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Excerpts From Books by Dr. Spock

March 16, 1998

Excerpts from Dr. Benjamin Spock’s advice to parents, from the 1968 revised edition of ``Baby and Child Care″:

Don’t take too seriously all that the neighbors say. Don’t be overawed by what the experts say. Don’t be afraid to trust your own common sense. Bringing up your child won’t be a complicated job if you take it easy, trust your own instincts and follow the directions that your doctor gives you. We know for a fact that the natural loving care that kindly parents give their children is a hundred times more valuable than their knowing how to pin a diaper on just right or how to make a formula expertly. Every time you pick your baby up, even if you do it a little awkwardly at first, every time you change him, bathe him, feed him, smile at him, he’s getting a feeling that he belongs to you and that you belong to him.

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I may as well let the cat out of the bag right away as far as my opinion goes and say that strictness or permissiveness is not the real issue. Good-hearted parents who aren’t afraid to be firm when it is necessary can get good results with either moderate strictness or moderate permissiveness. On the other hand, a strictness that comes from harsh feelings or a permissiveness that is timid or vacillating can each lead to poor results.

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You have a pretty tough baby. ... He can care for himself pretty well for a person who can’t say a word and knows nothing about the world.

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Books about child care, like this one, put so much emphasis on all the needs that children have _ for love, for understanding, for patience, for consistency, for firmness, for protection, for comradeship, for calories and vitamins _ that parents sometimes feel physically and emotionally exhausted just from reading about what is expected of them. They get the impression that they are meant to have no needs themselves. ... The fact is that child rearing is a long, hard job and that parents are just as human as their children.

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A great majority of those who admit that their first reaction to pregnancy was predominantly one of dismay (and there are plenty of good people who feel this way) are reassured to find that their acceptance of the pregnancy and their fondness for the baby reaches a comfortable level before he is born.

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