I have written extensively over the years about how women get pulled into debates that divide us. The latest one which received a lot of attention yesterday, 12th November, was on This Morning when Peaches Geldof was pitched against Katy Hopkins on a discussion on #AttachmentParenting.
On watching this debate, and in real life, I discover that I am in fact an ‘Attachment Parent’. I had no idea. It wasn’t a conscious choice. I haven’t read any books on it and I don’t follow the seven ‘B’s, whatever they are, by choice but somehow, in-advertently, it would appear I follow them because instinctively to me that feels right. I did carry my babies but in a Baby Bjorn, not an Indian tie dyed wrap around. I don’t even own a pair of Birkenstocks, let alone know how to knit a pair. To be honest I couldn’t even knit a scarf. I did breast feed on demand, and sometimes in Costa coffee, until my son was about four months old and with my daughter until she was 8 months old. I co-slept with my son until he was 7 years old and he chose not to sleep in my bed anymore and my 5 year old tends to come in most nights at some point.
Last night, at around 2am, my 5 year old crawled into bed with me. She said she wasn’t feeling very well. Within about 10 minutes the bed had turned into a furnace and she was little a boiler heater next to me. She had a fever and I was able to lie with her, keep her regularly dosed with paracetamol and fluid. This morning I knew for sure that she was ill and should not go to school. I felt blessed that I could stay at home with her and I didn’t have to go to an office, where I could be judged by fellow colleagues for not being there and that I have the luxury of the flexibility to work from home. In real life, when you are a 5 year old child and you are sick, you want to be at home being nursed by someone who loves you unconditionally.
My mum died when I was 2 years old so I wasn’t the child of attachment parenting by default and to a great extent my disrupted childhood and the lack of security of not having a mother led to many great obstacles and challenges that I wouldn’t wish upon my own children if I can at all avoid it. I can remember being sent to school sick because there was no childcare, or being sick in my dad’s car because he still had to go to work. Being ill was an inconvenience because with two working adults, there was no-one in place to accommodate a poorly little girl.
For me, the most important facet that a child can feel is to know, without exception, is that they are loved and their parents are on their side. Now how that love is manifested or demonstrated to the child is down to the individual but both my children know that I have their back, that they can come to me, and that I will listen to them, help them if I can, or at least equip them to help themselves.
My children are a little spoilt, if I am honest, but they are not brats. They have good manners and they, on the whole, do as they are told. Of course, they test the boundaries and we battle and discuss, negotiate, agree, sometimes there is shouting. It’s normal like most households with growing children trying to assert their independence.
Katie Hopkin’s misogyny upsets me because she has influence, which she chooses to use against women. In my opinion, I can only assume she wants to be a man because she courts their favour as she holds her own gender in complete disregard. Perhaps she suffers from Freud’s ‘Penis Envy’. Of course, the media give her a platform to spout her misogyny which she revels in and adores. It’s as if she is a real life, pantomime villain. In the debate with Peaches Geldof, Katie Hopkins didn’t actually offer any perspective on her own parenting strategy at all.
In fact, all she did was make snide comments with sweeping statements:
“It’s all a bit “knit your own Birkenstocks” for me. AP is just one step away from CR-AP parenting.”
On the subject of baby wearing, where mothers hold their children close to them via a sling,
Katie said: ‘I wear a handbag, I don’t wear a baby.‘You see these women with 15 metres worth of Indian print fabric, it’s always Indian print, wrapped around their body and somewhere in there there’s a mewling baby.’
‘It’s all a bit knit your own yoghurt.’
She also was very disdainful about breastfeeding on a day when the Government was talking about incentivising women to breastfeed.
I am left wondering if attachment parenting is so wrong then is detachment parenting better? I think ultimately children are individuals and their needs should be met in response to their bespoke requirements. I don’t believe in a one-fits-all solution and I tailor my parenting accordingly. This parenting is not directed by books by my instincts, observations and dialogues with both my children. In my experience of being a child that has grown into an adult, my peers who were loved and supported by their parents into adulthood are the ones that are happier. Not more successful but instead who laugh more freely.
I wish we would stop pitching women against each other. I don’t see any debates on ‘fathers who are not there for their children versus dedicated dads’. It’s as if the whole onus on parenting falls down to women and not to men. Men don’t have to be answerable for dedicating their lives to their careers. A friend of mine, who is climbing the military ladder met a General who told him honestly, I got to this rank ‘by completely neglecting my family’. Well done to that man. What a sterling effort.
Where are the debates on male responsibility to their children. Instead we are in the perpetual motion of women, who the majority are under paid, under appreciated and disrespected have to be castigated and vilified in pantomime style debates with ‘rent-a-female-misogynist’ Katie Hopkins, while the men rub their hands with glee, laughing at the bitchfest in the bull pit, sitting pretty on the higher ground.
Come on women in the media – you can do better than this!! Use your influence to create debates that help the female gender not this petty girl on girl mud fighting which continually divides us. It’s time we worked together!!
See these posts on the great female divide:
All of these and more are available in my book:
A Modern Military Mother – Tales from the Domestic Frontline
Clare Macnaughton is a modern military mother; a feminist British military spouse and lifestyle journalist writing about real life adventures.
I’d love to hear from you so please feel free to get in touch.
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