One Family’s Experiment with Attachment Parenting

Erica Kain was committed to raising her children by the principles of attachment parenting. But she learned that it wasn't as easy as it seemed

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Erica Kain, in many ways, epitomizes the complexities of attachment parenting. She was committed to raising her children by the movement’s principles, even if she didn’t call herself an “attachment parent” or obsess over The Baby Book by Dr. Bill Sears. “With Dr. Sears, you don’t have to have read the book,” says Kain. “It’s ubiquitous. If you Google a question about breastfeeding, up come the articles by Dr. Sears.”

Before she had children of her own, Kain had planned to embrace natural childbirth, breastfeed, sleep in bed with her babies and “wear” them as much as possible. A resident of the Bay Area, she felt great cultural and peer pressure to parent this way. But a difficult first pregnancy, a traumatic birth and realities of parenting multiple kids with their own preferences forced Kain to readjust her expectations. “Motherhood is hard enough without all these ideals hammered into you,” she says.

Photographer Timothy Archibald spent two days with Erica Kain, her husband Richard, and their three children, Amelia, 6; Genevieve, 4; and Caroline, 2. Kain talked to staff writer Kate Pickert.

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