Posted by: scintillatingspeck | June 15, 2008

What to write about?

It has been difficult to find time to write on this blog.  At least a dozen times in the past week, I have had some burst of inspiration, usually after reading the news, but then find it just about impossible to focus on writing.  Right now I am forcing myself to write although I’m very tired, Lily is asleep on my lap, and I am typing with one hand, my non-dominant hand no less.

I’m going to ask you, dear reader, for a little help.  Which of the following topics do you find compelling?  Which should I take the time to expound upon?  Leave a comment below, and I will be grateful for your input.

  1. In today’s New York Times Magazine, there was a fascinating article on equal parenting that made me think a lot.  In particular, it made me reflect on how the oppressive expectations and habits of the larger culture have a way of insinuating themselves into the most personal aspects of individual lives.  How can an avowed feminist and questioner of gender stereotypes push back against this?  How do the families that are profiled in the article push back?  Do they have advantages that others don’t, or rather, that I don’t?
  2. I am a fan of Carolyn Baker’s blog, Speaking Truth to Power, and she recently posted about her relocating to Vermont as a way to prepare for collapse.  Also, Sharon Astyk wrote a post recently titled City, Country, Suburb? It Isn’t Where You Live, but How You Live There.  These have given me much food for thought.  For quite a while, I have been wondering if my family is in the right place to weather the collapse, both in terms of our geographic location (the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts) and in terms of our current living arrangement (at Rocky Hill Cohousing).  We are also in a transition period as a family, as Tom is looking for a new job.
  3. I always have a boatload of reflections on living in cohousing, or at least living in my particular cohousing…I try to balance the positive and negative feelings that come up, but I confess that I often feel disillusioned.  Sometimes I feel just plain devastated.  Mostly I direct my blame at the larger culture of Empire and how it interferes with the well-intentioned plans of good people.  Sometimes I blame myself.
  4. I am still thinking a great deal about birth, death, grieving, and joy.  You may have already read my post about Charlotte and her thoughtful mama, who writes so eloquently about the depth of her loss as well as her joys.  I have been mulling over the idea of pursuing joy as a necessary spiritual duty, as serious as grieving the beloved dead.  The wonderful Patti Digh blogs about how to make the most of life and death over at 37 Days and I am so inspired by her thoughts.  There is so much more I want to say but I’m not sure where to start.  I also think about this in the context of severe mood disruption, non-theistic spirituality, and psychological adaptation to the Great Turning.
  5. I came across an intriguing website by someone in Calgary called Annie the Nanny who writes about Peak Oil Parenting.  Intriguing topic, I thought, as the parent of a 14-month-old, as well as a peakist/peaknik/whatever (okay, I wish there were some better terminology around).  I was a bit surprised when she went on to attack Attachment Parenting as something that would never work in a post-peak world.  I was tempted to write some kind of rebuttal, but then a British woman named Fiona apparently beat me to it in a letter that Annie posted and then responded to.  Annie now says it’s not Attachment Parenting per se that wouldn’t work, it’s Child-Centered Parenting, and really, most of the AP parents she deals with have got AP all wrong.  I still have a bunch of thoughts about how AP might work better in a post-peak world, not worse.

 Okay, that’s probably enough potential topics for now!  Leave me a comment if any of them sound interesting to you.

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Responses

  1. gary and i were talking about the equal parenting article… would love to hear your thoughts.

    i felt they didn’t talk enough about breastfeeding and how that affects the caretaking dynamics.

    i also thought the carefully plotted schedules and accountings were a little too cold and not trusting… but they must be helpful for some.

    mostly i would love to see more part-time work opportunities for parents of any gender 😉 and i would love to see our nuclear families be less isolated so that there isn’t such a huge dichotomy between career woman and SAHM.

  2. I’d like to hear more especially about #3 and #5, and I suspect some of us might need to be reminded precisely what attachment parenting really is.

  3. Tom: I just added a link to the words “attachment parenting” that goes to the Dr. Sears site, where he talks about the 7 B’s: bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, bedding close to baby, belief in the language value of baby’s cry, beware of baby trainers, and balance.

    Astromezzo: yes, I was also thinking about breastfeeding! and rigid schedules! and part-time work for all!

  4. have you read The Continuum Concept? it’s a little (actually very, very) starry-eyed about how perfect and natural life is in hunter-gatherer societies, and it’s written by a non-parent (and non hunter-gatherer), and i’m always suspicious of advice being handed out by those who haven’t truly btdt… but… it’s a interesting read, and the philosophy is a good corrective to the sort of overinvolved attachment parenting that i think is a product of an industrialized society, and hence will not serve us well if we have to deindustrialize.

    the basic philosophy i took away from it was to keep your baby in-arms when they are little – constant contact and breastfeeding through the day with babywearing or just carrying, and then sharing sleep at night. then as baby starts to crawl and walk you give them tons more independence than your average north american parent would and have high social expectations for the child’s behavior and their contribution to the work of the family and the community. teach them gathering, hunting, carrying water… let them handle sharp knives…it also helped me think a lot about how adult expectations shape children’s behavior – because they are hard-wired to learn social behavior and pick up on our cues. it did make me more comfortable with being less permissive and think about what messages i was sending when i set boundaries.

  5. I haven’t read The Continuum Concept but would like to (after I get through Reinventing Collapse, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Whole Child/Whole Parent, The Insulin Resistance Diet, and Crash Course: Preparing for Peak Oil). So much to read, so little time… I do like the idea of getting inspiration from hunter-gatherer societies in particular, as I believe it would be adaptive to learn from them.

  6. Hi

    It’s Annie here. The one that wrote the controversial article on attachment parenting. Am happy to have found your blog.

    Seeing as you mentioned me, I thought I might expand a little on my thoughts on attachment parenting.

    In reality it’s very hard for me to comment on what I see from AP parents even though I’ve tried to because much of what I see, isn’t what I believe true AP was originally trying to communicate….thus the clarification.

    I can’t pretend that I don’t have some practical concerns about the AP methodology but I don’t have a problem with reasonable responsiveness and responsiveness is a core part of AP parenting. I believe however, what many attachment parents (or many of the people who call themselves AP…I digress) miss, is the focus element. They muddle responsiveness and focus and see them as much the same thing. It’s a fine line but a critical one and many times it gets missed.

    I guess I’m the one that deals with the near misses and hate to say it, but there are a lot of them. I also think it’s compounded by the fact that our society itself is child centered but in only in a peripheral, unreal and thoroughly unhealthy sense. If society really cared about our kids, we would not allow developers to make sterile family neighborhoods, devoid of soul. People would come ahead of profit. Togetherness would come ahead of consumerism.

    Unfortunately what we have is the opposite. Our children are seen as little more than mini consumers, little tugs on mommy and daddy’s wallet. Many parents are struggling to give more and more but it’s the wrong kind of giving. Others, seeking to reclaim something intrinsic from parenthood are unintentionally creating additional confusion.

    I know that AP parents are trying hard to regain much of what they sense is lost but if they lose their way and focus on their children in an unhealthy way, they will end up creating more problems than they solve.

    What I do see, take great pleasure from and wholly endorse is the near universal attitude amongst parents to try. In this uncertain world, that accounts for a lot.

    Thanks for the opportunity to take part in your debate.

    Annie

  7. Annie: thanks so much for your comment and providing more clarification. You have almost certainly encountered more AP parents than I have, and I value hearing about your experience. In looking at your website, I was confused because your statement of basic beliefs made a lot of sense to me, and I couldn’t reconcile it with your critique of AP in a post-peak world. I think I am understanding better where you are coming from with your response to Fiona and your response here.

    I couldn’t agree more that the consumerist vision of society is bad for children. In general, I think our culture does not promote the health and well-being of children, or indeed of almost anyone, child or adult.

    One of the things I have appreciated about AP is how it can be used so I can focus on other things. For example, take babywearing. Since my daughter was born, I have worked part-time, and she has come to work with me each time. Particularly as a young infant, babywearing was the key to allow me to get anything done. I could go to work, pop her in the wrap, and she would hang out, or snooze, while I would work. (For the past six months my husband has had some flux in his work situation, so he has come to my workplace along with me and the baby on the days that I work, and has primary responsibility for her for the day, except for breastfeeding and a few breaks.) It’s definitely occurred to me that in a post-peak world, the practice of babywearing could be extremely useful as parents will likely be trying to get a lot done and need their hands free, at the same time that the baby can be soothed with closeness, or just hang out and observe what the parent is doing.

    Maybe I should stop here and think some more about doing my own post about peak oil parenting! Thanks for helping me think about this, Annie.


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