An important challenge by a French historian and philosopher to current trends in parentingAnyone who is currently caught up in the maelstrom of parenting a small child in this country will be well acquainted with the shibboleths of contemporary maternal culture: “natural pregnancy”, “natural birth”, postpartum bonding fostered by “plenty of skin-to-skin contact”, “baby-led weaning”, “baby-wearing”, “co-sleeping” and, above all, on-demand breast-feeding at least until the age of two, as recommended by the World Health Organisation. It takes a lot of nerve for a new mother to defy these recommentations, propogated as they are by most of the chief sources of healthcare advice, from the National Childbirth Trust and breastfeeding counsellors to the WHO and governments who ban the promotion of formula for small babies.Aren’t breastfeeding, co-sleeping and the like perfectly natural behaviours, and shouldn’t they be encouraged? The French historian and philosopher Elisabeth Badinter’s The Conflict passionately and angrily unpicks the claim of many aspects of modern maternal culture to be based on “natural” truths and behaviours. Reading it alongside Cordelia Fine’s superb Delusions of Gender (2010) was, for me, revelatory: together, these books resoundingly demolish the notion that “nature” dictates the differences between men and women’s behaviour.The Conflict, …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books