Some of us who evangelize Attachment Parenting have sinned. We too quickly villify all parents who spank as angry or cold or heartless.
In reality, human experience can’t really be summed up into neat ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ categories. I’m not one to say that all moral issues are simply relative to their culture, nor am I saying that my definition of right and wrong should be legislated onto the masses. But using inflammatory rhetoric to further polarize people is useless. What’s more, it actually hinders any meaningful or productive conversation.
In the abortion debate, we call all pro-choice voters or sympathizers baby-killers. Which is a far cry from the truth: people who vote pro-choice do so because they disagree with pro-life voters about when life as a human begins. We know that the ‘life cycle’ starts at conception, but we disagree about when the spark, the essence of personhood, is passed into physical flesh. Instead, baby-killer.
I have recently (over the past year or two) come to be aware that birth control pills have a secondary mechanism that inhibits an already fertilized egg from implanting. I am not ok with that. I think that once an egg is fertilized is too late to prevent or end a pregnancy. But I was on the pill for 8 years before I knew anything about this secondary mechanism. Does that make me a baby-killer?
If, at any time while I was on the pill, you had walked up to me and called me a baby-killer then tried to inform me of the pill’s effects on an already fertilized egg, I’d have written you off as a nutjob and never thought twice of the encounter. Because name-calling, and other inflammatory tactics, do not help a discussion or help people to learn.
So why then do we insist on dividing parents into ‘spankers’ (i.e. heartless, angry monsters) and ‘permissive’ (children in control)? There is just no way to divide up all of parenting and discipline into those two (or any two) categories. It doesn’t work that way. Life doesn’t work that way. But we insist.
We insist because parenting is vulnerability. Our decisions are judged by (potentially) everyone we or our children encounter. What’s more, most of us are trying to create something completely new, while simultaneously put the new theory into action, and we’re doing it in front of everyone. Most of us are changing some things that our parents did. Most of us are incorporating a spouse’s background and opinions. Plus, we’re reacting to a dynamic human being who has his or her own opinions. Especially on our first ride, we’re making it up as we go along. The parents who did things we didn’t like? WATCHING. The moms who are doing things a different way? WATCHING. People who may one day become parents? WATCHING.
So we draw lines in the sand. Even if I do it wrong, at least I’m on the right side. Even if my child isn’t a poster child for my parenting style, at least I’m playing for the right team. That sounds like pride to me. And insecurity. Both things I could do with a little less of in my life.