Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Other End of the Spectrum

A couple weeks ago, I read “Bringing Up Bebe.” It’s a quick read that offers a glimpse into French parenting. In short, the book makes French parents seem more balanced and less likely to make their children the center of their universe than American parents. The book left me feeling like, OK, that was an interesting perspective, maybe I can handle this parenting thing if I don’t go over the over the top subscribing to one philosophy of parenting or another.

So what did I do? Like any normal crazy person, I downloaded Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way by Mayim Bialik (aka Blossom on Blossom, aka Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory). Mayim’s book chronicles her experience raising her two boys using attachment parenting principles. So how does this book compare to the French? Basically, if I was looking to find the opposite end of the spectrum in brand spanking new parenting books, this was it.

According to Attachment Parenting International, “The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children.”

What exactly does this mean? For Mayim, it means that her and her husband have not been away from their children in five years, save three date nights. It means that they practice the family bed and have all slept in the same room for years. It means that she and her husband balanced their work schedules so that one of them was always able to be home with the kids. It means she breastfeed her sons well into their toddler years. It means she practices “elimination communication” and her kids did not wear diapers.

While there are many things in this book I will not even attempt to do (i.e., elimination communication), many of the principles were fascinating. And there were a few principles, including babywearing and gentle discipline, that I definitely believe are worthwhile. (To be far, I’ve become slightly obsessed with the idea of babywearing.)

Other parts of the book provided ideas and a valid perspective with pieces that I could take away, while leaving the rest. Her section on breastfeeding, while I don’t necessarily know that breastfeeding until toddler-hood is the best thing for me and my baby, definitely made me consider how important breastfeeding is to me and the potential uphill battle it can present.

She is honest that this way of life is not for everyone. For the most part, she is able to maintain a fairly non-judgmental tone. My biggest problem with this book is her discussion of staying at home to parent your child. She repeatedly said each family has to make their own decision about childcare and working outside the home. But that statement came with a big BUT. For someone who plans to go back to work full time, it felt like a bit of a guilt trip.

Yes, Mayim says she understands that not all families can live on just one income, but do you really need all those luxuries? Do you really want to leave your baby? Is going back to work really the best choice for your helpless little one who is forming the attachments that will make him or her a functional adult?

Um…I don’t know. 

I do know that my husband and I could probably get by if I stopped working completely, but there are many reasons for me to go back to work, including that I don’t know if “getting by” is the best case scenario for our family right now. I do understand the arguments both ways. But for someone who “respects” other parenting choices (and for the most part seems to understand that all attachment parenting principles are not for everyone), Mayim lays it on pretty thick when it comes to staying at home being the “right” choice. My reaction is likely a result of not being 100 percent sure about this daycare thing, and yet, I don’t plan to change my mind (which doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind).

Overall, I did think the book was a quick and easy read with some interesting ideas, many of which I will forget about. On another positive note, her book includes other reading and resources, many of which I didn’t know about and have already found helpful. But I think she’d definitely disapprove of the French.

1 comment:

Jullianna B said...

Great information! I find myself reading your blog quite often! Keep up the good work.