Gift Economy or Resource Based Economy = Attachment Economy?

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Have you ever noticed how much more stressed you feel doing bills, compared with cuddling with your children, or with someone else you love?

My new theory is that doing bills, is to gift economy transactions, as cry-it-out parenting, is to attachment parenting.  Doing bills and cry-it-out parenting involve separation and conditional giving, whereas attachment parenting and gift economies generally involve closeness and unconditional giving.  (Note: I see a “resource based economy,” which I’ve referred to much on this site, as one type of gift economy.)

I’m a big fan of attachment parenting, and a growing fan of gift economy solutions generally as well.  I say “gift economy solutions generally,” because arguably an attachment parenting family is a miniature gift economy.

Attachment parenting involves unconditionally meeting babies’ and/or children’s intense needs for closeness, responsiveness, touch, nourishment, etc., with full-term breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, etc..

For some indication of the vast array of scientifically proven benefits from attachment parenting, for children and parents alike, check out my site, “The Science of Parenting,” by Margot Sunderland, “The Attachment Parenting Book,” by Dr. William Sears and co-author, and “Sleeping with Your Baby,” by Dr. James McKenna.

But really, in both attachment parenting families and wider gift economies, we give unconditionally (and experience resulting closeness).

We trust that when human beings have their needs met unconditionally, they naturally ascend Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, landing at the top, stress-free and full of the highest possible ability and enthusiasm about contributing to others.  And this trust isn’t just wishful thinking, but has scientific backing.  We do better, both individually and in terms of innovative contribution, when our needs are met by design rather than contingently, and we collaborate closely and synergistically, rather than compete as separate individuals or units.  To understand the rigorous scientific support for this statement, see the books “No Contest” and “Punished by Rewards,” both by Alfie Kohn and “Drive” by Dan Pink.

So sign me up, for an “attachment economy,” a “gift economy,” a “resource based economy,” or whatever else we want to call it.  The bottom line is that  I want to live like family with you all, with unconditional giving and closeness.  Hopefully you do too, and we’ll all get there soon, even if it starts with just small groups of us creating communities that reflect these values.  Here’s to that, to you, and to us!

By Tiffany Clark, an attorney working and living in Sacramento, CA, with her beloved husband, two sons, cat and dog. You can find out more about Tiffany at


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