Well, after a cubic shedload of publicity this weekend – Times extract and interview, Observer and Sunday Express – to co-incide with the publication of the book (see right), things have quietened down a bit. I think there’s an article in the Express soon (thought it was today actually, but apparently not) and the FT on Saturday, plus a couple of magazine articles coming up and some radio. Most of the coverage has been on target. One or two articles spectacularly off – by journalists who hadn’t even got a copy of the book … but thought they’d write about it anyway. They’ll obviously put it right once they actually read the book – I’m sure they will.
A bit of a shame about all those people who’ve been given completely the wrong impression about the book in the meantime though.
Anyway, one interesting thing that has been highlighted is how incredibly contradictory most parenting information is. No sooner has one theory been publicised than another one – equal and opposite – comes along. Breast feeding confers benefits. No it doesn’t – it’s just that the kind of people who breast feed have children who do better. (No class assumptions or value judgement there, then!) Over-scheduling your kids is bad. No, it’s good – because the kids are more successful and better adjusted.
So what’s a parent to do? Anxious – nay desperate to do the RIGHT thing (cos there’s only ONE right thing – right?), we flip-flop between strategies, getting our knickers thorougly in a twist as we do so. And then get blamed for it (cos we all blame the parents – right?).
My theory is that there are too many theories. Probably because there are too many academics out there trying to get tenure, so the only good theory is a brand new, contentious theory. Something that’s bound to get published in a scientific journal and discussed at conferences from Davos to Denver (see, I know something about the lives of academics), then broadcast in reduced form in this week’s papers.
Meanwhile, we’re dazed, confused, stupid and contagious. Well, maybe not contagious – although, considering some of the venom in the media directed at parents lately, you’d think we were!