Ronda Kaysen: There are many ways to make moms feel like total failures. One of them is to write a book called "How Not to F*** Them Up," and then go on a book tour espousing the myriad ways most moms totally fail their offspring -- which is what British pop psychologist Oliver James did recently.
His new book warns mothers that such humble acts as putting your toddler in daycare or even, God forbid, calling her "naughty" will cause such irreparable harm that you might as well go put your head in the oven right now.
Oh, and he's also against the cry-it-out method, which he sees as totally soul-crushing. If you're a cry-it-out mama, start saving now for those therapy bills, because they're going to be huge.
So, what happens to these unfortunate youngsters who suffer the indignity of daycare, Ferber and quiet-time-as-punishment? They grow up to be insecure (about 40 percent of grownups are insecure, James says), depressed, lonely and violent souls who get divorced and can't find love.
Babies and toddlers "need to be in the presence of a responsive, loving adult at all times in order to thrive," according to James. And that means that if Mom isn't available 24/7, then maybe Dad, Grandma or a nanny (in that order) might do.
Per James, daycare is akin to abandoning your child at an Eastern European orphanage for the day, so you might as well start stocking up on the Prozac he'll need later in life. (After reading this book, you could just go ahead and get the Prozac for yourself.)
Controlled-crying a la the Ferber method will allegedly cause a lifetime of suffering. "There is good evidence that strict sleep routines do lead to more insecure, and to more irritable and fussy babies," James claims. As far as discipline is concerned, James says that even just uttering words like "Don't!" or "Naughty!" is so harmful that it's like treating your kid "like a dog in a laboratory." He adds that a child sent to his room is apt to feel rejected, abandoned, resentful and angry.
And all you pregnant ladies out there: Don't think you're off the hook if you read the book before you've had a chance to screw up your kid, because odds are you've already failed. James says that any third-trimester stress will raise your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which will affect your unborn child long after birth. Apparently, just having bad thoughts is enough to ruin your young.
Jeez! After all this, I think I need a drink. Maybe I'll leave the kid at daycare for a few extra hours so I can ponder all the things I've done to harm him so far. And when he comes home, I'll lock him in his room and listen to him cry.