Why We Should Embrace the “Extreme Parenting” title

Why We Should Embrace the “Extreme Parenting” title


Probably before, but ever since Time Magazine’s “Mom Enough” cover came out, people have been labeling parenting practices that are similar to or in alignment with “attachment parenting” as extreme. Most of us laughed it off because there was a clear disconnect between what the families’ lives were actually like in these “extreme parenting” scenarios and what society thought went on in their homes. It was (and still is) such a foreign concept to so many Americans, that the general public can only make an assumption based off how it is portrayed by journalists and other media who are ignorant on the topic. So, as “AP parents” most of us have let it all go without further explanation.

However, I’m starting to change my mind about the title. I don’t think it has to be seen as negative.


Confusion with terms given by the media

One of my friends from the Ventura County Nursing Mother’s group made a comment about the “extreme parenting” title we had just received.

She questioned why it was wrong. “Maybe being extreme isn’t so bad. Our country loves ‘extreme sports’ and considers it heroic when one pushes boundaries and labels it ‘extreme’ in a positive way.”

I had always taken the label of “extreme parenting” from the media as a similar label they give to groups like “Muslim extremists” (essentially a risk to society). But it dawned on me, “Muslim extremists” aren’t really Muslim. Just as Westboro Baptist Church members aren’t really Christian. The media’s impression of attachment parenting – “breastfeeding children until they are teenagers” or “physically forcing unwilling children to co-sleep for the mother’s own narcissistic fulfillment” (again, dad is never blamed or mentioned, because in media defined AP, he doesn’t exist except to be the subservient member of the household). Anyway, the media’s portrayal of “extreme parenting” – that’s not parenting, I would say that meets the definition of abuse.

As any “AP” parent knows, the misinformed public portrayal of “extreme AP parenting” is the antithesis to how AP families are actually raising their children.


A history of embracing unflattering labels

The word “christian” had an unfavorable start. In 45 CE, the followers of Jesus were very present in Antioch. During this time, people in opposition or who were not followers of “the Way” used the Greek word Christianos (Christian) to describe Christians (or followers of Christ). “ianos” was used to describe a slave of the name connected with it.

The label was attempting to be derogatory, but the people following “the Way” ended up using the word to describe themselves because they would like to emulate their true master (but by no means considered themselves a slave to Christ). When followers of Jesus embraced the term “Christian”, the label lost its power to be derogatory.


What is positive about being an extreme parent?

Being an extremist isn’t wrong when spoken about in the right context.

Martin Luther King. Jr once said, “The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

If we are to truly embrace a label that was inappropriately given to us by a misinformed society, then we should try to embrace and live up to what could be the positive ideal for the term.

As extreme parents (and this includes almost all parents, and definitely surpasses the AP label) we are extreme because:

  • We fight against social constructs that attempt to shame us into one-size-fits-all parenting.
  • We parent without apology.
  • We support the right to parent in all healthy ways that differ from our own style of parenting.
  • We encourage creativity and individuality of our children and one another.
  • We defy social constructs by parenting for not only our child’s individual needs, but the unique needs of our family as a whole.
  • We see how parenting to the best of our ability touches on all human rights, not just the human rights issues we encounter in parenting.
  • We listen to criticism with a hearing ear, and sift through ignorance and productive criticism while doing our best to not take it personally.
  • We understand that parenting is personal, unique, and evolving.
  • We embrace and accept the parenting practices of all cultures, while not glorifying or vilifying any particular culture or region.
  • With respect, we observe and engage with our global community. We learn from one another and change to evolve our parenting styles and practices into the best it can be from the knowledge we have gathered from past and present. We understand that by doing this, we are setting the foundation for our own children to improve on parenting by taking from us, and also learning from one another.

If you look to our current trends and outlook on parenting, the above ideas are most certainly extreme.

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Write a comment
  1. Jezzy 23 April, 2013, 18:01

    Love this post. We need to show how important this is as more and more our parental rights are being taken away. See this article about homeschooling in Sweden. I was horrified.


    Even though homeschooling isn’t my choice, it is my cousins choice for her children and I will fight to defend any parental choice which shows positive outcomes for the child.

    Reply this comment
  2. Lara (australia) 30 April, 2013, 22:20

    Too many labels these days.
    Who are we (or anyone) to judge another.
    All anyone needs to do is their very best in their own home, in their own skin, and stop looking outside of themselves to worry or judge another about how they parent.

    To label and judge someone just takes us out of the “present” moment and outside of our own life.

    But most importantly, you have to look inside the lives of the people you would be concerned about labeling and judging you, to see that their life is a complete mess unfortunately!

    Diversity is beautiful, and there are many paths, not just one way.
    So celebrate how you parent, love what you do, and love what others do – it’s the only way we can appreciate each other as a humanity.

    What another persons view or opinion of me is none of my business, and I’m sticking to that!

    ps… you are a beautiful mama xox

    Reply this comment
  3. elizabeth 28 August, 2013, 12:59

    I just found your blog, and I love it. What great topics, mindful insight, and lovely perspective on modern parenting. Thank you for creating such a wonderful blog!

    Reply this comment
  4. Elizabeth Russinko 26 November, 2013, 12:50

    What a beautiful and inspiring piece! This brought me to tears because it resonated with me so deeply. Your list defines so much of how I feel about parenting. THANK YOU for the work you are doing, it is truly inspiring.

    Reply this comment
  5. Samantha G 20 January, 2014, 21:18

    I love reading your post. Some days I let others make me feel a little down about the way I am parenting and then I buck up and remember this is how I feel I am giving my children the right foundation to be the best adult they can be. Not just to grow up and live but to understand each step is a step that makes them who they are and that is one amazing person. I so enjoy reading your words and I do have to say again how beautiful your boys are. Just amazing smiles and the love shines through them.

    Reply this comment

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