Chris and I were reminiscing tonight about what we were doing six years ago today.

We were at the hospital and I was in labor -almost a month early - with our son Elliot. He finally arrived in the wee hours of January 3rd, but was soon whisked off to the NICU, where he spent several weeks. He was hospitalized for three weeks again at 13 months old and again at age three. Today though, at age six tomorrow, he's healthy and beautiful and really interesting.

He's the most outgoing of our three children. He has blue eyes, while his siblings have brown eyes. He's the life of any party and has a very kind heart. He likes horses and skateboards and his cousins and his classmates at Montessori School. He can almost read and he likes playing with his pet rat, Strawberry, and his pet lizard, Australia. He's my baby, even though he's not really a baby anymore.

Happy birthday Elliot.
I've gotten some questions from readers lately that I want to address :

Question #1: Does the fact that you are getting a divorce change or contradict your views on attachment parenting?

My Answer: No. It doesn't. It is a big bummer personally. I'm really, really sad about it. In fact, I would have to say it's the most painful thing I've ever experienced. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

But it has absolutely no relevance to the fact that I support breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, gentle discipline, and generally responsive parenting.

If you read my book or anything else I've ever written for publication, you'll see that I've never claimed that attachment parenting only works for traditional, two-parent families. There is a section on single parents in my book, and many of the parents I admire most in the world are single.

There is no question that adjusting to co-parenting is challenging and incredibly humbling. It isn't easy, I'll say that. It's definitely been a learning experience, but we're all getting there. But the bonds my husband and I built with our kids in infancy and early childhood are serving us well as we each adjust to single-parent relationships with our kids. Our children are now being raised in two nurturing, hands-on, gentle-parenting households instead of only one.

Question #2: Does the essay you wrote recently about the financial risks women take when they completely "opt out" of the workforce change or contradict your views on attachment parenting?

My Answer: No it doesn't. I have always worked. In fact, I sold my book when my youngest child was two months old and finished writing it when he was a year old. My mother worked full time and is very successful in her field, as is my grandmother. I talked about my views on this issue in this interview.

Here's a quote from the interview, which I gave several years ago:

Interviewer: A lot of people say, "I don't have time to attachment parent--this takes too much time." How important is it to be a stay-at-home mother to attachment parenting?

My answer to interviewer: I definitely think that there's just no way around it, the style of parenting that I'm advocating is a very hands-on--it's time intensive, it involves having your baby near you. But I absolutely reject the idea that it's something only at-home parents can do. I consider myself a working parent, I work from home but I definitely utilize some child care. I think that how much and how early a parent separates from her baby--or his baby--is something that attachment parents are very sensitive about and they put a lot of thought into it, it's not something they go into lightly.

Many of these attachment parenting tools, such as sleeping with your baby, breastfeeding, all of those things, again, they facilitate attachment for people who must be away from their baby, or choose to be away from their baby, for part of of each 24 hour period. But as I say in the book, if you think about it, a working parent who sleeps with her baby probably has more touch contact with that baby than stay-at-home mothers who don't sleep with their babies. These attachment tools are great whether they're working or at-home parents.

(end of interview quote)

I do advocate looking for creative solutions to work when a parent has a baby or very young child so that the baby isn't left in group daycare many hours per week if that can be avoided. I have an entire chapter on integrating attachment parenting into life as an employee in my book. I have no regrets about the flexible schedule I worked when my children were babies and toddlers. I still work a flexible schedule now that they are in school, and although it definitely diminishes my earning capacity, I think it's best for my family.

But as I said in my essay, I was somewhat naive in my assumption that I could count on anyone else to help me with retirement or other benefits, and these are the "extras' of financial planning that aren't included with the "mommy track" I have chosen to take in my work. And I happen to work in a field that is friendlier toward part time and freelance work than most others. Women need to factor this stuff into their decision-making.

Question #3: Are you some kind of 'parenting expert'? Do you think of yourself as an expert? Why should anyone care what you have to say about parenting?

My answer: Hell no!

I am most assuredly NOT a 'parenting expert,' except when it comes to my own children. What I am is a mother and a writer who has done a lot of thinking about parenting issues. The style of parenting I advocate is one that has worked well for my family, many families I know personally, and many hundreds of families I have interviewed over the last ten years.

Will it work for yours? Only you know that. I do not.

My own research into childcare issues like breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and gentle discipline leads me to believe that babies and young children are "hardwired" to thrive with attachment-style parenting. As a feminist, I also believe that attachment powering empowers women by supporting them in their ability to care for their own babies without excessive "help" from physicians, corporate interests, or the glossy parenting magazines.

Your baby = your way.

That's what I believe.

In the past, women were often instructed that there was only one "right" way to care for their children. While my writing and others' about attachment parenting may seem very mainstream and ubiquitous today, it really wasn't only a few years ago. When I had my first baby in 1991 at the age of 23, the stuff I wanted to do - like sleep with him - was considered totally nutty. At that time, you could only find magazines like Mothering. at the health food store, and you could be pretty sure that your pediatrician didn't read it.

While times have changed and there is a lot more great info available today about "alternative" parenting practices, you have to remember that the essential message of attachment parenting is to listen to your own instincts and tune in to your own baby to decide how to care for him/her. It isn't about prescriptive, one-size-fits-all parenting advice.

In closing, I would like to note that I dobelieve that parenting really, really matters. While each of us has to make our own decisions about how and whether we will become parents and if so, how we will raise our kids, it will always be a good thing to think and talk and read and write about parenting issues.


My 8 year old daughter Jane is featured in the online equestrian 'zine, BigEQ this week. Click on "The Pony Zone" to see her.


For two decades, I have watched young women experience the continual “mission creep” of how pornography—and now Internet pornography—has lowered their

This article by Naomi Wolf is one of the most simple, yet profound commentaries on the issue of pornography and modern sexual relationships that I've ever read/heard. So many women I know struggle to explain to their husbands and boyfriends why guys' use of porn (particularly the ever-more-available-and-ever-more-extreme online porn) bothers them, but are unable to articulate their concern without worrying that they sound like uptight prudes. Wolf argues that easy access to lots of lots of hardcore porn has created a situation in which a real woman, even an attractive, sex-positive, naked, real woman has become nothing more than "bad porn."

Wolf writes: "The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as “porn-worthy.” Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention...

For two decades, I have watched young women experience the continual “mission creep” of how pornography—and now Internet pornography—has lowered their sense of their own sexual value and their actual sexual value. When I came of age in the seventies, it was still pretty cool to be able to offer a young man the actual presence of a naked, willing young woman. There were more young men who wanted to be with naked women than there were naked women on the market. If there was nothing actively alarming about you, you could get a pretty enthusiastic response by just showing up. Your boyfriend may have seen Playboy, but hey, you could move, you were warm, you were real...

After all, pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it."