Friday, May 11, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1808: Time Magazine's
Breast Feeding, Dr. William Sears, and Attachment Parenting
Controversy - Shows Emotional Dissonance at Best

Jamie Lynn Gromet is shown here with her son of almost four years on the cover of the current issue of Time Magazine. The cover story is about "Attachment Parenting" which among other principles advocates "co-sleeping", breast feeding children to a greater age than many are accustomed, feeding with love and respect, responding with sensitivity, providing constant loving care and using a nurturing touch.

Clearly this particular photograph was chosen for its shock value in an effort to increase readership - but the body language in this image is not consistent with the principles of attachment parenting. Ms. Gromet is displaying significant emotional dissonance - e.g. "I'm doing this because I HAVE to ...", "I'M the alpha, is that CLEAR?", "What's YOUR problem?", etc. Her son is also significantly non-affectionate.

While her left hand has good palmar touch to her child's back - certainly a signal of some affection, Ms. Gromet's right hand is akimboed in a thumbs-backward fashion on her hip. Particularly in this context, this overly-strong alpha nonverbal does not engender boding with children (or adults) - on the contrary, it is a rapport and bonding destroyer. It will not calm a child - it will not even create feelings of tolerance. This arm/hand gesture will raise the respiration and heart rate of children and promote anxiety. A thumb-forward akimbo transmits completely different emotions - that of trust and fostering emotions and in some contexts quizzical. Thumb-forward akimbo is therefore very commonly seen in teachers and parents on the playground.

See also: Secret # 33: Thumbs Forward Arms Akimbo

The lack of any arm-hand contact by the little boy is also conspicuous. It is distancing and off-putting. It makes us feel uncomfortable. Any parent-child bond (or any loving relationship) should be reciprocated - not because it is cognitively driven - but because it is emotional.

See also:

Secret # 2: Blake Lively & Penn Badgley - Hugs as a measure of Affection - Impending Break-up

Secret # 771: Ann's & Mitt's Affectionate Hug

Secret # 105: Parental Affection and Love

Another strong signal of affection is tilting of one's head - leaning towards the one we love. This is true at any age, between parent and child ... or between lovers. No head/neck tilting here. Hmmm...
Jamie Gromet should also be wearing a face of peace and joy. Not only do we not see any evidence of a sincere smile - or even a social smile - but incredibly, she has a subtle display of contempt! Why?

See also:

Secret # 101: Contempt Doesn't Sell

Analysis # 1696: George Zimmerman's Testimony - Fear, Incredulity, Regret & Contempt

Analysis # 1407: Auboni-Champion Morin - Reunited with Son after 8 years - Microexpression of Contempt

When there is true affection and/or respect, an embrace is marked by a pointing of the feet, the hips, the shoulders and the face towards each other. In this example, the two are turned askew. This body language is also significantly less consistent of sincere affection.

See also: Secret # 39: Affectionate vs. Non-Affectionate Hug

Whether a mother practices or is familiar with attachment parenting or not, affection should be natural between any loving parent and child. Dr.William Sears and his followers place extra emphasis on this premise - thus it is inconsistent that both mother and child here are not looking at each other, but the camera instead. Eye contact promotes and is symptomatic of bonding, affection, love, good parenting and nurturing (friendship and romance as well). Where is the eye contact? There is none.

See also: Secret # 335: What does "Eye Contact" really mean?

Any nurturing, loving or bonding here, is not about us - it's about THEM. Time magazine makes Ms. Gromet looks task-oriented and bitter - rather than a young mother driven by love, affection and the maternal bond. Consequently a loving act is made to look perfunctory and cold. Where is the warmth?