- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The old proverb “Each child arrives with loaf of bread under his arms” is not so true in Hollywood, where babies apparently need much more than attentive parents and a quiet place to sleep.

Unless, of course, the loaf was specially baked by an in-house baker with organic, gluten-free flour.

Take diva Jennifer Lopez, who reportedly has spent more than $1 million on the recent arrival of her twins, Max and Emme. The high price tag includes extra security, a baby masseuse, 600-count Egyptian cotton crib sheets and a color therapist.

A what?

Yes, a color therapist. Miss Lopez “has gone all out to give the twins an amazing childhood,” a source told the United Kingdom’s Daily Mirror newspaper. “She hired a color therapist to paint the nursery a beautiful aquamarine and light blue — colors which are supposed to have intelligence-boosting properties.”

Color therapy is actually an ancient practice currently in vogue in New Agey circles. In the scientific world, not so much.

Color therapy is based on creating balance and enhancing energy. If one uses the seven colors of the light spectrum, along with proper placement on each chakra of the body, these colors resonate with the body’s own healing energies to alleviate stress, headaches or whatever is ailing you.

“Basically, color is all around us,” says Lilian Verner Bonds, a British color therapist and author of 10 books on the subject. “It affects the body emotionally and physically. The human body is intensely keyed to color. We are swamped with it from the moment we are born. Every color reveals about 200 meanings.”

In other words, pink and blue won’t cut it for baby’s room anymore. Ms. Verner Bonds says start with white or possibly cream.

“White resembles mother’s milk and nourishment,” she says, “but you don’t want too much of any one color. You don’t want to OD on it.”

Adding a pale turquoise or aquamarine, like in the Lopez-Anthony nursery, soothes the nervous system, Ms. Verner Bonds says. A little peach or pink gives baby “freedom to move forward, feel safe and start that bonding time,” she asserts.

Also, by all means avoid primary colors. Red and navy are too bright, too intense for children. They’ll need that intensity when dealing with the paparazzi one day. For now, leave those colors out of the nursery.

“You can have that in a mobile over the crib,” Ms. Verner Bonds says. “You can add more color in three to six months, when babies will focus on other things.”

If Miss Lopez really wants to boost her children’s intelligence, she should add some yellow to the mix, or perhaps a yellow-green shade. According to ayurvedic principles, yellow stimulates understanding and intelligence. (Ayurveyda is a traditional medical system indigenous to the Indian subcontinent.) Yellow-green has the properties of yellow as well as the calming effect of green. Purple, meanwhile, opens the door to perception, and blue, as indicated by Ms. Verner Bonds, has a calming effect (useful when you hang up on your agent).

So put color therapy on the growing list of services available for parenting perfect children.

In the old days, you had Dr. Spock and a harried phone call to your mother. These days, one can hire a name consultant. For about $500, an expert can test the phonetic qualities of your child’s name with the vision of a marketing and branding expert. There also are potty-training coaches and sleep-training coaches. You can hire someone to analyze and childproof the house, perfect junior’s fastball or teach him baby sign language.

Educational consultant Michele Borba, author of 22 parenting books, including the recent “12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know,” says marketers have found a way to play off the guilt and insecurity of new parents.

Combine those pangs with the commodification of services and an unlimited supply of money and — presto — you have a whole new industry. “Somehow, people think they are going to be a better parent with all this,” Ms. Borba says.

“The most glorious part of parenting is instinct,” says Ms. Borba, who adds that she is troubled by the lack of confidence seen in many new parents. “You don’t need books — and I say this as someone who has written 22 books. You should rely on your God-given instinct. The further away you get from instinct, the more your guilt and competitive edge will go up.”

Besides, with all the nannies and coaches and consultants and interior designers — who needs parents?

“If you outsource everything, what do you have left?” Ms. Borba asks rhetorically. “It doesn’t stop with baby. They get older, and you can hire manners coaches and self-esteem coaches and then someone to write their college essays.”

In the end, celebrity excess is doing for parents what bikini models once did for young girls. Self-consciousness about normal-size thighs could soon be replaced by self-consciousness that you named the baby after Grandma Rose without first seeking a professional opinion.

In striving to make our children perfect, we just might find ourselves with perfect children that aren’t sufficiently ours.

“By doing this, we are taking all the personality out of parenting,” Ms. Borba says. “I am concerned about regular parents looking at celebrities and thinking, ‘This is how my life should be.’ ”

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