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The diabolical genius of the baby advice industry

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jan/16/baby-advice-books-industry-attachment-parenting

theguardian.com

The diabolical genius of the baby advice industry
Human beings are born too soon. Within hours of arriving in the world, a baby antelope can clamber up to a wobbly standing position; a day-old zebra foal can run from hyenas; a sea-turtle, newly hatched in the sand, knows how to find its way to the ocean.

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Baby advice industry

The baby-advice industry targets people at their most vulnerable - at the start of the weightiest responsibility of their lives - and suggests that they have some information that will ensure the future happiness of the child.

Even the most skeptical readers fall prey to books that promise a happy and healthy child.

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The two camps of parenting advice

  • Baby Trainers urge parents to get their newborn on to a strict schedule to integrate him into the rhythms of the household. 
  • Natural Parents emulate the earthy practices of indigenous tribes in the developing world.
Although these two camps are hostile toward each other, we should realize that baby advice is not mainly about raising children. Instead, it is a vehicle to suggest that it might be possible to bring the terrifying unpredictability of the world under control. A brand new baby makes it possible to believe in that fantasy.

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    Nobody really knows 

    • For a start, nobody can remember what it was like to be a baby.
    • Most parenting gurus only have direct experience of parenting two or three babies, which isn't much better as a sample size. They can't assume that whatever worked for them will work for everyone.
    • When you have read all the parenting books, your baby will possibly follow an entirely different manual of instructions.

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    Parents are anxious

    Whether new parents try to follow advice from well-known parenting experts or rejecting outside expertise in favor of their own instincts, all guidance fails to quell anxiety away. You'll find yourself constantly questioning whether the advice is the best for your child.

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    Children were mostly "ignored"

    For most of human history, children were largely ignored until they were old enough to begin contributing to the survival of household or tribe. It is only in our modern society that children have become the center of attention from day one. 

    Parenting books promise that there are techniques and expertise that parents can acquire to help them accomplish the goal of shaping their children's lives. That this should be a goal is a recent development. Yet, almost every human in history has been raised without the insights of a multitude of parenting books.

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    Secure attachment

    Parenting is not about using techniques or thinking in terms of methods. Anything as complex as a relationship between humans can't be reduced to a set of consciously manipulable variables.

    Secure attachment in children is not a result of using techniques, but from the overall quality of the relationship between children and parents who are reasonably consistently available and in tune with their children's emotions some of the time - basically, loving parents.

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