“Reparenting” with bottlefeeding [Photo: Orange County Register]
Re-Parenting methods are a subtext of both Attachment Therapy and Therapeutic Parenting. Practitioners treat a child of any age as an infant. This includes:
• hand-feeding solid foods
• bottle-feeding liquids
• wearing diapers
• lying in or across the mother’s lap, and for lengthy periods of time
• while in the mother’s lap, requiring the child to gaze lovingly into the mother“s eyes
• making all decisions for the child
• requiring the child be within a few feet of the mother for hours on end, sometimes even tethering the child with clothesline or a belt
• speaking only baby-talk to the child
• prohibiting the child from speaking, except to make urgent requests of the mother
• requiring that the child request permission for everything from the mother
• allowing the child to play only in plain sight of the mother, and then only with baby toys
• keeping the child out of school
All these are even used on teenagers.
Reparenting is often done immediately after a child has undergone hours of holding therapy (which in this context is euphemistically called cuddle time). AT relies upon the child being emotionally, and physically, exhausted from struggling during cuddle time, and unable to resist further. Then the child can learn from the reparenting experience that it “isn’t so bad,” to let the parent take care of them!
These are adaptations of controversial practices introduced by the late Jackie Schiff (All My Children), who had been at the center of a violent therapeutic cult stretching back to the 1970s. They are farcical attempts to “re-do” early developmental stages until the child “gets it right.” No cognizance is given as to how such practices strip a child of his or her dignity and self-respect. Indeed, AT practitioners seem to think that children appreciate and even like this type of treatment. One practitioner exults, “They lap it up!”
All of this is contradicted by what is known about child development. Developmental stages almost never can be redone. Humiliation is rarely, if ever, therapeutic. Moreover, it hinders healthy development in whatever stage a child may actually be in. So re-parenting has no other outcome than emotional abuse.