— Parenting norms seem to reflect so much about society and so little about what kids really need — as evidenced by the fact that the norms are so different across eras and the globe. Glad this mom-to-be get that!
I am 9 months pregnant with my first child and Free Range Kids has been such a tremendous antidote to the avalanche of unsolicited parenting advice I’m getting as a soon-to-be-mom! I often find myself clamming up in social situations when child-rearing conversations get underway.
This cropped up in my Facebook feed today, and I think it’s largely because of Free-Range Kids that I can look at it critically rather than just feel chastened and potentially inadequate by it:http://www.parentsociety.com/news-2/current-events/this-video-proves-how-neglect-by-mom-makes-baby-feel-so-powerful/
More than with the study itself, my problem is with the packaging and messaging. First off, this study was initially conducted 40 years ago, when perhaps the prevailing wisdom was that children this small weren’t participating socially. That obviously isn’t the case today… so, why bring it back up in the first place? Why resurrect this topic that we’ve clearly put to bed, in our culture of round-the-clock stimulation for infants and Baby Einstein?
Secondly, this child is obviously NOT “neglected.” At worst, her immediate desire to be acknowledged is threatened for maybe 60 seconds. Setting aside for a moment the question of whether this is a child used to being interacted with by 2014 standards and, therefore, maybe more likely to react when Mom momentarily doesn’t meet her needs than the kid from 40 years ago, this use of the term “neglect” seems really irresponsible to me.
She’s two feet away, making eye contact with her child, who is plainly well-bathed, well-fed, and basically happy. Seriously, one minute of mere eye contact rather than sing-songy hyper-attention to one’s facial expressions constitutes neglect? Heaven forbid this mom should ever have to take a shower, or prepare a meal or a budget report.
Is it important to call attention to the positive impact of interaction with your kids, and to try to reduce instances of neglect, abandonment, etc.? Duh. But the audience here isn’t people who are unequipped with the resources to raise happy and well-balanced children; it’s people who are already likely to visit a website called Parent Society.
It’s stuff like this that ends up convincing parents who are already hell-bent on doing a good job (and, in fact, are doing it) that they’re damaging their kids by not being totally absorbed in their development 24/7.
This angers me not least of all as a feminist, because overwhelmingly the responsibility to be perpetually “on” falls on mothers. Being held responsible for this level of input with one’s infant leaves literally no time to develop a life as an individual with needs independent of one’s child’s.
Anyway. Thanks for your incredible website. — Jessica, future Free-Range parent