Attachment Parenting Reality TV? Really?

A few weeks ago, I agreed to talk to someone from a production company that I had never heard of, about a “documentary” project about parenting. In fact, my mother-in-law Judy had already suggested that if I could somehow participate in a more honest project, it might help me feel better after the disappointment of that useless Good Morning America segment. That’s what I was thinking about when I answered my phone, knowing almost nothing about the project.

God has a sense of humor. The “interviewer” was looking for an Attachment Parenting family for a reality TV show with a “documentary style.” Obviously, I knew from the get-go that I did not want to be on reality television. Nor did I believe for a minute that any reality TV show would be similar to any documentary that I would want to watch. I spoke to a perfectly nice young woman about the details of how we implement the principles of Attachment Parenting in our family.

I found myself describing a pretty boring life, from a TV standpoint. How do we Attachment Parent? We let the baby tell us what to do for him. We’ve spent a lot of time with him, so we’re really getting the hang of figuring out which cry means what. We balance that by making sure we each get time for ourselves, when we’re “off duty.”

But here’s what made sure we’d be rejected for this project–it’s a question that still gives me an icky feeling: “What are your feelings about families who don’t parent the way you do?”

::groan::

I told her that I have been a child care provider for families of with just about every kind of “parenting style” (whatever that means) out there, and we are all just doing the best that we can. I have seen a young banker and step-mother in a Manhattan, Park Avenue apartment, near tears over the kids’ apparent lack of interest in showing her any affection in front of her new husband’s friends. I’ve seen a get-on-the-floor-and-play, hands-on, thrower of Pinterest-worthy birthday parties, mother of three actually break down in tears because another mom at a playgroup implied that this level of involvement indicates a Kindergarten-level of intelligence.

No one can shake your confidence in yourself to your very core like another mom. My friend with the talent for awesome birthday parties? She has a PhD. With one remark about the difference in their parenting styles, her friend managed to make her feel stupid.

What are my feelings about families who don’t parent the way I do? If you are not neglecting or abusing your children, I am giving you the benefit of the doubt. I assume that you are doing your darndest to raise your kids. I assume that you love them. I assume that how you parent is none of my darn business.

“That all sounds really great. I’m afraid you’re not ‘out-there’ enough for our show, but I wish you all the best.”

That statement followed my “we are all doing our best speech,” and that makes me feel two opposing emotions all at once: joy and anger. After GMA used me and my baby as examples of a “trend” that one of their anchors described as “kind of extreme,” I felt pretty freaking elated at being deemed too normal for television.

I’m also angry, because not only will this team find families willing to condemn each others’ parenting, but there will be an appetite for the reality television show that follows. I hope this never makes it to air. In case it does, I asked the nice lady on the phone to do something. I’m going to remind you to do this, too:

“Please, be kind to parents.”

7 Comments

  1. Bailey said:

    I feel the same way. I see statuses on FB about moms loosing their friends because they don’t agree with their attachment parenting method. It confuses the hell out of me! As long as you’re taking care of your child, and they’re nurturing them….isn’t that all that matters?

    April 13, 2013
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      Well, yes, because no one has ever been you or parented your child(ren)! So no one can know how to do it just right.

      April 13, 2013
      Reply
  2. story3girl said:

    We really are all doing our best. I think when we aren’t comfortable or confident with ourselves, we attack others (whether out loud or in our heads) because we secretly wonder if they are doing something we ought to be. Truthfully, none of us are getting it right all the time.

    April 13, 2013
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      I think that must be it. It happens when we feel like someone else is getting it right, and we know that *we* aren’t getting it right. There’s a cruel impulse to diminish whatever it is that triggered the insecure feelings–daycare, strollers, pacifiers, processed snacks, private school, public school, enrolling early or late, and all of it.

      April 13, 2013
      Reply
  3. Jessica Smock said:

    Congratulations on not being “out there” enough for reality TV! That’s a huge compliment… I can’t even imagine what the show is going to be like once they find what they’re looking for. I am so excited to have found your blog (through BlogHer Voices), and I think we have quite a bit in common. (I’m finishing up my PhD right now, and I’ve gone through a lot of the same struggles that you have. So pleased to “meet” you and your blog!

    April 13, 2013
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      That’s pretty much what I meant by “God has a sense of humor” – I thought I needed to be on TV in a better way to heal from the way GMA misrepresented my story. As it turns out, telling my story and having it rejected for TV was exactly what I needed!

      April 13, 2013
      Reply
  4. Jane said:

    “You’re not out-there enough.”

    That is everything that I hate about reality TV. I love shows where I feel like I’m seeing real people – and it used to be, once in a while, you’d just see real people who happen to have crazy jobs or crazy situations on TV, but they didn’t try to maximize the campiness. Not anymore.

    I love this post, and your parenting philosophy is one we could all benefit from. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make for good TV because there’s no drama if we’re all kind to each other! :P

    April 30, 2013
    Reply

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