THE NATURAL WAY TO RAISE A HEALTHY CHILD by Hiag Akmakjian

THE NATURAL WAY TO RAISE A HEALTHY CHILD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

We propose a two-year moratorium on the use of the word ""natural"" in book titles. Take this guide to child-rearing through the first five years: a middling-sensible account of infant and child psychology, founded on Freudian principles as revised by, among others, Rene Spitz and D. W. Winnicott. The author, a psychiatrist, provides a simple account of the oral, anal, and ""phallic"" stages and a lot of reassuring, general, non-controversial advice: don't worry about your own qualifications as a parent; breastfeed if possible but in any case wean at seven or (preferably) eleven months; since food is love to an infant, feed on demand in the first few months. Thumb-sucking is a necessary maturational stage; toilet training can't be expected before two and a half and should be approached in a relaxed way; don't discourage masturbation; children welcome a certain amount of firmness as a proof of love. Parents will find much of this calming and useful, but it represents a contemporary cultural consensus rather than the inescapable voice of nature. Further confusion between the culturally determined and the psychobiological norm--a familiar Freudian confusion--is to be found in Dr. Akmakjian's strictures against working mothers. Day care centers are regarded with frank misgivings: the mother who leaves her child in the care of another before six months (Dr. Akmakjian actually recommends staying home for three years) should know that she is taking the gravest risk by disrupting the fragile, all-important bond she alone can form with a creature whose developmental timetable cannot accommodate premature diffusion of emotional-physical ties among too many objects. Parental nudity is treated with deep suspicion, as is the practice of letting a child climb into the parents' bed in the morning. There is very little mention of the father's role, and none whatever of the child's interaction with peer groups. At its best, a cheerful, practical book which it's hard not to like: at its worst, a celebration of the hidebound in the pseudoscientific guise of the ""natural."" Not for the brown-rice-and-sea-salt set.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1975
Publisher: Praeger