By Mandy McCarty Harris of Happy Like This
Researchers at the newly established Willow Branch Homeschool University recently published a study revealing that wearing your children into early adulthood provides the most valuable opportunity for parent/child bonding.
Willow Branch Homeschool University founder, parent, sole faculty, and lead researcher, JoJo Branch, began wearing her daughter, Willow, immediately after birth. At the time, the tight-knit farmer’s market community where JoJo sells her homemade granola was teeming with babywearing parents, but as the children aged, the babywearing declined. Much to Branch’s dismay, most children were primarily walking on their own by age four.
Branch’s keen social awareness alerted her to the fact that nearly all parents completely abandoned babywearing by the time their children entered kindergarten, but Branch was having none of that. “I’ve never really been mainstream and I wasn’t about to start just because the public school system discouraged childwearing parents from attending class with their children. So, I decided to homeschool and continue wearing Willow until our childwearing preferences came to a natural end.”
12 years later, JoJo and Willow Branch were wrapping up their homeschool years with a visit to a local liberal arts college. The campus tour was extensive and required lots of walking, but luckily JoJo had brought along her favorite cotton wrap and was able to wear Willow through the last few stops on the tour.
When asked how she feels about being worn for 18 years, Willow answered, “Sometimes I don’t feel like walking and Mom just does the work for me, so that’s nice. And there’s always crunchy granola in the shoulder pocket of the carrier in case I’m feeling snacky.”
Things were looking hopeful for Willow’s college admissions until JoJo inquired about parents living in the dormitory as emotional support wearers. She was told that university policy prohibited such a practice and that, while there were no specific requirements, students usually attended college without their parents.
“Even when I explained to the campus housing office that Willow and I co-sleep, they still required that we each pay room and board. Can you even believe that?”
It was then that JoJo decided to establish Willow Branch Homeschool University where she and Willow could maintain their close relationship and continue childwearing and co-sleeping while working through college level curriculum. The legalities of the university are questionable and, so far, Willow is the only student, but the selection for their first research project was a natural one.
In the study, JoJo and Willow Branch cite 18 years of personal experience as their main source of data but reference a few wayward children of old farmer’s market friends who were only worn through toddlerhood as cautionary evidence of dropping the practice too soon. The study has been criticized by professionals for its limited case study, lack of scientific data, and biased interpretation of results, but the Branches stand behind their study.
Well, JoJo stands. Willow hangs comfortably on her mother’s back.
The incomplete findings of the study can be found on JoJo’s personal blog
About the Author
Mandy lives happily in Northwest Arkansas with her husband, toddler daughter, two old dogs, and seven backyard chickens. She’s a bit too hippie to be mainstream and a bit too mainstream to be hippie. She loves hiking, camping, gardening, reading, and writing about it all. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and at HappyLikeThis.com