Little remarks like, "And [sic] she breastfeeds, and will continue to do so until such time that her child opts to swap breast for sippy cup. Or maybe just a regular drinking glass." made in the article speak to the underlying misconceptions people have about what is generally called attachment parenting (AKA intuitive parenting, responsive parenting, peaceful parenting, gentle parenting and several other monikers, too, no doubt).
A good friend of mine and the co-leader of the local group I run for attachment minded families often says, "Attachment parenting isn't about not saying no, it's about saying no with compassion." and she is so, so right. One need only read the comments on the article linked above to see what a bad rap us gentle parents get from un/misinformed individuals. People are sure we're insane and so permissive that we're totally ruining our children. One person goes so far as to comment, "Children need to be told No [sic], often and firmly." Wow, I'd hate to be that person's kid... And for the record, permissive parenting is something altogether different from attachment parenting. That's why one is called attachment parenting and the other is called permissive parenting.
Being AP isn't about keeping to a set of actions that are required from some list in a book or on a website, as the media has been making it out to be. Sure, there are things which are known to assist in fostering healthy attachment, such as Attachment Parenting International's principles or Dr. Sears' Baby B's but all the focus on the actions - particularly breastfeeding, babywearing and close sleeping - is missing the bigger picture. To be AP, you don't have to do all or even most of these things, necessarily. Attachment parenting isn't about things or actions at all, it's about feelings and connection. It's about understanding and empathy. It's about the fact that children are people, too and are worthy of just as much respect, love and understanding (in my opinion much more, actually) than any adult. It's about imagining what it must be like to be a child and remembering how things made you feel when you were little. It's about remembering that children have a very smal frame of reference for life experience and hardship coupled with immature emotional processing capabilities and a very small set of coping mechanisms. It's about understanding that children look to you for guidance. It's about treating your child as an individual with specialized needs and desires, with feelings and dreams, with a strong desire to please you and not abusing your position of power in their lives. It's about setting an example for your child of the kind of person you want them to be.
I want my child(ren) to grow up to be loving, sympathetic, empathetic, generous, kind, gentle, compassionate, motivated, cooperative, easy-going, accommodating, soft-tempered, thoughtful and friendly. Since they'll be watching me and their father more closely than anyone else in their lives for cues and examples of what kind of person to be, I must deal with them and with others in my life using those virtues if I want them to do the same.
Being a gentle parent means welcoming a child as they are without pushing them to the next stage. Children are dependent because they're children, not because they need to be forced into independence. Dependence begets independence. It's a natural and instinctive drive in all species to become independent, it's just that humans take longer than any other species to do it. When a child is allowed to be dependent and not pushed or prodded toward independence, this inherent drive will manifest and unfold slowly over time. When children's dependency needs are met, they feel safe and secure to venture forth more and more independently.
What's more, no one is truly independent. We all lean on one another for various things because the nature of our species is to be communal. As adults, we turn to others for support in times of need and we should teach our children that seeking out support (physical, emotional, spiritual, at work, at home, with friends, etc.) is healthy, normal, effective and positive. If people were more willing/able to say what they need, express their feelings and needs in a healthy way and ask for help, the world would be better, not worse, for it. Emotionally connected children who know their feelings and needs are important to their parents (even when the answer is no) are better able to accept and work through disappointment and be resilient, they are better at expressing themselves in healthy ways, they are happier, they have fewer behaviour problems and they grow into empathetic, emotionally stable, well-adjusted adults.
"I believe in radical acceptance, respect and equality for children. Anything else is assuming they are not yet human beings." -Sharon W. Allison
"The first thing you have to do if you want to raise nice kids, is you have to talk to them like they are people instead of talking to them like they're property." -Frank Zappa
"Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff." ~Catherine M. Wallace