When Heidi Murkoff published What To Expect When You’re Expecting in the 80s, there was almost no parenting advice for naive and innocent young parents to fret over. Murkoff wrote her first book because she found herself unexpectedly pregnant and couldn’t find a “no nonsense guide” to help answer her questions. But now that her own daughter Emma is a mother, her best piece of advice is to skip all the self-help books and mommy forums.
In a piece for the Daily Mail, Murkoff writes of her own journey to best-selling author status, but also about how different the parenting world is now. “When I became a young mother, the only activity to do with a baby was to put it in a pram and go for a walk. Now there’s every class imaginable — each promising to enrich your baby’s experiences and even expand their intellect.” While she had a lack of other mothers to talk with and self-described experts shilling advice, modern moms can get insight and competition at almost every turn.
And Murkoff doesn’t believe that this new world of parenting advice, a world in which her book plays a large role, is really helping new moms all that much. That’s why her best tip for her own daughter is just to calm down and ignore all those “helpful hints” out there.
Murkoff talks a lot about the new pace of parenting and the pressure to be involved in every extra-curricular, in every activity. From the second our children come out of the womb, we’re convinced that we should be teaching them, enriching them, nourishing them. But sometimes, the best thing we can do is simply to slow down. Murkoff explains, “In those early months of motherhood, I read baby stories, held her and smelt her. That’s how our bond grew. Emma’s milestones — her first smile, first tooth, first steps and first sweet word — came in her own time.”
As a member of this overwhelming world of mommy advice and debate, I have to agree with Murkoff quite a bit. While I think that lots of awesome education and support comes out of mommy blogs and internet forums, I think they also have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on parents. We’ve been having a quite a discussion here at Mommyish on the ways that individual parenting choices can be vilified and condemned, sometimes to such extremes that it almost makes the entire conversation meaningless. And it’s sad to say that even in out corner of the internet, it’s easy to see how the judgement and concern-trolling from other parents would be intimidating at best, stress-inducing bullying at worst.
Even though parenting debate and insight is kind of what we trade in around here, and what made Murkoff her millions, it’s hard to ignore the benefits that come from unplugging when our little ones are born. Get the information you need and then just take a little time to do what feels best and natural for you and your child.
Attachment or hollistic, co-sleeping or bottle-feeding, and the classic working or stay-at-home… Murkoff says, “Whatever the group, everyone is locked in conflict and judging each other. It’s disruptive and counterproductive. Faced with such overwhelming choice, I would never have coped.” I have to agree with Murkoff there. I’m kind of happy that I wasn’t involved in the parenting world when I had my first daughter.
Once again, the lady from What To Expect gives some pretty stellar advice.
(Photo: What To Expect)