In this day and age of detachment parenting Mayim Bialik, or Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler for you Big Bang Theory fans, attempts to address the myths, the trials and tribulations, and the benefits of attachment parenting. As an advocate for birth empowerment as well as a prosthelitizing believer in natural childbirth the words of a woman with a PhD in neuroscience held allure. To me it was about finding someone who had done a home birth, breastfed (even did extended breastfeeding), and unschooled her children who was so credentialed the world was sure to stand up and see the validity in what so many of us non doctorate holding moms already know: learning is innate, our bodies are designed to propagate our species as well as take care of our young, and submitting to your babe’s needs does not mean you are permissive.
Unfortunately, when I caught a few clips of her on television while promoting this book it seems as though the world does not want/need credentials to view these things with validity, and instead seems to hold fastidiously to the notion that kids should be separate and independent of the parent almost from birth – the sex life of the parents holding higher import than bonding of each parent with their children.
This book takes on the issue of a sex life and the family bed with anecdotes and personal examples, but the most important aspects -the biology, anthropology, and psychology of infants- are dealt with in both a blend of science and personal outtakes from her life. Take, for example, this bit from her chapter about gentle discipline and particularly about the notion of telling a child to stop crying/discouraging them from crying:
Tears have been found to contain small amounts of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. Crying may serve to release tension and stress from tiny bodies, and it is normal and healthy. Seeing crying as a natural and reasonable form of communication removes the stigma our culture associates with it. It may not be the most effective communication tool, but it is sometimes the only one small children have in their limited arsenal.
As was typical of her work this was followed up with a bit of psychology as well as an example from her own family:
Some family and friends found it funny (or perhaps uncomfortable or unsettling?) and mocked our boys’ crying, albeit playfully. This is, frankly, not at all helpful, and it perpetuates the idea that children shouldn’t cry when we think they shouldn’t.
This next bit I’m sharing simply because I found it beautifully stated – from the same section, but in a subsection called “Violence”:
The distinction between hitting in anger (as in “the heat of the moment”) as opposed to hitting as part of a purportedly “calm,” regimented spanking is an academic one but not a practical one; both methods involve hitting a child, thereby causing a tiny brain to release neurotransmitters and hormones to cope with pain and fear while suppressing fight/flight pathways. The simplest reason we don’t hit is this: hitting is hitting. It’s not love. It’s not teaching. It’s hitting. You can say you are hitting with love, or that you are using hitting to teach something, but it’s still hitting.
Her sections on breastfeeding and natural childbirth are equally important, although for more information on the benefits of these practices I can not recommend Pushed or Born in the USA (I will review Dr. Marsden Wagner’s book at a later date) enough. It is my sincerest wish that more people would read this book with an open mind. Kids have nothing to lose by a parent reading this and taking much of its wisdom to heart and everything to gain.
Have you read it? Have a favorite or not so favorite section?