Dr. Benjamin Spock has been giving parents advice about raising their children for decades. In this excerpt from his landmark work, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, he shares one of the 19 points he believes are most important for parents to keep in mind about their role in their child's life.
Needless self-sacrifice and excessive preoccupation. Many conscientious young people facing the new responsibility of parenthood feel that they are being called on to give up all their freedom and all their former pleasures, not as a matter of practicality, but almost as a matter of principle. Others just get obsessed. They forget their hobbies and interests. Even if they do occasionally sneak off, they feel too guilty to get full enjoyment. They come to bore their friends and each other. In the long run, they chafe at the imprisonment and can't help unconsciously resenting the baby.
I think that the temptation to become totally absorbed in the baby should be resisted and particular attention paid to sustaining a loving intimate relationship with your partner. After you have made all the necessary sacrifices of time and effort to your children, carve out some quality time with your partner. Remember to look at each other, smile at each other, and express the love you feel. Make an effort to find enough privacy -- and energy -- to continue your sexual relationship. Remember that a close, loving relationship between parents is the most powerful way children learn about how to be intimate with another person, a lesson that your child is likely to carry into his or her adult relationships. So one of the best things you can do for your child, as well as for yourself, is to work to let your children deepen, not inhibit, your relationship with your partner.
Excerpted with permission from Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, Revised Seventh Edition, Pocket Books, 1998.
Copyright 1945, 1946, © 1957, 1968, 1976, 1985, 1992 by Benjamin Spock, MD. Copyright renewed © 1973, 1974, 1985, 1996 by Benjamin Spock, MD. Revised and updated material copyright © by The Benjamin Spock Trust
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