My loyal readers already know that Mayim Bialik and I have very different parenting styles—even though we’re basically BFF, WHOECBE (that would be “best friends forever, who have only ever communicated by email, of course) . Mayim recently posted a piece on the Today Show Blog about some of the parenting choices she has made, including her decision not to get occupational, physical, and speech therapy for her sons, even though they qualified for it.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Mayim’s post since I first read it. Had I first come across it a year or two ago, you had better believe it would have gotten my granny-panties all in a bunch. “How can she do such a thing!?” I would have thought in a wave of self-righteousness. “We all joke about being the bad mother, but that’s just over the top,” I would have told my Mommy friends.
Well, much to my surprise (and possibly yours as well), I didn’t have the same reaction this time. Don’t get me wrong here, people. You can bet your tuchus that I would have my girls meeting with a developmental specialist faster than you can say “Oy vey!” if such an intervention seemed indicated. But even though I wouldn’t make the same choice, I don’t actually have a problem with Mayim’s decision.
I don’t know if having a second child has changed me, or if I’ve just become increasingly fed up with the pressures and demands put on the modern parent to get everything exactly right all the time. Either way, it seems to me that as long as your kid is healthy and you’re generally a consistent and caring parent, everything else is debatable. There are about a million different ways to raise a healthy kid, and even more ways to screw them up. And while each decision seems so incredibly crucial at the time (and many of them are), when you consider the huge number of factors and experiences and options that life throws at us and our children, well, all of a sudden, most of the choices we make on a daily basis don’t actually seem so important.
And the truth is that these days, almost every commandment of parenting is being toppled, even the ones we thought were carved in stone. Yes, breast is best, but let’s try to keep things in perspective (as Hanna Rosin and Marjorie Ingall have done so well). From humidifiers in the sick baby’s room to washing hands all the time, everything I thought I knew about how to raise my kids is coming into question. In fact, the only time during the day when I know I’m getting it right is during our night-time routine – I read books to the girls, and then put them to sleep on their backs. My parenting abilities during the rest of the day are debatable, and we won’t know for sure until their therapy bills start rolling in.
Speaking of therapy, back to Mayim’s decision. She strongly values letting her children develop at their own pace, and its working for her family. While it’s tempting to judge her for her unorthodox choices, in this age of endless options and conflicting advice, I’d prefer to applaud her thoughtfulness and commitment to her children.