that they are a feature, not a bug. Furthermore, these behaviors are discarded by the child in the course of growing up, just like baby teeth; they aren’t bad habits that need to be rooted out.

    Attachment parenting does not automatically set a person on one track for parenting children through all stages. It’s entirely possible to be an attachment parent and also believe that sin must be beaten out of children. Lovingly, of course. I’ve read first-hand accounts. It’s also possible to be an attachment parent and believe in indigo children. Attachment parents can also be helicopter parents or free-range parents, or they can just be tired parents who don’t have time to read anything about parenting now that they’ve worn out their Dr. Sears baby book, so they do a little of this, a little of that.

  36. I think whatever works for a given family is what is best. My only beef with the AP crowd (or maybe it’s their fringe) is the gloom and doom they connect with other parenting choices. Like, letting your kid cry a little at night will cause irreversible brain damage and more (but it’s OK to let them “express themselves” in every other time and place).

    I think even most free-range parents don’t try much free-ranging before their child is mature enough to, say, cross a street alone. At that point, most of the AP pros and cons are moot.

  37. I think the thing that bugs me about attachment parenting (or any other named parenting style) are the few people who take it as a religion and feel the need to ‘convert’ everyone around them. I used a baby sling, bottle fed my adopted kids with formula, made my own baby food, used cloth diapers at home and disposables while traveling, cuddled and read to them constantly, then put them to sleep in their own beds. In short, I used some attachment parenting techniques, some granola crunchy mom techniques, and some 50’s mom techniques. I used what worked for my kids. But I had moms who were disgusted because cloth diapers are ‘unsanitary’. I had moms telling me how it was possible to induce lactation for my adopted kids and I should really consider it. I had people tell me my kids would be traumatized by sleeping alone in their cribs and people who told me they would be too clingy if I carried them all day. Everyone had an opinion. Only eat organic! No sugar ever! Sugar in moderation! Juice is poison! You can’t raise them vegetarian, they’ll starve! On and on and on. The only thing to do was ignore everyone, ditch the parenting magazines, turn off the TV, and do what worked for my kids and me. If something was only marginally beneficial for the kids, but incredibly troublesome for me (i.e. cosleeping when I am a complete and utter insomniac), I did what was right for me. You need to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

  38. @LRH: But why should I have to choose between my spouse and my baby? Can’t I cuddle with my spouse and nurse my baby in the night at the same time? Can’t I nurse my baby while I have dinner with my spouse? Why not keep the baby in our bedroom, if everybody is getting good sleep? Also, small babies generally sleep really, really soundly no matter what is going on in the room. Just sayin’.

    Nobody comes first in my house. It’s not a race.

  39. Also useful to hear, Becca–thanks.

  40. Also just wanted to add, as an MIT grad, that a kid going to Harvard is my worst nightmare. Shudder. If attachment parenting leads to that, I’ll never hug my kids again, LOL.

  41. I know attachment parents who are helicopter, non-attachment parents who are free range and vice versa. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Attachment v non-attachment parenting is about the relationship between parent and child. Free range v helicopter is about the family’s relationship with the outside world.

    If I had to make any assumption about parenting types and free range, I would argue that choosing to follow ANY parenting philosophy, rather than just doing what works for your family, makes one less likely to be free range. Most of the people I know who are free range don’t self-identify as any parenting type. OTHERS may identify them as attachment parents or non-attachment parents but they are just doing what comes naturally to them and not what some book told them to do (many have never even read the books).

  42. I’m with Jenny Islander here-Nobody comes first because it is not a race.

    @SKL-crying a little at night is one thing, but crying to sleep every night is another. explains why and has peer reviewed journals in the bibliography backing up what he says.

    The AP parents I know do not allow their kids to run wild. I most certainly don’t. At airports I will find polite ways for my kid to release energy so she won’t be a mess when we actually get on the plane. I’ve threatened to get up and leave a place if she doesn’t stop x behavior. I do enforce boundaries because neither she, nor I are the center of the universe. Discipline is very important in raising children. AP /=helicopter parenting. AP /= out of control children.

  43. Uggh. Parenting styles or “methods” remind me of underwear selections. There are no wrong choices- you just have to find your best fit.
    And I honestly don’t care what outlook, method, or “type of parenting” other families choose to raise there own kids, just as long as children playing outside is still consider NORMAL.

    I also had to add this:

  44. Quick (and brief, I hope) follow-up (and I hope there are no typos, I saw a few in my prior post):

    SKL I agree. Even if the opinions are right, when everyone from here to eternity goes beyond just being helpful & giving tips and it starts becoming about them TELLING you want to do and acting like you’re Hussein for not doing it their way–that is NOT right. My own mother does that sometimes (more on that in a bit) & others sure do as well. The ones who would call social services over it–to me, they’re not just annoying, they’re nothing short of evil. Regardless, the #1 most important thing to me above & beyond all of this–the respect of parental authority & sovereignity. (I’ll repeat that again in a bit.)

    The “fringe” AP’ers as you call them (meaning I am NOT referring to parents who use certain AP principles) acting like your child will have brain damage & not know you love it because you dare to expect it to sleep in its own room & on a schedule–it’s nuts. Our children all the time come up to me and mommy, open their arms and say “I love you”–and how can we say no to that? We don’t, and these are the same 2 kids who have not once slept in our rooms, and these are the same 2 kids whom we “shoo” away from us if we’re having the “couch time” I spoke of.

    I do agree with BMS as well. I have to be careful lest I try and “convert” people to the “John Rosemond” style of parenting myself. In my case, I make it a point to not dare be ugly or judgmental. I do state that I think AP is just plain wrong period in terms of the kids being overly attached to the parents so much that it’s suffocating, but beyond that–I recognize & respect that what style someone chooses, whatever it is & whatever it’s called, it is THEIR BUSINESS. Most of all it is their RIGHT. The #1 thing that I think must be respected–parental soveriegnity. Even if I don’t agree with co-sleeping or baby-slinging & speak against it philosophically, I must even more than this stand up for the RIGHTS of parents to do what they think is right without governmental interference or nastiness. You can say what you think is right, but TONE is important–you must do it from a standpoint of respect & love, not snotty judgmentalism and with a superior attitude.

    If I have trouble doing this, all I have to do is remember my mother. She tends to go against much of what we believe, especially free-range, even though she did free-range with me when I was little–how many of us can relate to that here? Anyway, she has a tendency to be rather judgmental and nasty in expressing her beliefs, rather than just offering her tips and stating what she thinks is right & wrong but strongly respecting that we as the parents are the ones to make the call. It digusts and angers me (enough I’ve sent her home a time or two over it), and if I don’t want it done to me, I can’t do so to anyone else either. I can state that I think such & such is right and wrong, but I must do so from an angle of respect & not trying to condemn people PERSONALLY–it must about the PRINCIPLES, not the PEOPLE, and it can’t be ugly in tone.

    Jenny Islander If that works for you guys, that is your right. I would NEVER dare infringe upon it, and anyone who would do so is wrong. I would just say that I think the boundary should be drawn even in breast-feeding cases, there’s ways to work around it (pump into bottles, set the alarm for 3 hours, get up feed them, go back to bed), the reason I say this–as a general rule, when the time comes to “make the break” (that is, transition the child to their own room), it tends to be a nasty state of affairs, whereas if you establish separate rooms as the status quo from day one, it goes much easier. That’s just my observation. I’ve seen it too many times to think otherwise, but again, no condemnation coming from here. As I said, the #1 most important thing–you’re the parent, you get to decide, not me or anyone else, even if I or whoever doesn’t necessarily agree with it, that you are the one who gets to make the call is the most important thing of all.


  45. QUICK post–Lolliloplover I LOVE that link you sent. That is so me. Especially this part: Let’s say your child wakes every night crying for you. Do you really want to roll out of bed and run to their side swiftly before any tears hit the pillow? In DP, you simply roll over and turn off the monitor.. Amen, amen! I used to do that ALL time time. What in the world gives us the idea that they really NEED us at such a time? They’re just nagging for attention at a time when they do not need it. Again, it’s about teaching them they are NOT the center of the universe–who do you think you are nagging me at 3 a.m. over nothing?

    And when she says DP can parents [sic] lock the door and get it on–oh yes, because no kids are in there, and no kids will EVER be in there. We lock the door, and I’ve even disciplined just for KNOCKING if we’re in there.

    I LOVED that article. If I wasn’t married, I think I’d be in love with her (ha ha).


  46. “I had moms telling me how it was possible to induce lactation for my adopted kids and I should really consider it.”

    I had that too. I care about well-being, and I also care about ease, choice, and autonomy. I’ve seen women doing the assisted lactation thing with the tubes, etc, and I don’t try to talk them out of it. I wish I hadn’t had a particular LLL mom wax rhapsodic to me about the possibilities of assisted lactation for my adopted son. Sigh.

  47. @LRH Breastfeeding doesn’t work that way, you know…Some people can’t pump. And why would I double the work, spend the time pumping, and then feeding a bottle? Set the alarm for 3 hours and wander around the house between my bedroom and the baby’s? Why in the world would I do that, when it’s so much easier to have her in bed in me, nurse, and fall asleep. Also, if I wake up after 3 hours, I can’t fall asleep again. I tried this with my first baby and after waking up at midnight and not being able to go back to sleep for a week or so, I took my son in bed with me and never looked back.
    As others mentioned, it is not a race. It’s not my husband versus my kids. My husband likes being an attached parent as much as I do, and has a great bond with his kids because of it. He also co-sleeps, baby-wears, even stayed at home with the kids for a while. And he encourages me to keep nursing as he sees the benefits of it.

  48. Attachment parenting is not only very compatible with Free Range parenting, but it makes it more likely. Attachment parenting means meeting your baby’s needs and it leads to independent self-assured children. I’m an attachment parent and the others that I know are also not in to helicoptering. If you helicopter, it’s because you don’t know your child well enough to know her/his limits, desires, and abilities. I know those things about my child and I feel very confident in giving her the freedom that she needs.

    Please don’t anyone buy into the myth that attachment parenting has anything whatsoever with being overprotective. They’re not related.

  49. I consider myself on the attachment-side of the spectrum (breastfed for a long time, followed my kids’ cues for when they were ready for certain things (sleeping over at the grandparents’ house etc.).
    And still my kids were way off on the free-range end. I think actually spending all that time with them when they were younger is what helped me know them well enough to deem them capable of playing in the park on their own at 7 (even if we were in an extremely hovering culture in Italy); of managing the subway in Toronto at 11 (even my youngest who is extremely low-vision); of taking their first 3 day trip- managing buses and train schedules alone at 16; taking a 2 month European trip with 3 friends at 18.
    Now at 19, my eldest, that co-slept for 2 years and didn’t want to stay over night with her grandparents until she was 4, has managed to survive her first year of University in Europe (an ocean away from us), paying her rent, cooking her own food (there’s no meal plan), picking up baby-sitting jobs, booking her own doctor’s appointments, and passing her exams. And she is confident and independent now that she is back with us for the summer – managing her summer job and social life like a real adult.

  50. Again one mama you have the right to do that as you see fit, you are the parent, not me. I’m not condemning people. That said, while you & the others said “it is not a race,” I have seen where it becomes one later–you & your spouse want to eat out for Italian, but the kids are whining for McDonald’s. You & your spouse feel like an adult movie rated PG but your kids want to watch “Dora.” You feel like time alone with your husband on your anniversary but your kids are being clingy.

    Too many parents, in those sorts of cases, go along with what the kids wants. I’m saying I would not, and we do not, we tend to do what WE want (obviously we do give them SOME of what they want in small doses here & there). It’s just the nature of kids, especially as they get older, to want all of the attention, it’s part of the blueprint that humans, even little ones, are inherently selfish. We once attended a parenting class, and even the TEACHER of the parenting class said babies can be “master manipulators,” they learn that every time they cry the parents drop everything & tend to them, so they will thus cry even when they don’t really NEED anything so as to get all the attention.

    What I am talking about is simply recognizing that and drawing boundaries that declare–no, precious little one, you are NOT the center of this. We as a married couple, WE ARE, yet we love you & we will care for your needs. But WE call the shots.

    But again, parental sovereignty is the #1 priority of all. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with certain philosophies.


  51. @LRH, I respect your opinion, and just as you say you’re not trying to tell other people how to parent, I’m not trying to tell you how to parent, but I do want to offer a different perspective on what you’re saying. You say “no, precious little one, you are NOT the center of this” (and by “this” I assume you mean the family unit. I agree with that. I don’t think that it’s healthy for anyone to make a child the center of their little mini-universe. It does not make for a healthy child or healthy parents.

    However, you go on to say “We as a married couple, WE ARE, yet we love you & we will care for your needs.”

    This is the part that I disagree with. In my household, there is no “center.” My child is equally important to the very existence of my family unit as myself or my husband. We define one another. Of course my husband and I need (and make) time for ourselves to be alone together. (We also make time for ourselves to be alone ALONE because our roles as spouses are also defined by our roles as individuals). But I do not privilege that part of my identity over my role as parent, just as I do not privilege my role as parent over my role as wife. It takes all of those identities to make my family function.

    That means that I respect my child and her concerns and they have to be weighed in the context of others’ concerns as well. Going to her because she cries at night does not tell her that her wishes are more important than mine; it tells her that her voice is important, and it teaches her that listening to other people is important. It’s a system based on mutual respect. To suggest that anyone who ascribes to attachment parenting is simply giving in to a selfish child is an oversimplification.

    The principles might not fit for your family, but that doesn’t mean that those of us who choose to use them are doing so carelessly.

  52. Dear LRH,
    You are right to do whatever you see fit for you and your husband. I don’t want to criticize your parental choices, I would just like to explain (for the sake of debate) that generalizing your personal observation to all attachment parenting is not accurate.

    I have more than 1 year of parenting, my oldest is 8 years old. We go to McDonalds but he’s also perfectly capable to sit through a restaurant meal without “whining”. We can go out anytime we want, he doesn’t mind being left with a babysitter or even (gasp!) alone.

    I prefer to treat children as I myself would like to be treated, they are worthy of my respect just because they are human beings.
    I choose to look at my kids not as selfish, master manipulators, but as human beings who do their best with the limited knowledge and skills they have. If my 2 year old is asking for attention, I will nurse her. If my 8 year old wants attention, I will play a game of cards with him if I have time, if not, I can just tell him to go read a book. Obviously, when they call me during the night, I can make the difference between a hysterical 2 y/o and a 8 y/o who just doesn’t want to go to bed. Imposing limits and gentle discipline are part of AP. But I prefer being authoritative, not being authoritarian.

    Again, this is just for debate’s sake. I’m not justifying my choices, and I’m convinced you aren’t either.

  53. I agree with LHR. I see AP as parents who are obsessed with their kids and mold their lives around the baby instead of having a child fit into their life. I fed on a schedule and put them to sleep on a schedule from day 1. I actually planned the schedule before they were born. It worked wonderfully. My daughter slept through the night by 3 weeks. I was a bit worried when my son was still waking up at 3 weeks and 4 weeks, but he finally caught on a 5 weeks 🙂 This was sleeping from 10-5. They both slept 12 hours overnight from the time they were 10 weeks. There was no other option for them, I laid them down at 9 and did not go back to get them until 9 the next morning. They are babies, it’s not like they can climb out, the only way they get out is if I decide to pick them up. By 10 weeks they both had decided there was no point to crying and simply slept or played in their crib. The first few weeks of listening to crying was so worth the entire baby, toddler, and childhood of uninterrupted sleep. The added bonus is that by doing it so early they don’t remember. It’s not like trying to have an 18 month old cry it out now that you’ve finally gotten sick of constantly getting up overnight with a spoiled child. I made food time strictly business. Why have them attach comfort with food right from the beginning??? That’s just setting up for a lifetime of trouble. I hugged and cuddled them all the time, but not while feeding. Feedings were on a schedule and if they weren’t hungry that bottle was thrown out and they were fed again at the next feeding time. There were never any bottles given for comfort EVER. They never associated them with comfort and therefor gave them up quite early when they started eating regular food. My kids are now 10 & 8 and we are incredibly close, always have been. They will still come in to snuggle with me in the mornings. At night they both still want me to lay down and talk with them and sing a song before they go to sleep. Setting a schedule and keeping feeding and sleeping time comfort free doesn’t mean that we have some sort of cold relationship. I hugged and cuddled and held and loved on them all the time. I could really enjoy them because I was getting a full night of sleep and had plenty of time during the day when they were down for their scheduled naps to do the laundry and clean, so that when they were awake I had hours of stress free play time with them 🙂

  54. @Balancing Jane, I really agree. My parenting and relationship style is based on mutual respect. I model that respect by showing respect for myself, my partner and my child. Sometimes that means respecting that my child has irrational fears that need to be comforted in the middle of the night. I don’t see that normal childhood irrationality as manipulation

  55. Balancing Jane No problem. I certainly do agree that it’s not healthy to make the child the center of your life or the family. The specifics–whatever. No one is going to do all of it exactly as someone else, and yes, as you said, just because you are using certain principles of AP doesn’t meant you’re seeking to make your home child-centered. We all mean well with what we’re doing, most of the time anyway (none of us are perfect).

    To me, and I am NOT attacking you, I am NOT, but to me, when you get up at 3 a.m. to attend a child who’s boo-hooing over nothing, to me you’re giving them a platform they don’t deserve. Yes their voice is important, but not at 3 in the morning unless your hair is on fire. My observation tends to be that if you give legitimacy to those sorts of things they just grow from there, and I am of the “nip it in the bud” thinking. I love you, but if you’re boo-hooing at 3 a.m. over nothing, you’re in trouble–either that, or I’ll ignore you. You don’t deserve any other sort of response.

    What I believe, beyond what I’ve already said–mutual respect is fine, but not EQUAL respect. When I was growing up, if adults were talking, you didn’t interrupt, unless your hair was on fire. You ASKED to speak first. However, another adult COULD interrupt the child, we didn’t do “mutual respect” insomuch that the child talking was as important. Adults are grown and know more, so naturally their words are more important. This doesn’t mean they AS A PERSON are, it just means that being full-grown adults they had discernment and if they were interrupting it was for a good reason. All of that said, you still gave validity to your kids and their words, the main thing being they knew their PLACE. We were all about seniority & knowing your place, you were respected and loved in it, but you were in your place.

    Today I notice that during Christmas parents indulge their kids somewhat without giving each other much. I saw it being the opposite when I was growing up. At my grandfather’s, yes we grandkids got gifts, but granddaddy got the best one of all, then his 8 kids got pretty good gifts, we got cheaper stuff. It was about seniority and respect. Why should the kids get all the cool stuff when the grown people are the ones doing all of the grunt work? Granddaddy getting the best was a way of showing respect for all he had done for us grandkids, and his grown kids. The adults got better gifts than us because, again, they did all of the everyday grunt work as parents. OF COURSE they should get better gifts–but again, we still got something.

    One of my pet peeves, again forgive me if I’m preaching–people giving my son a gift on the birthday of my daughter, and vice versa. We’re all so worried about the non-birthday child watching as the other gets all the attention. Tough! Show some respect, & respect boundaries–it’s not your birthday, it’s theirs. On your birthday, you will get all the attention. Wait your turn. But everybody I know is hell bent on giving attention to the non-birthday child on the birthday of the other child.

    That is what I believe. I’m typing a lot and if this is tantamount to be “hogging the platform,” please forgive me. My friends tell me my emails to them are long, so I’m aware being brief is something I could probably stand to work on, ha ha.


  56. I’m sure that crying all night, every night (or all day, every day for that matter) is bad for babies. You don’t have to be “AP” to know that. I’m talking about people who insist that even one incident of crying that is “not responded to” (for 5-10 minutes) is going to have permanent horrible effects on every child that it happens to. Come on. And that’s just one example.

    If people want to feel superior, that’s great. Feel all you want. I do too at times. But recognize when you’ve crossed the line into obnoxious judgment of others.

  57. I’m still working out the “respect of my child” thing. I don’t buy it. Right now I tell my kids, “My job is to take care of you. Your job is to respect me.” I respect the fact that I do not “own” my child, and I respect the adults they will grow into someday. My focus is very much on the whole persons they are becoming. But none of that says that I don’t pull rank whenever I deem it appropriate. Little kids derive security from having parents who act like “the boss” when it counts. If I can’t stand up to a four-year-old over some detail of daily life, how can she trust me to protect her against bad shit?

  58. Nanci nailed it, insomuch that schedules was what we did, and more than that–the idea was for our child to fit into our lives, not have our lives revolve around them. Again, I am not criticizing others saying “you’re spoiling that kid,” I’m just saying that’s our philosophical approach to it–schedules when they were infants with the idea of molding them into our lives, not vice versa, & giving them a sense of boundaries that we & they both need.

    And like SKL just said–yes, we can feel superior all we want to, but at some point if one isn’t careful, it can cross the line into being obnoxious judgment of others. Shame on me if I do this. Again, I’ve been on the receiving end of it–one lady scolded me for having our baby out & about in a stroller but without mosquito netting all around it–she didn’t delicately suggest it, she SCOLDED. You can guess how that went–I thanked her & said “I sure wish the hospital had told me of the need for it,” she replied with a sneer “that’s just common sense,” my reply “well it’s also common courtesy to mind your own business.”

    I think that is the sort of thing Lenore is talking about, it certainly is the point I hope I’m making. We can argue all we want about the philosophies & parents should be receptive to well-intended wisdom being offered–however, we shouldn’t be attacking any PERSONS and bashing any PERSONS. Even if someone is doing something wrong in your eyes or mine, they mean well–and “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” is not a proper rebuttal by which you can then continue to smack them over the head with an ugly tone. To me, tone is EVERYTHING.


  59. Sorry, I had to reply (wish I had seen it before I clicked “post”):

    SKL: “I’m still working out the “respect of my child” thing. I don’t buy it. Right now I tell my kids, “My job is to take care of you. Your job is to respect me…” Yes, yes, yes.


  60. LRH, if you are married, your spouse should come first. I am fine with that. But that also means that both spouses need to come to the aid of the other.

    Nursing, unfortunately, is primarily the mother’s job. Even if she pumps, she still has to take time to do that. It is not something the husband can just do. Feeding the child however, is something that both can do, provided the baby is of an age to not be confused by bottle vs nipple (unless that was a wives tale I was told.)

    My husband did NOT want to up at night taking over a feeding. He was grumpy and grouchy. If I got up at night to sit in the living room, I could not get back to sleep. I was grumpy and grouchy. Neither of this was fair or considerate of the other spouse. The compromise was that baby went in cradle and mom and dad got snuggle time for the first part of the night. Then, late in the night when baby woke up, baby came and ate and slept in the bed.

    This was our way of respecting the needs of each other. I didn’t wake him up so that he would be grouchy the next day. I got the sleep that I needed so that I was not grouchy the next day (and could do things like drive a car safely.) And, baby got fed. That baby got fed was almost the last consideration.

    Overall though, my parenting is what works for us. I assign no titles nor seek any. Many of the things I did when kids were young were attachment style, because that worked for us. Yes, babies can cry. They will be fine. It was me on womanly hormones that couldn’t handle a crying baby. Those hormones effect each woman differently, and we have to respect that. As my children get older, if they cry in the night, you bet I am there – usually with a bucket. I have learned that once they sleep through the night, if they are awake and crying, there is a good reason, and personally, I hate cleaning up vomit at 3 am. Call me lazy or not giving them enough freedom, but that is how it is until they learn to recognize the signs they need to get to the toilet to vomit.

  61. In my experience, attachment parenting leads on to free-range parenting. The kids have had their fill of you when they needed it and you are their secure base from which they go out and explore the world.

  62. I practiced attachment parenting when my kids were babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. I breastfed all of them to 3.5years – 4 years. I co slept with them till around preschool. It has made them very confident and independent as older kids. My twins second grade year they approached me to sign them up for a week long GS summer overnight camp. I let them do it. They have been staying home alone for periods of time since they were 8. My youngest is 7 and I have let the 12 yo sisters babysit her. I might actually be pushing the line according to our County’s advice. However, the girls are so good and could handle it – I let them.

    I consider myself a free range parent as my older two are heading into middle school and my rising second grader.

    I free range as much as the US will legally let me w/o getting visits from CPS. You know. I was highly criticized for breastfeeding for so long. I am always doing what I feel is best for the kids.

  63. @LRH I appreciate that you are trying hard not to be offensive, but I am still a little upset with your characterization of AP as damaging to children or improper in terms of boundaries. I am not sure you can say you’re opposed to AP as a philosophy, then describe AP acts that are not in line with the principles of AP and denounce them. AP is definitely about respect: my children need to respect me, and I need to respect them. An infant nursing is not disrespectful. A child needing emotional support to work out feelings of jealousy is not disrespectful. Believe me, I do not coddle my children, but I do respond to them. They need to respect me, but I need to behave in a way that deserves respect. Those are goals are compatible with free range parenting. Extended breastfeeding and baby carrying are not designed with codependence in mind: can they become that way? Sure, just like baby monitors can be used to maintain unhealthy surveillance, or whatever.

    I feel like you’re mischaracterizing a philosophy that is all about healthy boundaries and mutual respect as unhealthy and dangerous. Please don’t oversimplify AP or make broad stroke assumptions about it based on stereotypes. As I said above, I am much more interested in the philosophical principles that underlie AP rather than the practices that tend to be borne out (e.g. extended breastfeeding, etc) and I think they are much more in line with free range than with helicopter/unhealthy boundary parenting.

  64. Besides – free ranging a baby/toddler does not apply. You can not free range a person that is totally dependent on you for everything. Developmental needs should never be ignored based on a parents desire not to get up in the middle of the night.

    I am happy to say that I have 12 year old daughters that have long gotten over that stage and a 7 yo that did the same.

    Their developmental needs now are – they need to be let be. They will need my support forever but they now need to know how to and be able to function without me around. I am happy to say that I keep my distance and am probably the antithesis to a Helicopter mom.

    I am sure there are AP parents that do not transition to this but there are parents of all styles that can not bring themselves to let go.

    It is funny when I was co-sleeping with my newborns I got the “Aren’t you scared you are going to roll over on them?” yadda yadda yadda.
    I was not scared – just like I was not scared of sending the twins to overnight camp the summer after their second grade year. I knew they could do it when they asked. I never got a call from camp from them. Yet I did answer every single cry in the middle of the night when they were infants. I

  65. My kids are adult and nearly adult now, and they are both functioning members of society, pleasant and kind to others, happy, giving, and have a zest for life.

    Much of this is due to them and their personalities, as opposed to our parenting, but I refuse to believe that I did not provide for their needs and was not available for them because they slept in their own rooms and were not breast fed.

  66. Lauren There is nothing to be upset about. I am expressing an opinion, nothing more.

    I will say that when you mention “but I need to behave in a way that deserves respect”–I am fine with a parent not being a jerk, but that said, the way I see it & was brought up, the parent is ENTITLED to respect based solely on that they are the parent. Behavior has nothing to do with it. Obviously for extreme exceptions like molesting etc, that is not the case, otherwise–that my parents were the parents meant they were entitled to respect by that very definition. The same applied to the various aunts & uncles.

    When you say that baby slinging & breastfeeding seeimingly until forever aren’t designed with co-dependence in mind–I am sure that is how you are intending to approach it, and you may even be successful–it sure isn’t my place or another’s to judge you. However, I think that such practices inheriently are prone to producing co-dependency in general. Just as those who co-sleep, I’m sure they aren’t doing thinking “I am so looking forward to Max still calling me about tummy aches when he’s 35,” of course not. And there have been many here who say they co-sleep and have had no problems long-term. I just tend to believe that as a GENERAL rule it’s asking for it. Therefore, I don’t and would never do any of them.

    I’m just saying this is what I believe to be right and it’s what we do–but again, as Lenore says, there should be no condemnation just because someoen else does these things the supposedly “wrong” way .

    Getting back to parents being entitled to respect–this is something I have to remind my own mother about–you can dislike how my wife or I parent or disagree with whatever, but you should be respectful because, no matter what you think of some of what she does and I do, we are your grandchildren’s parents. We both are ENTITLED to respect from you I don’t give a flip what you think of us personally or our habits. If this sounds inconsistent–I say that parents are entitled to respect while I’m saying how my own mother upsets me at times–it’s because there’s a difference when it’s parent-on-little child vs parent-on-grown child. A parent talking to their grown child should not treat them as if they are still 5 years old. Much of my complaining regarding my mother revolves on how she relates to me know when I’m a freaking grown man, not things she did when I was a child. Believe me, I intend to, as our children grow up, realize this & adjust accordingly.

    Part of my attitude, too, comes from this whole “attachment disorder” psychobabble I hear about–I think it is just that, psychobabble. Supposedly you have to do all of this voodoo weirdo stuff or else your child may have “radical attachment disorder” (they even have an acronym for it, RAD) or may not “bond” with you. If you let your child cry it out, you’re communicating to them you don’t care. If you don’t run into their room at 3 in the morning to answer a cry that is based on pure nonsense, you’re telling them you don’t care about them. Puh-leaze. To me it’s nothing more than people who use it as a tool to criticize parents who parent in a more “50s way” (as we do) and make them feel like they’re not good enough. It’s about undermining parental authority & telling us we’re supposed to tailor-make our life to be about what our KIDS are telling us, rather than realizing we’re the grown-ups WE’RE the ones that know what’s going on, compared to us the kids don’t know squat.

    Not be a John Rosemond mouthpiece, but as he once said, people in prior generations didn’t regard parenting as being all that hard, it’s only more RECENT ones that act as if parenting is just so hard & you have to do it oh so right or else you’re going to ruin them. As Lenore said herself (not that she’s endorsing John Rosemond you understand), there shouldn’t be so much pressure to do it the “right way” or else think your kids are going to turn out horribly.

    “Developmental needs should never be ignored based on a parents desire not to get up in the middle of the night.” Of course. When ours were infants & they still needed midnight feedings, I set an alarm to make sure the need was handled. But that’s different–the thing is, don’t try and convince me that an 8-month old bawling in the middle of the night because its parents aren’t there is a “need.” If that’s a “need,” then I need expensive wine and a hot tub. The child only THINKS it needs it (which doesn’t mean the child is bad or evil, but they are wrong), as the parent, I know better, and maybe my child doesn’t know better, I DON’T CARE, I DO and I’m the parent, so I make the call–nope, you don’t need me, I’m going back to sleep–thank God your room is on the other end of the house & I sleep with the fan on (even in winter) so I won’t hear you once I turn off this baby monitor. Click.


  67. I agree with LRH, and I would consider myself a (soon to be) fringe-AP parent (no co-sleeping because the adult bed is for adults, but I will breastfeed; no attending to every single cry but will carry my baby around on my back because then I can get some stuff done).

    I intend to raise my kid FR as well.

  68. Eh. I think it is a non-issue as well. At the end of the day, your parenting is a combination of your personality, your child’s personality, and your circumstances. While I try to meet the needs of my kids now, I also try to bear in mind that they need to be taught how to navigate in this world and that includes having a sense of community, responsibility, and an ability to navigate in social situations (aka – patience, empathy, and manners).

  69. I don’t think an 8 month old crying in the middle of the night equates to a hot tub and a glass of wine. Unless you don’t think communication is not a need. You don’t know what is wrong from your bedroom. All my kids slept through the night at 8 months. Sure they were in my bed but they did not wake but on occasion. Usually at 6am. They would nurse (because they were probably hungry) and go back to sleep and I would get some luxurious free time.

    Attachment parenting was actually quite easy. My kids go with the flow because they were never tied to some rigid schedule. Traveling and staying up late on occasion was never an issue for them. I always fed them on demand when they were infants and they slept when they were tired and needed it. Oh the horror! I always nursed them to sleep.

  70. Well again we all have our opinions & points of view etc, but yes, to me, a 8 month old crying at 3 a.m. is equivalent to a hot tub & a glass of wine–heck a BOTTLE of wine. Communicating a need at 3 in the morning? Heck no, not a chance. I know enough to know the only thing that is “wrong” is they want attention. That’s it. That’s certainly been my experience & observation. I think maybe one time when we all got up at 8 a.m or so one of them had a small fever of about 101’F or so and it passed with a small dosage of childern’s Tylenol. End of story. Not once has it been that we got up & found them choked to death rapped around strings from the blinds or what have you.

    If other people want to entertain those sorts of childish foolishness at 3 in the morning, fine, that’s your choice. Me, I’ve heard too many people complain about how their kids kept them up all night being fussy over nothing & the parents got no sleep. Others said they got no sleep because the kids got up at 4 in the morning wanting to play, & they looked at me like I was Saddam Hussein when I suggested they send them back to their room, make it to where the kids physically can’t get out of the room (I’m serious), go back to bed & get your sleep–they’ll be fine. Oh no, you can’t DARE do that, something might happen. (This is a free-range site: does this sound familiar?)

    No thank you.


  71. I was single when my baby was born. I breastfed for 6 weeks and then gave up because it didn’t allow me time to look after myself. I had to go back to work when she was 3 months old so it was absolutely vital that she slep through the night by then and I did whatever it took to achieve that – within the limits of what my motherly feelings could cope with. I had a bad back and rarely carried the baby for long periods of time when she got a bit heavier. I often put my own needs ahead of my child’s – as in the oxygen mask analogy. I have no regrets about any of that.

    The thing that bothers me about lots of AP resources is the insinuation that AP is the only right way of treating a baby.

    One thing in Lenore’s book that I could really agree with is that it is counterproductive to think that every little decision you make in your child’s early years is going to affect how they turn out when they are older. So AP, DP and anything in between probably makes very little difference if you compare the kids involved a few years down the track. I personally think that it is way more important that whatever you do works for you and enables you to approach parenting in a relaxed way than the specifics of how you achieve that.

    To me the FR philosohpy has an underlying premise that kids are way more resilient than lots of poeple give them credit for these days. I think that goes for babies too.

  72. @LRH: My question to is this: When you’re old and feeble, and your kids are taking care of you, do you want and expect to be treated the way you treat them? When you have a concern do you want to be locked in your room until your kids are ready to deal with you?

  73. Yan Seiner Apples & oranges. It’s not the same thing. An 80 year old & what they do and need is hardly equitable to what an 8 month old’s needs and concerns are. Besides, one main difference is an 8 month old screaming at 3 in the morning over nothing is not a “concern,” it’s childish foolishness. Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, you know? You know it’s foolish, so you don’t give it any creditability or attention. Regardless, I have no guilt or significant regrets at all about how I’ve treated them, as if it’s somehow horrific to expect them to sleep all night without making a bunch of drama over nothing.

    Those we or I talk to to insist on giving it attention–everyone of them, they numerous times end up with nights of no or little sleep because of it, when none of it was ever a true need. I will pass.

    And with any luck (no one knows for sure of course), my kids won’t be taking care of me. I hope it goes like it did with my 84 year old grandfather–he died still living in his own house doing what he darned well please. So it should be for ALL of us.

    Lin right on.


  74. LRH — you’re mischaracterizing attachment parenting, and knocking down a straw man.
    “That said, while you & the others said “it is not a race,” I have seen where it becomes one later–you & your spouse want to eat out for Italian, but the kids are whining for McDonald’s. You & your spouse feel like an adult movie rated PG but your kids want to watch “Dora.” You feel like time alone with your husband on your anniversary but your kids are being clingy.”

    That has nothing to do with attachment parenting. That’s indulgent, permissive parenting. It is perfectly possible to be an AP parent and still discipline your children. And, one of the guidelines of AP is BALANCE, meaning that the child’s needs are not the center of the universe — that the parents’ needs must be considered as well. No martyrdom! I agree with you that the child should not be center of the family and that parents should have time for each other; I think that contributes to having happy, secure children. But there’s a big difference between always meeting a child’s NEEDS (which is what AP is to me) and always meeting their WANTS (which is not AP).

    Anyway, I’m not a fan of being too focused on a particular ‘parenting style’, but I find most of AP just common sense. For instance, my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother all breast-fed on demand for a year plus. I’m happy to come from that legacy and to offer the same to my own little ones. Co-sleeping and baby-wearing make life easier on mom as well as meeting baby’s needs (and obviously, one cannot spoil a newborn). In a similar vein, free range parenting also just makes sense to me.

  75. “When you say that baby slinging & breastfeeding seeimingly until forever aren’t designed with co-dependence in mind–I am sure that is how you are intending to approach it, and you may even be successful–it sure isn’t my place or another’s to judge you. However, I think that such practices inheriently are prone to producing co-dependency in general. Just as those who co-sleep, I’m sure they aren’t doing thinking “I am so looking forward to Max still calling me about tummy aches when he’s 35,” of course not. And there have been many here who say they co-sleep and have had no problems long-term. I just tend to believe that as a GENERAL rule it’s asking for it. Therefore, I don’t and would never do any of them.

    I’m just saying this is what I believe to be right and it’s what we do–but again, as Lenore says, there should be no condemnation just because someoen else does these things the supposedly “wrong” way .”

    LRH, just read the previous 60+ posts above yours and see how many AP parents have independent kids. Contrary to what you were led to believe, baby slinging, co-sleeping, breastfeeding does NOT create co-dependent kids, on the contrary. Sure, it might be more work when the kid is a baby or a toddler, but in my experience with my own kids and others I have observed (and the posters above you) AP fosters independence. When they are ready, they will move to the next stage. It’s not my job to push them.
    I’ve seen it so many times with my older one.

    And as you said, there should be no condemnation for people who do things differently than you.

  76. @July, how can you say that AP doesn’t mean that “the child’s needs are not the center of the universe” when part of AP is a refusal to have the child sleep in his own bed in his own room?

  77. “If my 2 year old is asking for attention, I will nurse her.”

    This just struck me as a huh? When your child asks for attention, you provide … food? My child has only ever been offered food – breast or otherwise – when she was/is HUNGRY. When she wanted attention, she got attention (sometimes unless I was busy doing something else that I needed to do). When she wanted comfort, there are plenty of other forms of comfort out there.

    I don’t agree with the lesson being taught with extended breast feeding that has no nutritional value – that when you want attention or comfort, you eat/drink. In a family with an obesity problem, I have no interest whatsoever in ever connecting the two things. When you want comfort, you get a snuggle and cuddle, not food. When you want attention, you get attention, not food.

  78. You know, the subject of this post was not about whether everyone thinks attachment parenting is good or not. It was about whether Lenore needs to care about it or address it in light of the Free Range philosophy. I think she made a very excellent case why she needs to do neither — why can’t we just leave it at that? Not everyone here cares whether LRH likes attachment parenting or not — I don’t even understand why that became a necessary part of the conversation, because it’s not relevant to the topic.

    And I say this as someone who is not personally a fan of AP but thinks it is not inimical to Free Range parenting and does not feel a need to have a public opinion about the fine details of how other people lovingly, non-neglectfully and non-abusively raise their kids.

  79. Here was what I said about the two earlier here on FRK: “As a semi-AP parent, this is my take: Both AP and Free Range are about reading your kids’ cues for readiness for independence and not forcing those developments prematurely nor hampering them later. So very very compatible in my mind and my own parenting. It seems like everyone wants their kids (babies) to get to a certain level of independence right away, and then keep them right there (no further developed) until they leave home…if even then.” But yes, I love that you, Lenore, don’t try to make something out of nothing in this case. A lot of folks are jumping to conclusions about AP without fully understanding it.

  80. “Besides, one main difference is an 8 month old screaming at 3 in the morning over nothing is not a “concern,” it’s childish foolishness.”

    How do you know that it is nothing unless you get up to check? When my brother was about 2, he was having an issue with getting out of bed and wandering around the house at night. He was put in bed one night and told that he was not to leave his bed. During the night he tried to get his parents attention but they ignored him, thinking him just up to his same stuff. Instead he had gotten out a toy toolbox with toy washers in it (I’m sure this toy has been recalled and is no longer made). One of the toy washers got stuck on his finger. By morning, his finger was so swollen that he had to go to the hospital to have the washer cut off with the ring cutter. A problem that could have been solved in 2 minutes for free at midnight took an entire morning and few hundred dollar hospital bill to resolve instead.

    It ain’t always childish foolishness that have them up at 3 am.

  81. “This just struck me as a huh? When your child asks for attention, you provide … food? My child has only ever been offered food – breast or otherwise – when she was/is HUNGRY. ”
    Obviously you never nursed a toddler and you don’t know what nursing means at that age. I’ll leave it at that. LOL

  82. Many seem to be saying that attachment parenting leads to free range parenting because it is about understanding your child. Without debating that issue, that idea misses the point. Much of helicopter parenting is based on thinking that there is a pedophile hiding behind every bush and every man is a potential threat. There is nothing about a specific type of parenting that dictates that head-space. Nor is that head-space limited to a particular parenting style.

    That is why the entire attachment/free range parenting argument (for or against) completely boggles my mind. Nothing about breast v bottle, sling v stroller or CIO v cosleeping in any way, shape or form addresses your view of the dangerousness of the world outside. Attachment parents are not more or less likely than conventional parents to view the world as a dangerous place. Conventional parents are not more or less likely than attachment parents to think every man is a potential threat. Your head is either there or it isn’t.

  83. I’m an AP, and as free range as you can get with a 4 and a 1 year old. Right now I’m largely theoretically free range :-). As my kids get older I hope to let them Be free range. A big part of AP is building enough attachment that your kids trust that you’ll be there whenever they need you, which helps them become more independent. I see this in my own kids. They might need to check in once in a while, but they are content to go off exploring without me at the park. As for helicopter parenting – I know alot of AP mothers and I think very few of them fall in that category 🙂

  84. @SaraLu, with AP the child sleeps wherever they need to sleep for the entire family to sleep well. If the entire family sleeps better with the child in a different bed/room, let it be. If the entire family sleeps better in the same bed, let it be.

  85. One mama – No, I completely understand that a toddler is not nursing for nutrition. He is nursing for comfort. But nursing is still food and food is still provided when they nurse. Regardless of anything else involving attachment parenting, I see problems over benefits in providing a food source when a child wants comfort and attention considering there are many ways of providing comfort and attention that don’t involve also providing food.

  86. @Donna: Thank you for that note of sanity. I’ve been trying to figure out this debate and I think you nailed it.

    To me parenting is about trust, communication, and respect. You need to have all 3, bi-directional, to have a good relationship with your kids.

    I work really hard at keeping those 3 elements intact with my kids.

    So far so good but it takes a lot of work on all sides to keep it going. Free range stuff is a part of it.

  87. Donna, I agree with you about the comfort / food issue. Once during an “extended breastfeeding” discussion, a mom stated that she needed to be able to publicly breastfeed her preschooler because that was how she headed off the child’s public meltdowns. Umm…. That strikes me as escapism on the part of the mom, not meeting a “need” of the child.

    The nice thing about the breastfeeding, babywearing, crib sleeping debates (and I’ll throw potty training in there too) is that they are only temporarily relevant. Yippee, my kids are 5 and I can focus on teaching them how to pitch a tent and roast a hot dog instead.

  88. For me, both AP and FR are about trusting my kids and trusting my own instincts. When they are infants, I trust that they are not seeking to manipulate me, that they have legitimate needs and knowledge about themselves to communicate to me if I am attentive and responsive. I trust my own instinct about what my child is or isn’t capable of, and how I can be there to help him discover his own resilience and ability.

    When they are older, I trust that they can be responsible and safe without my constant vigilance. I trust that neither my children nor the world are out to deceive me or harm them. I trust that they have legitimate abilities, needs, and knowledge to communicate to me if I am attentive and responsive – and that includes the knowledge that they *don’t* need me as much as they used to. I trust my own instinct about what my child is or isn’t capable of, and how I can help him discover his own resilience and ability.

    In my life, AP has been about letting go of fear – fear of spoiling my children, fear that they will take a mile if given an inch, fear that they will take my life from me if I give them my time. FR has been a similar letting-go of fear – fear that they will do too much, go too far, and be hurt, that if I give them a little freedom they will become reckless or careless, that they will take my heart from me if I give them their own time.

    I don’t see any incompatibility. 🙂

  89. Wow – didn’t realise this was such a contentious issue for so many people. I sort-of APed (if that means co-sleeping) my first one for the first year, because we travelled a lot, lived in cramped conditions, and he slept like a straight little log, never moved around in the bed, so we all three slept fine – also I had the misfortune to read a Gary Esso book when he was young, and was so disgusted by the self-righteous style of the author that I was determined to do just about the opposite of everything the guy wrote. Number two, while really small, somehow managed to spreadeagle herself across the bed and was so restless from the start that she was in a crib pretty much immediately – again slept in the same room though because we didn’t have a spare one. Number three was just about exclusively bottle-fed, and slept in a big double bed with her siblings from quite early on, after another little darling jumped up and down in the cot and busted it. Number three, the non-BF, is the healthiest of the lot, and as adolescents and just-pre’s, all three are nuttier than fruitcake, and all three drive each other and their parents up the wall at times, and at other times provide moments of unexpected pride.

    AP, Gary Esso, whoever – it truly doesn’t make a difference, I reckon. Just do what you have to do at the time.

    Though I have promised to kill the next woman who, in trying to put her absolutely new baby on a ‘sleep routine’, disrupts mine!

  90. I just got a brilliant idea. I’m going to start keeping a log of all the things I’ve done (and failed to do) that are theorized to cause problems for my kids. This will help them to get a start on their Mommy Dearest-esque novel and ensure I get some of the royalties in my old age.

    Whenever someone complains about some aspect of my parenting, I quip that every kid needs some reason to hate their mom during the hormonal stage. At least I’m being a little proactive about what they’ll blame me for.

    When people continue to raise their eyebrows, I assure them “I love kids . . . with ketchup.”

    Some folks need a new hobby!

  91. “Though I have promised to kill the next woman who, in trying to put her absolutely new baby on a ‘sleep routine’, disrupts mine!”

    Ugh, yeah. One of my neighbors was into the whole cry-it-out theory for the girl who was six weeks older than ours, and our monitor was on the same frequency. (And somehow when I switched frequencies, it was still the same.) After a few days of listening to her daughter scream constantly from 3am-7am, I turned off the monitor completely and just opened the bedroom doors so I could hear my kid if he started crying.

  92. Our neighbor kid used to cry for ages, starting at exactly 10pm every night. I could have set my watch by it. They weren’t doing CIO but “responding to her needs” every time she wailed. Finally they moved away. For all I know the kid still hollers every night.

    I just count my blessings – my kids didn’t have sleep issues to speak of. It probably would have killed me to lose that much sleep.

  93. Actually hineata Gary Ezzo was a hero of mine “back in the day.” His tone may have seemed a bit self-righteous, but I really liked what he espoused. In fact, I was drawn to John Rosemond because of some overlap in what they espouse, the difference between I’m not sure what Gary Ezzo’s exact credentials are, whereas John Rosemond is a licensed pscyhologist. I’ve also seen John Rosemond in person and really like what he espouses in terms of the parents being in charge & putting their marriage first. To wit….

    One Mama In fact, if you say that AP is about letting your kids decide when they’re ready to do whatever & it isn’t your job to push them, I couldn’t disagree more with that style of parenting. If my child “decides” to still want diapers when she’s 4 when she could be potty-trained by 2, by George I’m gonna push her. I will ride her butt (no pun intended) & really give it to her that such is unacceptable. I used to do things like refuse to clean her or him if they messed themselves up, they were miserable from where it had run all down their legs etc but I said “that’s what you get for not going potty” and I’d let it stay that way sometimes 2-3 hours without intervening. (The smell on my end wasn’t great, but I was fine, a lot more than they were.)

    I decide when they’re ready, I’m the parent and I’m in charge. I am the boss. I also do things like, for instance, expect them to cooperate when I try & take their photos, especially if it’s Mother’s Day etc. I don’t expect them to stay dead-still for 30 minutes, but 5 minutes won’t kill them. If they do well for those 5 minutes or even less, I heap praise on them, including ice cream, Popsicles and lots of tickling etc. If they pout, I take away priveledges. Once our girl was pouting about posing for the camera & her cousins were present. I allowed her cousin to ride on the tire swing our girl loves so much and made ours sit & watch with her NOT being allowed to ride it, telling her “your cousin doesn’t act like a brat when we asked to take her picture, so that’s her reward. Learn to do likewise & you’ll be allowed to ride it again.”

    Same goes for things like using utensils when eating, when my son kept wanting to eat food with his hands, rather than using a fork, I rode his case about it, once even taking his food away completely and sending him away from the table–“if you refuse to use your fork you get NOTHING.” With any & all of these things, yes, I did seek feedback from others (as well as my own gut instincts etc) about when an average age for these milestones was. Expecting your child to be potty-trained at age 2 was one thing, but obviously at age 1 that’s asking too much. In the same manner, I don’t get upset that my 3 year old can’t count to 100, I think childhood should be fun for one thing but besides that I think it’s nuts to expect a 3 year old to be able to count to 100, so I make no issue of it at all.

    It sounds like I’m a “tiger mom” and am like a military sergeant. Far from it, I’m very playful & easy-going a lot of the time, and I do most certainly agree with not pushing them where it concerns sports, academic achievement (so long as they aren’t misbehaving in school or being dilly-dally about homework etc) and getting dirty when they play outside. I feel that being a child ought to be fun & I seek to allow a lot of child-like free play. However, when I draw a boundary, it’s written in concrete, stone, and as unmovable as the Great Chinese Wall. Being a child in & of itself is okay with me, in fact it’s embraced–but when it’s foolishness and they’re resisting things they SHOULD be progressing along in like potty training and using forks etc at a rate I decide is appropriate, then that’s when the “serious business” parent in me emerges.

    Any school of thought, AP or BP or XP or whatever, that tells me I should let the child decide when they’re ready for what I think is important, phooey on it.

    All of that said, I do agree with Donna insomuch that all of this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with irrational fear of pedophiles, being too scared to let our kids play outside etc. After awhile I’m sure all of us (me included) will tire of debating these other things & move on.


  94. LRH I agree. One thing I hate hearing is parents that say they demand feed. No way my child is ever going to “demand” anything, they’ll wait! I understand of course that these parents are talking about small babies that do not yet understand that they are being demanding. But by giving them what they want whenever they fuss for it right from the beginning you are setting yourself up for a toddler/child that will demand what they want. Don’t even get me started on the parents that only feed their kids mac and cheese and nuggets ’cause “that’s all they will eat”!

  95. Nanci I’m laughing as you say this, because it reminds me of another thing I did that was anti-AP (and I am not criticizing the AP crowd right now, I’m just “swapping stories” or “comparing notes” & observing that what I did was something that was probably antithetical to AP): when my son was around 10 months or so, he got to where he could see that I was making food when I went into the kitchen. He got to where he’d observe this & start getting excited & whining when I didn’t have something to give him within 2 seconds (because it took sometime to prepare). Rather than giving him something that could placate him meanwhile, I scolded him & sent him to his room until I was done, at which point I’d allow him out and lovingly show him the treats I had prepared for him.

    What I was trying to establish: yes we love you & yes we take care of your needs, but you DO NOT DARE pitch a fit & demand it from us as in “NOW!!” Such is disrespectful and an absolute no-no.

    It’s funny–he’s 3 now and he has for a LONG time been okay with me preparing food in the kitchen with him just waiting without complaint until I finish, and he no longer is prone to throwing a fit. By contrast, our nieces-nephews, who are much older, go NUTS and can’t go 5 seconds without bugging the snot out of you. That is how they are with other family members anyway, who for the longest time I’d watch as they placated their frustrations rather than drawing the boundary, and they’d try & tell me I expected too much out of mine. Now they’re pulling their hair out, and yet, when those same nieces-nephews are here, it takes little effort on my part to set them straight & they behave much as mine do.

    You expect them to comply & don’t back down, they commonly will comply.


  96. @Nanci: I don’t like using the term “demand feeding” for an infant because it does set up the association between feeding a hungrythirstytense baby and placating a demanding brat. “Cue feeding” is more accurate. Baby experiences hunger, thirst, and/or tension and produces the cue that tells the adult that it is time to provide food, water, and/or a mild sedative, all of which are delivered in breastmilk in a neat package, with other comfort measures substituting for the sedative while bottle feeding. Feeding the baby the instant the cue is produced, if possible, eliminates the tension, provides what is needed for rest and growth, and can head off a lot of crying. (For non-parents reading along, the cue to feed is not actually a cry. It begins as restlessness with rooting after milk and generally does not escalate to a cry for a minute or two. But every baby is different.) It does not teach infants that they can make people jump.

    Infants are only dimly aware that other people exist separately from them and they have no idea that there are other minds out there that can be manipulated. Understanding of social cues grows quickly, of course, and before they are a year old babies generally understand that, for example, bouncing and grinning will get people to drop what they are doing and say, “Awww.” But I have never in all my life seen a baby fake hunger, thirst, or upsetness in an attempt to make people jump.

    Personally I don’t see the point in making somebody wait who can’t even understand the word “wait” in order to teach them a lesson about waiting. How are they going to know that they are supposed to be learning not to demand things when they can’t even say “dada,” much less “please?” That lesson is better introduced after the child learns to talk.

  97. I agree that the two are not related. I do practice a few AP methods. Co sleeping, babywearing, and maybe some other things. I, personally, have no problem getting my kid a glass of water, or helping them to the potty, or comforting them after a bad dream in the middle of the night. I never equated that with AP before though, I always thought that was basic good parenting. If showing my kids I love them and will take care of them all the time, and not only when I feel like it, is attachment parenting than so be it. Can’t say I have heard of that being exclusive to AP though. But like many things in life, those who speak out most against something are often those who know the least about it.

  98. @Jenny Islander-good post! I agree! While I was never able to breastfeed, I did feed my kids when they were hungry. it never took long for them to put themselves on a schedule. I never had a need to force them to wait or anything. It was always every 2 hrs, then every 4 hours when they got a little older. No work needed on my part to make a feeding schedule, I’ve never understood that. They knew when they were hungry. When they got old enough to no longer need night feedings then I stopped them. There is a distinctly different cry between a child who is hungry and a child who is fussing out of habit. I’ve, also, never seen an infant fuss just to fuss. Nor a toddler for that matter. And with the toddler, it’s often easy to put a stop to by teaching them ways to handle their emotions or fix what they view as being wrong than ignore them. Ignoring a child when they are trying to vocalize a need or frustration is a missed chance at teaching them valuable lessons.

  99. I’d just like to point out that attachment parenting and free-ranging are not mutually exclusive. When my baby was a baby I did what I thought was best, kept him close. But now he’s a big boy, & I want him to know that, have faith in himself & his abilities. I think it’s about giving your child what s/he needs @ each stage.

  100. I think some people have lost sight of the fact that it’s actually good for the child if you teach him respect. It can be very easy to ignore disrespectful behavior when they are little and cute and not able to actually control anything. As a parent, if I get sick of my kid’s attitude there are many things I can do about it, up to and including throwing him out of the house once he gets too big for me to push around. So there’s no big emergency from my side as far as teaching respect. But not having a sense of awe for the parent leaves a child confused and insecure, which are developmentally problematic at a young age.

    I do believe you can teach respect as an AP. You can feed a child “on cue” and still teach respect. Just like you can feed a child on a schedule and still teach that you care for him.

    LRH, your story about your 10mo made me chuckle because it reminded me of mine, but for the wrong reasons. (This is mostly off topic.) My daughter was just home from foster care and she ate very little. When she did eat, it was an ounce at a time (age 12mos). Once in a while she’d make a sucking motion with her mouth and it was clearly a communication, which I took to mean “I’m hungry.” So I’d go into the kitchen to prep her formula and she’d start hollering, louder and louder. Even as I was coming with the bottle in plain view, the screaming would escalate. It made me nuts. (Being just adopted, it would not have been appropriate to “punish” her, but one time I did say rather loudly, “NO MORE.”) A long time later, I realized that the sucking motion really meant “I want my furry stuffed animal.” No wonder she was upset.

  101. “That is why the entire attachment/free range parenting argument (for or against) completely boggles my mind. Nothing about breast v bottle, sling v stroller or CIO v cosleeping in any way, shape or form addresses your view of the dangerousness of the world outside. Attachment parents are not more or less likely than conventional parents to view the world as a dangerous place. Conventional parents are not more or less likely than attachment parents to think every man is a potential threat. Your head is either there or it isn’t.”

    Bingo. AP vs. others is about how you manage the day to day needs of your very young children. It really has no reference to how you teach them to (or not to) interact with the world around them as they gain physical competence and build life skills.

    And conceptions that AP is “about” believing that the whole world amd every parental decision is child-centered are strawmen, so you can’t fall back on that to attempt to argue that it works against Free Range, either. Granted that AP tends to use language like “child-centered” that could lead you to think that *if you don’t pay attention,* but all one has to do is understand the context of that language to realize it *doesn’t* mean “the whole world revolves around and must be designed to fit my child’s needs.” And that can be done by *listening* to people who advocate and practice AP, instead of insisting on telling them what they do and think.

  102. I have a book that I heard the title of and avoided like the plague, but enough people I have a sense of shared reality with recommended it so I relented and read it. I am very glad I did, and I’d like to recommend to everyone here: it’s called “Hold on to Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.

    It falls under the “label” of “attachment parenting,” and I was afraid it was going to be advocating a lot of the über-closeness stuff that I skipped when my kids were very small. Instead, it’s about kids at the early Free-Range age on up to adulthood, and how helpful it is to stay warmly connected with them as they go out into the world, form other relationships, etc.

    True confession: I didn’t really enjoy the “dependence” phase of parenting, where my kids needed to rely on me for their very survival. I didn’t enjoy what I perceived as a yawning chasm of need on their part, with no sign of support or end in sight for me. When people would cluck their tongues and say, “Enjoy this age! It goes so fast!” I would secretly want to scream and though ruefully, “More like watching paint dry.” I knew I would be the type of mom that ushered by kids outside to play by themselves, not just for their own development, but for my sense of balance and sanity in life. I chalk this up to a dire lack of community in my life. I still say we were not meant to raise young children separately from other people, locked away in our little homesteads, and especially not as single parents.

    Anyway, I was in a big hurry to have my son go do things with his friends. His friends, his friends, his friends. What I’d remembered from my own childhood was playing with kids up the road. This option wasn’t available because of the way things play out these days with so much organized activity for kids, so it was “play dates.” My dream was that my son would have a playdate pretty much every day. I wanted his bored, sassy butt out of the house and I wanted him to run around, and not with me.

    After a few years of this, the predictable result was that he didn’t really want to be close to me, he didn’t want to give me respect. He went a bit nuts when he was apart from his friends and seemed to feel almost a sense of revulsion around home. I chalked it up to being a pre-teen, but when I read that book, I realized that I had not really supported my kid’s healthy development, I had foisted him onto his peers, and he had started to look to them to meet his needs instead of me.

    If you think that sounds like a good thing, what it really meant was no cooperation at home, and the harder I came down on him, the worse it got. The answer was NOT more discipline. The answer was connection.

    So there is an “attachment” concept that advocates for keeping parents, and other adults who share their values, firmly in the kid’s heart so they can aspire to grow up, not sideways. How many parents, myself included, struggle with how much texting, instant messaging, and obsessing their kids seem to do with and about their peers? It’s not the technology, necessarily. It’s not the age, necessarily. It’s the connection between parent and child, and if it’s strong, there is so much more harmony at home.

    I’ve come a long way with my son in the year since I read that book. I took it to heart, and though my son is free ranging farther than ever, we are closer than ever, I use less “discipline” and yet he is far more involved and cooperative. I understand that having him “on his own” a bit doesn’t mean throwing him into the mosh pit of fellow pre-teens without tether and then wondering why he’s got such a surly, uncooperative attitude at home.

    Just a thought.

  103. Maybe APers don’t see “every man is a potential threat”, but it’s my opinion that AP gains most of its momentum by employing scare tactics.

    The following is a link to the Dr. Sears website. He writes that if a child’s cries aren’t responded to she will become “unconnected”. And suggests that if you don’t practice attachment parenting early enough your child will end up in therapy.

    Other examples of fear mongering that come from that camp include that CIO will cause brain damage to your child and that vaccinations are dangerous.

  104. One of my favorites words & concepts in many sectors of life, is this simple yet startling concept: balance. It’s basically about avoiding extremes, and it covers so much.

    What this means is basically don’t take things to an extreme. Don’t take free-range to such an extreme you let a ONE year old ride the subway alone. Don’t take discipline to such an extreme it sounds like boot camp around your house all the time. Don’t take attachment to such an extreme that you eat-drink-burp-wee`wee-marinate your kids 24/7 & they view you as their chief playmate. Don’t take work so seriously you never do anything fun anymore, don’t take fun so seriously you never work anymore.

    I try & do that. When I draw a line, I hold to it, but I try to not let parenting be ALL about that. I play with them, but I do so in small dosages, I should not be their chief playmate, that should be kids their own age mostly. Yet, at the same time, it shouldn’t be a cold-distant relationship either.

    All of that said, I know enough about AP to know it isn’t for me, and I don’t advocate it for anybody, but I don’t condemn anyone who uses it–and if your kids have turned out okay as you’re doing things, right on. I know that I like things to be to where my children pretty much fit into my world as-is vs my life being flipped upside down because they’re here & now it’s all about them. Sure there are changes, there will be, but I will be darned if my house is going to blare “Dora” 24/7 and I never get to do the fun things I did pre-kids (if it’s less often, fine, so long as it isn’t 95% gone)

    I know enough to know that I don’t like my nieces-nephews being so clingy to me when they’re here. I appreciate that they like me, but at the same time, when I was growing up, I remembered mostly playing with my cousins. My aunts/uncles etc, sure I knew them & had moments with them, but most of my time was with my COUSINS. The adults facilitated the entertainment, they weren’t the actual entertainment. It should be likewise here–play with my kids, not with me so much.

    When I was single & dating, I used to strongly dislike dating most single-moms, because they were SO tethered to their kids it was ridiculous. The TV was always, always, ALWAYS blaring what the kids liked, and the child clung to mom like he couldn’t take a breath without her telling him how to do it & holding said child next to her every last second. Granted, a single mother is not the same as a childless one obviously, but still I couldn’t help but think–heaven forbid we see an adult movie & tell Junior to go play in his room for more than 5 milliseconds No disrespect, but this is OUR time, your kid has you to himself every other minute when you’re not at work, I frankly would appreciate you paying attention to ME during that time–again, not to the point of neglect of your kids, but as it is, I’m being neglected.

    If the child was somewhat blending in to what we were doing, and then we threw him or her a bone after awhile by treating them to ice cream or something, sure, but when it’s more a thing that mom & kid are doing very “Dora” and “Happy Meal” sorts of things & I’m just there, heck no. If that’s romance, then I’ve got a bridge in Tierro Del Fuego I’ll sell you.

    I couldn’t help but think–this is probably why you’re a single mom, the last guy probably got tired of being neglected and moved on. But of course, such guys like us are characterized as “jerks” and “self-centered” naturally. Oh, and we have “issues” because “you dare come between a single mother & her flesh and blood.” Yeah sure, if you say so.

    I married someone without kids, and our kids are all ours, & she is of the “let them go play alone for awhile, I need some alone time for me” (or we need some alone time for us), it makes it so much easier.


  105. I did not do attachment parenting specifically. I did do a lot of the things recommended by attachement parenting experts, but not as part of their philosophy, rather just because it’s what felt right to me. Attachment parenting as a philosophy is simply not me.

    I do, however, have two close friends who embraced the attachment parenting method and followed (still follow I suppose) it closely. Of all my friends, they are also the two who are the most Free-Range parents.

    I didn’t read the other comments, but I can say that my experience is that Free-Range Parenting and Attachment Parenting are definitely not mutually exclusive.

  106. @LHR You start out saying: “I am NOT here to be ugly to anybody”. Good thing you stated that to begin with, because considering your last comment about the single moms you dated, I wondering how ugly you’re capable of becoming when you don’t restrain yourself.
    I find you extremely self-centred and completely lacking in empathy in your comments…

    …sort of the outcome I tried to avoid in my children by using an AP-like approach (though it was so long ago, I didn’t even know it had a label)

  107. I meant @LRH

  108. LRH, ha ha. Single mom here! I don’t date. I have precious little time with my kids as it is. I have absolutely no time for the complex matter of sifting through the available men out there, arranging childcare at odd hours, and explaining such a “relationship” to my kids while it’s in the works. But that’s OK, I rather like being a single mom. Nobody to argue with over how to manage my kids, my money, my time, what’s for dinner, etc.

    Why would a single guy want to date a single mom, anyway, if he was gonna get jealous of her “family time”?

    I had 40 years to look for Mr. Right and I didn’t find him. Now it’s time for me to do right by my kids. And if I ever do get a little down time away from my kids, job, and other responsibilities, I’m gonna spend that time recharging, not looking for some other needy person to suck my last calorie out of me. I have to take mega-vitamins as it is. Gimme a break. Just thinking about dating makes me want to go take a nap.

    Not sure what any of that has to do with FRK! My parents were married, but they saved their “adult time” for when the kids were in bed, or the very occasional evening out with a babysitter at home. Didn’t stop us from being extremely FRK by today’s standards. (Granted, we didn’t watch Dora. We watched the lame shows my mom liked, like the Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman, which I found stupid even then. Maybe that’s why I don’t even turn the TV on around here. Hate stupid shows. DESPISE Dora.)

  109. See SKL and I hope I am respectful, I mean that, because I read so much you post that I like, & what you wrote didn’t necessarily cause my disagreement meter to zoom, but I did want to rebuttal.

    I guess people are different, and that’s okay, but to me having someone of the opposite sex is a priority, a HUGE one. If that makes me “needy,” so be it–I submit it makes me normal. (Now, if I were on the phone 24/7 with someone and/or acting desperate and stalking etc, that WOULD be “needy” I’d say.) I say that because, if my wife were to pass away & it was me & the kids alone, I would definitely be looking for a new wife, and you better believe I’d sacrifice time with my kids to make it happen. That doesn’t mean I’d neglect them or date every skank out there, not at all, if you have kids you have to have even more discernment about whom you date than if you aren’t, and your kids should know you love & value them very highly–of course you should spend time with them. HOWEVER, I believe we’re for the most part built to need other people, especially of the opposite sex. No kid can replace what your wife or husband can give you, and your kids’ love is NOT superior to it–I am NOT saying you said that, but that is what I hear many others say, and it’s bunk if you ask me. There is NOTHING wrong with someone seeking out a mate and expecting their kids to be understanding about it to a reasonable extent.

    (As a side note, I used to like Dr Laura, believe it or not, but her differing opinion about this bothered me enough I no longer listen to her at all.)

    Further, if your kids become jealous of you wanting this for yourself (as I see and hear about quite often in such cases), so long as you’re not negligent in how you go about persuing it, I would say that is selfish of THEM to demand that you ignore your own romantic & intimacy needs so as to make it all about them 24/7. How dare they. The couples whom I’ve seen have a long & lasting marriage understand & implement this–and that also goes for single parents entering the dating pool again. They make it clear–I love you & always will, but I hav a life of my own too, and I am not wrong in persuing it, so long as it’s done in a responsible way. And if the kids are sassy and smart about it, they put them in their place real quick.

    The perfect picture of this, to me, although it isn’t about single parents dating (but chldren respecting “their place” child vs parent), is depicted in an episode of “Good Times” when James died & Florida was mourning by “celebrating the life vs mourning the death” by laughing & carrying on with her guests. Her grown children who had after all lost their father were hurt by their mother’s demeanor and asked her about that. Her initial response was to GENTLY and COMPASSIONATELY and LOVINGLY explain the “celebrate the life” way she was doing it. She wasn’t mean or “I’m the boss” about it. She absolutely was patient & beautiful in explaining it to them with such respect and gentleness.

    HOWEVER, when they continued to sass and disrespect her even after this, she immediately said “I want you to remember who’s in this room. YOU are the child and I am the parent. I don’t to have to explain myself to ANYBODY, and that includes you BOTH!”

    Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. She immediately let them know that, as the parent, how DARE you question me and sass me that way. I make the decisions, not you. And yes, SKL, that meant we often-times have “our time” with the kids wide awake, not asleep, becuase (a) night-time isn’t enough and (b) the message we would be sending is that as long as you’re awake it’s all about you. Nope, nope, nope.

    A guy being “jealous of family time” is one thing, what I’m arguing is that if a single mother opens herself up for dating, she should designate such time with her guy as being “non family time” and expect her kids to respect that accordingly, and take charge if they don’t. And to be clear, that would be HER place to do, NOT the guy’s, but then again, if the guy tires of it and excuses himself respectfully from the date because it isn’t working, no harm/no foul. And of course, especially early on, the guy should be okay with her having “family time” and him respecting that boundary where she’s making sure her kids’ needs are taken care of.

    It seems to me you embrace single-hood, much as my best friend does–he’s childless, has no girlfriend, does what he wants without anyone telling him anything at all, and that is just fine. Not that you’re asking for my approval, I know you’re not, but I find no fault in that sort of thing. What does NOT work–someone in my family was having problems because her 2nd husband expected to be able to discipline the kids she had from a previous relationship and she expected him to stay out of it. I told her, GENTLY, that she was wrong–if she married this man, he had EVERY RIGHT to expect to discipline those kids EQUALLY as she did, and she didn’t want it that way, she shouldn’t be married. She is single now. In my mind, she drove him away. She doesn’t talk to me anymore, but that’s fine–I wasn’t ugly, but I told her the truth, she didn’t like it–oh well.

    Hege I stand by my last comment. I believe in it fully. The relationships I’ve seen fail, of course plenty of times it was due to a man being a selfish pig, but it ALSO very often had to do with women who were so into their kids & letting their guy know he was like 10th on her priority list on a good day, she drove him away. I don’t blame them one bit. That was the reason I left them, too. I’m not bitter about it, but I remember it well, and I haven’t forgotten it, and for it I am so thankful I met who I did & that all of our kids are just ours, and we both will “shoo” them away for time alone together or time individually to recharge if we need it, and we sleep like a baby free of guilt, because there’s nothing to feel guilty about.


  110. It could be argued that if someone feels “neglected” because at the end of the work day his girlfriend or wife doesn’t turn her attention from the kids to focus entirely on him quickly enough, said spouse has taken on the role of another dependent child whose needs must be immediately (not even eventually, but the moment the work day ends) met, and that therefore it is not the actual children in the household who need to grow up.

    It could also be argued that rather than adding such a partner to one’s household, it’s worth holding out for a partner whose response, on seeing his wife consumed with child care at the end of the day, is not to say “hey, what about me?” but “here, let me give you a break.”

  111. SLJ It seems like we’re going to go on FOREVER with this, so be it. Your response is typical of what I used to hear, and it’s wrong. It isn’t about the man (or woman, it does happen) being “needy” or “selfish” or not being “cool.” (Those aren’t your words, but they are words I’ve heard many times before.) It is about a tendency in such cases for the single parent to really go out of their way to dote so much attention on their kids that it’s really ridiculous, the guy (or, again, lady) ends up getting almost NO attention at ALL the ENTIRE time even if they’re present for many hours in fact trying to help out, and then they’re “selfish” or “trying to come between a mommy & her babies” or what have you for wanting even just 5 seconds of time alone without interruption–and for mommy to enforce it out of respect for him.

    My idea of “let me give you a break” would be to have the kids go watch something on TV or go play outside awhile while me & the overworked mother spent some time talking adult-to-adult, no kids allowed for a little while. Let the adults catch up, no interruptions. NONE, unless someone’s bleeding from the eyeball. Maybe part of that “alone time” will even be things like cooking the meal that the kids & I will all eat as a family.

    But yes, almost none I met were of that mind, the few that were were already taken, but I got lucky. All’s well that ends well, but I sure feel for the guys still out there dealing with all of that fruity nonsense (or, again, girls, as is sometimes is the case).


  112. Well, LRH, you do make a lot of assumptions. Most single moms don’t tell their children if they are dating, at least until it gets “very serious” (as in, we’re planning to get married). There is no need to complicate a child’s life when the mom doesn’t know if it will come to anything or not. So it isn’t a matter of my kid having an attitude about my private life. No, that isn’t her place, but that does not mean she won’t be thinking about it if she has an inkling. For the record, my kids have expressed that they’d like me to get married so they could have a dad. Even so, I would never “get their hopes up” without being pretty darn sure about the man. That’s not a time when “suck it up, kid” is appropriate.

    Honestly, I think a mom who involves her kids early on in her dating life is trashy. (Yes, I made a judgment. Shoot me.)

    I understand the sentiment that a family should have two parents, an adult should have a life partner, etc. I have nothing against the ideal I just don’t have time to worry about that. Some people never meet their Prince Charming and that’s just the way it is. Always has been. No point being miserable about it.

    My mom (who has been happily married for 50+years) commented that it’s men who really need a help meet – not so much women. Though my observation tells me there are some women who do – and some who don’t. Really.

    Another point: I dated as a single, childless woman, off and on, for over 20 years. If I didn’t find Mr. Right during that time, who’s to say I’m going to find him any faster now, when I have wrinkles, white hair, and dependents? Sure, it’s possible, but I’m not going to invest my limited time into that particular gamble.

    As for my kids, they would not mind a little more free play time during their evenings, but darn me, I make them do stuff like chores, outdoor exercise, piano practice and daily reading. Not sure why you want to make it about my kids being spoiled and selfish. I happen to like spending time with my kids between work shifts.

  113. It’s good that you found someone whose philosophies work for you, LRH. Now you might consider that in fact other households run in other ways and by other philosophies, and that they’re not wrong either, and in fact, may be quite functional and happy (not to mention free-range), and that those “other guys” you feel sorry for might, in fact, be happier than you are, even if they’re doing everything “wrong.”

    But then, it could also be argued that wasting time arguing with someone who’s response to other views on something as individual and complicated as child-reading is a flat “no, you’re wrong,” is a waste of time. I should have known better, and I’m back to scrolling through this thread for comments that are about how attachment parenting does and doesn’t work alongside free range parenting, and not about why parents who pay too much attention to their children, by LRH’s own personal definitions of “too much,” are “wrong.

  114. Hmm, okay SKL. For some reason (tone & humor maybe?) I find I can debate these things with you and smile at the end of it, rather than feeling even the tiniest bit irritated. I sincerely hope I’ve done that for you as well.

    No, in your case, I wasn’t meaning to make it “selfish” as I said. Not at all. As I said, you remind me a lot of my friend in terms of being totally okay, and even seemingly EMBRACING, single-hood, the freedom it gives you especially. (The main difference is that he doesn’t have kids either.) I find no fault in that (although, again, I know you’re not looking for my approval). The fault I find is when someone DOES date and “puts themselves out there” but then wonders why many men are offended at being made 20th place on the list and seek far greener and more pleasant pastures elsewhere, and in those cases, I tend to think (assume?) that they probably were that way with the father of their child & thus ran him off, hence that’s WHY they’re single. (But of course I’m assuming.)

    It certainly is possible that they’re single for other reasons, things just didn’t work out in the general sense, but whenever I used to run across what I described, & have heard of others doing, you can’t help but put 2 & 2 together, even if maybe 4 isn’t the correct answer.

    In response to SLJ, I realize this may run contrary to Lenore’s “no bashing” disposition, but as SKL said regarding her position–I’m making a judgment, shoot me. To me, if you have children and a romantic relationship, your significant other/spouse etc should be given proper attention, not ignored & then scolded when they demonstrate the slightest concern of having a need for man-to-woman affection. To spoil your children & not give your significant other a fair amount of attention, especially if they’ve expressed a need, is wrong. If you do so, and they cheat on you, you brought it on yourself & have only yourself to blame. It doesn’t mean they were a low-down no-good cheating dog.

    People have the right to live as they do, but that doesn’t by itself make it right. A man can commit bestiality with a dog and he and the dog are perfectly happy, but does that make it right? Am I saying these things I’ve described are as gross as bestiality, no not at all, just saying that just because they’re doing it & seem fine doing so doesn’t by itself make it right.


  115. While I stand by my view that too much attention is paid to the little practicalities of child rearing and how it will affect your child in later life, I did actually connect my style of treating my baby with FR parenting. because to me it is not just about not being scared of strangers but about teaching independence and believing in your child’s resilience. And I started doing that when my daughter was a baby. I didn’t let her cry it out, but I did let her whinge for short periods and didn’t pick her up every time she cried at night because I consciously wanted her to learn to settle herself. I wanted her to experience that the world was not going to end if mum didn’t come running as soon as she felt a bit uncomfortable. In my eyes, they were the first tiny steps we took together to teach her that – while she can always count on me to be there if she really needs me – she can do things for herself too.

    I didn’t think babies or kids should be completely separated from the adult world either. I had/have a right to time to my own and have my own meets met, but my child is an integral part of my life.

    But I did not follow a specific style of parenting, just followed my instincts.

  116. LOL. Bestiality! Whoa. No, if there is cheating in a marriage it is primarily the fault of the cheater, even if he isn’t getting what he wants all the time. Fact is, parenthood is exhausting at times, especially for the mom. There are other things that play in too – hormonal issues that sap energy, etc. Yes, you should have a compassionate ear if you have had a rough day at work or something. But you also need to check out the overall situation and see if maybe there’s a reason why your wife is on her last nerve / brain cell.

    As for waiting until the kids are in bed, sometimes that just makes more sense. Give me 15 minutes to put the kids to bed properly, and then I can focus on my partner. But try to share the time with the kids, and you’re only going to get a half-assed version. Or are you seriously saying I should make my kids wait until tomorrow for attention because some full-grown man can’t wait 15 minutes?

    It’s the same thing when my business partners think they’re going to discuss work between 6pm and 9pm. All it does is delay the time when I can start 2nd shift.

    Anyhoo, I’d love to stay and have quality time, but I gotta go pick up my spoiled, selfish kids from school. Will check back in come second shift.

  117. I agree with Lin very much, especially the part about “I wanted to teach her the world wasn’t gong to end if mum didn’t come right away” or whatever. Exactly.

    SKL Again, I hope I’m being respectful and I am talking about concepts, NOT about how you “do what you do” as it were, but I still say, if someone isn’t getting what they need from home & they stray, the one who didn’t give what was needed is at least equally to blame, if not almost solely so. Your spouse’s needs, if you have one, is every bit as important as your child’s, if not more so, no matter that they are grown. If your energy is too drained to provide what they need, my only reply would be–are you still going to somehow summon the energy for your kids? If so, then do it for your spouse too. Else, don’t have one. Period. If all I am is “some full grown man” but your children are just oh so precious, well, that’s just not fair to the spouse to me, male or female.

    And please, SKL, I never said your kids were spoiled & selfish. I would say that they’re being spoiled and catered to if you DID have a spouse and gave him a fraction of the attention you gave your spouse, but that’s not the case. I’m not faulting your practices at all.


  118. LRH, I hope that your comments are intended to apply to dads as well as moms. Because you come across as having expectations for / demands on moms with the dads doing all the demanding.

    As for cheating, we can agree to disagree. But if a man (or woman) is that put out about not getting what s/he “needs,” why cheat? Why not stand up and say “goodbye” right out loud, go find another place to sleep, and start writing child support checks?

    And another thing. If all you say is true, then getting married is basically an unacceptable risk. Because when you hit hard times and get overwhelmed with all the demands (and this pretty much WILL happen to all moms), your husband is going to sneak off and bring you home an STD or two. And it will be your own fault. Tell me again why women need men in their lives?

  119. Hello! You have GOT to check out this NY Times article about food pouches for babies. They are totally misrepresenting (IMHO) free range parenting. You should respond!

  120. SKL Obviously men & women need (or don’t need) each other equally. And yes what I said applies to both genders equally. And I agree, it’s better not to cheat, but it’s a moot point if you meet each other’s needs to start with vs making excuses. And yes, both should be understanding of the other’s daily hassles & be supportive & try not to nag etc, just don’t use the daily grind as justification for putting your mate on a shelf. Your mate has no more business there than your children do.

    But yes, it goes both ways–gender-wise, and meeting your partner’s needs & ALSO understanding their daily grind.


  121. LRH – Get real. Your opinion of how life should be being different from someone else’s is not actually akin to that person practicing beastiality.

    As another single parent – one who does date occasionally – I am certainly glad we never crossed paths. Adults-only dates are scheduled solely after bedtime or when I have a babysitter. If you choose to come over during family time (not going to happen unless we are very serious), you are coming at exactly that – FAMILY time. Which means the whole family, including the kids. I will make sure that you are included in family time, but I’m not going to kick my kid out so that you can have my undivided attention barring some extenuating circumstance (if you come over after being fired and need to talk, for example). Otherwise, you can wait until 8:30 or I have a babysitter for alone time. If you are too self-absorbed to wait, then don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Definitely no loss to me.

    And the men I’ve dated have been very supportive of my parenthood – most of them were single dads themselves. No relationship ever ended because of my kid. In fact, I ended them all because I’m more particular with my time now that I have a kid and I just don’t have the time to waste on dating that is going nowhere anymore.

  122. Donna While I actually agree with much of what you write in terms of free-range (and that is what we’re here for, I guess I’m guilty of steering things off in a non-free range direction), I will agree with you on that–I am glad we haven’t crossed paths.

    That said, to clarify–yes, even here, there are occasions anyway where it’s “family time” as you said, and anyone who came over here at those particular times would find things to be much as what you’ve said for yourself. Seriously. That said, it isn’t that way all day long up until 8:30 p.m. either. I’ve just never allowed my kids to take over my life that much. If that is much why I’ve embraced free-range as it is for their ability to be competent & able to fend for themselves (age-appropriate as always), then so be it. I’ve seen too many people that, upon having kids, their life was barely recognizable anymore. Every thing they did, said, spoke of, spent their time etc, was TOTALLY about the kids, they didn’t really have a life anymore. Their hobbies, interests, etc–gone. It was sad, really, to me (although they seemed totally fine by it).

    I vowed that would NEVER happen to me, and it hasn’t. Yes of course things have changed, they will, but I haven’t completely lost myself or our marriage in it. I did the right thing going for someone without kids, and someone who views this all the same as I do. Besides, I think it’s different, at least for me, when they’re your kids as well as theirs. When they’re yours too, they’re not as much “getting in the way” in your mind as they are in your mind if they’re the other person’s and not yours, and that’s in addition to how, if the person is like-minded with you, there’s no arguing about that sort of stuff. Besides the obvious reality of how I would miss my wife if she passed on personally, I also would hate entering the dating world, because most likely she’d have kids of her own & be overly attached to them and I’d tire of having to wait 3011 years for some time alone, something I can get with my wife now anytime I ask for it.

    I remember, growing up, besides the free-range, such things as how we would go to our grandfather’s house every Sunday, and we kids played outside with the parents/uncles etc having ADULT conversations indoors. We children were made to STAY outside just about the ENTIRE time, even if it was 93’F outside, or we had to play in an adjoining room and be quiet. Sure, we interacted with the adults SOME, we weren’t FORBIDDEN from being anywhere near them, but we didn’t dominate their attention either. They were allowed to have their time with each other NO KIDS, with no need of “playdates” or the like.

    Also (I need to wrap this up), when I was little, we used to LOVE going on vacation and riding in the back of my aunt’s pickup truck with the camper shell. Yes, that was legal then (and I think it should still be, frankly). It was fun for us, but what I understand now that I didn’t then–it also allowed our 2 parents in the front cabin to talk about adult-themed subjects without us kids bothering them. We could be kids free-range, and they could have adult time.

    THAT is what I look to make in our home as well, and we’ve been mostly successful so far. I guess all’s well that ends well.

    Regardless, Ruth Poulsen can I say “thank you” for that link? In doing so you’re sort of steering us back on-topic, hopefully this will be put to rest soon. Heck, your post even was good enough to merit a new posting altogether. “Thank you” for reminding me that, hey, we might disagree pretty passionately about this attachment parenting or spouse/kids priorities thing, but where it regards parental support in terms of letting our kids be kids without going nuts with worry (and it benefits them, not just us, as it should if it’s going to be done), we are on the same side.

    It occurs to me that this bickering we’re doing about this attachment and spouse/kids priorities thing is probably not good for our free-range unity as a whole, and while I don’t apologize for standing up for what I believe in, I do apologize if my approach in doing so has caused there to be divisions within our collective circle. Like a church breaking up over denominational differences over petty things (someone once told me a church broke up arguing over what color the new carpeting for the floor should be), let’s not let that happen. I may not agree with Donna about what she posted here, or SKL (although I think SKL & I debated the merits pretty well without getting upset), but in terms of MOST actual free-range aspects anyway, I agree with them (and many of the others) a lot of the time, and that probably should be the focus.

    It has been fun (or mentally engaging) debating these other issues, but it’s probably high time to move on it seems. Can we now “cybershake hands” and proceed, with no hard feelings?


  123. LRH, if (God forbid) you should be widowed while your kids are young, will you take kindly to your girlfriend’s attitude that YOUR children should be kept out of her way whenever she’s not in the mood for them?

    Also, keep in mind that a single mom is usually a working mom. She doesn’t have all day to cater to her kids; the evening is probably their only regular time together. It’s amazing how fast that time can whiz by, too. Maybe you need to be a working mom to realize how much needs to be done in those few hours. Clearing a chunk of time takes advance planning, and even then, it’s a sacrifice. You can’t fairly expect it all the time. Once in a while, with advance notice, yes – but even then, frankly, you ought to pay half for the babysitting.

    Anyhoo. I agree that this has gone way off topic and there isn’t much else that can be said on this topic. On to deeper matters such as applesauce pouches!

  124. LRH, reading your posts makes me extra glad that I am single! And if I were to repartner, I would hope that I am not expected to be the perfect 50s wife who not only rules the household with an iron fist, but still manages to look perfect and sexy when her spouse comes home from work and never says no sex.

    If my partner would complain about me spending more time with the kids than with them, they would be shown the door quicksmart so they can go find someone who is willing to treat them like another child.


  125. Well I was about to close this, and I almost am, but Lin I had to respond. I am trying to keep this short, but I will probably fail in that mission.

    As it happens, I became acquainted with someone who I think is a perfect example of how relationships can look in the year 2012, even with young people who aren’t from the 50s by any means. This person is only 20 years old, is married, has a child with her husband of 2 years, and makes it a point that “when my husband comes home from work, I want to be available to him as his wife,” thus she is big on drawing boundaries on any interruptions to this, even getting volunteers for babysitting their 1 year old son if need be. (Yet, she still spends PLENTY of time with their son, as does the husband.)

    She is a professional photographer (I know her that way because I sold her one of my cameras awhile back when she was starting out & saw some of her sites off & on) and states she does not return calls or emails after 5 until the next day because she wants to be fully available to her husband when he arrives home from work around 5 p.m., she wants to dote her attention mostly on him from that point forward.

    (Now that I think about it, John Rosemond has stated that, in times past, when the husband came home from work, his #1 interest was NOT playing with the kids, but connecting with his wife, and she him, & the kids were expected to stay out of their way during such times–and this DID NOT mean the kids were neglected or unloved, at ALL.)

    And believe me, this woman is NO dummy, or someone from the “trailer trash” side of life who “had to get married.” She is NOT someone who is obsessed with only caring about her man & not having any interests of her own. Far from it. She speaks with such wisdom & maturity that you NEVER see in a 20 year old, and her 22 year old husband is the same way. (We’ve all met, including my wife.) They met at their church, married at 18 and had their child a year later, ALL within the marriage 100%.

    I am NOT judging others, I am just saying I REALLY like & respect what they’ve done.

    She is also great in terms of loving her family (siblings etc) but having them respect boundaries in terms of their house (no criticizing the husband etc) and her husband’s parents also are very respectful in terms of not criticizing her housekeeping etc. She has regular “date nights” with her husband to where it’s all about the 2 of them, no kids. When I view her site, it’s as much about her and her husband and her photography hobbies. To be sure, her son comes up often and her love for her child is obvious, but she also isn’t CONSUMED by it to where that’s all she ever talks about. It’s refreshing to see, frankly.

    Yes, she is a stay-at-home mother, but she also is very involved in her photography business as well. This is NEVER used as an excuse to be emotionally unavailable to her husband–in fact, if it starts to conflict, rather than expecting her husband to “understand,” she scales her photography shoots back to make him first.

    The reason I bring this up: this person is only 20 years old, and understands all of this, and is NOT some beat-down dominated uneducated “lives to please my man & bake him cookies and never get any respect from him” type of woman at ALL. Far from it. And her husband is far from a jerk to her either. Through it all, she puts her husband #1, then her son–he does likewise, and yes he is the type to be patient & understanding and he even helps out with her photoshoots and their son, he actually helps HER in HER interests not just her him, but in return, when he gets home at 5 p.m., she dotes attention on him in droves.

    This person is only 20 years old, and her husband only 22–and gets it.

    I’m proud of this person & her husband, and have told both of them so numerous times. I have told her and her husband how much I admire & respect them both for how they make each other #1, with their son very close behind. Most of all: my own daughter, who is now 5, I would love it VERY much if my daughter in 15 years was a lot like this. If she asks me for advice or I’m in the position to give it, that will be my advice: take care of your children, yes, and have your own life and interests by all means, don’t be “co-dependent,” but do NOT neglect your husband or significant other in it. They have needs too, and in fact THEY, and NOT your kids, are your first priority. I also have tried to model this with how I am with my own wife.

    That Lin is what I espouse. I know it’s not about free range, and I was (and still am) trying to close this down, but since you brought it up, I wanted to clarify. I realize this has nothing to do with free range, and Lenore’s main point was that Free Range & attachment parenting are not incompatible and that’s the main thing, but with everyone else on some occasions actually suggesting that AP was WHY free-range worked, I had to chime in–we are very much NOT AP, but free-range works for us too, and that’s okay, just as it’s okay that everyone else is AP and free-range. It’s fine.

    Now, about schools that require prescriptions for sunscreen (tell me that isn’t some kind of stupid)…….


  126. I shouldn’t have commented because it was totally off topic. But that response made me even happier to be single but that is only because I am just incredibly lazy and am loving how simple my life is. My daughter can work out for herself what to do in relationships when she gets there. I’m sure she will be wise enough to work it out with the right person and I hope she does and enjoys it.

  127. There’s nothing wrong in & of itself with liking the simpler single life. As I said, my best friend is single and likes it that way, and i don’t ever give him grief about it, ever. He’s so important to me, if I were to be on my death bed tomorrow, I’d want him there if possible (obviously my wife & kids have first dibs).

    He doesn’t have kids either, though, so it’s not exactly the same, but he says many of the same things.

    My daughter in 15 years–yes, she will decide herself what she does. I didn’t say I was going to order her to do whatever, she will be 20 then & a grown adult able to do whatever she bloody well pleases regardless of what I or my wife/her mother think of her choices. What I am saying is that I will advise (and I don’t intend to lecture) her on those principles. She will be our daughter no matter what she choose, and yet, being her father, of course I’m going to give my 2 cents worth. I just hope I don’t do it in an abrasive fashion.

    That said, I just don’t agree with how many women nowadays deal with the men in their lives, especially when the men aren’t jerks, (when they ARE jerks, it’s the men’s fault, absolutely) and I do intend to let my daughter know of such that I don’t agree with. One example: my wife & I recently watched a Rebecca St James movie Sarah’s Choice, about a woman who gets pregnant out-of-wedlock & is considering aborting it. (I am NOT seeking to stoke a pro-life/pro-choice debate.) What bothered me was how, while she struggled with her choice, she absolutely shut her boyfriend (the father) out completely, for weeks (as best as I could tell) did not take his calls, and was just all-around ugly to him.

    Playing the role of a movie critic for a minute, I did not agree with the character totally shutting out her boyfriend, who was a part of this whole process too, and who was not riding her to abort her child or do anything hasty. I also didn’t like how none of the girl’s friends told her “don’t shut him out, you have no right to do that,” because that is most emphatically what my reaction was–you have no right morally to do that. None. Zero. Older movies from the past, you DID hear such responses, but in recent years–no, because the attitude has apparently changed, & it’s a change I don’t agree with.

    Yes, she was faced with a hard decision and the prospect of what this would mean to her life now & needed some time alone to process that, but SOME time–and her boyfriend was going through much of the same thing himself. I have NEVER espoused the belief that ALL of the drama of such a choice is all on the mother, the woman, all of it, and it’s totally her choice what she does. Absolutely NOT. The male/father-to-be is EQUALLY a part of it (even though he’s no the one with the uterus) and deserves the respect of such.

    Of course, he has to ACT the part too, and yes, a lot of men fail in that regard and leave such women in the lurch. I’ve talked about my daughter, now where it pertains to my son: I would tell my son, if he found himself in such a situation, that if his woman was keeping him at arm’s length for long periods of time & not returning his calls, she was WRONG in doing that. However, I also would be telling him that he’s as much a part of this as she is and that this means he has to do his part, hold up his end, and help her out, and not pressure her to handle all of the load herself. You are as much responsible for this situation as she is, & you’re thus equally responsible in handling all that goes with it. Putting it all on her is not fair and not right.

    I said I was moving on?


  128. This has been on my mind lately. A few friends get defensive when I note that I consider myself free-range. It’s as though I’m suggesting that their parenting styles are in opposition with mine and attacking them – just by saying I’m free range or not that worried about someone abducting my child. I try to be sensitive and not put others on the defense, but for some reason the notion of free range parenting really sets some moms off!

    I consider much of my parenting style to be attachment-ish. I breastfed on-demand, until my oldest was 26 months. We co-sleep. I don’t spank or yell. Yet, we’re very structured and expect our kids to be respectful and well-behaved. At the same time, I let my 4 year old roam and encourage him to be out going. I don’t buy into all the products marketed to make me think I need them to have safe and smart kids, and I try not to hover over them. I nurture them, try to make them feel secure and loved, and then give them developmentally appropriate freedom to explore and learn their own lessons – with our support. I guess it’s a hybrid style for me – so I can’t understand why so many moms get defensive. I agree with them in many ways but have problems with the social norms and cultural trend of always blaming mom for everything, expecting parents to prevent EVERY possible accident (to always protect kids from any remote possibility of harm), and the idea that the world is a dangerous, scary place. We have more in common that not, and my problems isn’t with other parents but with society’s parenting expectations.

  129. Carrie Exactly. Bingo (in terms of the free-range stuff & “boo!” on society’s expectations & friends getting defensive). My parenting style & what I advocate is very anti-AP, especially co-sleeping, but so what–like you said, no need for moms (or dads) to be so self-defensive and touchy. And yes, blaming mom for everything–not okay, at all, whatever one’s position AP or not AP or whatever.


  130. LRH, I think you’re mixing up two different things. There is no question that some women suck at relationships – romantic and otherwise. I don’t think that has anything to do with the attachment parenting lifestyle. A woman can be very mature, confident, and great at relationships, respectful of her spouse, and still physically close to and responsive to her babies / tots. I really don’t see how this can even be an issue if we’re talking about two mature parents. I mean, do well-adjusted dads really get antagonistic to the presence of their very young children? Do well-adjusted moms really have a problem putting their young children down for a nap or playtime when husband needs to download after a rough day at work? I dunno. I have not seen this.

    Likewise, a person who is insecure and immature in general is not unlikely to misunderstand the logic underlying AP practices and flub the way she applies them. We see the results of this in children who lash out because they have no healthy boundaries, who are insecure because they pick this up in their moms, and who are developmentally stunted because they aren’t encouraged to do age-appropriate things. The insecurity is what you’re really talking about when you bash single moms. You’re seeing kids who pick up on moms’ instability, lack trust, and therefore can’t peacefully go mind their own business. You’d see these things whether or not those moms practiced elements of “AP.” And yes, maybe that is the reason some of them are single – because they suck at relationships. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but it’s not an AP issue.

    Of course, I’m just taking your word that these kids and parents are really over the top. If the kids are just curious and want to get to know you before they leave you alone with their mom, that seems reasonable. There are lots of emotions involved when kids see family dynamics changing in any way. If you alienate the kids at that time, naturally the mom is not going to be impressed.

    Then again, in the animal kingdom, a female’s new mate simply kills the old mate’s kids in order to have her all to himself. I would like to think human males are a little more adaptive.

  131. Then again, in the animal kingdom, a female’s new mate simply kills the old mate’s kids in order to have her all to himself. I would like to think human males are a little more adaptive.

    Ha ha, true. Actually, if you wanted to use a good example, I think the best one would be the black widow–doesn’t she eat her “boyfriend” after they’ve had their fun? Now THAT is what I call “being an animal,” ha ha.

    And yes, human males should be a little more adaptive than that. That said:

    Do well-adjusted moms really have a problem putting their young children down for a nap or playtime when husband needs to download after a rough day at work?

    Oh you better believe many of them that I’ve experienced, or seen, they most certainly do. Heck, one I dated (I sound like I’m bitter, and I’m not, I promise–or if I am, that’s on ME to “get over it already!!”), she ended up going to her son at bedtime and staying with him in his room all night, he was NOT sick, he was just begging for attention, this after the entire time prior to that she had given him just about all of the attention to start with. Anyway, you know what I did? I stayed up all night and washed her dishes–in a SINK, not a machine, a SINK. You know, the whole “sympathize with their plight and pitch in and help” thing you or someone spoke of? I did that. From midnight til 5 am. or so, 5 hours, when I could’ve been anywhere with anyone else, I was up washing HER dishes that she and she alone had messed up.

    When she saw that later around 5 a.m., she was a little bit of the “aww, that was so sweet mentality, a LITTLE bit, then she went right back to paying all of her attention to her son, even though he had had her to himself that ENTIRE time (I mean she napped WITH HIM in his room from 12-5, gets up those 2 minutes, he whines, she goes RIGHT BACK and I’m 100% on my own again).

    And furthermore, she did not even halfway attempt to show appreciation and for us to have even just an hour to ourselves later on when the dust settled, even though she had a friend (also a single mom) who would catch her son for her for that while.

    Fine, be that way, see if I ever do that for you again. Next.



  132. PS–darn typos, near the end, I meant to say she had a friend who would watch her son for her for that while (so we could have some time alone for a bit), and in fact this friend lived in the same apartment down the hall & they used to watch each other’s kids when the other would ask.

    As long as I’m PS-ing, I want to clarify: the dishes I spoke of that I washed for her, it was a MOUNTAIN of them. I’m not talking a couple of plates, glasses and forks–it also consisted of MANY pots & pans with several-day caked-on junk as well, and NONE of that was anything I messed up nor that she messed up making me anything. Yet I washed ALL of it, in a sink. I also dried them & put them away and wiped down the countertops, sinks, tables, and even picked up some loose trash (pizza boxes, soda bottles etc) & put them in trash bags.

    And no, when she saw that, I wasn’t uptight and growling “okay woman, you saw what I did for you, you’ve been with your kid all this time, when do I get anything” etc. No, I was nice & sweet and gently asked “so you want to go cuddle on the couch & talk or watch a movie etc” instead not 2 minutes later, her son was begging for attention, and she was gone, and never made it up to me later or even suggested it.

    And she had asked ME out, not me her.

    I say this humorously, it reminds me of a Steven Wright joke (my favorite comedian), speaking of one of his high school girlfriends: “I learned a lot about love, prior to that, I never even thought about killing myself,” ha ha ha ha.


  133. Well, LRH, I gotta say you seem to have known how to pick ’em.

    Were you talking about 12-5 am or pm? If it was night, why the heck were you hanging around there for looking for “alone time” with little kids in the apartment *knowing* you were there? Yuck.

    If it was daytime that this happened, I am sorry, but you HAVE to know that this was not the norm for all single moms. Hello? Five hours of napping with their kid with company over – are you sure you aren’t exaggerating?

    Another comment. If you were hangin’ out there regularly, they were not “her” dishes, they were yours too. And whooptie doo, you hand washed some dishes. I do that every day and I haven’t earned my medal of sacrifice yet.

  134. 12 midnight – 5 a.m. Yes little kids knew I was there, so what? I wasn’t figuring on being there again the next morning. I don’t know, maybe those particulars are a bit weird, I don’t know, I didn’t see it as such at the time.

    And no, I wasn’t there enough yet for it to be that they were my dishes, not at all, especially since I never was one that cooked for her or her for me. That was a mess all of her making.

    If I may say so, the “woop dee doo” part–now I do think that IS offensive to say such a thing or have such an attitude. For crying out loud, a guy you PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE to seek out his interest spends 5 stinking hours in a kitchen cleaning up a mess you ALONE made, when he could be anywhere else in the world (it wasn’t an exclusive thing, and no, we weren’t “knocking boots” if I need to clarify), and the response is “woop dee doo?” I’m sorry, but I think that is a most unbecoming and very ugly attitude. It really amazes me how wise that 20 & 22 year old couple are at their young age, and how unwise a lot of much older people are.


  135. LRH – I didn’t say that my kid is with me all the way up until 8:30 every day having one-on-one time. I’m not my kid’s entertainment staff and she spends much time playing by herself, playing with friends without me supervising or even, horrors, watching TV.

    I’m not going to kick my kid outside and tell her she is not to come back in unless she is near death – as you seem to expect – because you want to talk to me alone unless it is something serious. I’m unlikely to snuggle up to a movie on the couch with someone while forcing her to stay in her bedroom and leave us alone. But I will happily watch a movie with you or chat until your heart’s content while she is happily engaged elsewhere. I’m just not going to make her unwelcome in her own home because you are there.

    It wasn’t the adult-adult interaction that I had a problem with in your views. It is your desire to come over when my child is home and awake and then insist that I kick her out of the picture so that you can have me alone. Not going to happen. If you want me 100% alone, it will have to be after bedtime or when the kid isn’t home.

  136. Donna That all sounds perfectly fine to me. If they’re engaged, that’s plenty fine. The experiences I had were ones were the child would persistently interrupt seemingly every 3 seconds over silly stuff. You don’t want to be ugly or a jerk, and I actually wasn’t, but yes, it was annoying. I knew in my mind if the roles were reversed, I’d have my child not interrupt so often, even if I had to make it a disciplinary issue.

    But yes, if they were present and yet “happily engaged,” fine, not a problem at all. And after awhile of that, you actually will naturally WANT to engage with them for awhile. They aren’t the enemy, after all, and never should be, but I found it was easier for it to just only date someone who had no kids at all so that you’d have quite awhile where you were able to REALLY get to know them, no interruptions, and if you had kids with them later on, by then you’d had enough time with them it wouldn’t matter (and plus, since they were also yours, you’d be able to shoo them away on occasion if need be).

    So yes, all’s well that ends well.


  137. Yes, I’m sorry, LRH, but to me it’s a whoop-tee-doo that you washed some dishes “by hand,” oh my word. Did your hands melt? If it really took you five hours to wash dishes, either you are a very slow dishwasher or that woman has many times more dishes than I own. Furthermore, it seems to me you did it with the intention of getting something out of it, not because you’re such a great guy. Then when the mom at 5am wasn’t interested in putting out, you got angry (and you still are, many years later). None of this is making me feel sorry for you. You should have said goodbye and left, since you “could have been anywhere else.” (By the way, why do you think I should care if you had an unprofitable date night? I’m immature because I’m not ready to take up my pitchfork and march with you? Dude, I could share some amazing stories with you about dates gone bad, and also about dishwashing, but I wouldn’t expect you to actually give a damn.)

    But seriously, about the kids interrupting, why would you not expect that when you decided to date a mom? Personally I never would have recommended that a guy like you ever date a mom at all. Sounds like you learned your lesson. What I find unfair is your opinion that moms should have to act like non-moms if some guy wants to come over. No. Maybe single dads can turn the parent thing off – I don’t know – but I could not and would not. Unless she lied to you about having kids, you were on notice and it was your fault if you didn’t know what to expect.

    Anyhoo, as another poster said, knowing there are guys like you out there, I’m all the more happy with my decision to not date while my kids are living with me.

  138. This apparently is going to go on forever. So be it, I’m game.

    Yes, I would expect that after doing what I did, not that she would necessarily “put out,” but even just spend time. It does not matter why I did it-the point is, I did it (and it was a combination of both, I do wash dishes slowly, but she also had a TON of them, I’m talking to the ceiling almost). You went to the bedroom burdened with a pig scythe of a kitchen, you wake up & someone was nice enough to fix it all for you. Where I come from, you better damn well show some respect, period, no matter what you think the ulterior motives MAY be. No, it doesn’t mean you’re obligated to “put out,” but this is a guy whose interested you solicited, I’d say said guys deserves a HELL of a lot more of a weak, barely audible mumble & a shrug of the shoulders.

    And yes, after a subsequent encounter where it still was giving a shrug of the shoulders, I saw the writing on the wall and moved on. And yes, I am sure you had some nasty encounters of your own, and maybe I wouldn’t give a darn, but I wouldn’t go “woop dee doo” either.

    On the contrary, one of the things that made me fall in love with my wife–early in our courtship she asked me one day to come to her family’s cookout or whatever & I told her I was busy moving (i was). The next day she showed up at my place, haven taken the BUS in the city to do so, to help me move. That impressed the heck out of me, and to stray even further from the topic, she didn’t call before she came over, she just showed up, but I didn’t act like it was “The Great Sin” the way a lot of people do now over that.

    As for kids interrupting–where I come from, a child who interrupts an adult talking is treated as an act of disrespect and is absolutely called on the carpet for it. I do that. If my wife & I are talking-heck, if the electric meter man & I are talking and a chlid interrupts, they hear about it. If I’m on the phone and they’re babbling and I can’t hear, I tell them–nicely–to be quiet, if they don’t, they’re disciplined.

    In like manner, one couple we know also trains their child to call every adult Mr Ms Last Name because “I want to treat my child to respect ALL adults.” Where we come from, the simple fact that so & so is an adult and so & so is a child automatically means the adult is entitled to respect. Period. No exceptions. (I expect a lot of flack from that, so be it.) It isn’t “children should be seen & not heard,” but it isn’t far off from it. (And yet, they’re loved and adored lots and lots, too. We actually make it work somehow.)


  139. Darn typos. I hate double-posting so fast, but I also hate typos being left to stand. (I italicized the corrections.)

    “said guy deserves a HELL of a lot more than a weak, barely audible mumble & a shrug of the shoulders.”

    “encounter where it was still given a shrug of the shoulders…”

    “she showed up at my place, having taken the BUS…”

    “if a child interrupts an adult talking, that is treated as an act of disrespect & the child is absolutely called on the carpet for it.”

    When I said “if a child interrupts,” I mean OURS. If I am talking to someone & MY child interrupts, it’s potentially a case where I’d discipline. If THEIR child interrupts, I don’t tell their child “stop interrupting us,” I look for the parent to do it, and if they do, I thank them for it. If not–it depends. If it’s a garage sale, they may lose my business over it.


  140. It doesn’t really matter where you come from when you spend the night at someone else’s house. What matters is where THEY come from – preferably before you get that serious. (To me, spending the night with a mother whose kids are home is very serious.) You’ve been on this earth long enough to know that everyone has different standards for their kids. You can’t “expect” anything from someone else’s.

    You seem to think that a *man* doing a domestic chore is really amazing. Maybe it is “where you come from.” I certainly never kept score when I’ve been over a guy’s home and washed some dishes. I recall a get-together among school friends where we all visited a bachelor’s home. Apparently nobody ever taught him how to wash dishes and his dishwasher was broken. He tried to serve water in the most disgusting glasses I’ve ever seen. I stood there and washed all of his greasy dishes and gave him lessons in how to do it going forward. Did I get something out of it? No. (Well, other than a clean glass to drink out of.) Did I feel angry? No. I did it willingly because it needed done and it was no big deal to me. It’s a happy memory for me. So I honestly don’t see why you waste emotional energy holding a grudge against a skanky trashy woman whose dishes you washed in the hope of “getting some” in one of the travel stops in your life. (Honestly I think you should have been scared to be intimate with someone that irresponsible, because she could have given you lots more than you bargained for.)

    So if your daughter ever finds herself a single mom, you would want her to feel obligated put out every time a man does something nice for her?

  141. I expect my child to not interrupt me or ANYONE – adult or child – from talking in mid-sentence. I don’t expect my child to not utter a word while we sit around for hours engaging in idle chit chat (different from discussing an important matter).

    I expect my child to not interrupt even hours of conversation with mindless comments. I allow my child to say “excuse me” and ask or tell me things that are meaningful … but short of death. My child doesn’t get to pop in to say “I love you” every 3 seconds (my cousin’s kid did that and it was so annoying). My child is welcome to politely interrupt our conversation to ask if she can watch TV, go outside, have a snack etc. Now if I am in a short conversation, like with someone on the phone, she can wait, but not while we just fritter away the time engaged in pleasant conversation. My child is also welcome to contribute to the conversation any time. She doesn’t have to be oblivious to the conversation around her and if she has a contribution, great.

    I think you have a very low tolerance for children in general and anyone else on the planet who dares take attention away from you. It is best that you stopped dating single mothers. I hope that, if something happens to your wife and you become a widow, you will again stay away from dating single mothers unless their children are grown.

  142. SKL My daughter, if she is MARRIED and she isn’t being a “skank” and the husband isn’t a “male skank” (I hope not, else, why are they married?), then I would tell her, well, not to have so many headaches. I don’t espouse Dr Laura much anymore, ESPECIALLY the “your kids come first” mantra she does, but I DO agree with her stance that a woman shouldn’t say “no” to her man 80,000 times for silly reasons (if you just got out the hospital for an appendix operation, obviously that’s not a silly reason) and then wonder why he moves on to someone else.

    Actually Donna I agree with your 1st 2 paragraphs, & the “I love you every 3 seconds” thing–oh yes, that would be annoying. The other scenarios you describe, that all sounds very reasonable. I concur. You actually described the specifics better than I have done.

    As for what I would do if I were a widower–yes, I’d avoid single mothers like the plague, else I’d screen for that sort of thing right off the bat. If it was someone like that “detached parenting” mom who espoused things like “APers run each other’s heads while the children sleep between them, DPers lock the door & get it on,” now if it was someone like that, I’d give it a try. Beyond that, I also don’t like people who are too attached to their pets too (dogs especially), in fact even more so (their own children is one thing, but an animal–c’mon), but that’s another matter.


  143. LRH, I dated a guy like that. He will be forever known in my circles as “stinky-dog boy.” I still can’t believe he thought a woman could feel “romantic” with someone else’s dog’s breath constantly in her face. Or in a living room that doubled as a dog’s smelly kennel (with the jealous dog barking in protest from time to time). Blech. It’s amazing how clueless people can be.

    But he did cook dinner for me. No wonder he expected me to “put out.” Right, LRH? He’s probably still angry that I didn’t.

  144. Ha ha ha, SKL I can honestly say I agree 100% with you on that. I’m dead serious, I do. We actually found a slice of common ground (beside the free-range aspects). Yah!

    A child is one thing, my points notwithstanding, I can at least understand one being attached (even if a bit excessively so) to your children, human-beings who are your actual CHILDREN. But a pet, a dog especially? Heck no. Man i get nauseated at these people who act like their pets are the same as children, and expect others to be tolerant of their irritating aspects, ESPECIALLY barking. (Barking drives me crazy.)

    Heck, my single best friend I mentioned, he’s into dogs, they sleep with him even, but he doesn’t date, and if we mention that we may go over there, he will lock his dogs up in a kennel so that they won’t possibly hurt our kids, and he doesn’t mind it, in fact he considers it the right thing to do. Other people, their dog could all but trespass into YOUR YARD and hurt your child & they STILL won’t accept responsibility for it. I can’t stand people like that.

    When I was dating (I know, I’m back on that again), there were some whom I dropped when they mentioned they had a dog (or cat) and that their pet slept with them & that anyone who got serious with them would have to be okay with that–if it came down to their dog or their husband, they would seriously chose their dog. I immediately ended any such dates, IMMEDIATELY. I’m sorry, but that’s just sick.

    One type of movie I really dislike, in fact are dog-lovers movies, because they ALWAYS show somebody who isn’t that big on dogs and they always depict them as cruel heartless meanies who would sooner burn their own child alive than spend even a nickel to put the flames out or whatever. Well excuse me for not liking to have to hear “yap yap yap” all day, and excuse me if I don’t like coming home & finding half the house torn

    But no, him cooking didn’t mean you were obligated to “put out,” and it sure isn’t enough to overcome “stinkie dog syndrome” either. Ha ha ha, I like it–seriously SKL, I am in 100% agreement with you on this one.


  145. […] Free-Range Kids and Attachment Parenting ( […]

  146. *waves* I’m an attachment parent of two, soon to be three, free-range kids. It is possible to be both! Through attachment parenting I have preserved my children’s biological norms such as breastfeeding, and ecologically normal closeness like baby wearing and co-sleeping. And through trusting my children’s innate intelligence and their attachment/security to me and their other parent, they are free to explore their environment relatively unhindered. I completely trusted my first crawler around stairs because he is a cautious kid by nature and what is the worst that could happen if he slipped on the stairs? A bump and a few tears? Yep, it happened once and nothing that a cuddle and a breastfeed couldn’t fix and he had extra knowledge of what not to do when going down stairs 😉

    I know there is confusion out there about what AP is but it isn’t smothering, or helicoptering, or permissive parenting. It’s about biological norms of babes and parents. It’s worth reading some good sources on attachment parenting if anyone would like to understand it better.

    Cheers Lenore for the great blog. I live an hour east of Bendigo but missed out on your visit because of morning sickness!

  147. @Ayla, the thing that bothers me about AP is the seeming smugness of those that practice it, and the assumption that parents who don’t are ignoring their kids needs and can’t possibly have a close relationship with them. Even though your post was pleasant and thoughtful, you had to throw in “normal closeness” and “biological norms”.

    It IS possible for those who don’t practice AP to be close with their infants. It IS possible for them to meet their baby’s needs. It IS possible for other parents to have different definitions of “normal” and still be great parents and raise great kids who become great adults. AP parents do not have a corner on this market.

  148. I really like your comment, “I don’t endorse bashing any parenting decision.” I think the press tries to create situations where they “brand” people as being extremists of any type parenting style and it’s really not necessary nor productive. I don’t find myself agreeing with many of the attachment parenting ideals, but I also don’t feel the need to “bash” parents who do like it. Neither do I think it is appropriate to bash Lenore for decisions and ideals she has adopted. Let’s have open discourse about parenting to allow parents to hear new ideals and adopt which ones they like. I think it’s OK to point out the downsides of such decisions, but the need to “bash” people over parenting decisions doesn’t really help anyone.

  149. I’m really glad this has come up because I’ve always wondered whether people felt AP and FRK were opposites… now I know I am only one of many who consider themselves both! (though I *am* kind of sad that so many people here still seem to think that AP means boundary-free, permissive parenting… it doesn’t, any more than FR parenting means leaving your 3 year old in the car for 5 hours while you go out to the casino.)

    I guess it makes sense that many of us are both AP and FR – both philosophies are based on interacting with your child in ways that are developmentally appropriate and are based on your first-hand knowledge of their personalities, skills, etc., as well as what works for your family.

    I don’t think AP is about indulging your kids or responding immediately to every need (because that’s not always possible!) so much as it is about behaving in such a way that your kids understand that their well-being is important to you and that you are doing your best to meet their *needs* (not wants… but attention and soothing is a valid need, especially for a very small baby. Trying not to be judgmental, but the idea of letting a 2 month old cry for hours every night to teach her not to need attention is just heartbreaking to me). If kids get that secure foundation early on, then they are more likely to have the self-confidence to grow and explore and be independent as they get older and develop the requisite skills.

    My daughter has just turned two, and although I guess it’s a bit early to tell, I don’t think our period of co-sleeping, babywearing, cue feeding (and continued nursing) has had any negative effects on her overall independence. She’s always been ahead on her physical development and loves to navigate the playground on her own, and she’s finally getting to the age where she can amuse herself in the house for a good 20 minute block of time with marginal supervision.

  150. I loved being an AP mom when the kids were babies, and I believe it goes hand in hand with FR. I felt like all the “cry it out” and “keep kids on a tight schedule” was totally fear based, like if you don’t do exactly what the pediatrician, magazines, etc tell you to do, then your kid will be screwed up. Some parents who don’t WANT to let their infants scream till they conk out do it because that’s what the culture dictates. Historically people wore their babies, nursed them when they were hungry, and comforted them when they cried.

    Sex? Really? It’s so inappropriate to even go there. Do people freak out if one spouse works a night shift, travels a lot, etc? Like, it’s wrong to work the night shift because sex is important and you should put your spouse first. People really need to relax about this. It seems to me like they’re just super defensive. If you don’t want to co-sleep, don’t. If you can’t co-sleep because you really need to have sex (only at night, only in your bed!) it’s none of my business. There’s not a lot of AP parents judging people for NOT being willing to have sex in the guest room, couch, shower, kitchen floor 😉 or other creative places. It’s such a very short time in our lives, and not that big of a deal. Sorry for the rant, I just get tired of this particular criticism of AP.

    To me, a huge component of FR parenting is being attached enough to your kid to know what she’s ready for, regardless of everyone else’s opinion. So I dealt with people staring at my 18 month old nursing, AND people staring when she climbed on the play structures by herself at that same age. I felt like both of those things were totally appropriate for her, even though they didn’t follow the very strict and judgemental cultural norms.

    When I was pregnant with my first, I read that AP creates kids that are MORE independent. They don’t have to worry about being safe, so they’re more willing to explore and take risks. (Please don’t read that as an insult to non AP, it’s just what we read, and what we experienced.) A kid that’s been left alone to cry himself to sleep regularly will have a different level of trust than a kid who always felt safe. Our just-turned-8 year old flew across the country, by himself, to go to a camp that we’d never seen, and was only upset that he couldn’t stay a second week! People often comment on how independent, mature and well behaved our kids are. I like a lot of what John Rosemond says (but not all, obviously!) and feet like discipline goes hand in hand with AP.

    Finally, a big part of my philosophy is that this is MY life, too, and I don’t want to be a martyr. AP was, for us, kind of the easy way out. We didn’t have to get up at night, deal with some crazy schedule, etc. And at the same time, having well behaved kids is easier, and more fun. I took my 22 month old to Italy and France, by myself, and had a blast. I expected him to stay with me, sans leash, and he did. For me, it’s a balance between attachment and discipline that makes our kids so much fun to be with. Being an unapologetically nurturing AP mama with high expectations has made it a fun 14 years for my husband and our 3 kiddos!

  151. I definitely lean more to the helicopter parent side however I do appreciate you bringing the opportunity to discuss both. I feel more comfortable always being there for my daughter and as she ages, that does lessen naturally, at least for her. I also agree that my way of [over] parenting] is simply a life choice I’ve made, not necessarily a “way to parent”. It works for us!

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