Sunday, November 30, 2008

Anxiety Is Not Just Me

I recently came across a passage from one of my favorite pregnancy/parenting books that I thought I would post as a way to suggest the title to anyone in search of such. The book is from the hips: a comprehensive, open-minded, uncensored, totally honest guide to pregnancy, birth, and becoming a parent by rebecca odes and ceridwen morris. (They used all lower case on the cover for title and author.) Here is the passage:

the anxiety trap?

In her book A Potent Spell: Mother Love and the Power of Fear, author/psychotherapist Janna Malamud Smith suggests that our society actually cultivates mothers' anxiety. Anxiety serves a purpose, she says, making mothers focus all their energies on worrying about their children instead of advocating for universal healthcare or otherwise making a nuisance of themselves. In other words, anxiety preserves the status quo. And when mothers bear so much of the burden of responsibility for their kids' welfare, they also bear the biggest burden if their children get sick or hurt or die. So they're trapped into obsessive vigilance--for fear of the ultimate punishment. Where does the basic desire to protect our children end, and the culturally induced paranoia begin? It's hard to say. We can't necessarily avoid the worries, but being aware of the forces at work may help to put them in perspective.


In addition to this particular passage that seems to speak to me now with my 9-month-old soundly asleep for her afternoon nap, this book works well as a basic guidebook during pregnancy and the first months. The book that I would happily talk you out of buying: that tome that just about anyone can name, What to Expect When Are Expecting by Heidi Murkoff. It is filled with just the anxiety and fear-inducing stuff that Malamud Smith warns about.

Now, it is time for me to get out there and advocate for stroller accessible public transportation in Boston. And univeral healthcare. And such.


István Albert said...

Hey we like the "What to expect" book. It goes like this: at the age of X the baby needs to be able to to A and B and C.


I think one needs to read this book as a description of a landscape when viewed from 30,000 feet.

For comparison all one needs to imagine what a book titled "What to expect once you hit 35" could possibly contain. That's about how accurate any book about human behavior, feelings and desires can be.

Babies are just as different as individuals as the adults. We can't put grownups into nice little categories so it won't work with babies neither. That could be the value of the book. Too look at it not as what the baby should be doing, rather as a measure of how he/she will be different from the so called 'average'.

Réka Albert said...

Another thing to consider about the "What to expect" books: they are meant as trouble-shooting guides. Only a small fraction of the issues brought up will be relevant to each individual baby. Continuous reading indeed gives the impression that one can only expect trouble. Which I imagine was not the intention of the authors.

DJ said...

SOLUTION: read twilight instead. no babies. guaranteed to offer no baby-related stress. your baby a vampire? then i can't help you. --management