The whole idea started when I was reading Robb Wolf's "The Paleo Solution" he brings up the question of what we consider to be normal viz a viz eating, weight, sleep etc. and suggests most logically what every parent on earth will at least once have told their children "just because "everyone" is doing it, that doesn't make it right". In fact a whole ton of things have become normalized that if one stops to think about it, just don't make sense. And nowhere is that more true than in the realm of parenting.
It really makes sense in a weird non-normal way as a parent to frequently enough uproot yourself and your brood and move to another country with a different set of norms and mores. Of course that in itself is not natural. But it does starkly remind you that just because everyone did something at some location and stage, doesn't mean that it's normal or natural or either of the two.
I'm not even going to go to the whole thing on homosexuality and marriage... although I'd like to point you towards some rather interesting research on homophobes being closet gays, and a rather fun cartoon...
A debate has been simmering in the press about the whole attachment vs independence fostering style of parenting, aka "The mommy wars" and the Times has jumped right on the bandwagon along with some hoops of fire, tigers and loudspeakers and some very provocative imaging. You've just got to love Heather Cushama-Dowdee's take on the matter.
as this article indicates.
I was rather interested in reading that the model for the Time's cover shot had been breastfed until aged 6 by her mother at the behest of her nutritionist father. Looking at my 2 healthy, lean specimens of children, anecdotally at least there does seem to be a benefit to extending breastfeeding for at least a year. But then again, I'd be the first to admit my rather priveliged situation of having been able financially to stay at home to do the breast-feeding.
When pregnant and while the kids were young I read the gambit of "literature" on parenting, from Sears attachment parenting to Brazelton and Ford. And in the end I did, and am doing some kind of hybrid approach that seems to be working out more or less for me and them. The kids are on a fairly strict routine, but they were breastfed. They have their own rooms and beds and are expected to sleep in them most of the time. But when they're sick they'll end up in bed with me, for a number of practical reasons, including the fact that that way I can maximize both my own sleep and that of my husband who will have to go to work and perform at a high level the next morning. When we were moving home and country shortly after my daughter was born, we ended up co-sleeping until we were settled out of the hotel in HK and the hotel in Luxembourg and into our own home. Last night, my daughter ended up in my bed since she had been feeling fragile and out of sorts all day and just expressed the need to do so. Luckily our bed is super big! In turn, each of them have trundle beds in their rooms which are useful for sleepovers with friends and also with each other - something they often do over the weekend when they've been missing each other in the hurly burly of the week.
But on the other hand, I like my kids to be strong and independent and do stuff for them selves. To fight their own battles and to resolve things as best they can.
I am partly grateful that I don't HAVE to work, as much as at times I do NEED to do so. That I have the luxury to dabble without consequence. It truly is a luxury. I do not think anything less of the women around me who need to work out of financial or other self-driven necessity. Particularly when I see the huge amount of intellectual and capability waste around me in stay at home mums, which, to be honest, once the kids are at school / activities for 10 hours a day 5 days a week, mean that all that intelligence and pent up energy can at times be directed in the strangest (to me at least) ways. But without them where would the PA/PTAs/ Charities / other non-profit and voluntary organizations be?
I was talking to a couple of Australian girls the other day who are returning home at the end of the year. Both have children and are not working here. I know them through our mutual volunteering work. Both will work at least part-time when they get home. Not particularly out of financial necessity although, with the high tax rates in Australia they admit it would help. No, they do not want the empty existence of staying at home in a community where most women work out of real or perceived necessity. They will work in order not to be lonely and isolated where working is the norm.
Normality scares me a little. It is easy to get sucked into different forms of it. My children are on the cusp between imaginary worlds and science fiction world and they are starting to ask about alternate realities. Of course they exist. But not perhaps in the sense that the novelist would have us believe. Each time you enter another home, the life of another family you enter into an alternate reality. And by dint of your birth here rather than there your personal history is changed. For those debating on either side of the "wars" THAT is the reality, rather than any polemic.