I read an article in the Australian the other week in defence of "attachment parenting". And I just kind of wanted to go hide under a rock for a while.
Whilst I could only admire the author's account of her daughter's early days and upbringing, as her love and affection shone through in every word - I baulked at the ominous overtones of the latter half of the article.
Here is yet another piece telling us how to parent - warning us of the risk that our children will grow up aggressive, depressed, dysfunctional - perhaps even turn into psychopaths - if we fail to parent in a certain way (I swear I'm not making this up).
Wonderful. Isn't this just what every new parent needs to hear? It's bad enough that we feel out of our depth, often emotional, perhaps sleep deprived - now you can throw shit scared into the mix.
Why are we so obsessed with labels? Why can't we just be parents? Must we ascribe to a specific philosophical school of thought in order to raise our little rugrats? Do you follow Pinky or Tizzy? Perhaps the scientific Sears method, or Gina Ford's schedules? Are your kids free-range, or Ferber-ized?
My issue with all these experts is always the same - their pressure and insistence that their way is the Best Way, the Only Way, is incredibly alienating and stress-inducing. What if I can't breastfeed? Don't feel comfortable co-sleeping? Let my baby grizzle on occasion? Am I not truly "attached" to my baby? Am I risking her mental and emotional well-being? OH GOD, AM I FAILING AS A PARENT?!
My personal parenting philosophy? If it works for you, and it's not harming anyone, then it's good. Amen.
There is no magic secret that is going to ensure our kids have the perfect childhood, and grow up into happy, successful adults. There isn't a school of parenting ideology that can guarantee the perfect outcome. Just love your kids, care for them, the best you can, and in the way that works best for you and your family.
And when it goes a bit pear-shaped (which of course it frequently does), I turn to my "village" - my mum, my sister, my girlfriends, my mothers group - my husband! My ultimate partner in crime and baby-rearing! Even parents I don't know - there is a bond that ties you to complete strangers simply by virtue of that common experience you share.
I think the temptation is to lock ourselves in our houses armed with piles of reference material, and the dreaded Interwebs, and scare the holy hell out of ourselves. When we should be reaching out, asking for help, looking for that shared experience of parenthood - trust me, it's there!
And forget the labels - it's not possible to condense the parenting experience into ten words or less