Dear Production Team of Loose Women,
I am writing you this letter today in response to your section yesterday about the Pack Pony baby wearing mothers which you spoke about in response to the original article from the Daily Mail.
You will notice that I haven’t addressed this letter to anyone specific. That is because I decided to put as much research into finding out who runs your show as you did to find out what being a baby wearing parent means.
I first came across this piece via your Facebook page where you asked the question:
“THE RISE OF THE ‘PACK PONY’ MUMS!
More mums are now following the ‘toddler wearing’ trend by strapping their two, three and even four-year-olds to them with slings and not letting them walk by themselves.
Is this too extreme? Do we try and keep our children too dependent on us? What age should parents stop carry children, co-sleeping and bathing with them?”
This alone was enough to rile me up. Firstly, comparing mothers to a pack pony? Why? That is a very rude and insensitive term and really not needed. Secondly, “trend”? What is it with that word? People have been babywearing for YEARS! It is by no means a trend in the sense I get the feeling you are referring to it as (ie something that is “in fashion”). OK it may not be the ‘norm’ but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
I really do not understand why carrying a two, three, four year old is such a big deal that you need to do a whole segment on it? Fair enough if you were going to do an informative, positive piece aimed at encouraging mother’s to baby wear, or even just portray a different way of parenting that some might not have considered? But to ridicule the mothers who took part in this article? Just not needed.
The way baby wearing was spoken about by your presenters was quite frankly shocking. I get that they are there to express an opinion but to be honest, does it mean anything if you have no actual experience of what you are talking about?
To hear the mum who’s picture was shown on the screen described as a “door-mat mum” who is doing this for her “own needs” because she “can’t let go” was quite frankly shocking. To then hear it compared to a mother “insisting on breastfeeding” a 6 year just dumbfounded me – I really don’t know what that has to do with anything? To say that baby wearing wasn’t needed because we now had mod-cons like expensive buggies is ridiculous – it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. I own a sling and buggy and use them both depending on the situation. Nothing was mentioned about the fact the mum in question said she carried her four year old maybe one or twice a week for short periods of time when she simply got to tired to walk. It was implied that a child of that age will lack certain social and developmental skills needed for school due to being carried! Then of course there was the mention of “worrying for her back”.
I completely understand that you feature things like this for the very reason that you want people to talk about it. I am playing right into your hands by even writing this post. But I couldn’t let it go. I’m all for debate. But a debate is letting people from both sides have their say. It’s not asking a question like the above which is very clearly one sided and negative, or discussing an article with people who have no experience in what they’re discussing. Phrases like “not letting”, “too extreme” and “too dependant” need to stop being bandied about with no thought to who you are aiming them at. Who’s business is it to decide when a child is “ready” to stop being carried? I have seen a lot of comments stating that there are often reasons why a child is carried for longer – because they have a disability or enhanced sensory needs. But if I’m honest, there doesn’t need to be a “reason”. My child has none of the above but we baby wear because we enjoy it. Because it suits us. Because we want to. Because we CAN!
The comparison at the end to co-sleeping and sharing a bath also really pissed me off, as did the mention of extended breastfeeding in the show. As if by default these things are also “wrong” past a certain date. I felt like every time attachment parenting was mentioned they should have used air quotes as if it’s not a real thing. And don’t get me started on the use of the phrase “each to their own”. Every time that was muttered it just made it sound like they were saying the practice of baby wearing wasn’t right.
The thing that annoys me about this is the implication that any or all of these things are wrong. As I said earlier on my facebook page, this has been approached in completely the wrong way. Why not have a mum or dad who has experience of baby wearing on the show to answer questions, alongside an expert to emphasis the benefits of babywearing. Why not give the babywearing community an opportunity to have their say? I’m not going to write the benefits of babywearing because that isn’t even what this is about to me. Mrs Lighty over at All Things Spliced has written an excellent post on busting the myths of babywearing though. I’m no expert, I’m just someone who has chosen to do this. For me, this is about choice.
Even if you didn’t want to feature an expert, why not portray it in a way that it’s just another parenting choice? Just like breastfeeding, co-sleeping, cloth nappies, dummies, bottles, gender-neutral clothing, piercing ears, homeschooling – they’re all CHOICES which every parent have.
So, to the production team at Loose Women, well done. Well done on getting people to talk about your show. I guess, at the end of the day that is your job. However, maybe next time don’t let it be at the expenses of a perfectly acceptable parenting choice. I choose to do what suits me and my child. I don’t force him to do something he doesn’t want to. I feel like had you had ANYONE on your production team or presenting team that had tried baby wearing, this could have turned out a lot different.
As it is, you’ve just managed to piss off a entire community of parents. So well done.
If you ever want to see a child who has been carried regularly since he was 4 weeks old, but still manages to walk, run, and act independently, come and meet Alfie. I challenge you to try and make him do anything he doesn’t want to (although I will give you a high five if you manage to get him to eat his vegetables).
Next time you want to feature a different aspects if parenting, maybe seek the opinions of people who have actually done it first.
A Proud Baby Wearing Mama
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