22/06/17

12/12/17
Parenting techniques – do we really need them? (spoiler: No!)

If I had a penny for every time I read a newspaper article on how to raise a child or baby! There seems to be a constant procession of experts who are keen to tell us how wrong/confused/out of date we are in the way we care for our children.

The most recent example I came across was in the Telegraph, where ‘celebrity maternity nurse’ (yes, there is now such a thing) Rachel Waddilove, was keen to tell us all that modern mums have lost the plot on how to care for their babies.

Apparently Rachel feels there’s just too much conflicting advice out there on ‘the right way’ to look after babies and children. And her answer? Write another book on how to look after babies and children. Perfect!

Actually this isn’t her first book. It seems she’s written several on this general subject. I admit I haven’t read any of them, but still, the irony of an author of various childcare books proclaiming there are too many – I just can’t! (that’s what you say nowadays when you just can’t. You say ‘I just can’t’).

So how have modern mums messed up this time? Well, you’re way too child or baby-focused. You’re constructing your life around the wee one, rather than making your childcare fit in with what’s already going on in your life. Rachel advocates swaddling, not rushing to baby as soon as she cries, that kind of thing.

The proper name for this approach is known as ‘mother-led’ parenting, which is in direct contrast to attachment parenting. Rachel’s dead against it, because it focuses entirely on meeting baby’s needs, as and when they arise. Sleep with baby, feed baby when baby wants to be fed, lift baby as soon as he cries. You get the idea. Do it this way and you’re running the risk of creating a pint-sized Donald Trump. And we know how that’ll end up, don’t we?

To be fair to Rachel, I do mostly agree with her views, but that’s not the problem. The problem is – and I’m saying this as the mother of three children – we don’t need to be told any of this stuff at all. Sure it’s important to be advised on feeding, routines, healthcare and the like, but who needs to be advised on the right time to hug your baby?

For me, I get an alarm bell going off in my head as soon as I encounter the word ‘technique’ where my children are concerned. They’re not systems to be managed, they’re people! Even as babies, they’re still people. Little people. Unique little people, the likes of which have never existed in this world before. All with unique needs which must be responded to with love, intelligence and sensitivity.

It’s just all become madly commercial, like so much of modern life. I think we get so easily enmeshed in the debates going on in social media or the TV, and we may not even realise what’s behind the debate in the first place.
Just check this out the next time you encounter it. See if a blogger is sponsored by a company making baby products. See if a company is launching a new product and wants to stimulate discussion in that direction. Or see if an author of a new babycare book has said something controversial and has the media talking about it. Perhaps they want you to question yourself a little.

Does that sound a bit paranoid? Well if it does, it doesn’t do any harm, because I’d love mums to trust themselves, their friends, their midwives, their Doulas and their own mums. There’s absolutely no substitute for instinct and intuition when you’re a mum, and the best way to develop it is to have some self confidence, and have those important people around us affirm it.

So…was that a bit of a rant? Rachel must have touched a nerve in me. That’s what happens when you really care about something and you want to shout about it a little!

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