A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness
by Jessica Valenti
From the title of this one you would assume it’s a manifesto about not having children. The opposite is actually true. The author discusses the different reasons people have kids and the pressures that we put on ourselves and others to parent “right”.
Valenti had an incredibly traumatic birth three months before her due date. This extreme circumstance affected her views on a lot of things, but it also gave her a desire to question why certain things are done the way that they are. She struggled to breastfeed while her child was in the NICU and was pumping for 5 hours a day to try to keep up milk production. She quickly learned that sometimes breastfeeding just isn’t possible for some moms.
Her focus is on the fact that she believes there is no single correct way to give birth or parent. Women, particularly in western civilization put an insane amount of pressure on themselves and others to do it all. We tell ourselves we have to breastfeeding, co-sleeping (or not), make organic baby food, do attachment parenting, etc., all while continuing to work or run a household. There’s a strong tendency to glorify mothers who sacrifice everything for their babies, grinding their lives to a halt so their kids can have it all.
There were some startling statistics on people abandoning their kids or quitting their job and going on welfare because childcare is too expensive. While I don’t agree with every point Valenti made, I think she opened the discussion on some important topics about why we parent the way we do. Are people having kids because they want to or because they feel like they are supposed to?
BOTTOM LINE: I’m quickly learning that every single parent has their own unique style. I don’t know exactly what mine will be yet, but I’m finding it helpful to read books like this to learn more about what’s out there. I can tell you I’m definitely not ever going to be a supporter of elimination communication though.