Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Brain, Child

My first issue of Brain, Child came in the mail today. I opened the cover, read much of it, laughing and sighing all the way through. Then I came to this article, On Line, Off Kilter. I agreed with some, disagreed with other bits, especially as it pertains not to the mommynet, but the internet communities of which I have been an active part pre-parent.

But, this part really struck me:

I realized that we were all in danger of becoming parenting fundamentalists.

Over and over again, in various online parenting groups and in real-life encounters with parents of young children, I saw the hallmarks of fundamentalist communities: a desire to return to one’s roots and to get back to the “natural” way of doing things; a mistrust of science, government, mainstream society; a sense of feeling persecuted; intolerance of differing viewpoints; fear of outside influences.

I'm not sure I know anyone who is at risk of being a parenting fundamentalist. But I do think that the term is apt for a certain mindset. In the article, she uses it to describe the anti-vaccination, homeschooling, wood-only toys set. But I think what it does speak to is a larger ease at judgment over parenting.

I'm not sure why, but parenting lends itself to judgment. Maybe because the stakes seem so high, if you mess up, you are sure to live with those repercussions endlessly. And I think in a post-freudian world, we do believe that. But if having a preemie teaches you anything, it's that children are resilient little creatures.

Would I prefer being a "natural" parent? Maybe. I'm not sure. I will say the bells and whistles on some toys engage my Little Man and help him develop in ways that blocks of wood won't. But by the same token, wooden blocks have less toxins than plastic and push him to develop other skills and creativities.

I guess, then, as ever, as a parent what I'd like to search for is balance.

Not related to that little navel gaze, if you haven't seen Brain, Child, it has some lovely writing and some thought provoking stances. There's an article about special needs children and the myth of "special mothers" that rings a note of truth from where I sit. You should definitely check it out.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Looks like an interesting magazine. I really miss reading - a combination of law school, the internet, and parenting has robbed me of the inclination to sit down on the couch and read.

As for the judgment thing - I don't know...For example, I have strong opinions about stuff - I guess because I spend so much time analyzing what I think is best - but when I meet another parent that I like, I'm pretty judgment free. Cognitive dissonance, I guess.