Enough With The Experts Already.

There is a woman who calls herself “The Potty Whisperer.”   For $250 dollars, you can send your child to “Booty Camp,” where, in four hours, she will teach him to use the toilet.  Perhaps you saw her last week, on the Today Show.  But don’t confuse her with the Baby Whisperer.  The Baby Whisperer has two bestselling books, which help clueless new parents deal with newborns, and bewildered, not-so-new parents deal with toddlers.  Then there’s the Sleep Lady, who consults with exhausted parents to help them get their kid sleeping through the night.  She’s also been on the Today Show, and she’s got books, too.  In case dads are ever feeling left out, they could always read the syndicated column of Mr. Dad, who answers father-specific questions in newspapers around the country.  And then, of course, there’s Super Nanny.  Flying around prime time, network television in her mini Cooper, she’s saving the world from unacceptable behavior, one naughty step at a time.

 

Not to get too Carrie Bradshaw on you here, but it all kind of makes me wonder: have our instinctual childrearing skills been selected out of the gene pool?  When did we, as parents, become so helpless that we can’t make a move without the advice of an expert? 

 

Lest my tone sound cynical and judgmental, let me fully disclose that I have often been lured by the parenting experts, and their promises to solve all of my problems in five easy steps.  When my first child arrived, screaming and colicky and impossible to soothe, I read the Baby Whisperer cover to cover at least a dozen times.  For fifteen months, I attended a mommy and me taught by a local guru, covering such topics as feeding, sleeping, napping, potty training, and age-appropriate play.  When we had food issues, I turned to books.  When we had discipline issues, I turned to Super Nanny.  But more and more, I’m starting to think that it might all be getting a little out of hand.  I mean, did I really need someone to tell me how to play with my baby?  And do people really need to pay someone else to potty train their kids? 

 

Part of it, I’m sure, is that the support system for raising a family has broken down in modern society.  We no longer live in tiny villages with our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins, so we no longer have people we trust to show us the ropes, or a steady stream of infants to practice on.  And even if we do live near our mothers, their child-rearing wisdom tends to be, um, outdated.  Back then, if your baby wouldn’t sleep, you didn’t call the Sleep Lady; you slipped a little brandy in the formula.  Kid won’t listen?  Who needs Super Nanny when you’ve got the back of your hand?  It’s no wonder that “Parenting” has turned into a multi-million dollar industry, complete with its own trade show in New York City .  This wouldn’t be America if somebody didn’t come along and fill the gap. 

 

sofiaone
07.01.08

i do agree with this article. I did read a ton of books by the "so called experts" and they did really help me although if I had a community of mommy friends/family nearby to turn to for advice/info when my baby was born, i would have never read a single book on child-rearing. I work full-time, live away from all my family and don't have much time in my day to chat. Now that I have a toddler, I think I have become a so-called expert too.....i just need to write a book and make millions :)

Barbaraann
06.24.08

Give me a break. These books were never meant to be used as the bible. They are meant to keep you on a path... and if it doesn't work, go in a different direction. Many today over- think all of it and perspective is lost (including me! :), humor is lost. We all crash and burn at some point, experts or no experts. But the truth is if we can identify the areas that will supplement the parents we are meant to be, it can be helpful. It can be cathartic and it can help us to feel understood. Those moments when nothing works, we are meant to experience that and get through it and still come out alive on the other end.
Barbara
www.nannymama.com

2boys
06.19.08

I agree (for the most part) about the so-called experts out there. I never bought any of those child rearing books when my boys were first born. I figured I'd wing it and do the best I can. But I have to admit...I just bought a book called 1-2-3 Magic and it really was magic! I was tired of yelling all the time and so were my boys. It actually works so maybe there are a few experts out there!

AmyF
06.17.08

I had a bunch of books when I had my first baby. When I was about to go back to work and really stressed about it, I opened up The Baby Book. It's advice in the "going back to work" section was basically "don't" or switch to part-time (as if that is always an option). That was when I realized that the so called experts are actually just people expressing their opinions and getting paid to do so.

When my friends have babies now, I tell them to really try to listen to their instincts and if they need an "expert" or a book to back them up, find the friend or the book that they know will agree with them.

Amy
Mom to 3
www.sofiabean.com