Sunday, October 29, 2006

It's The Parents Who Need Their Heads Examined

Flipping through the very thin pages of newsprint that passes for a Sunday newspaper in Ottawa Citizen-land, I came across an article reprinted from the UK's Sunday Telegraph. The article is headlined Babies On The Couch and it describes what is, apparently, a growing phenomenon: larger and larger numbers of toddlers and babies are being taken to see psychiatrists.

The article describes the experiences of a couple in London, England. Dad is a hedge fund manager, which I believe has something to do with finances, not horticulture. Mom's a lawyer. Pretty smart folks then, we can assume
Toby began his therapy when he was just one month old, at Dr Acquarone's parent-infant clinic at the School of Infant Mental Health in Hampstead, north London. His parents are among an increasing number who believe that good mental health cannot be established early enough.


"Dr Acquarone's sessions utterly changed my relationship with my son," says Miss Mientakeivitch, a lawyer. "We have the loving bond I had hoped for and he is a happy, healthy baby. Her work is tremendous: she taught me so much about what Toby was feeling and how to interpret the messages he was sending me. Her observations of Toby taught me such a lot about him."

Later on, we learn as an example, that one of the insights of the Great Doctor was that Mom should take off her glasses to let Toby see her eyes more clearly. I seem to remember that this advice is (a) contained in many books on parenting and (b) common sense. Nice work at $200 an hour for Dr. Acquarone.

So here we have two highly educated, intelligent people, who feel that they are so incapable of parenting their son using their own abilities that they have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on consultations and having the baby 'interviewed' by Dr. Acquarone. If people such as these don't feel comfortable parenting by intuition, common sense and a little judicious use of Google, who does?

How did Western society, collectively, reach the point where we have lost all confidence in our abilities to parent? When did having a child start to reduce high-achieving, intelligent people to uncertain ghosts of themselves, paralyzed with fear? Parenting is the most natural and instinctive role human beings can have. These are people who wouldn't think twice about their ability to read a client or a business associate, understand their body language, assess and predict people's likely behaviour, spot when someone is telling the truth or lying, and so on. They're high-powered people, confident in their abilities at work. Being a parent uses all the same skills. It's not rocket science.

When the highly educated, the elite, feel this way, it's easy to see why the idea that Nanny State's Early Childhood Educators know best has so much traction. No wonder we have an ever increasing army of professionals telling mothers that they can't do the job of raising happy, healthy children themselves. No, now you need some chick with a PhD to tell you your child will see you better if you take your glasses off.

It's time to expose this nonsense and give it the challenge it deserves in public. It's time to encourage all parents and parents-to-be out there to believe that they can do it themselves and that where their own child is concerned, if they trust their instincts and they focus on the child, they will end up knowing best.

As for the parents who feel the need of a $58,000 course of Dr. Acquarone's treatment, to them I say: You should have taken some time to practise a little first. Maybe start out with a Betta fish. Spend a few months learning to read fin-language and then move gently up the evolutionary ladder before attempting procreation. Either that, or spend that $58,000 more wisely and get your own heads fixed.