The Ideal v. The Real

Kim and her daughter Lydia

I was reading over some of the articles I’ve written for this website, and I realize I failed to communicate one important point:  Attachment parenting is based on an ideal, but no parent can meet this ideal at all times, every day, at every point in life.

Life is hard sometimes.  Parents are human.  We come to parenting with a set of strengths and weaknesses, and no matter our ideals, we fall short.  This keeps us humble and seeking the wisdom of others.

What you’ll find in the articles on this website are descriptions of the ideal, but never walk away with the idea that the CAPC writers (especially me!) live up to the ideal all the time.  Because of our failures, we have humility and compassion for all parents on this wonderful parenting journey.

I also find it fascinating to learn about the various ways parents live out their attachment parenting journey.  There isn’t a list of things you need to do to belong to the “AP Club”, especially here at CAPC.  I am hoping you’ll find support and encouragement on your journey, not a first class ticket to a guilt trip.

I was once at a homeschooling conference when my Claire was a few months old.  I’d been carrying her around in a sling all day and my back was killing me.  So I put her in her stroller and she napped while I shopped in the vendor hall.  I pushed her around while she snoozed.  A woman approached me and said, “You know that baby would be much happier if you held her.”  Yep, that’s right.  Now, little did she know I had been carrying her all day and my back needed a break. (Babies are heavy, people!)  Her judgment really hurt.  She was presumptuous and a behaved inappropriately, but it still hurt.

That experience stays with me.  I hope nobody on these pages ever hurts you in the same way.  We have no idea what families or moms might be experiencing or why they make the choices they do.  While we must seek judgment and wisdom in parenting our own children, we must avoid being judgmental about the choices of others especially when we don’t know them or their circumstances.  Now, I’m not a relativist.  I believe some choices are better than others.  But sometimes there are real gray areas when discussions get interesting and enlightening if we open our hearts and our ears.  Love those moments!

Mamas and Papas, have a beautiful, joyful Sunday with those babies of yours.



  1. I agree and disagree. We all fail sometimes! BUT- we cannot let ourselves get *comfortable* in our failures, and always need to try and improve. Sometimes pointing someone’s failures out (in a loving way) can give them the motivation they need to change. I don’t think it’s bad to make a person feel guilty. Guilt happens when your actions have not lined up with your morals and values. So if you feel guilt, it means you have done something wrong. And we need to acknowledge this! Now, sometimes we know circumstances surrounding things that others dont. In this case, if we know we were right, their comments should not invoke guilt in the first place, so it shouldn’t matter. My husband often makes comments to me when I parent badly. It helps me want to change and do better. So, I feel we need to remember to help correct each other, but also be forgiving and understanding when we or others do fail. Just because we are imperfect doesn’t mean we can stop trying to be holy. And I think people often cross that line and tell people they have no right to “judge”. Judging, as in condemning, is wrong, but admonishing is our Catholic duty to our brothers and sisters.

  2. Thanks for mentioning this, Kim. This part so resonated with me:

    >>No parent can meet this ideal at all times, every day, at every point in life.

    So many of the anti-AP post on the web (especially after that Times article) talk about how AP puts too much stress and guilt on mothers. I think that is very possible in a style that asks much of mothers, but we can help mitigate that by reminding mommies and daddies that perfection is NOT necessary and we should give ourselves the same grace we are giving our children!

  3. Thanks for mentioning this, Kim! I agree that it is important to address both the ideal, and the real. While the ideal is hoped for, it is important to have examples of those very real moments as a way to support each other when they pop-up! Thanks for sharing your experience with judgement, I think we’ve all been there a few times. It is helpful to know that others are experiencing similar comments, and that we’re not alone.

Leave a Reply