In the News: There are no parenting rules

In 2010, novelist Eric Jong wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal about parenting; specifically, her opposition to attachment parenting. Since the article is more than a year old, it’s not really “news” anymore, but since it was “new” to me, I wanted to share some of my favorite parts.

1. Erica wrote, “We also assume that ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are exclusive terms, though in other cultures, these terms are applied to a variety of aunts, uncles and other adults. Kinship is not exclusively biological, after all, and you need a brood to raise a brood. Cooperative child-rearing is obviously convenient, but some anthropologists believe that it also serves another more important function: Multiple caregivers enhance the cognitive skills of babies and young children. Any family in which there are parents, grandparents, nannies and other concerned adults understands how readily children adapt to different caregivers.”

Our family certainly relies on help from our extended family and friends, including grandparents, aunts, and uncles, as well as our kids’ schools and “latchkey” workers. Naturally, we are the most important adults in our children’s lives, but not the only ones. I like Erica’s acknowledgment that we don’t have to do it on our own, and it might even be beneficial for our kids to have multiple caregivers.

2. “Our obsession with parenting is an avoidance strategy. It allows us to substitute our own small world for the world as a whole. But the entire planet is a child’s home, and other adults are also mothers and fathers. We cannot separate our children from the ills that affect everyone, however hard we try. Aspiring to be perfect parents seems like a pathetic attempt to control what we can while ignoring problems that seem beyond our reach.”

I’ve always been a perfectionist and I love to control as much as possible. I like Erica’s reminder that “the world is our home” and that when we think we can control the world, we set ourselves up for failure.

3. “In the oscillations of feminism, theories of child-rearing have played a major part. As long as women remain the gender most responsible for children, we are the ones who have the most to lose by accepting the “noble savage” view of parenting, with its ideals of attachment and naturalness. We need to be released from guilt about our children, not further bound by it. We need someone to say: Do the best you can. There are no rules.”

I’m so thankful to be living at this time, because I really believe there is no better time to be a woman. But, we still have so much further to go – Erica is right in that part of our problem is that women are still most responsible for child rearing. But, I also like that Erica points out “Do the best you can. There are no rules.”

What do you think about these points and about Erica’s article as a whole? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


4 thoughts on “In the News: There are no parenting rules

  1. Interesting post, all of us kids were shipped off to stay with grandma, aunts and uncles, and cousins for short periods of time each summer. Isn’t that what all families do so you grow your bond with your family and also broaden your horizons? Seems pretty natural to me.

  2. I’m not sure if I’ve ever commented (sorry about that!), but I have really enjoyed reading your blog from time to time over the last few months. My husband and I are likely going to look into adopting out of the foster care system starting this coming summer, so I appreciate your writing a great deal. I like reality.

    As for this post, I think it all boils down to consistency. I was the primary caretaker for an infant (who is four and a half now) until he was 3. I think it always worked well because I remained consistent with what the parents desired for him. BUT, if there are those who choose to reprimand, contradict, etc…that can cause a lot of backlash as the kids won’t feel consistently dealt with. Point two, yeah…there’s going to be a whole lot that you can’t control (but you already know that, your kids were not with you for their first years-you couldn’t control that). And I totally agree with point 3, that child-rearing shouldn’t just fall to women at all. Husbands taking ownership of their kids is a big deal.

    Anyway, thanks for putting this up. I’m about to start a series on my blog called “my kid might” which is just going to be about common (or uncommon) occurences in foster kids with some helpful knowledge and tips for our friends and family with how to support us in this impending adventure. Sorry, super long comment. Thanks for your blog.

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