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All these parenting books are caca.

In the weeks after Baby G was born, I went on an irrational parenting book reading spree, probably because my hormones were raging and I didn’t know how to make my baby stop crying. Somewhere in this sleep deprived, sour-milk-sheets coma I ingested bits and pieces of about a dozen baby rearing books I picked up at the library. Thus began my rude entance into the world of parenting wars.

I realized that all these parenting books are caca.

So while catching up with the last season of “Portlandia” the other day, this made me laugh:

Before Baby G was born, I had no idea that there were some moms who were actually against the use of strollers, and a whole different camp who believe babies are taught morality by being left to cry in their crib. I had never heard of “cry it out” or “attachment parenting” or any of that stuff. I was so blissfully naive.

I learned early on that it was very important for me to subscribe to some type of parenting philosophy that would define what “type” of mom I am. 

I remember one of the first times I attended a local moms group at the park. Baby G was about three months old. There, I was barraged by a super fit, high strung 25-year-old mom who claimed to be homeschooling her 15-month-old son.

“I’m not a cookie-cutter mom,” she said, pushing her kid on the swing. “I have real convictions.”

She then went on to describe all her “convictions” that make her an exceptional mom. She breastfeeds, she sleep trained her baby starting at two weeks, she only serves organic food. And more stuff I’ve chosen to forget.

I got my little cookie-cutter self outta there ASAP, and stayed away from moms groups for a few months.

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My little cookie cutter baby.

It’s a funny parenting culture that we live in, that when one young mom emerges from her first year of parenting and meets another one in the thick of it, she thinks to brag about her chosen method of motherhood instead of asking one simple question:

How are you?

What a powerful question for a new mom to hear. Had someone asked me, I may have started bawling and hugging that person. (Now that I think of it, that’s probably why most people didn’t).

But in this strange motherhood-as-a-competitive-sport culture, we’re too busy crusading for our parenting decisions. Do we babywear? Do we sleep train? Do we feed on demand or on a schedule? Each side claims the other is detrimental to a child’s development. Each side claims the other is sure to churn out narcissists, sociopaths and adults incapable of contributing to society.

Look at this little narcissist.

Look at this little narcissist.

I can’t fully subscribe to any of the major parenting philosophies. We do what is best for our family. In the beginning it meant co-sleeping and nursing on demand. But do I consider myself an “attachment parent”? Heck no. I celebrated when Baby G was independent enough to sleep in her crib. And there’s no way I’m “wearing” a squirmy 23 pound creature in a wrap.

What bugs me the most are the parenting philosophies that use the word “biblical” as a modifier for their methods. Biblical baby rearing? Really? There is a type of feeding schedule that Jesus is really keen on? God is big fan of a particular method of sleep training? This just takes the parenting wars to a whole new level. If God is on their side, then really, who can be against them.

Perhaps the combativeness and the desperation to prove the other side wrong comes from insecurity – that maybe deep down inside we’re all afraid we’re screwing up our kids. So to mask that fear, we bash others who are different from us.

Here she is in the evil, heartless contraption that is a stroller.

Here she is in the evil, heartless contraption that is a stroller.

Now when I meet a new mom, I try not to enlighten her about all my wonderful parenting strategies, as wonderful as they are.

What I do tell moms is to trust their instincts.  And ask…

How are you?

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13 Comments

  1. Andrea on January 9, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    I also love this! It’s really easy to get caught up in the kind of parenting philosophies each of us has taken on (I’m certainly guilty of it!)…but it is really important to support and love the women, especially mothers in our lives. I recently started up a Birth Diaries series so that women could have a place to talk about the feelings and emotions surrounding their birth-no matter what kind it was. Excellent post! We are definitely all struggling at some point (or all the time..) Ha!

  2. Lauren on January 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this post a lot–I’m super naive, but I think we just all want to relate to each other. And I think we all want to do it right. Both of those are beautiful, honest ambitions, but somehow those intentions morphed into a big first-world mom-of-the-year competition.

    I really like your “How are you?” thought. I’m going to try to remember that the next time I’m talking babies with a friend. 🙂

    • creatingmom on January 10, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      I distinctly remember a mom of a 10-month-old ask me “how are you” when Baby G was 6 weeks old. She looked me in the eye when she said it, and I knew she really wanted an answer. I’ll never forget it!

  3. Mandy@ a sorta fairytale on January 12, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Love this!! I’ve learned that it’s best to just follow my mama instincts and throw parenting books/philosophy’s out the window.

  4. Jenna @ A Mama Collective on January 14, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Soooo lovely. Every minute.

    I’m right there with you — I never found a real “group” that I felt wholeheartedly a part of (and didn’t wish to be a part of it). Couldn’t agree more either.

    I’m glad I found you at the Time for Mom link-up! Headed to look around some more 🙂 ~Jenna

    • creatingmom on January 14, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Jenna, thanks for reading and commenting. “A Mama Collective” has long been on my daily read list, so this is an honor.

      Groups are tough, aren’t they? I love people but don’t always like groups of them.

  5. Nancy on January 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Fabulous post. I love your suggestion to ask the question “how are you” – something I definitely need to do more! And I couldn’t agree more on the ridiculousness of labeling parenting philosophies as “biblical”!! I read a really great book called “Spirit Led Parenting” – talks a lot about that and how a lot of philosophies that claim to be “godly” or “biblical” or whatever do more harm by pressuring new parents into a certain method just because they want to do it “God’s way”, even though it may not work for their particular situation. Tragic.

    • creatingmom on January 24, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      That sounds like a really interesting read, I’ll have to check it out. Totally agree that it’s unfair to use God as a way of endorsing your chosen method of parenting. Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. […] You can find Carly at her her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter. Carly’s story first appeared on her blog as “All These Parenting Books Are Caca.” […]

  7. John Backman on February 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Boy, somebody needed to say this, and I’m glad you did. I distinctly remember reading all the books and glomming on to, of all things, Dr. Spock (who was ancient even back then; our cookie-cutter baby is now 29), because the basic message of Dr. Spock is “you are FINE, and you’re doing a GREAT job.”

    • Carly Gelsinger on February 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      I love the “trust your instincts” message of Dr. Spock; he was ahead of his time in a lot of ways. I’m glad this resonates with you.

  8. Kirsten Oliphant on February 13, 2014 at 5:08 am

    Oh my gosh do I love this. We aren’t friends on facebook (yet) but I’m sharing this there. Because yes. and YES.

    • Carly Gelsinger on February 13, 2014 at 6:30 am

      Haha, yay! It’s kind of nice to know I’m not the only one overwhelmed with these combative parenting philosophies.

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