Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sadly, Parenting Books CAN'T Actually Raise Your Child

This small child even thinks that letting a book raise your child would be stupid.

Ahhh.... the "I have on kid and they are about one and now I am an expert on everything and I know that my way is working swimmingly because my one year old is happy" parenting advice.  I just LOVE to HATE it!

I read an article by a mom like this yesterday in the Huffington Post.  I only found it because of this article by one of my top five favorite bloggers.  (She says not to get mad about stupid articles like this because it won't make us mad if we are doing what is right for our kids.  I think she is right, but I still HAVE to respond to the Huff Post article!  I can't help myself!)

So go read them both. 

Okay. 

So isn't that one in the Huff Post about Detachment parenting just hilarious/awful?!  Except....

Except I was the same way!  (Not in a "good thing I let my tiny infant self soothe and never see their father because they are asleep before he gets home from work" kind of way.)  Let me explain.

When I had my first baby I read Dr Sears' book, "The Baby Book" about parenting (attachment parenting to be exact) and I set off to do the same.  He was a harder sleeper.  Actually, he was probably pretty normal, I just didn't know what I was doing.  He had a touch of colic for a few months and it was difficult for me to stay sane, recover from a long birth, breastfeed constantly, and adjust to life as a non-wage earner. 

I was always going to be a breastfeeding, natural birth kinda woman.  But at some point I wanted to set that book on fire.  I wanted to get the matches when he (the baby) screamed for no reason even when I was nursing on cue my naturally born, co-sleeping, sling happy baby.  (You know- I was doing everything RIGHT!) 

I wanted to get out the gasoline and pour it on the "Baby Book" when he was one and I realized that when you sign up for co-sleeping you are in for the LONG HAUL and the baby may want to keep on going long after you (the parent) are done. 

Then I had my second baby. 

And I discovered Dr Harvey Karp and his 5 S's. 

And she slept BEAUTIFULLY. 

I couldn't wait to tell everybody how they too could have a perfect sleeper!!!!  Lucky for them I found the BOOK/DVD that could cure all parenting woes EVER. 

She slept for about 10 hours straight every night by the time she was two months old.  I didn't let her cry.  I just did what Harvey said. 

Then we had number three.

You guessed it.  It SUCKED.  Royally.  FOR YEARS. 

Sleep was just kind of an "extra" thing that she didn't have time for.

But wait!  I thought I figured it all out!  The 5 S's!  Why weren't they working!  And the attachment stuff I was doing all day long!  Why wasn't THAT working!  Shall I admit it- I EVEN TRIED CRY IT OUT.  I was that frustrated. 

Guess what?  That didn't work either.  Nothing worked.  I had failed to read the most important parenting memo of all:

Books don't raise kids.  Parents do.  And books are just paper and ink.  They don't live in real life.  They don't respond to stimuli.  They don't get tired, go broke, freak out, have close birth spacing, siblings, bad days, good days, genetics, teeth, personalities or anything else that you or your  child have.  They are just books and books don't raise babies (or kids). 

The "detached" mom in that Huff post article...well, I am not sure what happened there.  Maybe she got an easy baby.  Maybe she found the right book for that baby.  Maybe the baby would have slept like that anyway.  I don't know, and I am pretty sure I don't care.  I hope it works for her.  I am glad she is happy and I hope her child is too. 

But I can pretty much guarantee that it WON'T work for every baby or every family every time.  I can GUARANTEE that.  Babies are babies- and they are HUMAN.  They are all different.  And books are just paper. 

My book would be short-

"Take the best part from each book.  Think of yourself and your child and your family.  Find something that is kind and loving and that works.  Realize that even that won't work all the time.  Breathe in and breathe out.  And please- try to ENJOY some of it.  The End."

Peace out mamas-

We will figure this out.  But it takes time. 

10 comments:

Katie said...

THANK YOU for writing this! It is so good to read your writing (and some of the comments on the Huff Post article) and know that, for all the black-and-white parenting approaches out there, there are a lot of us who see the gray. Barring extreme examples, all us parents are genuinely trying to do the best we can for our kids, and that doesn't look exactly the same in every family.

Chloe G said...

Wouldn't it be so great if everyone could just stop judging, criticising & just generally banging on about the 'right' way to raise children... you do whatever comes naturally to you, or what works for your family, or try something different: it's really as simple as that! There is no right or wrong here, we're all just doing our best, with the tools we choose to use. Sure, read books, but read more than one!

@birthphilosophy said...

It's true! Each baby/child is different. What works for one might not come close to helping with the next child. Wise parents learn to be open to multiple approaches to the challenges. Trying too hard to rigidly adhere to one specific 'method' or 'philosophy' of parenting could hold you back from finding the best solutions. Like you said, if it is kind and loving and works, that is what matters.
The best cooks improvise with the recipe if need be...

Suchada @ Mama Eve said...

Oh we are sooooo on the same page today about this stuff. Although I was such a smug mama with my first because my baby was *so happy* in his sling. Nevermind that I never got a moment to myself. I was so blissful as a mother if didn't cross my mind what a huge PITA this would be when I had two children. LOL. Well, we all learn. And I'm *still* refusing to believe that my third will be more difficult. Because even if I have to find a whole new parenting book for this one, I am at least more Zen about the whole thing. ;-)

Northern California Birth Collective said...

HAHA! I love you Suchada! Don't worry. They broke the mold with my third, so there will be no more like that!

I think that part of the reason it is so hard to stop criticizing is because truthfully- some of the books do seem a little harmful or harsh. It is kind of hard to draw the line sometimes- like is this just "different" but working for them, or is it cruel and starving this baby? You know?

thefullmontessori said...

Here's what a wise friend once told me: The best parenting book is taking the time to know your child.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding to that article that was, shall we say, a tad smug? The 5 s's, Baby Whisperer, Cry it Out, Back to Sleep Campaigns, etc. etc etc..... all fly out the window when you have a baby with reflux who cannot sleep on her back without choking on her vomit every 5 minutes. And then I'd like that author to try to "teach" that same baby to go to sleep in her crib and deal with her when she starts to cry and then promptly vomits all over her sheets, and ends up in pain from crying because her esophagus is already scarred from continual reflux. Am I going to leave that baby with a babysitter? You get the picture....
The best parenting advice I can add is to be empathetic and supportive to other mamas and check your judgements at the front doo....

Courtney said...

The Huffington Post author wrote "Set your life up so it can be full of sleep, sex, movies, dining and travel, so that the marriage that produced the child is as healthy when that child trots off to the great world that awaits them as it was when you said, 'I do.'" So we are supposed to parent while making sleep, sex, movies, dining and travel our priorities. Oh goodness. That makes me laugh. Never heard of that philosophy before, thank goodness.

Courtney said...

The Huffington Post author wrote "Set your life up so it can be full of sleep, sex, movies, dining and travel, so that the marriage that produced the child is as healthy when that child trots off to the great world that awaits them as it was when you said, 'I do.'" So we are supposed to parent while making sleep, sex, movies, dining and travel our priorities. Oh goodness. That makes me laugh. Never heard of that philosophy before, thank goodness.

Austin Review said...

I know the feeling, I used to read tons of books about all sort of parenting and in the end I forgot it all and just went ahead with it. Read more about it here

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