06/01/2008 By Shawn Burns

It takes a village to raise a child. Or so the Germans would have us believe. (If you get the joke you are awesome.)

Back in the day, yo, we could rely on our parents, and our grandparents, and our neighbors and our neighbors’ grandparents, to pass along any little tidbits of wisdom they had acquired throughout years of living and raising children. It’s a lot more difficult to engage those elder voices now. We live too far away (and we never call), and we discount oral tradition wisdom in favor of new and well-footnoted research into child development.

Usually this research just confirms what the elders would have told us a century ago; tried telling us fifty years ago; and was ignored thirty years ago when we were born. The legacy of that shift away from elder wisdom was, I opine, a gap in our knowledge: a mythical time in which we forgot what we knew before, but we were pretty sure it was bogus anyway because the new science was going to replace it…it just hadn’t managed to do so yet.

And so: Us. A floundering group of parents who have had their elders stripped from them to be replaced by experts. Experts who write books. Experts who appear on television and tell you that you are stupid.

I can’t get into the parenting books that are out there. Not that I know anything about them to dismiss them so easily; I don’t know why I’ve always been so stubborn about this one field of book-learnin’. But I have been. Emily bought all the pregnancy books, and I skimmed some. She bought all the new dad books for me, and I shelved them.

So. Anyone know what the definition of “chagrin” is? Whatever it means, I have it in spades right now. Recently, as part of my continuing effort to rock the bloggy world with my awesome body, I’ve actually started going back to the gym. I can almost do a chin up. I think. I haven’t tried real hard.

But I ran into a little problem a few weeks ago that kept me from really hitting the gym hard this past month. It had to do with Erin. And I had no idea what to do. Because I have moved away from all of my elders, and hardly call them, and find it easy to dismiss what they would tell me anyway as being old-fashioned and ignorant. But I also hadn’t read any books by the professional-elders of parenting, the child-psychologists.

So, there I was, floundering. Until I remembered that I have an awesome bloggy friend, Heather. Heather is the Baby Shrink, and she gives excellent advice that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve been beaten with the “neglectful, stupid, hopeless parent” stick.

I sent an e-mail to Heather asking her what to do, and she responded with an excellent message. She has posted the exchange over at her site, and if you are curious to see this woman in action it is well worth checking out. Learn how to deal with that sudden, shocking separation anxiety your one year old might be going through.

I really want to thank Heather for her great advice. She is a great resource, and much easier to interact with than one of those books. She has no index or table of contents. Just an e-mail address that she is very easily contacted at. (Editor’s Note: She actually does have an index and table of contents: her archives and categories list on her website. And being clickable they’re a lot easier to use than a book. Still, she’s so good over e-mail that I use that as my first option.)

Plus, I don’t have to wade through mounds of “bad son” guilt to talk to her.