Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our Babies, Ourselves

My daughter slept in a bassinet our room from birth until four months, then came into our bed until she was nine months old and asked to go in her crib. It was what worked for us, but I found myself making excuses for why we co-slept. In today's society parents are often judged for decisions that go against the "norm". Even though we believe in our decisions, we feel shy and make excuses for why we are nuturing our children a certain way. Jennie Cudmore of Crunch Granola Baby in Salem, MA recommended the book Our Babies, Ourselves by Meredith Small. This booked changed my entire way of thinking and parenting.
How we raise our children differs greatly from society to society, with many cultures responding differently to such questions as how a parent should respond to a crying child, how often a baby should be nursed, and at what age a child should learn to sleep alone. Ethnopediatrics--the study of parents, children, and child rearing across cultures--is the subject of anthropologist Meredith F. Small's thorough and fascinating book Our Babies, Ourselves.

Small asserts that our ideas about how to raise our kids are as much a result of our culture as our biology, and that, in fact, many of the values we place on child-rearing practices are based in culture rather than biology. Small writes, "Every act by parents, every goal that molds that act, has a foundation in what is appropriate for that particular culture. In this sense, no parenting style is 'right' and no style is 'wrong.' It is appropriate or inappropriate only according to the culture." Our Babies, Ourselves is a wonderful read for anyone interested in the social sciences, and will be especially meaningful to those swept up in the wild adventure of parenting. --Ericka Lutz

You have to do what works for you and for your child.

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