The 2000s: The Decade of Attachment Parenting, Hipster Parenting, Celebrity Babies and Free Range Kids

BlogHer Original Post

We entered the 2000s on the heels of 1999's MILF phenomenon. Suddenly, Stifler's mom reframed "mommy" for better and for worse. "For better" because childbearing doesn't necessarily mean a downward spiral into pleated-front jeans and large cotton underwear, and "for worse" because nobody wants to hear how fast the latest celebrity lost her baby weight. (Heidi Klum, I'm happy for you. Now stop. Just stop.)

Speaking of the stretch-mark-less Klum, I think it's safe to say that last decade was the Decade of the Celebrity Mommy. In 2002, Angelina Jolie adopted her son Maddox, and by 2009 Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie owned the airwaves with their ever-increasing brood while their fellow A-listers stopped considering motherhood and stardom to be mutually exclusive. Britney Spears and Kevin Federline had two sons in rapid succession, and the world watched in 2008 as Britney barricaded herself in her bathroom with her youngest son during her very public struggle with mental illness. Babies replaced lap dogs under the arms of what seemed like every celebrity, and the tabloid media began following the antics of not the celebrities themselves, but their children.

Suri Cruise Knows How To Make Her Own Fun!

In 2000, Baby Einstein was sweeping the nation as parents worried little Collin wouldn't get into Harvard if he didn't listen to the right classics while Mommy made breakfast. (In 2009, the Walt Disney Company, which had since bought the incredibly successful start-up, offered a refund on Baby Einstein videos, bringing the decade -- and the hysteria -- full-circle.)

Refund Offered For Popular Baby Einstein Videos For Children

Dr. William and Martha Sears' attachment parenting theory exploded onto the scene in 2001 with the publication of The Attachment Parenting Book. Attachment parenting condoned co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling and attention paid to organic and natural foods.

Breast Feeding

Some, like PhD in Parenting, really connect with the tenets of attachment parenting.

Attachment parenting for me means that my child’s needs and my relationship with my child are the first considerations in any parenting decision I make. It isn’t easy to put my child’s needs and my relationship with my child first all of the time. However, I see it as an investment in the future.

For some, attachment parenting -- or rather, attachment parenting evangelists -- were really annoying. In 2008, Dr. Heather at babyshrink wrote:

The problem I have with AP is that it’s adherents often tend to be quite orthodox in their beliefs. I myself have been sternly lectured for simply using a stroller (as opposed to “baby-wearing”, another AP belief), as well as for using a bottle to feed my baby in public. Of course, this is the opposite of the intolerant demagogues who criticize breastfeeding in public — it’s their shared judgmental strictness that bothers me most.

In 2007 Neal Pollack published Alternadad, which along with a slew of similar books pushed hipster parenting -- along with its ironic onesies, leather diaper bags, pierced parents and more than a few blogs -- into the spotlight.

Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale take the kids to Winter Wonderland fairground in Hyde Park for a bit of fun

Rebecca Woolf of Girls Gone Child responded to a New York Times article bashing hipster parents:

Maybe “moshing” doesn’t have to end. I believe that a mother can still enjoy a night of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Polyphonic Spree. A dad can rock out on his guitar while his kids drum empty boxes beside him. Everything doesn’t have to be so literal. So serious. So anti. “This” isn’t a generational rebellion. It’s a lifestyle. Which is why it’s so interesting to see our actions frowned upon by middle-aged men who were never interested in “moshing” to begin with. Who have instead decided to label us as something that isn’t so different from what our parents were.

Carl Honore wrote several books in the mid-to-late 2000s about what he called "slow parenting." Lenore Skenazy came out with her book Free Range Kids in 2009, effectively sticking a pitchfork in the hyperparenting frenzy that had been building for the past several years.

Bath Bliss

Gina Carroll wrote in her post on BlogHer about the helicopters landing, saying:

Still, more parents are reaching the conclusion that their over-involvement may be doing more harm than good for their children. More of us are coming to terms with the reality that children, teens and young adults can only be so safe and so prepared. We must let them live their own lives.

Where are we now and what can we expect in the next ten years? My prediction: more parenting trends. I had my daughter in 2004, when co-sleeping versus Ferberization was still under debate and Supernanny was preparing to break onto the U.S. airwaves. News about how to parent was everywhere and I, new mother that I was, had antennae for ears trying to take in all the advice.

New mothers scared to trust their own instincts are not going to go away, and parenting trend-setters capitalize on that fear. My hope for the next decade? The trends will niche out so much that the overall message becomes: Do what works for you and your family.

Of course, it's hard to market that.

Rita Arens writes at Surrender Dorothy and BlogHer and is the editor of Sleep is for the Weak. She is BlogHer's assignment and syndication editor.


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