On Guns, Pools, and Porn Stars. And Babies.

29 06 2011

I took up prenatal yoga because a) yoga pants are incredibly comfortable in the third trimester and b) because we plan to breast feed and cloth diaper and baby wear, and when you join the ranks of those parents, yoga kinda gets thrown into the mix, right along with organic produce and baby sign.

The above list of parenting choices leads me to wonder about the type of parents we’ll actually be.

My own parenting philosophy?  It’s loosely based on a book called Freakonomics, which if you haven’t read, you should – even if you don’t have kids, because it’s not a parenting book.  It’s just a book of random correlations based on economics and statistics.  However, if you are a huge James Bond fan like me and plan on naming your daughter Plenty O’Toole, or if you are like Jason and own more guns than shoes, Freakonomics assures you that neither will impact your child’s success in the world so long as you have a college education and live in a neighborhood without any swimming pools.  In our case?  Check and check.  That baby’s going to be just fine.

I love a book that tells me nothing I do is going make or break my child (statistically speaking, mind you).

But at a certain point, I decided I needed a little more information.  I was having a crisis because logic told me that a convertible car seat rated for babies from 5 pounds to 70 pounds is just as good as an infant car seat rated from 5 pounds to 30 pounds.  Yet a small part of me felt like I was being wildly irresponsible for not spending $100 or more on the infant car seat that would only be used for 6 months because clearly infants need infant car seats.  Those convertible car seats are just made for the rare 5-pound toddler.  And then there was the dawning realization that I’ve eaten deli meat more than once during this pregnancy and oh, god, my child is going to be a nitrate-ridden freak of nature and I’m already the world’s worst parent.

This is what an abundance of parenting advice and child-safety products and societal pressure do to us: they turn our brains into total mush, and everything you learned about parenting from reading an economics book goes out the window.

Freakonomics made me feel safe in that my child will more likely go to college than have a tragic gun-related accident even if I give her a porn-star-ready name.  But now that I am beginning to make choices for this baby, I have found that there is so much more to parenting than fire arms and pole dancing.  So I turned to Free-Range Kids, which really is a parenting book.  Written by a woman who really is America’s worst parent, at least according to some in the media.  Now there’s an author I can respect.  Plus, if she’s already the worst mom in the country, that means however awful a parent I am, I will only be the second worst mother.  The pressure is off.

Free-Range Kids is a step-by-step guide for being the kind of parent that leaves your 10-year-old home alone while you run to the store.  Granted, that’s a decade away for me, but think about it: it may take 10 years for friends and family members to forgive me for making such an irresponsible decision, so I might as well start preparing them now.  The author also advocates for craziness such as letting your toddler bump her head, and even scrape her knees.  And how about letting your 7-year-old ride his bike down the block to a friend’s house?  Never?  What if the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children backed that decision?  Ha!

I love this book.

I’m not saying that I will be thoughtlessly combining guns and unattended children based on poorly understood (by me) statistics, only that I am hoping that logic and common sense will matter more in my parenting choices than media-and-market-driven anxiety.

And that is my blog’s first book review.  Sorry if the post title made it sound like it was going to be a way more interesting post…

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3 responses

29 06 2011
Alison Vickery

May I also recommend 1) The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel and 2) As Good as I Could Be by Susan Cheever and 3) Believing it All by Marc Parent. Pretty much the books which have formed my parenting philosophy. Seems to have worked pretty well so far, and we are the parents who do all those crunchy things you mentioned. Hope all is going well! Much love!
Alison

30 06 2011
domesticanomaly

Thanks, Alison! I’ll see if I can find them at the library. Gotta read while I’m a teacher on summer vacation without a baby… Well, with a well-contained baby…

5 07 2011
Holly

I LOVELOVELOVE Freakanomics!

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