One of my pet peeves is books (and people) that make new mothers feel guilty. I don’t care if they’re the sleep training books or the natural parenting books. They all have one motive: selling books to unsure new mothers. I Blame The Patriarchy.
Seriously. There are a zillion ways to raise a child. The different ways of raising may turn out different children, but different is not bad.
You’re not going to fail your child if you don’t follow some stupid book to the letter. Most of these books are steeped in Western cultural influence from only the last 200 years or so. Babies were brought up differently (and are brought up differently all over the world) before many of these ideas were invented.
I am hardcore AP. That does not mean I follow Dr. Sears to the letter or don’t roll my eyes when he admonishes working mothers for not being attached to their babies. That means I trust my instincts. I take what I want from the parenting techniques I see, and, on occasion read about, and I don’t try to force something if it isn’t working. It amazed me how my newborn’s cry sent me into a tizzy, but my toddler’s cry was just mildly annoying. There’s an evolutionary reason for that. My child no longer needed to be picked up right away when I didn’t feel the need to pick him up right away. The mother-child dyad really does exist.
A related pet peeve is when people insist the the most difficult route is the one that must be taken at any point in time. That CIO is hard, but if you fail to plug your ears and do it you’re failing your child and (s)he’ll never sleep on his or her own. Or if you cosleep, (s)he’ll be in your bed until high school (or conversely, if you’re not attached to your baby 24-7 (s)he’ll develop an attachment disorder). We were the laziest parents on the face of the planet. We ALWAYS took the easiest route for us with every parenting decision, from sleeping to eating to discipline to potty training and whatever else we were doing. And our sweet well-behaved child puts himself to sleep, eats reasonably well (we’re still working on a large category of green foods, but Hungry Monkey has convinced me that these will come with time) and is generally practically perfect in every way. So are many of his classmates whose parents chose different paths.
Book recommendation: Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent. After reading this one, I got rid of all the other ones (well, not the Sears Baby Book— we still needed that for middle of the night fevers so we’d know if we needed to call a doctor). It’s a fantastically well-researched book that explains the anthropology, history, and other science behind baby rearing through time. It was wonderfully comforting– scientific proof for me to trust my instincts and do what was right for our family at this point of time in our cultural setting. Since there were many ways to do something, chances are I wasn’t screwing up too badly.
And looking at our child, I think we did ok.