Review of the book ‘And Baby Makes Three’

I wrote a post several months ago about the Danish baby boom of the 2010s.  Click here if you have missed it.  I have a number of 30-somethings who are having babies.  They tend to be educated and aware, and relatively high achievers.  Adding a baby to a marriage changes it significantly.  A great deal of research has been conducted about this already.  If you are familiar with my work, you know that I rely on the Gottman’s contributions to the field of relationship therapy quite a bit.  Consistent with that, I have been recommending ‘And Baby Makes Three’ to some of my couples because it’s written by them.

I have read two books by John Gottman and found them extremely useful for my professional practice.  I like their practical, data-driven approach to couples therapy.  As I have written before, I think it’s elegant and makes sense to both the couple and the practitioner.  With that in mind, I have compiled a short list of pros and cons.

The pros:

1) As is usual, there are some very specific recommendations that can be fairly easily implemented while and after the couple has read the book.
2) Also, as usual, the Gottmans provide a fair amount of data (though much of it is quasi-experimental) to help make support their suggestions.
3) The Gottmans often provide a fair number of questionnaires that I think couples will find helpful at assessing their particular trouble spots.
4) It’s fairly easy-to-read and not full of professional jargon.

The cons:

1) Many of the gender references in this book are already highly outdated.  I checked the publication date, and it is listed as 2007.  I think that there are a lot of people who will find this book at best, difficult to relate to, and at worst, offensive.  The book suggests that fathers are better at playing with their children and mothers are better at nurturing.  While that may be true, on average, not at least acknowledging some of the variability in mens’ and womens’ parenting is alienating to many people.
2) On a similar note, some LGBTQ+  individuals will feel marginalized by this book.  It makes hardly any reference (I think it does just once) to gay and lesbian parents.  Since I have had exposure to the Gottmans, I respect them and think that they generally make efforts to be inclusive but in this particular book, I believe they fail.
3) The other complaint I have is that, If you have read their other work, there is very little here that is new.  There is some interesting discussion about how the parental relationship affects the baby and perhaps even just that, makes it worth buying.  One of the most interesting sections I found was about the parents’ style of play around the baby.  When parents play cooperatively, together with the baby, baby laughs and clearly LIKES it better.  However the baby notices and reacts negatively if one parent undermines the other in their play.  I found this part of the book really informative and useful.

At any rate, I probably am NOT going to recommend this book to people who have already read Gottman in the future.  However, for new and expecting parents who have never read Gottman, I will.

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