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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Doctor and Child

While I was poking around Goodwill for some book scores a couple of months ago, I saw this gem from 1970. I had to get it immediately; my mom was a big fan of Dr. T. Berry Brazelton and I even once drew a scary clown and named it Brazelton. Not because I was scared of the doctor, but because it was the first name I could recall. Doctor and Child comes after some of his other well-known books, and I thought it would be fun to read a 45 year-old book and see how things have changed -- if they have changed at all. 

In this book, Dr. Brazelton covers everything from postpartum bonding with baby to colic, sleeping, and TV and toys. he uses his relationship as a doctor to his tiny patients to exemplify best parenting practices. It was lovely to read, really, and especially with my knowledge of child development, I found much of what he had to say pretty spot on. My one beef, which I would like to get out of the way early, is the female-centric role that he makes parenthood into. This is a product of the time -- 1970, which means he was practicing in the '50's and '60's as well -- and I do understand that at that time, parenthood was seen as women's work and the men just show up to support their wives. (Yes, we could easily argue that not much has changed, but that's for another day.) This greatly affects my delicate feminist sensibilities. 

Ok, so moving on. Even 45 years ago, Dr. B has some important things to say on toys for kids, and I found his thoughts to be similar to my own: fancy toys don't lead to better learning, and parents who think they do use them as a substitute for their own time. The same can be said about the obsession school quality and the overscheduling of small and large kids. (Caveat: This is also, I recognize, something that requires a certain privilege, which is the assumption that there are parents (plural) and that one or more is not working multiple jobs to make ends meet.) He recommends simple toys that you can make at home, including what I tell everyone: cardboard boxes and tissue paper make great toys. I still remember a school art project where we made dolls out of foil. To this day it's one of my favorite activities. Stop spending money and start spending time. 

I am so happy I found this book, if only for the sake nostalgia. I'll keep it around for a while. 

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