Another gem from Gina

After reading this and other articles about Gina Ford’s latest book, I’ve thought hard about where Ms Ford might be coming from, and have to come to the conclusion that she simply wants parents to pretend they don’t have babies.  Just try to forget about them.

Clearly this must be the overall view of a woman who advises us to ignore our baby’s cries, have nights out away from them when they’re just a few weeks old, don’t talk about them, and don’t let them affect our sex life.  Just act like nothing’s happened really.

This seems a very strange attitude. Dare I be so bold as to wonder why one would have a baby if one wishes to pretend it doesn’t exist, or at least, behave as much as possible as if it doesn’t exist? Extraordinary.

Yet Ford is popular. Parents are either unaware of the evidence and research that warns us in no uncertain terms against such methods as controlled crying, and are fooled by the apparent success of these methods, since any damage done is neither visible nor immediately apparent, or they are buying into the notion that you can ‘have it all’; that you can have a baby and still keep all the things in your life the same. Here, Ford tells many parents what they want to hear.

The problem is that life just isn’t the same after you have a baby.  It will never be the same again. And trying to make it the same not only means we’ll be fighting a losing battle (not a good recipe for being ‘contented’ I’d say), but we’ll be putting our own needs before that of our baby.

OK, OK, there is no perfect mother, we all have to put ourselves first at times, there has to be a balance, we can’t parent if we’re a mess etc etc, but to say Gina Ford takes this too far really is an understatement.

It is quite natural for parents to seek help and support and to want to do things ‘right’, and the simple fact of Ford’s reputation is enough for unsuspecting parents to feel they must live up to the standards set out in her books, to doubt their own instincts, and trust in this seemingly wiser philosophy. But parents deserve better than this. They deserve real support, help and information, from real experts, not childless celebrities more interested in success and popularity than in what’s best for children.

Gina Ford gives childcare writers a bad name. This might seem like a contradiction after I have just made reference to how influential Ford’s reputation makes her, but what I mean by this is that parents who are aware of the issues associated with Ford’s methods push her books aside, and too often push all other parenting books aside with them, having drawn the conclusion that parenting books are bad, throwing the baby out with the bath water as it were. I have heard this sentiment expressed numerous times, and this is a great loss for parents.

I know how much fantastic literature there is out there and the huge, positive difference it has made to my own parenting. Shame on Gina Ford, not just for her bogus advice, but for frightening off parents who are reaching out for genuine help and support.

2 Responses to Another gem from Gina

  1. marytuda says:

    Personally, I think it’s a question of time-management. Those of us with just one kid and no job can afford to follow our “child-led” instincts in a way that parents with pressures on all sides cannot; and in those cases a certain amount of sleep-training, for instance, is probably indispensible . . . I don’t think it is necessarily damanging: what about French kids, for example, all excellent sleepers, apparently (my anecdotal evidence confirms this) according to new book out? Are they all damaged? I was hopeless at sleep training myself, but there were times when I simply reached my limit and could not get up any more – so my baby cried himself to sleep. That period passed, as all do, and is a distant memory now. But in retrospect, it might have been better to sleep train more consistently.
    As for parenting books – again, really, it’s a question of time. I have always read widely and would hate to find myself reading nothing but baby-books ever again! I tend to dip in them – actually, more often Mumsnet – when I have a specific issue with my kid. Otherwise, it’d never end . . .

    • Jo says:

      Thanks for your thoughts. Obviously it’s not easy, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to establish a routine, but we may have to agree to disagree about controlled crying. For me there’s too much evidence against it, and I think Ford is misleading parents by saying that it is not harmful. French kids might be excellent sleepers, but at what cost? I’ve written a post about the book I think you’re referring to.

      There are many parents with a job and more than one child who parent without using controlled crying.

      I agree, reading time is limited when you’re a parent – all the more reason to choose authors carefully I say!

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