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Mary Barnard (Nottingham, Notts United Kingdom)

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The Paradox of Natural Mothering
The Paradox of Natural Mothering
by Chris Bobel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £44.78

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting subject, could have been more indepth, 13 Jun 2002
This book comprises a write-up of Bobel's phd thesis on a study of 32 Earth mothers. She is mainly concerned with her quest of pin-pointing just where Earth motherdom stands in relation to feminism. She is interested in the concept that these mothers are both regressive and progressive in their life-styles. They can be compared to the idealised, devoted, full-time 1950's mother, and yet they also practice some relatively radical parenting, which puts them on the fringe rather than in the mainstream of society.
I found this debate fascinating, but I would have liked to hear more about the actual logistics and practicalities of life as a woman living within the confines of 'natural' parenting. The sample was quoted reasonably extensively, but I felt that the quotes could have been more lucid, and could have given the reader more of an insight into a way of life supposedly so different from the norm.
The book uses rather a lot of jargon which took me back to my 'A' level sociology days. It is certainly a detailed account of participant observation research. The defining criteria for being a 'natural parent' were a little loose (a healthly diet, home birth, breast-feeding for 1 year+). If this is the fringe side of parenting, it says more about the sorry state of American family culture than anything else.


Blackbox
Blackbox
by Nick Walker
Edition: Paperback

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stays with you for days, 26 May 2002
This review is from: Blackbox (Paperback)
Gripping and intriguing, I couldn't get this novel out of my head while I was reading it, or for days afterwards. The plot and the format are so original and clever, my brain was engaged until the end, and longer while I pieced it all together. The reader is kept on their toes by seemingly throw-away sentences which turn out to be highly significant to the story, so you have to concentrate. But Walker credits his audience with the intelligence to cope with this.
The story involves a fascinating collection of dysfunctional characters, who, through various twists of fate and many of life's little ironies, find that a healthy conscience can catch up with you in a big way, whether over 24 years or 24 hours.
I recommend this as a great read, unless you're in the film industry, then don't even bother, just buy the rights!


You Are Your Child's First Teacher
You Are Your Child's First Teacher
by Rahima Baldwin
Edition: Paperback

84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent introduction to the Steiner approach, 16 April 2002
This has fast become one of my favourite parenting books. It introduced me to Steiner's philosophy on child development age 0-6, and it loyally and sensitively updates the application of Steiner's approach for today's times. I noticed that the author is rated as one of the top pioneers of natural parenting on the uk NP website, up there with Leboyer, Steiner himself, Leidloff and the like. This comfirmed for me that this is an important book, and should certainly have a place on the shelves of pre-school settings, particularly in the U.K. and U.S., where children start their formal education at such a young age.

I have always had a vague uneasy feeling about certain toys: character dolls such as Barbies, T.V. & video games, and I knew that toys such as fully fitted plastic kitchens can be too literal. But this book explains exactly how childhood and children's brain development and creativity can be compromised to their great detriment by such resources. It also emphasises the necessity for children to enjoy each phase of early childhood without having their developing senses violated by experiences they are not ready for. It describes how as parents and teachers we can so easily sabotage the child's developing creativity by over-directing them, over-providing for them, hurrying them, limiting them, or simply by stealing away their precious early years time with totally inappropriate demands for academic learning. After reading this book I resolved that my small children would not waste away their precious early years infront of videos, colouring in, or keeping their clothes clean.
The "Teacher" role referred to in the title is really a time and space provider, learning enhancer, play enabler, quality controller of toys and resources, sensory protector and advocate.


Baby Wisdom: The World's Best-kept Secrets for the First Year of Parenting
Baby Wisdom: The World's Best-kept Secrets for the First Year of Parenting
by Deborah Jackson
Edition: Paperback

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An overview of world babies, 3 Mar 2002
I ordered this book after hearing the author interviewed about it on 'Woman's Hour'. I had visions of her having travelled to all these far flung places to do her research. However instead 'Baby Wisdom' trawels through all the literature on baby care, both historical and anthropological. A disappointment? No, for this is no mean feat, and it certainly does a thorough job of it. Infact Deborah Jackson's book must be one of the most comprehensive overviews of its kind.
If you liked the Body Shop's "Mamatoto", you will love this. It's a similar idea, but gives us much, much more. I particularly valued the quotes which gave names and voices to women from around the world, rather than just relying on the anthropologists' reports.
The book sets out to describe the 'difference and sameness' between babycare practices around the world. It does this without giving way to the temptation to take the moral high ground over issues which we know are close to the author's heart. There is no preachy tone, just some witty, some humourous, and some thought provoking remarks. (Not least the revelation that in a Somerset hospital there was a correlation between birth weight and net chocolate weight of y=3349+0.52058x, where the chocolates were the thank you present.)
One regret is that Baby Wisdom is not illustrated. I have some of the books sourced, and find the old black and white photos the anthropologists took as fascinating as the texts. However, any interested reader could follow up the references if they wanted to find out more about the cultures featured.
One thing is for sure: however quirky your baby is, however far you stray from the health visitor's advice, you need not feel alone in the world. You can take comfort from the wisdom that somewhere in human evolution there's a reason for every baby's babyness.


Without Boundaries: Consent Based, Non Coercive Parenting and Autonomous Education
Without Boundaries: Consent Based, Non Coercive Parenting and Autonomous Education
by Jan Fortune-Wood
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book challenges your assumptions about parenting, 3 Mar 2002
A really meaty read that had me fascinated from beginning to end. I hadn't heard of the 'Taking Children Seriously' (TCS) philosophy before reading this book, but the Rev. Fortune-Wood explains it really well. I think the book is an adaptation of her phd thesis, so it is quite academic in format, and, to an extent, content. However, the theoretical parts are balanced by examples of how TCS can work in everyday family situations. Some of these might have you flinging the book across the room in disbelief (e.g. staying awake in the night with quiet games and videos to respect a toddler's erratic sleeping pattern). But, good for Jan - why not challenge some of our society's horrible legacy of child-rearing/training.
I would have loved to have heard some of the author's anecdotes about putting TCS into practice. The theory is interesting, but I was drawn into a 'docusoap' kind of fascination with these families who live this approach. If she had gathered even a small sample of TCS families and quoted them, it would have added enormously to the book.
One of my favourite quotes of all time is thanks to this book: Our children are "autonomous human beings..... not control specimins who can become advertisements for how well we parented."


The Attachment Parenting Book (Sears Parenting Library)
The Attachment Parenting Book (Sears Parenting Library)
by William Sears
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.30

189 of 193 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Sears is as sound as a pound!, 17 Feb 2002
Forget your conventional baby manuals by Dr.Spock and the like. Send Gina Ford packing, and sack that nanny who knows best. Babies on schedules who are required to be 'convenient' are liberated! This book will reassure you in every way about following your intuition and your instincts. It doesn't just present one model for babycare, but describes a flexible world where baby's needs come first. We are so out of touch with these, that parents today have lost the art of breastfeeding in their sleep, or doing housework with a baby in a sling. But do not worry, the Sears will guide you through these skills and more, and make it all sound perfectly normal, healthy and achievable. Unlike many childcare gurus, the Sears eat humble pie as they tell how they came to fully appreciate the importance of attachment parenting after having four of their own eight babies. Their anecdotes are reassuring as you wonder how on earth to be 'attached' and get dinner on the table for 6pm. But the Sears are very accommodating and reach out to the working mothers, the adoptive parents and the 'burnt-out' parents in their readership.
The book is magaziney in style, with columns that jump all over the place, such that as you turn the page it can be hard to know where to continue reading. The multitude of subheadings and quotes add to this, so I wouldn't recommend it to the highbrow academic. But the authors must know that most reading for new parents is done in snatches here and there, rather than long cover to cover stints. Buy this for baby-shower presents, and for new parents. We do not have a rounded enough view of babycare without more of this type of baby manual.


The Secret of Happy Children: A Guide for Parents
The Secret of Happy Children: A Guide for Parents
by Steve Biddulph
Edition: Paperback

57 of 114 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A C.S.E. in parenting skills, 16 Feb 2002
Oh dear. Someone please tell Steve Biddulph to stop trying to write parenting books. I feel embarrassed for the man eveytime he flounders around, mis-matching enlightened, empathic parenting practices with old-school child-rearing approaches. He needs to decide which school of thought he's from. He recommends reading Liedloff's 'Continuum Concept', but if he's taken on board even the spirit of this book, he wouldn't touch his own behaviour modification techniques with a bargepole.
Biddulph writes some perfectly acceptable pieces of wisdom about not smacking (horray!), or 'following through', but then he has this tendency to make some terrible blunders. He aims to be child-centred, but in my estimation falls miserably short, particularly on the subjects of emotions, shyness and tantrums. Infact his misguided advice in these areas made me want to have a tantrum! And if I do I sincerely hope that Steve Biddulph isn't around so that I can express my true feelings without fear of punitive repercussions.
My frustration is that he presents this psuedo-progressive approach, but at the end of the day he still sees children as manipulative, and in need of training, modifying, or controlling, along with the nasty Drs. Ferbers and Greens of this world. If you do not share this viewpoint you need to be reading a different type of book altogether. Our children deserve more respect than this.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 29, 2011 12:06 PM GMT


The Smart Woman's Guide to Staying at Home
The Smart Woman's Guide to Staying at Home
by Melissa Hill
Edition: Paperback

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mismatch of housewively tips, and personal development, 16 Feb 2002
I find myself agreeing with all the other reviews for this book, both positive and negative. I think Melissa Hill starts writing one type of book, and finishes it as another one altogether. In fact, there's delicious irony in the thought that if she'd followed her own advice she could have made herself more money, by creatively organising her material into two books! The trouble is that one minute us feckless housewives are having to be told how to cope with the most basic of housework and cook simple nutritious meals for our babies (cringe), and the next we're transported onto another level altogether, and enter the world of self-development techniques, and 'spiritual transitions'. Now I would love to have a spiritual transition, especially if it's as good as a 'paradigm shift' (different book), but sadly I don't think 'The Smart Womman's Guide....' is going to do it for me. However, it is a good read, her writing style is lively and witty, and leaves me thinking that thankfully she doesn't take herself too seriously.


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