Did you see this week's The Simpsons? Yeah we DVR it. I had one of those moments (you know what I'm talking about!) where you realize a show is going to touch on a close-to-home issue, and you're either going to love your little show more than ever, or scream at the TV and never feel quite the same way about it again.
Okay, so not the part where Homer strangles his son... that's not very gentle discipline of him, and I'm sure Alfie Kohn would have a few things to say about that. And certainly not the extended bit about Homer looking for milk (MILK? Not even formula?) Too bad Marge doesn't seem to breastfeed... we've seen Maggie with bottles while being babysat, along with her adopted cousin, but now I guess we're supposed to think it's not expressed human milk. Granted, Maggie's been a baby for a long time but as she's not even speaking it seems cow's milk should not be on her menu.
Okay, yes, I'm laughing at this; no need to overanalyze! But I did think the part about CRIE was a very clever critique of the whole movement to get babies to be independent.
Yeah, let's parse that sentence. Babies should be independent? Wha...? Seems silly but so may parents seem in a hurry to get their kids to sleep alone, to not rely on parents for comfort during the day or night, or to rely on mom for nourishment, or for holding a bottle... And it's all validated by a refrain saying babies need to be taught to be independent. (Again, where did this idea come from? They are BABIES! Humans throughout history have held them close 24-7 for thousands of years... it's what babies are designed for, in fact. Anyway.)
So The Simpsons takes that idea of babies needing to be made independent, and pushes it to a ridiculous extreme. After a very funny bit about how kids can handle computers far better than adults (sorry Mom, but we've SO played that scene!), Marge looks up a program with the acronym CRIE (ha-ha), something like creative responses for independent edu-love or whatever (I was watching this show after a full day of mothering my baby and she was sleeping cuddled next to me and I probably was latching her on at the time!). And Lisa notes that the experts at CRIE can help you anytime because they don't have any families of their own. Slam! Just like Suppernanny and Ezzo (evil author of the idiotic Babywise) and others who have no degrees even in child development or infant biology or anything, let alone actually HAVING KIDS OF THEIR OWN (okay, Ezzo has kids but apparently they have cut him out of their lives). Nice!
So this woman comes to the house and forces Marge to leave Maggie alone on the floor, pointing at Maggie before they leave and saying forcefully, "Actualize!" The woman (who inexplicably looks sorta like a hippie-- did the show artists get mixed up? The hippies are attachment parents! This is like when the preppy mom on ER who match their kids' clothes to their own were also all into traditional babywearing... huh?) physically restrains Marge from returning to Maggie when she starts crying (ah, mama hormones kicking in! Yes, we are built to have a gut-wrenching response to baby's cries... I got upset just hearing what was probably an adult actor making Maggie's cry sound.. but then again I still have to struggle not to let down when someone is leaving their newborn screaming in the stroller at the toy store...). But then Maggie turns out okay (too bad Cry It Out doesn't work in 30 seconds like that, in real life!) and starts doing everything for herself, making herself breakfast (again--- a whole banana for this baby? but now we are in the realm of satire), and even riding the dog to Guidoville to save Homer from an evil tow truck driver. Obviously the show is taking the idea of babies being independent and blowing it up, so hopefully people will see how ridiculous that idea is. And those of us who get it, that of course babies aren't meant to be independent, but that it's our job to foster a strong foundation of secure attachment, which will in turn allow them to freely explore and become very independent (but not TOO unattached-- we want them to have strong bonds to future wives and husbands and kids and US down the line too!).
And Maggie punching out the sack of potatoes that Marge had taken to cuddling in her absence, and sticking her pacifier in Marge's mouth when her mom tried to repeat the expert's advice that "hugs are drugs" to which Maggie was addicted, and Maggie ending the show in her mother's embrace... that was a nice cap to this cute satire. I think ultimately it was saying, don't mind the "experts" (who probably have no credentials like relevant degrees or kids of their own), because you are the expert on your baby, and just following your instincts (unadulterated by the chatter of expert advice through the media) won't take you astray.