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If You've Read One, You've Read Them All
on February 12, 2004
This book contains a lot of practical advice on how to foster desirable, pleasant behaviors and attitudes in children, which naturally contribute to their success in life. However, it has several fundamental flaws in its execution. The first and biggest is that, as many other reviewers have noted, the entire book is little more than a propaganda piece for attachment parenting. Because of this, there is never a moment in the book where he addresses ANY of the challenges his theories have faced. It is also filled with endless gross generalizations such as "The connected child will do what's right because doing what's wrong makes him FEEL wrong." ["Connected child" is his term for children who are raised according to his dictates. If you disagree with any of his tactics, you're in danger of raising a "disconnected" i.e. sociopathic failure of a child.) And "Children who are on the receiving end of sensitive parenting become sensitive themselves." Ad nauseum. Literally.
The book is filled with obsequious overgeneralizations. There are dozens of little "interviews" from, I guess we're supposed to believe, patients (although the speakers are NEVER identified, making it very confusing when the sidebar refer to "our son Matthew" while knowing Dr. Sears has a son Matthew too). These "interviews" produce hysterically unbelievable and melodramatic accounts of miraculously empathic (and boy howdy, ARTICULATE!) 2 year olds, shrewd psychological insight imparted by kindergarteners, etc. Oh, and of course, the book is riddled with obliquely validating comments such as "Research has shown," yet the book fails to have a bibliography or reference section. One eventually has to question why the book ends up seeming more like a sales pitch for attachment parenting than any real compilation of advice.
As the parent of a 6yo child with high-functioning autism who DID/does practice many of the things the Sears deem as "attachment parenting" to the letter, I can tell you that while I don't disagree that his child-sensitive approach to parenting does engender trust and emotional intimacy between parent and child, it is in NO way a blueprint for raising "successful" children, nor is it a recipe for producing any kinds of desirable traits in your children. There is little room for variables in Dr. Sears' tract, if any. I don't think following these practices would hurt any child, but I think that the claims Dr. Sears makes are, at best, spurious, and should be questioned and challenged a lot more than they currently are.