Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Parenting theories gone awry.

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Yesterday a friend, and new mom, sent me a piece from The Daily Beast titled The Secret Celebrity Parenting Craze. The article written by Gina Piccalo discusses a new {or, rather new to me} parenting style called RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers, pronounced wry) which has a devoted celebrity following.

RIE {and I'm quoting here for fear of misrepresenting and / or displaying bias} "eschews the conventions of American infancy from baby strollers, high chairs and battery-operated toys to excessive praise, forced sharing, and even lullabies. The end result, advocates say, is not just more competent and self-aware children, but a more peaceful world."

RIE educators help parents show respect for the baby's experience. Babies whose parents "do RIE" do not spend time on their tummies. REI parents would not place their babies in positions from which they cannot independently escape. Respect. 

RIE honors the baby's "struggle". So if the baby is crying, the baby is not immediately snatched up and hushed with a loving lullaby. The baby is allowed to release the tension and asked why he or she is crying. Sudden actions and loud sounds are narrated. "Baby, I am going to pick you up now. You seem upset." Oh, and please, please don't be so disrespectful as to rock a baby to sleep while singing a lullaby {the bias may now be creeping into my writing}.


Are people so insecure in their parenting that they need to pay "educators" to tell them not to worry so much?! I do agree with the group's unofficial credo -- "do less, observe more" -- in most situations. I may not run to a child who is bonked herself on the head with a block if it will only take a second for the shock to wear off. But, if a child is crying because he likely needs a diaper change, well, I'm not going to let the little guy sit there "and work out the tension." Parenting should involve not just respect but common sense!

The popularity of this parenting style is likely a result or or reaction to the parenting pendulum having swung too far in the direction of hyper-stimulation and over-scheduling. In the past decade there has simply been too much pressure to make sure little Janie can read, create artful masterpieces, play a violin concerto, dance and speak three languages by age 4. I welcome the antidote to that movement, but think RIE takes it a tad too far.

I do believe, however, that less is often more when raising kids. Kids need to play outside more and video games less. Kids need to play with blocks and stare out the window on long drives. Kids do not need to attend music lessons at 5 months of age. And haven't we all experienced buying a child a fancy new toy only to have him ignore the toy and play with the box?! I see the point in that -- don't buy the fancy over-stimulating toy and opt instead for simple play things which allows the child to explore and be creative. I am a mom who appreciates and encourages kids' creativity. But do we need a whole school of thought dedicated to that notion?

As I've said before, I pick and choose the best of many parenting theories and apply what makes sense to me and my family. I do not believe one size fits all or even most. Everything works sometimes, nothing always works. Furthermore, every child is different. Believe me, as a mother of twins, I say this confidently. They simply arrive wired differently. What works for one does not necessarily work for another. Talking calmly to My Little Guy worked when he was an infant and still does today. Little Miss Thang, however, does not now nor did she ever respond well to me simply respecting her "inner struggle." There is little about my sweet girl that happens quietly or with hushed voices. I respect her nonetheless.

My point is this {yes, I have a point}: We need to encourage and support other parents, not make them feel insecure or unworthy. So much of parenting seems to be a reaction to what other parents are doing. And we seem to constantly reinvent the parenting wheel though I'm not convinced it rolls any better.  Eight years ago Baby Einstein was the new big thing. Now, we aren't allowed to sing?!

Maybe, just maybe, we'd be better with all things in moderation. Maybe we can apply some good ole fashion common sense to the parenting puzzle and stop one-upping every other parent on the block with our parenting prowess.

So, yes, I'm now starting a online parenting class called DWFR (Do What Feels Right, pronounced DWFR).

Classes are incredibly exclusive.

Space is limited.

There is no waiting list because we don't do waiting lists.  Just keep trying back.

If you have to ask about the cost you clearly cannot afford it.

Angie and Brad {or rather their legion of nannies} have been followers for years.

If you are interested in joining the DWFR movement please join me by leaving a DWFR worthy comment below!

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