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Thursday, 10 August 2006

the discontented little baby book author


Gina Ford, author of several childcare books (although not a mother herself), has taken legal action against the mumsnet site. This site is run by mothers, containing parenting information, product reviews, and chat forums. According to mumsnet:
Today we are taking the extreme step of asking Mumsnet members not to discuss Gina Ford, her parenting methods or her books on our talk boards. We are doing this because Gina Ford's lawyers are demanding that our ISP shut Mumsnet down with immediate effect because they claim Mumsnet is "publishing defamatory statements about our client on an ongoing basis."

Her attorneys made the following demands:
1. Mumsnet publish a statement disassociating itself from attacks on Ms Ford by some members and making it clear that such postings would not be tolerated.
2. Mumsnet implement a special procedure to monitor all posts relating to Ms Ford on a daily basis and delete any which are derogatory.
3. Mumsnet delete a specified list of 21 threads.
4. Mumsnet take technical steps to ensure that any potentially defamatory postings already deleted from the site should not be accessible through search engines.
5. Mumsnet pay Ms Ford damages and meet her legal costs.

As mumsnet puts it, Ford is "one of Britain's most wealthy and successful childcare experts demanding the closure of a community website run by mothers to enable parents to swap support, advice and the odd joke." Does someone need some time on the naughty step, Miss Ford?

I could understand her distress if someone was deliberately attempting to promote malicious and slanderous information about her, or if someone set up the site www.GinaFordsucks.com. But taking legal action against posts on an Internet chat board from mums who don't buy into her "contented little baby" philosophy? When you consider doing stuff like that, I think it's time to take a deep breath and treat yourself to a relaxing facial or have a nice glass of sauvignon blanc. Perhaps take a short holiday break and get a prescription for a mild relaxant.

I do not subscribe to Ford's regimented baby routines, although some friends found it a godsend. Personally, I think any book that instructs mothers of newborns to schedule their day right down to the hour they should have a cup of tea and a piece of toast (no, seriously) simply causes more stress. I totally understand the attraction of a plan that promises to get your 6 week old sleeping through the night, but not at the cost of my own sanity. In my opinion, Ford's books perpetuate the myth that there's something wrong with you if your baby isn't on a strict routine within a month of its birth, and somehow forcing an eating and sleeping schedule on a being who can't even see beyond a 10cm distance is going to work. Whatever happened to letting babies feed on demand? Isn't it more distressing for a newborn to be forced to wait until the clock strikes 11:15am for the next feed? Is it wrong of me to voice my thoughts on the matter?

So sue me.

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