Tomorrow's Baby: The Art and Science of Parenting From Conception Through Infancy caps a series of path-breaking Verny books from 1982 to 2002 which go to the core challenge of conscious early parenting that may well determine the survival or disintegration of modern civilization. All carry the Verny trademark in being visionary, courageous, and helpful. This book, written with noted journalist Pamela Weintraub, puts the latest scientific information in the hands of parents determined to fulfill their deeply-felt responsibilities to consciously parent, richly endow, and proudly send forth healthy and loving children into the world. Also trademark Verny are the many well-chosen stories illuminating the points made in the text.
Readers will have their eyes opened to the recent discoveries of neuroscience testifying to the foundational importance of bonding, attachment, and attunement of parents and babies with life-long effects. Parents will learn how centrally involved they are in the daily process of mediating genes and environment, the steadily unfolding construction of the brain, the establishment of the child's emotional equilibrium, and in the genesis or prevention of pathology. If you want to verify any of these startling facts, there are more than 320 Notes and References waiting for you in the back of the book. For those who want to read more widely on the subject, an abundant Bibliography opens the door to a world of pertinent literature.
This book is smartly organized for easy reading and learning, with closing segments at the end of each chapter entitled "Summing Up" and "Key Parenting Points." An Index makes it easy to find things of special interest, and an unusual Appendix contains a Questionnaire on "Roots of Personality" by Verny & Engel designed to increase awareness of your own prenatal and perinatal experiences.
As usual, Dr. Verny maintains a fine balance between painstaking scholarship (just look at a few of those voluminous Notes), feisty criticism of the "experts" and naysayers who stubbornly hang onto ideas long after the evidence proves them wrong, and refreshing practical advice for mothers and fathers searching for the joy of parenting. As a consummate professional, in chapters 3 and 12 he casts a sober eye on the way maternal stresses can have unwanted consequences for babies, and how domestic life can nudge, elbow or shove infants and children into increasing pathology. Likewise, he traces the factors that lead to increasing violence but not without also marking out the path of prevention and pointing out the prospects for intervention.
Concluding this strong book on "the art and science of parenting from conception through infancy" are chapters 13 and 14 charting unfamiliar but promising territory. "Cultivating Basic Goodness: How to Enhance Empathy, Compassion, and Altruism" focuses on Tomorrow's Baby and "Conscious Parenting" focuses on Tomorrow's Parent. Look here for some of the rarely noted secrets that could yet save our fragile contemporary experiment in creating a truly civil society.
Review by David B. Chamberlain, Ph.D.
Santa Barbara Graduate Institute