Saturday, 27 August 2011

Trust your instincts

"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do."

This is the opening sentence  in Dr Spock's (no, not the one pictured left with the pointy ears and raised eyebrow) Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.

His book was attacked by supporters of the war in Vietnam for his liberal advice to parents for breeding a permissive, self-indulgent generation. His response, with which I agree, was "Anyone who has read Baby and Child Care understands that I am not a permissivist, that I never talked about instant gratification." But the damage was done. Dr Spock would never quite shake off that reputation among the conservatives as a corruptor of the young.

After decades of 'experts' telling new mothers how children should be raised, it's even more difficult for them to 'trust their instincts. Some of Dr Spock's advice has been discredited on medical grounds, for example, the idea of putting babies to sleep on their stomachs, but, in the main, his message remains - "if you had half a grain of sense you knew [which] advice would be compatible with your own best instincts." The book is "revised regularly.

Recent Review: Good old Dr Spock. He is the best. He knows that at heart we all want to raise civil, friendly, happy, confident children, and he shows us how to steer things so we get one. His descriptions of children at different ages and stages - in all their individuality and difference - is spot on. He is so SENSIBLE, and yet he understands the worries of mothers better than any other writer about baby and child care. (Yes! I know he's dead.) It's just that common sense and kindness and generosity of spirit live on in new editions. Don't try to raise a child without a copy. That is my advice.