An opinion piece
I believe that the vast majority of parents love their kids and do the best they can for them. Parents might make decisions I don’t like based on bad information, or they might have a different set of beliefs that leads them in another direction. And parents might make decisions I don’t like on first glance, but that I would make just the same if I were in their position.
I believe that babies and children are amazingly resilient and forgiving. I think babies have a built-in assumption that their moms are doing everything they can for them. I think babies have strong attachment and a good bond with stay at home moms, stay at home dads, working moms, working dads, divorced parents, single parents, gay parents, foster parents, extended family, and frequent babysitters, .
It seems to me that babies are most often happy, healthy, and secure, whether their mothers had natural birth or planned c-sections, whether they’re fed mother’s milk from the breast or bottle, donor milk, or formula, whether they sleep with their parents or in a crib, whether they’re circumcised or intact, have their ears pierced or not, wear organic cotton or Wal-mart polyester, eat mostly local vegetables or mass-produced beige foods.
It is my conviction that certain individual choices can introduce more risk than others, but the most important thing is the totality of the child’s life. Sometimes “risky” choices are necessary to allow for other decisions that offer a better overall outcome. Also, every parent puts a foot wrong now and then. Some weeks it will seem like we fail to live up to our own standards every day, but parents keep giving it their best shot, and their kids can tell.
I believe it is wrong to spank children. Yet I have spanked my children on occasion.
I believe routine infant circumcision is wrong. I also believe that parents who choose it do so because they believe it’s harmless, healthy, and even necessary.
I believe it is better to exclusively breastfeed babies until 6 months. For me, it hurt, sometimes to the point of agony, every time I nursed for about 3 months. I’m glad I managed to endure it, but I wouldn’t have blamed myself for stopping.
I believe the vast majority of moms have the phsyiological capability to breastfeed. I also believe that many moms still truly can’t breastfeed because of bad information and lack of support on a local and cultural level.
I believe we should nurture, love, and appreciate our children. And I know all of us are going to lash out and be impatient with our kids at some points, when they’ve pushed us to our limits.
Most of all, I believe that parents and children need plenty of good information and lots of emotional and practical support. If we want parents to do what we think is best, the most useful approach is one of respect and a presumption of good faith. If we want people to dismiss our information and continue as they have been, the quickest way to do that is to deliver that information with plenty of condescension, scorn, and contempt.
I don’t have any citations. I’m not trying to strong arm you into agreeing with me. It’s just what I believe, and I’m confident enough not to try to make it more. Maybe Darcia Narvaez could use this model for her next Psychology Today article. Those who agree with her will still cheer and post links to it. And those whose behavior she wants to change might actually take her seriously and think about her arguments.