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January 3, 2004

I, Nerd

Posted by Mike on January 3, 2004 12:26 PM

Contraction Timer is a piece of Palm software that, well, times contractions. For women in labor.


So add the Palm to the list of encumbrances I'll be keeping close over the next few weeks, along with cell phone. I keep the phone on about three days out of the month, then I forget to plug it back into its charger and it sits under a stack of magazines or papers until I think I need it again. Starting next week, with a return to classes, I'll be doing better about that.

But downloading Palm pregnancy software is a welcome diversion from patrolling parenting web sites.

I collected a lengthy list of links to representative samples of assorted parenting issues, like the efficacy/desirability of circumcision, the whole "attachment parenting" thing, discussion boards about how to teach the kid to sleep, and web pages devoted to debunking parenting theories the authors didn't agree with. After a few days of chasing down each of those rabbit holes, I'm relieved to say I'm going agnostic on the baby ideology thing.

We've got a "baby game plan" that smells about like what we are as people. We each know what we got from our families that we wanted and can look back on as good things, and we know what we didn't get that we want to provide. We're trusting ourselves to sort that out as we go, with help from a few guides here and there. Much more, and I suspect we'd be moving into the territory of a lot of well-intentioned but doomed approaches involving attempts to turn the baby less into a human being and more into a deterministic system from which the parents can hope to extract predictable results based on consistent inputs.

Folks might note the presence of a few buzz-words in my list of site topics, but little in the way of specifics. That's because the other thing I learned as I read through these sites is that people hang a lot of hope on these methods, and stake a lot of their own belief in their efficacy as parents on having backed the right developmental theory horse.

I've met a few people hung up on adherence to the right baby ideology, or the need to file regular status reports on the curve-busting rapidity with which little Baby X is growing into a dimension-shifting neo-human, and it always makes me nervous, not because I think "My own parental fervor will need to be as great," but because I sense that discussions on differences in approach will never be free of at least a little unpleasant dissonance.

Put this all down as incomplete thoughts, I suppose, but it just seems like hanging so much on "Dr. X's Guide to Making Your Baby Y and Z" is a good way to guarantee future misery when the child proves him or herself to be a human, and not a deterministic system.

(Link via code: thewebsocket;)


The one book that we would have sent back in time to ourselves was Tracey Hogg's Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer. The writing style can be annoying (either Tracey or her ghostwriter/editor spent a little too much time finding ways in the text to remind you that she has a delightfully homey English accent), but the advice was the most helpful we found anywhere. We didn't discover it till they were maybe 10 months old and we had been through a lot of despair already that we suspect the techniques in the book might have helped spare us.

Posted by: Ed Heil at January 3, 2004 3:25 PM

Reactions to Tracey Hogg on one site in particular are what got me to thinking about how much I hate the polarized nature of parenting discussions. Haven't read anything except excerpts and reviews from sites that don't seem aligned to a particular "parental ideology," so I can't gauge reactions with complete accuracy, but I found the reactions to Hogg pretty offensive.

She clearly wrote a few words not to the taste of some proponents of a particular parenting approach and provoked much rage. Disappointing, because the people taking such issue with her seemed to be more like me than a lot of other sites I've visited, but they couldn't step outside the baby ideology they embraced long enough to realize she wasn't out to make them look like idiots... she just happened to disagree on a few things.

Posted by: mph at January 3, 2004 3:36 PM