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On Gina Ford Attempts to Rescue Parents from Chaos and The True Measure of Contentment

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As every parent knows, children are as individual as snowflakes. For optimum growth and learning, some require more structure than others. If your child is one of those, one of the nine popular books on parenting that Gina Ford has written might be just what you’ve been looking for.

Parenting Philosophy of Gina Ford

Here is a quote from “The Contented Little Baby Book”, which was published in 1999.

“I personally believe that the majority of babies thrive and are happier in a routine. But I certainly realize and respect that following a routine is not a choice for all parents. There is already so much advice out there for ‘baby-led parenting’; therefore the advice I give in my books is for those parents who believe that they and their baby will be happier in a routine.”

Part of her wide appeal is that she doesn’t insist that her way is the only way. Too often, the advice of child care experts results in parents’ feeling as if they are “doing it wrong”. Gina Ford recognizes and respects the individual choices of parents, as well as the fact that when it comes to raising children, there really is no single philosophy that’s right for everyone.

Gina Ford: Controversy and Criticism

Despite the popularity of Gina Ford’s books, one of the most common criticisms levied against her is that she herself is not a mother. Such critics insists only mothers who have experienced it themselves can fully understand the emotional and behavioral effects of the hormonal changes that take place within a mother’s body. Further, they insist that these hormonal changes sensitize them to a baby’s needs, and that therefore, rigid routines are contrary to nature’s guidelines. Gina Ford, however, did spend several years as a maternity nurse, which provided many opportunities for observing a great many mothers and infants.

According to an article in the Guardian, her detractors, including liberal politician Nick Clegg, argue that it is “nonsense” to expect a hungry infant to conform to an adult’s time-table. The public controversy sparked by her parenting philosophy resulted in a court case in which Gina Ford accused a parenting website of publishing defamatory remarks by readers. The case was settled out of court, but the controversy remains.

One of the key concepts in Gina Ford’s parenting philosophy is the importance of maintaining a consistent schedule. She goes so far as to recommend breaking up days into five minute blocks. A great deal has been written about the psychological benefits of structure. They include an increased sense of safety and security and less anxiety due to clear expectations.

However, much has also been written about the psychological dangers of over-structuring children’s lives. For example, too many structured activities can result in decreasing creativity and the ability to be spontaneous. It can also affect children’s ability to develop and use their imaginations. One study showed that children with too many structured activities were also less able to use their executive function to make choices for themselves.

Achieving Balance

Gina Ford has presented parents with another valuable perspective to consider in the constant struggle that all parents experience in trying to achieve a balance that works for their individual families. Her work reminds us that while the well-being and development of infants and children must be a prime consideration, there are other factors to consider as well.

One of those factors is that working parents must themselves adapt to schedules imposed from without, and there are potentially severe consequences that result from a prolonged lack of sleep. Therefore, most experts tend to recommend a balance between structure and free time, consistency and spontaneity.

Parents can all agree that ideally, they want their parenting to result in their children becoming happy, secure, creative adults. They picture their grown children with great imaginations, but also capable of adapting to a work schedule in order to succeed in their chosen careers. Whatever the limitations of her methodology, Gina Ford has succeeded in providing parents with some valuable information and suggestions that they can adapt to suit their own individual family circumstances.

If you want to know more about more general foundations upon which many of our present child rearing philosophies and parenting styles are built, then head over here.

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