I'm surprised at your reply - rather caustic.

When I said, "where is the father," I was referring to Susan Woodhouse's comments and not to your friends' parenting. It was Susan who said "if a mother did frightening things, etc.," not you. You merely quoted her.

Please don't accuse me of not believing in research. I am a researcher and have a great deal of respect for it. However, research is not always correct and one should approach it with caution. In the Lancet (April 7, 2012), the article "The Fall of The Schizophrenogic Mother" talks about the fact that the American Psychiatric and Clinical Psychological community believed, not so long ago, that "bad mothers and dysfunctional families could cause young people to become schizophrenic." They quote, "elite private hospitals offered patients with schizophrenia intensive forms of psychoanalytic therapy designed to uncover the trauma responsible for their suffering. MOTHERS of children with schizophrenia were given personality tests designed to discern what specific traits might be responsible for their children's distress and family patterns of interaction were studied with an eye to unmasking the specific "crazy-making dynamics. Today, memories of that whole era make many people wince. Schizophrenia is now understood to be a brain disorder, best treated with medication." These clinicians and researchers were well-intentioned people who were trying to help - just like you and I. They believed the research but it was wrong.

When I said, let's stop putting pressure on parents who are struggling to do their best, I was speaking generally and not speaking to you personally. Also, I was not speaking specifically about your friends. You certainly know their particulars better than I and perhaps they do need some pressure to wake up. I simply would not know. I was speaking in general about the articles that attempt to provide parenting advice but have the opposite effect. They can create guilt, self-doubt and are sometimes anything but helpful, as indicated in a previous reply. For example, a friend of mine has a daughter who gave birth to her first child. In an attempt to be an exceptional mother, she tried to follow the advice of professionals who quoted research which indicated that speaking so many thousands of words each day to your infant would result in greater intelligence. She was keeping track of her words and fell short each day. She became exhausted, stressed and was losing sleep. She called her mom in tears, crying that she was not a good parent. Her mother told her that she had raised three children. One became a lawyer, one a doctor and the other a school teacher. All were emotionally healthy and successful. Her mom said that she had never spoken that many words each day to any of her babies and suggested her daughter stop striving for a goal that was not achievable. Her daughter took her mothers advice. The baby is 15 today and doing just fine.

So, Mr. Bunn, if I insulted you in any way, that was not my intention. I have read other articles you have written and perceive you as a man who cares. I, like you, spend my days trying to "make a difference" by helping others in any way I can.


Ellie Vaughan