I was interviewed on the problems with neuroparenting, for an article in the Washington Post.

Olga Mecking writes:

‘As it turns out, I’m not a bad mother. I just got seduced by neuroparenting.

This approach advocates training for parents, especially concerning babies’ brain development. There are all kinds of books written by experts, as well as parenting classes, on neurological development in infants. But it’s a problematic way to view raising children, because it increases demands on the parents.

“There’s nothing in it that’s reassuring, because what it’s about is that you should be doing more and you should have started earlier,” says Macvarish. Books, and the scientific claims they touted, made me think that what I did for my children could never be enough.’

“What we talk about here is loving and caring for a baby, but it’s become medicalized, pathologized, scientified,” Macvarish says. It’s not the knowledge itself she criticizes, but rather the assumption that the only way parents can care for their children is through science, particularly neuroscience.

“When specific knowledge about the brain comes out of laboratories, that’s really good. But it’s not telling us how to care for babies. We already know how to care for babies,” she adds.

The pressure toward “scientific mothering” is immense and that line of thinking assumes that all the responsibility for raising children should fall on the parents, particularly the mother. But parenting “has to be something that we take on as society, rather than just continuously putting the finger back at the parent. We have to ask, how can we make it easier,” says Macvarish.