I'm Here To Help

A few days ago I was reading a friend's blog. She's a new mom, and she posted that she'd read something in a book that helped her figure out an aspect of her child's routine. A few commenters posted that they were glad she'd had this insight, etc. But others started falling all over themselves to declare their total devotion to the author of the book. One mom said the author was her "hero." Another said she had "undying love for" the author and saw him as almost a benevolent relative to her children.

I don't think they realize that he's not the only person who knows this particular bit of information about babies.

When my mom was here after El Chico was born, she was reading my copy of a popular parenting book by a different author. About five pages into it she screwed up her face and said, "Does this guy think he invented this? We were doing this back in the 70s, only we just thought it was normal."

That's got to be the thing I hate third-most about parenting: No matter what path you take, there's someone who's written a book telling you that there's only One True Way, and if you deviate from it you're going to raise children who have no control/are too tightly controlled/are too dependent on you/aren't attached to you/won't ever sleep through the night/won't be good Christians/will turn into fundamentalists of one sort or another/will wet their beds until they're teenagers/won't come visit you when you're 90/won't be able to learn Latin/will only speak in Pig Latin. And they act like this dogma is a huge revelation that only they've had. So not only do you have to do what they say, you have to think they're the only ones who could have come up with their position.

All this is a really roundabout way of saying that none of us has unique information. Sears doesn't, Weissbluth doesn't, Ferber doesn't, Leach doesn't, Spock didn't, Hogg didn't, Pantley doesn't, Supernanny doesn't, even Ina May doesn't. Dobson doesn't, Cohen doesn't, Karp doesn't, Faber and Mazlisch don't, and Gary Ezzo certainly doesn't. Your MIL doesn't. My mom doesn't. Your pediatrician doesn't. And I don't. All these people (including me) have done is gathered the wisdom of the universe, digested it, and spit it out with their own personal biases.

So before you read what anyone else says about raising kids, stop and think about the fact that you know your child best. Not me or any of those other people. We can give you ideas, or help you see things in a new way, or make you feel better or worse about what you're doing. But you're the one who knows. So trust your instincts. And keep on rocking the mama thing.