Alicia Silverstone has a new book out and I wonder why it is selling.
For starters, it has a impossible to remember title, the sort that only Fiona Apple can get away with: “The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning.”
Second, in spite of, or maybe because of, the “kind” in the title, this book will only make its readers feel like crap.
Silverstone’s “kind” mom is pretty much just a mash-up of veganism and all the most dubious parenting advice that has been circulating in recent years, running the gamut from batty to totally bonkers. The Daily Beast has a great rundown of the nine commandments of the “kind mama.”
In the realm of the slightly reasonable, she encourages women to avoid meat and dairy because it will track “toxic sludge” through your uterus. As someone who both got pregnant and had a healthy baby while eating plenty of both, I obviously don’t think this is true, just that it isn’t totally based on nothing either, considering the what goes on in our meat and dairy industry. If only we could say that for the rest of her advice.
Let’s see, there’s her suggestion that you can avoid postpartum depression by eating right, that tampons cause infertility, that vaccines might leave your baby “never the same,” that cribs are tiny prisons and your baby should sleep in your bed with you, which will actually be very convenient because you should be breastfeeding your baby forever while watching him or her very closely in case you see a sign that he has to take a poo because diapers are a no-no too.
A lot of this is the same advice we’ve seen from other unconventional Jewish mothers, including fellow vegan Mayim Bialik, and the whole attachment parenting movement. I know in my heart that these women are good people who, like me, just want to do right by their children. But having good intentions and wanting to do right unfortunately doesn’t always translate to actually doing right.
Silverstone’s advice can actually kill. Children. In recent years we’ve see the return of whooping cough and measles because “kind” moms like Silverstone think her breast milk is all the protection her little one ever needs. It’s not.
And when she’s not opening up the floodgates to diseases we long thought were gone, she is promoting this kind of noble savage motherhood that is unbelievably time-consuming and also just ridiculous. Motherhood is hard enough without foregoing diapers and breastfeeding forever.
The thing is, it is all too easy to toss out the door one’s concerns about the planet when kids come along and convenience becomes paramount. So it would have been nice if Silverstone had used her platform and vegan-y insight to provide us with some realistic tips on how to live a little bit greener as parents. I for one, would have been all ears. Instead what we got was totally clueless.
Elissa Strauss has written for the Forward over a number of years. She is a regular contributor to CNN, whose work has been published in a number of publications including The New York Times, Glamour, ELLE, and Longreads.
Alicia Silverstone's Clueless Parenting Advice