From breastfeeding to veganism, don't judge a book by its cover

Several high-profile parenting books have drawn the ire of planet momdom recently, as parents debate the merits of different parenting styles, from breastfeeding to co-sleeping to veganism. But Modern Parenthood reminds: don't judge a book by its cover. 

Chuck Liddy /The News & Observer/AP
Gina Vinston stands amongst books in Raleigh, N.C., during an annual book sale and Festival of Reading features over 450,000 books along with entertainment and family friendly activities.

It has been an outraged, combative, and controversy-filled few days in the literary realm of planet momdom.

First, author Ruby Roth drew fire for her new children’s book, “Vegan is Love.” The health implications! the critics gasped. The anti-meat-eater discrimination!
Now Elisabeth Bandinter has taken over the hot seat, with her book, "The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women," seemingly tailor-made for mommy blog outrage. Breastfeeding bad! Attachment parenting worse! The crunchy “natural” moms are out to get you!

It’s quite tempting, as you can imagine, for us to jump right into the fray. This is a parenting site, after all. And sarcasm aside, the issues raised in both of these debates – from child nutrition to co-sleeping – are front and center for many parents.

But I’ll share a little secret.

I haven’t read either book yet.

Nope, neither one of them. I’d like to do so, and both should be on their way to my house as I write, but at this point, all I have to go by are the reviews and blogs and commentary. 

And as I began pouring through the reactions to “Vegan is Love” and “The Conflict,” one of those parenting mantras I heard growing up kept repeating in my head: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

(Thanks, Dad!)

It sounds cliche, perhaps, but it’s a message that strikes me as really quite important these days, when news and reaction and debates and punditry all get mixed up into one, loud, acrimonious mush of words, zipping this way and that across various high speed electronic mediums. 

I mean, we tend to get our outrage on and file away talking points from Rush Limbaugh or Jon Stewart; I’d venture that few people out there often go through the trouble to actually look through, say, a congressional bill before chatting about it at the dinner table. (No cheating here - how many of you have read the health care legislation? Hands? Anyone?)

All of which, I'd venture, might be a problematic lesson for the little ones.

I’ve had a few chats with teachers recently who have complained about the quality of their students’ essays; how many high schoolers (and even college students) will present an argument based only upon what they, personally, think, in all their 18 years of wisdom. No historical references, no literary citations, just their own, unvarnished opinions presented as the foundation for scholastic points of view.

Gee, I thought. Who would do that??

So before writing about either of these growingly popular debates just yet (and I’m telling you, it is really, really hard not to start snarking on breastfeeding critic Bandinter’s alleged financial connections to formula maker Nestlé), I am going to actually read the books.

It might make me a little slower in dishing about the topic of the day. But it’s important to us here at Modern Parenthood that you know we’re still trying to do our homework. 

At least when the dog doesn’t eat it. 

Thanks, everyone.

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