Wednesday, September 13, 2006

142 million pages - and counting



I just Googled the term 'parenting' and there were 142,000,000 pages available. Amazon.com offers 43,112 books on the subject. There are magazines, television programmes, courses, support groups, DVDs and more. In theory, we're the best informed parents in history.

But at the same time, we're probably the most inexperienced - and the most insecure. Often, the first baby we ever hold is our own and with ever increasing geographical mobility, we're not near enough to our families to turn to them for help.


Of course, there's no shortage of people telling us we're doing it all wrong - from the tutting pensioner in the supermarket queue to the headline in the newspaper. We're sitting ducks for whoever shouts their advice the loudest.

Don't you ever feel as if you just want to go and live on a desert island somewhere - with NO internet access, NO television and NO bookshops?


6 comments:

Pendullum said...

and No in laws!!!
as they are the best to tell you how you are doing it all wrong....

Emma Kaufmann said...

I didn't feel insecure having the first baby or the second and I didn't read any parenting books either, they're too boring. I'm not suggesting I'm a good mother, only that parenting books are simply a very lucrative marketing niche, bought by people who need books to tell them how to do everything from having orgasms to knitting toilet roll holders.

mad muthas said...

but emma, don't you think that's causal? you weren't insecure BECAUSE you didn't read the books - actually, maybe it's a circular argument - you didn't read the books because you weren't insecure in the first place. but i certainly believe that many books deliberately set out to create an anxiety or a need, then purport to assuage it (but often don't). and the titles of childcare books tap into our insecurities - 'the contented little baby book' indeed!

Skookum said...

It is like we discount our own knowledge and beliefs in favour of the opinions of 'experts' (yeah, I'm looking at you Doctors Spock and Sears!)

I'm not immune to the lure of self-help books and web sites, but I'm arrogant enough to only give credence to those which validate my preconceived notions and ideas...yeah, I'm a bit of a redneck in this respect.

I think Emma may be on to something: some mothers need to put down the baby manuals and read a DIY orgasm book. Just a thought...

Emma Kaufmann said...

Mad Muthas - of course, you make a good point. Advanced capitalist society is constantly on the look out for creating needs in their folk that they don't actually have to start with. On the other hand, maybe most new moms really are insecure around babies, I suppose if your mother was insecure you will be too. Mine wasn't so I wasn't either.

mad muthas said...

we were talking to a journalist today about the whole issue, and it occurred to us that some people truly believe they are in control of their lives - they can control their fertility (or so they think), make plans, forge a career, present themselves through status symbols, etc.
when they decide it's time to start a family, they assume they will still be in control. they plan, schedule, take all the vitamins, do the classes. but they are often overwhelmed by the emotional upheaval having children causes, and quite unprepared for the fact that a baby is an individual that may not fit neatly into the plan! how many times have you heard expectant parents say, 'having a baby isn't going to change our life'. the reality is a rude awakening (often literally!).
i think this sense of losing control is behind a lot of this panicky, overcompensating behaviour. realising you can't control everything is quite liberating - but getting to that point may be painful!
my own mother clearly thinks i'm nuts, trying to fit so much into my schedule. she is a rather laid back person - not insecure at all, and i was her third child. so go figure!