Although I don’t consider myself to stay within one particular parenting philosophy or to follow all of the tenets, I think most people examining my parenting practices would probably classify me as someone who practices attachment parenting. In the philosophy laid out in Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child’s Natural Abilities — From the Very Start, I was surprised to learn how much of Magda Gerber’s RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) philosophy simultaneously aligned with and contracted attachment parenting or natural parenting.
Your Self-Confident Baby is based on the premise that parents ought to treat their children with respect, beginning in infancy. Though this is similar to why many practice attachment parenting with their children, the difference is that attachment parenting would promote this through physical connection and nurturing, while this philosophy, also called “RIE,” promotes showing and developing this respect and through intellectual connection.
I’ve read a lot of parenting books in the past few years, but this book gave me many new angles from which to view things that most other books neglected. (And while I’m on the subject of parenting books, I’ll just throw this in there: it doesn’t matter how many or what parenting books you read, if you can’t learn to “read” your own children because of the way one book or philosophy places your thinking about them in a box, then it’s probably time to stop reading parenting books for a while!)
While I read a number of diverse parenting books simply to gain understanding of the broad scope of philosophies, I came away from this book challenged with a renewed vision to treat my children (and other people’s, too) with respect and to be careful in the ways we often attempt to intervene in children’s natural learning process. Reading this book highlighted specifics on how, as a Christian parent, I can be practicing “loving my [little] neighbors” and demonstrating 1 Corinthians 13 love toward my children.
At some parts of the books, I wondered at the author’s dogmatism, while the same logic with different conclusions could have just as easily been made about entirely opposite philosophies. I also found the author’s views on safety and protection to seem contradictory at points–sometimes she would scoff at a parent for intervening in their child’s lives about certain issues, while at the same time laying down absolutes on “safety” that “a child must never” where some people might scoff. She also promoted several of the “scientifically based” ideologies of her time, such as “babies need to cry,” promotes Ferber sleep methods, and does not see physical comfort as playing the important part that other philosophies do.
Gerber promotes treating infants and children like…well, actual people, and to show them respect. It is often difficult to see where we are not doing this, because it has become so ingrained into our culture(s) to treat children without it.
I gave this 3 stars (out of 5) on Goodreads, which seems low. Technically, that rating is to be interpreted “I liked it.” I did like it, even though there were parts I strongly disagree with. I would recommend reading this book to parents (and grandparents) at any season of parenting, but certainly in parallel with reading about other philosophies.
For those who do not like the attachment parenting philosophies but are still looking for parenting philosophies that are still very much disciplined, yet without being punitive or authoritarian, this would be an excellent resource. (And again, I’m not for settling into a box of one parenting style/philosophy!)