28 January 2011

Blossom preaches on parenting

Oh, you know it's a good day when you get to talk about Blossom (aka Mayim Bialik) in a post. As quite possibly one of the foremost fashion influences in my life when I was 13, Bialik (now with a PhD in neuroscience, 2 kids, a revived acting career and voice of 'attachement parenting') has a new role as 'mommy blogger' (gag!) for Today (US), the breakfast 'news' (who are they kidding) show.

In her first post, Bialik has managed to press a few buttons with her writing about a typical day in her life as a parent. Now, whilst Bialik has been something of a postergirl for attachment parenting and natural childbirth, in this post she claims that she isn't in to labels and just does what feels right to her (even though she has referred to herself as living in an attachment parenting household before). Fair enough.

According to the actress, "This is not some fandangled new Hollywood trend. We parent the way people have parented for hundreds of thousands of years. So hang on to your hats and prepare for a view into my household."

What annoys me, however, is that following her abhorrence for being labelled, she then provides a laundry list of several things that she and her husband do regularly as part of their parenting (for example, co-sleeping, extending breastfeeding, baby wearing, 'gentle disipline'). Now, if she doesn't want to refer to these actions as 'attachment parenting', I'm not sure what else you would categorise them as. Instead of discussing why she thinks what she does works best for her family, there is a tone of self-righteousness in her descriptions.

For example, "Natural birth is not something to “try for” and feel bad you couldn’t do. Our country needs to step up to the plate in educating women about the benefits of natural birth, and we need to help women actually do it – not just hear about it." Okay, well if she is trying to say that women shouldn't feel badly about themselves if they are not able to have a natural birth, it doesn't make sense then to append that with a statement implying that women should be having natural births because they are better.

If Bialik is aware of all of the stereotypes of attachement parents (" I know what you’re thinking: AP parents are self-righteous, privileged, over-psychoanalyzed martyrs who (especially if they are celebrities) pretend to have the time, energy, patience and abundant love to be with their kids all the time without giving them any limits, boundaries or sense of independence.") then perhaps she should change people's minds about AP, live up to the label and be proud of it, rather than playing in to those very same stereotypes in her mightier-than-thou attitude to parenthood and, out of fear, refusing to identify with a community of parents who practice what you preach.


Anonymous said...

Hey hey hey, back off of Mayim! I understand what she is saying since in many areas I fall into the AP stereotype/label. We roomshare/cosleep with our kids, I breastfeed for aeons, give birth in the upstairs bedroom, feed my kids tofu, neither praise nor punish them, and squirt breastmilk in my kid's eye if he or she gets conjunctivitis and all that... BUT it's not like I'm following some model. Like "Oh the AP bible says this... so that's what we have to do." I think if you use common sense, traditional wisdom, and even evolutionary science there are certain reasonable conclusions that come about. A lot of it was just trial and error for us. I started out being told by everyone that my kid had to sleep through the night in their own room. Everyone hated it, and we started room sharing and everyone was happy. We used time out and other similar punishments when our toddler misbehaved and it made behavior WORSE so we don't do it anymore and won't do it with the younger ones. It can be irritating to live a lifestyle that's both intuitive and makes a lot of sense to you and have this external label slapped on you and at the same time be hypocritical sometimes and say, we do the AP model to a stranger when you don't want to get into a big conversation about it. It will at least be nice to have a pop blogger out in the eye of the average household to normalize things that really are normal for humans. I've been called "anti-society" and paranoid etc. for birthing at home, as if knowing that walking into a building called a hospital to have my baby there's a 1 in 3 chance I will not walk out, but be wheeled out in a chair after going through major surgery shouldn't make me paranoid...

Anonymous said...

That's the problem,

1. You claim that your method is the natural one-it isn't, there are many methods.
2. Common sense is not always the right option.
3. Traditional wisdom can KILL you. Before modern medicine life expectancy was 35.

4. Stop using science when almost all available research does not agree with home birth as the safest option.

You are saying that your method, whatever you wish to call it, is the "natural" method. I call bullshit on that one. Do you walk around "naturally" or do you use a car/bike/train on occasion? When you get cancer, will you naturally die or get treatment? If your leg gets cut off, are you going to "naturally" let the stump bleed or go to doctor and get that thing sewn back on?

I'm going to add that when I was at the zoo I saw a gorilla mother smack her infant. I'm not going that natural method-will you?

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