The parenting debate these days is roughly where religion was in the Middle Ages. You won't find a Huffington Post article titled "How The Jews Are Setting Us Up For Failure" or "Red Wine: The Blood Of Christ, For Realsies?" And thank goodness for that. These debates are so five hundred years ago. Maybe I follow the Ten Commandments and you prefer The Sermon on the Mount, but we're not going to argue about it. It's not socially acceptable. And how can we anyway? The entire debate hinges on our own personal assumptions.
Arguing about parenting is really no different. That's why parenting approaches are bundled. If you use cloth diapers, you probably nurse beyond the APA recommended minimum. If you cosleep, I guarantee that you own several slings and baby wraps. Do you favor breast milk over formula? Essentially, who wins in an arm wrestle, Mother Nature or technology? It all comes down to our assumptions.
So I don't know that it's worth it to attack each other's parenting styles. For example, in a recent Slate article titled, "Crap, I Forgot to Be Mindful Again: How the mindful parenting movement is setting parents up to fail," Hanna Rosin makes an excellent case that Mindfulness Parenting is just another way of getting our kids to behave in the particular ways that we want. I agree; of course it is. Isn't that what every parent hopes for?
And I even understand her concerns about mindfulness that "'breathe' and 'live in the moment' are just two more things you didn't get to that day." That "the last thing American parents need are more goals that they are failing to meet." I get it. I wonder if, like me, she has glared at a photo of the serene, ever-loving face of the Dalai Lama and challenged, "Let's see what you look like after three consecutive snow days."
And I know that it's fun to poke at the hippies. Always has been. We're weird. We don't know when the Super Bowl is, our teething children wear amber necklaces, and we pack gluten-free cake to parties.
But it's not mindfulness' fault. Mindfulness is just a tool like any other in the parenting toolbox. Nor is it the fault of Attachment Parenting, Simplicity Parenting, Playful Parenting, Tiger Moms, Time Magazine, Gisele, or even Gwyneth Paltrow. Parenting is just tough and awesome and rewarding and frustrating and terrifying.
So I think maybe it's time we agree to disagree about our parenting approaches, just like we do for religion. There may not be one right answer in the stroller verses wrap or cloth verses disposable debate. Maybe we just need to respect our differences and realize that the right way to parent comes down to our own assumptions. Down to our own particular parenting religion.
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