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The diabolical genius of the baby advice industry

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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    The diabolical genius of the baby advice industry

    The diabolical genius of the baby advice industry


    Key Ideas

    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.

    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.

      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.

      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.

      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.

      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.


      'Controlling' the future

      Many American parents believe that their choices carve out their children’s futures. They seek expert advice to attempt to raise the happiest, most successful, and most well-adjusted leaders of tom...

      Fostering independence

      In Japan and Norway, parents are focused on cultivating independence.

      • In Norway, most children enter state-sponsored daycare at 1 year old.
      • In Japan, children run errands without parental supervision. The children take subways by themselves and walk on busy streets alone.
      Different frames

      American parents focus on grooming their children's talents for success. Many Asian nations focus highly on academics, while the Dutch parents believe in not pushing their children too hard.

      In Spain, families are focused on the social and interpersonal aspects of child development.

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      The Way Therapy Works
      There is growing research on how therapy actually works. Psychological communication, dialogue, and intervention can work even better than pills.
      This seems eve...
      Therapy Techniques
      • Some therapists are just there to listen and provide a backdrop.
      • Even the silence that they exhibit seems to kindle the patients into divulging more of their most uncomfortable truths.
      • Others keep the sequence of assignments and tests lined up, never pausing.
      • Therapists play varied roles to get some valuable information out of the patient and make him better.
      Therapy That Works

      No particular form of therapy is proven to be better or more effective than others.

      Different people prefer or respond to different forms of therapy.

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      A Child's Mental Health
      A Child's Mental Health

      Various studies conducted in the U.S. population indicate growing anxiety towards a possibly grim future. Political turmoil, gun violence, global plagues, changing power structure and a widening ri...

      Antidepressants And Opioid Epidemic

      Pharmaceuticals are playing a major role in the deterioration of mental health among young people. There is a link between teen suicidal thinking and antidepressant use, along with a link being seen in actual suicides among the young and the use of opioids in their families.

      Smartphones and Social Media

      Across age groups, social media is potentially hazardous, with its tendency to amplify the social divide.

      There is a strong relationship between anxiety/depression and the use of smartphones, particularly social media usage among kids, though the data also seem to show the positive effects of staying connected with their peers. Online distractions also make youngsters give up their offline life, leading to isolation and further depression.

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      We don’t ask big questions

      Big questions referring to is the meaning of life matter deeply because only with sound answers to them we can direct our energies meaningfully, but most of us get shy expressing them. -...

      Philosophy = thinking for yourself

      Philosophers are interested in asking whether an idea is logical–rather than simply assuming it must be right because it is popular and long-established. - Alain de Botton

      Philosophers were the first therapists

      Philosophers teach us to think about our emotions, rather than simply have them. By understanding and analysing our feelings, we learn to see how emotions impact on our behaviour in unexpected, counterintuitive and sometimes dangerous ways.  - Alain de Botton

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      Love sets the stage
      Love sets the stage

      When a loving mother holds the newborn baby in her arms for the first time, she intuitively knows to care for the child. A relationship is formed, a bond created. The child will emerge in abilities...

      The neurobiology of bonding

      The neurobiology of affiliation is the new scientific field that describes the neural, endocrine, and behavioral systems sustaining our capacity to love. There are three factors in the neurobiology of bonding:

      • Oxytocin that drives both care and prejudice
      • The affiliative brain
      • Synchrony.
      Oxytocin and attachment

      Oxytocin - a large molecule produced by neurons in the hypothalamus - is known for coordinating bonding, sociality, and group living. Oxytocin targets mainly the amygdala, a center for fear and vigilance, the hippocampus, and the striatum, a locus of motivation and reward.

      Oxytocin is released through the central part of the neuron as well as its extensions, called dendrites. The dendrites increase oxytocin release whenever attachment memories are used and prime us for a lifetime. Early attachment memories help us move without fear. It imprints the infant's brain with distinct social patterns.

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      Fear of abandonment

      Fear of abandonment can come from childhood loss or neglect as a child, especially if it is more emotional.

      Brain development is the process of creating, strengthening, and discarding connec...

      Inability to commit to your partner

      Studies showed that the experiences as a baby within the first three years of life lay the foundation for how the brain is wired well into adulthood.

      However, it is possible to "re-learn" things as adults and change the framework of our brains this way. If you are committed to your partner but fear the "label," consider how you view attachment, dedication, and loyalty in relationships.


      Entitlement is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and treatment by others. It is a selfish quality.

      People act entitled in relationships because they are overcompensating for never getting what they want or are comfortable in always getting what they want.

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      Self-compassion is treating yourself with the same kindness and consideration that you would offer to someone else.

      Self-compassion helps you cope with tough situations and helps you t...

      Why parents need self-compassion

      Parents' frame of mind impacts their children. Parents should not blame themselves when their children struggle.

      Since parents lead by example, treating themselves with compassion and without judgment can help their children to do the same.

      Make time for mindfulness

      Many parents stop meditating once they have children. But new research suggests that even brief interventions can be helpful.

      • Take two breaths of kindness wherever you are.
      • Find moments of newness while engaged in your daily tasks of living.
      • Bring awareness and gratitude to the everyday things you take for granted.
      The Elixir of Life
      Sleep, something which people take for granted, much like oxygen, is the elixir of life.

      Insomniacs must know that sleep is natural, and normal, with each of us having the ...

      Tips for Sleeping
      • Get up at the same time every morning.
      • Write affirmations to tell yourself that your body knows how to sleep.
      • Don't involve your over-thinking mind too much.
      • Use your bed is for sleep and sex only.
      • Don't lie awake for more than 20 minutes on the bed, and if you can't sleep, get up and try to do some calming activity like folding laundry.
      The Enemy of Sleep

      Our body will take care of itself if left on its own. It is our mind which is the culprit, running like a motor, inducing low-grade anxiety inside us.

      Sleep is not something you have to do, but something which happens naturally to you. If an insomniac forgets that he is an insomniac, he will have a good night's sleep.

      Vulnerable Time for Kids

      A child's pre-teen and teen years are a high-emotion transitory period. This is due to shifting classmates, social pressure, multiple classrooms and a period of many 'firsts'.

      Deep Friendships

      A study on sixth-graders revealed that friendship is crucial and real for kids, and can be as deep as a parental relationship.

      Most parents and teachers do not understand the importance of deep bonding among friends at school and tend to regard friendships as a distraction or a nuisance.

      Social Isolation and Bullying

      Social isolation is the dark side of the school, in which many kids with no friends are at risk of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. There is a perceived sense of threat with being friendless, and the young, immature mind can deeply internalize the resulting difficulties, leading to depression.

      Bullying at this age is also a major problem, with those who are socially isolated becoming the most vulnerable to being bullied.

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      Dreaded Family Time

      During the holiday season, many people are uncomfortable to spend time with their families due to a history of personal fights or disagreements.

      15 % of Americans say that havin...

      Family Stress

      The deep wounds and scars that run in the family make people prone to various health conditions due to stress.

      Chronic conditions like headaches and strokes are diagnosed due to a family's emotional climate.

      From Pain to Love

      There are a few ways in which can move on from pain and stress, towards acceptance and love:

      • Remember there is no Perfect Family
      • Reparent yourself
      • Nurture your inner child.

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