Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm

Surprisingly, I've been reading quite a bit.  Sometimes I read while feeding the baby, but most often I read when winding down after the baby has gone to sleep. Gavin often admonishes me to sleep as well, but I need some time to unwind.  Recently, Colin's schedule has been very predictable, at least at night.  We take a bath at around 7 and play for a while in his room.  Then I feed him for a very long time and he's asleep by 9.  He was waking up at either midnight or 230, but (knock on wood) the last few nights he's gone all night!

Anyway, one of the books I've finished recently is How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei-Ling Hopegood.

I really liked it!  (Unlike the last parenting book I read).  I encouraged Gavin to read it as well.  I suppose it's not surprising I like it.  If I were forced to define our current approach to parenting, I would call it 'the middle path.'  For most hot topic parenting issues, we look at the extremes (there are always extremes) and aim for the middle.  In this book, Hopgood explores the parenting methods and practices that differ dramatically from culture to culture.  From sleep habits to potty training, to discipline, the book provides interesting examples and in most causes cultural context.

There are lessons, good and bad, to be taken from every culture.   In some cultures babies eat 20 times a day, in some, they are feed on a rigid schedule every three hours.  In some cultures, babies are permitted to cry until they fall asleep, in others their mothers comfort them immediately.  In some culture children are potty trained beginning as early as they can sit up and in others it's much later.  In all of the extremes, the majority of children grow up to be well rounded, healthy, functioning members of society.

For me, that is the primary lesson of the book: there is more than one way to successfully parent a child.  It's something I try to remind myself whenever I find myself becoming overwhelmed or feeling like I'm doing something wrong.

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