I have been thinking a lot about generations recently. For years I heard my parents complain about my generation's apathy as they waxed nostalgic about their own political activity. My father, in particular, enjoys speaking of the 60's as the greatest time our world has ever known.
Maybe it was. And maybe we generation XYers are a bunch of apathetic, nintendo playing, IMing, Mac-loving, children of baby boomers. But here is one area we have all those ex-hippies beat in: child rearing.
Yesterday my father called me after Sam had attacked Alan with a pocket knife (longer post to follow on my insane child who was called "scary smart" by her pediatrician). "Put her in a playpen," he suggested sagely. "It was good enough for you and your sister." Hmmm... Ok. Perhaps this explains why neither my sister nor I graduated Cum Laude... But I digress.
Then last night I read the book my mother read when she was pregnant with me--a lovely book about the first year of parenthood with a wild-eyed hippy mama on the cover who appears to need both a haircut and a bath, stat, holding a naked baby aloft in field of daisies. Ah, the 70's. Such a peaceful time:
In it, parents are advised to feed their three-month-olds solid food, place their babies in walkers (which I believe kill something like 5 million children a year) and use playpens. They were also encouraged to dress their children in pea-green cordoroy overalls regardless of sex, but that seems less egregious in light of these other pieces of helpful advice.
Hmmm... I think not. Look, I am aware we all survived (otherwise, how would I be writing this?) But what of the ones who did not? Who will speak for them? I have appointed myself to the position. Let's face it, some of what our parents practiced, their benign neglect, may have fostered creativity and made us more independent. But some stuff was just stupid--a fact I will remember the next time my father helpfully suggests placing my almost 2-year-old in what is essentially a baby cage.
So please, for the love of G-d, check the copyright on your parenting advice books--and your parents.