Saturday, January 15, 2011

parenting book review: The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff

The front cover of my book has a quote by John Holt that states, "If the world could be saved by a book, this just might be the book."

After reading this, I was expecting quite an eye opening experience. A friend told me I would feel quite guilty after reading this book. Neither of these things happened for me.

I was expecting a list of rules, a background on where attachment parenting came from, and well.... a plan to change the world. I also got none of these things. I never usually disagree with Holt.

The book is an anthropological view of the Yequana people in the South American jungles and how they function especially in regards to the care of infants and young children.

It was fascinating to hear about this culture which guides the premise for the entire book. The culture is one that seems to have been untouched by the western world which is always so inspiring to me. There were many things about how they view life, work, and relationships that refreshed in me the goals I have for myself and for my family.

There were moments of utter sadness as the author describes what it must be like for an infant left to cry alone in his crib at night or one who is left in a car seat and not held against a loving adult. This is the section I think she got right on, it definitely hit a chord in my soul

There were moments of guilt when I would read about how these creeping and crawling babies are left to explore their surroundings without fear that they will get hurt. She describes a situation where a baby was playing just next to a five foot gaping hole and would go right up to the edge but never over. This happened multiple times in her observation. The idea that children have instincts to protect them from danger and we do not need to do all of that for them was quite a revelation to me while I spent my days keeping my toddler from dashing into on coming traffic. Could it actually be my overriding of his own instinct that possibly diminished part of all of this natural tendency to protect himself?

There were moments of doubt when she would take every anti-social personality trait and link it back to deprivation in infancy. While I do believe that deprivation in infancy can cause some major problems and I will even give her that all the things she mentions could be from a lack of these "continuum principles" as she calls them, I cannot believe that it is the only possible cause. Also some traits she mentions are to me not negative attributes at all like becoming an actor for example. I do not believe all actors had a deprived infancy and therefore need to be loved by all. So this chapter was a little far reaching for me.

The book also ends talking about how we can get back into preserving the continuum in our daily lives. The suggestions are good.

Overall, this was not a groundbreaking book for me. It was very interesting, but as far as a great parenting book, it does not make my list. Those needing guiding principles for attachment parenting, there are so many other books I would recommend:

The Natural Child by Jan Hunt
and simply
Attachment Parenting by Dr. Sears

However if you are looking for anthropology or deep look at why attachment parenting principles are so needed from this view, this would be a good read.
Basically, if you have lots of time for reading, put this on your list.

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