Monday, October 24, 2005

"Mother Does Best" says Penelope Leach.

It's difficult to avoid the thought that all this expensive research, despite the fact that it draws a fairly acceptable conclusion, should by rights be redundant. Not only is it pure pseudo-science, but we could have saved all that research money for a cancer project by taking the simple step of actually listening to children and generally taking them seriously, since it is transparently obvious that even babies can tell adults what it is they want, and this includes them being very clear on the matter of who they want to be with. It is also transparently obvious that being with the right person is, more often than not, a matter of extreme importance to them.

It would appear that this sort of issue is more honestly explored in the realm of ethics than science, and in this case we could discuss the issue of whether it is right or wrong, better or worse, to coerce others to whom we have a responsibility.


Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of Dr. Leach. My one and only is nearly 17 now, and when I think back to the sort of baby-rearing advice I internalized from Dr. Leach's book, it makes me cringe. I think she gives infants credit for way too much intelligence and wisdom than they actually possess, and it provides nothing but insecurity to a new mum. Her two favorite themes are letting your child eat whatever s/he craves, since the body allegedly communicates what it needs. Wrong. Letting your child decide what to eat can quickly lead to out-of-control portion sizes and rapid weight gain. The other gem is allowing your child to pick out his/her clothes. Fine, but what if little darling wants to wear the same pair of shorts every day and doesn't respect the fact that you paid $40 for the shoes s/he deigns not to wear? I encountered both scenarios with my child, giving in like a dutiful, guilt-ridden mother, and now realize that parenting is about loving your child and gently guiding him/her toward a high-functioning life...not the other way around, where the parent supplies the love but the child "guides" you in how best to raise him.

Dr. Spock had a much better outlook -- if it feels right to you, the parent, then go for it.

Carlotta said...

I think your last two sentences don't necessarily reach at all the same conclusion, (sadly!), since some parents find that it feels right when they abuse and neglect their kids.

I don't remember much of what PL advises. The Taking Children Seriously website is clear that offering good advise to children is an essential part of parenting.