Well that explains a lot. Whether moms have been swallowing handfuls of "little helpers" or getting crazy in the comments section of parenting sites, it all comes down to the fact that we've been getting brow-beaten over our parenting methods since the first advice book came off the press.
What all of the parenting guides have in common -- from 1945's hyper-disciplined approach of Frederick Truby King to Penelope Leach and back again to the camp that favors routine -- is that they are all designed to make moms feel bad. Or as the researcher explained, the tone of all of these books, regardless of philosophy, is authoritative. Not only authoritative, but the implication is that if moms do not follow the directions between the pages perfectly, there will be extreme consequences.
How is it that something designed to help new moms has actually been hurting us?
I picked up What to Expect When You're Expecting as well as Dr. Sears' family of books when I was up the duff, and there were pros and cons of both sets of books. Sometimes I walked away feeling like a total failure for only being able to eat at KFC so I wouldn't hurl, and therefore not following the perfect pregnancy diet. Other times I found relief in the fact that pregnancy-related panic attacks were a "thing" rather than me just being straight-up crazy.
There is no shortage of anxiety in any circle of moms. Every week I second-guess my child-rearing techniques. It gets to the point that when someone does offer advice, I just assume it's hostile and I have to fire back by dong the exact opposite. Healthy? Hardly.
And as much as I say (and try to do) the whole "instinctive parenting" thing, I can't always make it work. By which I mean going with my gut instead of following a rule book. Because sometimes a simple trick from a parenting book can mean the difference between a peaceful resolution over naptime versus a full-on screaming fit.
So again, what are moms to do? Ignore the books? Not educate ourselves at the risk of being made to feel bad? Or maybe it's not really every mom's responsibility here, just the authors who are doing the telling. Lighten up, parenting writers! We're all doing okay. Well, except for that bong-smoking baby mama.
Do you feel bad after reading parenting books?
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