Parenting isn't a fashion, though you wouldn't know it from the recent spate of books out there—from Amy 'Tiger Mom' Chua's hard-nosed manifesto to Pamela Druckerman's smug French diatribe to Mayim 'Blossom' Bialik's crunchy endorsement of attachment parenting.
These books present a 'one size fits all' approach to parenting, what with their implicit assertions that there is a right—and by extension, a wrong—way to raise a child, or that parenting is somehow black and white (instead of grey all over). While there is nothing wrong with striving to become a better mom, I fear that such books create an us and them culture.
Parenting is not, in my humble and limited experience, about dichotomies; it is about finding what works best for you and your particular household at any given moment.
The images of a beatifically smiling Bialik, snugly sandwiched between her young sons, suggest an intimacy that parents who don't practice extended breastfeeding or child wearing or co-sleeping can't possibly possess.
For her part Chua beams in the foreground, while her straight-backed daughters grasp violins in the background. Druckerman's children may use cutlery properly without turning up their noses up at the fromage chevre. So be it.
By nature such parenting philosophies tend to make us feel inferior and incompetent, much like fashion magazines make us feel unattractive and insecure. New moms are a notoriously vulnerable group just craving to be told what, and what not, to do.
Amy Chua's disciplinarian style may work wonders in her household. Good luck to her.
Druckerman may well be able to take her kids to fancy restaurants and not die of embarrassment. And Bialik may have no qualms about 'wearing' her child 24/7. Again, more power to her.
I'm in no position to judge them. Then again, neither are they in any position to lecture from a pedestal upon high.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to write my own parenting credo, entitled "Winging it." Somehow I doubt the book will sell many copies, though my kid will probably turn out just fine.