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An interesting thing about talking to other parents is how some of them interpret your adoption of different parenting techniques as a rebuttal of their own abilities. Somehow the fact that you’ve decided to do something different to them is, on your part, a tacit message that you think they’re terrible parents.
The conversation usually goes with them telling you that they’ve adopted Doctor Pastrami’s patented Book-Bath-Feed-Book-Feed-Sleep technique, and that it’s worked very well for them so far. You non-judgementally respond by saying you’ve had excellent results with the Sprogrest Institute’s Bath-Book-Feed-Book-Book-Feed-Sleep technique. What they hear, however, is you telling them that they’re unfit to have a child and you’ll be calling social services as soon as they’re out of earshot.
I guess most of us have the insecurity coming from the fact that we’re completely winging this whole ‘raising children’ thing, and when other people do things differently to us it comes to the fore and we get defensive.
The worst for this, I’ve found, are members of the older generation, who were often given different information, which was considered the best at the time. “Why aren’t you putting her to sleep with a smoked mackerel on her forehead?” they ask. “I always put a smoked mackerel on my children’s heads when they went to sleep, and they were wonderful sleepers.” (And if the interlocutor is your baby’s grandparent, you’ll get the additional “…and YOU turned out okay…”)
“Well,” you say in response, “at that time the perceived wisdom was that it was best to put smoked mackerel on a baby’s forehead. You were doing the correct thing at the time. But subsequent studies indicated that the practice led to a higher risk of Haddock Temples in later life, so it’s not really recommended any more.” Still, the rejection of this hitherto-accepted practice is seen as a personal insult.
“Humph,” the other person will grumble, inwardly seething at the offence. “You are still tying half a parsnip to her right elbow on Tuesday lunchtimes, though?”
“Of course,” you answer, “how else will we keep the Lymph People at bay?”