Loco Parentis: Fifty Shades of Parenting -The Toast

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Previous Loco Parentis columns can be found here.

I recently spent some time paging through my copy of What to Expect the First Year, the holy bible of advice when it comes to keeping your infant alive until its first birthday. Looking at those pages brought me right back to the experience of day-to-day care of a new baby. It’s exhausting and joyful and horrifying. It often brought me to the brink of my physical limitations. But that effort and pain is part of what makes the experience so complicated and rewarding.

Perhaps because the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey had just been released, I couldn’t help thinking about another pastime that involves two people in such a delicate balance of pain and pleasure. I know that BDSM isn’t really what it looks like in the movies, but neither is parenting a newborn the calm, attentive process it appears to be in the parenting books. So perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised at how much of the book’s advice would be as applicable to new parents as to beginners on the BDSM scene. A sampling of the most relevant advice is below, in case you’re, uh, curious.

  • Your sleepless nights and hectic days will likely be filled not only with pure joy but also with exhaustion.
  • Instead of thinking of the times you spend stimulating him as educational sessions, relax and enjoy, for both your sakes.
  • She’ll come around eventually, and it’s best that she does on her own terms.
  • Extend the legs to get the backs of the knees, though he will probably resist being unfurled.
  • He’s screaming out of frustration, not pain.
  • Eventually, he’ll probably get used to sleeping on his back.
  • Slowly does it—so that he can get the idea of how to do it himself, which should take a few days, or at most, a few weeks.
  • As tempting as toy stores are at this time of year, resist them until you’ve completely familiarized yourself with the tips for buying safe and worthwhile playthings, starting on page 307.
  • You should avoid choosing any items that have rough edges, sharp points, or small parts that might break loose; exposed hinges or springs; or attached strings, cords or ribbons.
  • Let her take the lead in deciding when to end a play session.
  • Harmful to his self-esteem is the message—no matter how carefully camouflaged—that you’re not satisfied with his progress.
  • How many times a day can I actually call the doctor?
  • As frightening as the experience may have been for you, you’re actually lucky it occurred.

Aubrey Hirsch is the author of Why We Never Talk About Sugar. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Rumpus, Brain, Child Magazine and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter: @aubreyhirsch.

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