So Iâve been reading a lot of parenting books in the last two years.Â I know that right now I should probably concern myself more with books on pregnancy and birth, but Iâm much more interested in the part that involves caring for a baby outside of the womb.
Iâm already pretty sold on Dr. Sears and his attachment parenting, but I thought Iâd take a look at Gary Ezzoâs On Becoming Babywise for a differing perspective. (Plus, someone gave me the book. For free.) And while I donât think I accept most of Ezzoâs philosophy (which I wonât get into here), there was one section in the first chapter that I found intriguing.
Ezzo argues that the key to good parenting is a good marriage. âGreat marriages produce great parents,â he says. âA healthy husband-wife relationship is essential to the emotional health of children in the homeâ (p. 20)
This seems pretty likely to me. I can see how a stable husband-wife relationship would create a sense of security for the child.
He also says this: âIf something happens to mom and dad, every child intuitively knows that his or her whole world will collapse. With this critical relationship constantly in question, the child lives perpetually on the brink of disaster.â
From my own experience growing up, this seems likely as well, as melodramatic as it sounds. I grew up in a very stable family where divorce was never a remote possibility, and I think that was a great environment in which to grow up and learn about the world. The one or two times in my older childhood when just the faintest idea of my parents splitting up crossed my brain, I really felt like my life could possibility be over.
By contrast, Ezzo argues that âwhen there is harmony in the marriage, there is an infused stability within the family. A strong marriage provides a haven of security for children as they grow in the nurturing process. Healthy, loving marriages create a sense of certainty for children. When a child observes the special friendship and emotional togetherness of his parents, he or she is more secure simply because it isnât necessary to question the legitimacy of their parentsâ commitment to one anotherâ (p. 20-21).
Overall, I find this argument pretty compelling. Not to mention appealing. I love the idea that to be a good mother, I ought to continue to foster my relationship with my husband. I like the idea that smooching with him, laughing at his jokes and going for bike rides together all help to make me a good mom. Iâm already good at doing all these things!Â Iâm going to own at this mothering thing.
Iâm also a sucker for the mental picture of a baby looking at me and Ben as we joke around, flirt, and help each other out around the house, and thinking, âI know Iâm safe because they love each other.â It adds layers of meaning and significance to our love. It also nudges the romantic part of my heart.
Finally, Dr. Ezzo goes on to say this: âTo be a good mom or dad, all you need is to continue as before.â
On the one hand, I find this wonderfully comforting. Keep doing what Iâm doing?? Woot! If having a baby is going to be as easy as living with Ben has been so far, this parenting thing is going to be a breeze.
But I also have a teensy bit of skepticism about this statement. First off, if that was true, why does Ezzo then go on to write a whole book about how to parent? Why isnât it just a book about improving your marriage, then? (Which I totally wouldnât read if it was). And second of all, I have the feeling things are going to be so dramatically different in the house that youâre going to have to do some things a little differently. Infants have some pretty intense needs, and I suspect that just âkeeping the flame aliveâ in your marriage isnât going to be enough to keep your baby healthy and safe. I suspect there are parents out there who are fabulous spouses to each other but subpar parents to their kids. It seems possible for a couple to spend so much time and attention on each other that they neglect their childrenâs needs. Although this is probably a pretty rare occurrence.
I think Ezzo has a point, but I think he probably goes a little far in saying that all we need to do is keep being having a great marriage.
What do you think?