The Attached Father’s ManifestoDoug French
(See what I did there? I wrote a provocative headline about the TRUE THINGS THAT ALL PEOPLE MUST ACCEPT BECAUSE THEY ARE TRUE that is far more bombastic than the piece itself. And now, I’d like to spend the next several paragraphs discussing corn subsidies.)
(Still reading? Thank you. Most people would have read the headline and run to get their pitchforks.)
Over the next several days, you’re going to hear a lot about this week’s Time magazine cover story about attachment parenting. The official explanation is that Dr. William Sears’s “The Baby Book,” the movement’s purported “bible,” is about to turn 20 years old, and Time wanted to explore the extent to which the doctor’s methods have transformed parenting.
Unofficially, Mother’s Day is Sunday, and Time wants to celebrate by exposing the bruise all mothers carry over their perceived inadequacy and poking it with a sharp stick. Predictably, the article itself is a perfectly benign treatment of AP’s origins and nothing nearly as incendiary as the cover, which will eventually just stare up at us dully from the landfill.
Less will be made of the companion piece written by Nathan Thornburgh, titled “The Detached Dad’s Manifesto,” which makes a far bolder statement than anything in the cover piece.
I’ve admired Nathan’s work at DadWagon (and more recently, Roads and Kingdoms) for a while, and he sets forth here by acknowledging that, when it comes to AP, dads are often the odd men out. No matter how deeply we choose to commit, we’ll never enjoy the same bonds or suffer the same pains as moms do. And since dads can never be as “attached” as moms are, focusing on all this attachment cements the dads’ position as second-class parents. So dads might want to say, “Hey, moms? Maybe you could dial it down a bit and level the playing field.”
Huh? Dads telling moms to chill out?
When it comes to advocating for anything in terms of a parenting style, dads might have their say. But they are the minority party of the Parliament. And dads already suffer from stereotypes of incompetence and aloofness. So the idea of a dad asserting himself in terms of childcare, AND saying that a bit more dad-style detachment is healthy? That’s like paddling a canoe up Niagara Falls.
Sorry if that headline deceived you, because this really isn’t much of an Attached Father’s Manifesto. I was an attached father. I wore my kids, I co-slept with them, and it worked out OK. If it doesn’t for you, and/or you see the demands of attachment motherhood wreaking too much havoc on your wife or your marriage, you might consider Nathan’s point. And if you do, I wish you luck. Because it will require the combined ninja skills of Karl Rove, Garry Kasparov, and Keyser Soze to implement it.
Read more from Doug on his personal blog, Laid-Off Dad.
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