Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Holy Grail of Parenting Wisdom

You know better than the books do. Why we all have to pour over parenting manuals as if children were late model cars is something I'll never understand. It's as if no one ever raised children before.

And now there is that lady in France who wants us all to hand our children over to babysitters and nannies so we can be "free" women. It sounds like feminism but is actually the ancien régime, the part of it that Marie-Antoinette shunned. (The Queen wanted to raise her children herself.) There must be a happy medium somewhere. Share


Lindsay said...

I think the breakdown of the family has a lot to do with the fascination with parenting books. So much wisdom was lost and skipped generations in its careful passing down--both by advice and by example. Also, I think that some *choice* parenting books help counter the "scientific" advice that was adopted when "Parenting Books" first came on the market. Its really a vicious cycle, isn't it? Though, our society has an unhealthy obsession with "self-help" books in general, not just about parenting. When we find that life is hard, we assume it must just be because we aren't doing it right.

elena maria vidal said...

Lindsay, I think you hit the nail on the head.

Christina said...

Women grow up in the me-first hedonism of today’s society and are then asked to renounce self-fulfilment in the name of total motherhood. “These are radically opposed imperatives.”

Well, she got that part right, at least. But it should be obvious to any Catholic that the answer is more self-sacrifice, not less. How can anyone look at the world today and say "we should be more selfish"?

elena maria vidal said...

I don't know. I personally could not be happy or fulfilled if I had to be away from my family.

Julygirl said...

I was the youngest in the family and was always 'the baby' so knew nothing about child care. I read every book I could get my hands on. Then my Father-in-law said "Read those then do what comes naturally". I think he was fearful I would get into the
'new' psychology of the day, but I was primarily interested in useful tips for organizing and managing, plus understanding about the general care and feeding of babies and avoiding diaper rash!

R J said...

Years ago as an adolescent I remember reading Mary McCarthy's The Group, having been told that it was a DIRTY BOOK and thus inherently of interest to the Growing Boy. Uh, yeah, right, not only are the book's descriptions of sex revolting enough to deter Tiger Woods, but the descriptions of childcare are (in their understated way) more alarming still.

The manner in which the novel portrays Priss Hartshorn as believing implicitly in the most cold-blooded and self-contradictory doctrines of her pediatrician husband was much more scary than a dozen horror movies. Priss seemed to have neither a modicum of commonsense, nor a spine. If her husband had told her to stick her baby in the microwave oven (not that they had microwave ovens at the time the novel is set) she would probably have done that too. I've met many Priss types in real life, too intellectually pretentious and too lacking in self-confidence to do any parenting at all without an imprimatur from some more or less deranged pagan "expert" or other.