Shifting Ideas: Parenting Books

While I was reading Nurture Shock, by PO Bronson Ashley Merryman, this was a while ago, something came to me about how dramatically parenting styles shift.  This isn’t so much shocking as just simply annoying.  How do parents and caregivers stay on track when the theories on child rearing are constantly in flux, when do we get to just stay still and know we, parents and caregivers, are in fact doing everything right?

….NEVER.

I despise most parenting books, not because the advice in one given book is intrinsically bad, or harmful to society.  I despise the parenting book epidemic, because when we take one parenting book on attachment parenting, and one book on, well just anything else, and mix them together in the brain of one mom or dad,  then these books do become harmful.  Again, not because anything in them is particularly wrong, but because the different styles, and modes of parenting discussed are all different, and in the end don’t help parents and or caregivers do what they do any better. The mix of these books usually only create insecure and ultimately, and most disruptively, inconsistent parenting styles–where an all goes type of parenting happens. And trust me, this does not bode well for anyone, from parents to child to outside caregiver.

I think this is why I liked Nurture Shock so much, Nurture Shock, while it talked about parenting, and children, the book basically stayed clear of any child rearing styles which are not based on science.  Nurture Shock primarily dealt with childrens’ brain chemistry, and based on extensive research essentially shut down many parenting philosophies.

My point is, the moment I had was this.  While I liked and found value in Nurture Shock I also take the studies and the purpose of the studies with a grain of salt, the same I do with other parenting books, well maybe a tablespoon of salt for Nurture Shock, because, and this is the important part….  I take it lightly because I realize that the theories discussed in this book, like most other parenting/child rearing books will one day be disproved, yet with another scientific study.  Why?  Because our research is guided by where we are economically, socially and where we wish to be in the future.

When time, moral codes and cultural shifts occur, so does our idea of good, or right parenting.  We theorize and parent based on theories which claim to uphold or produce a specific type of person.  We perform attachement parenting, or cry it out method, not because it is necessarily easy at the time, but because we picture these things affecting and making up the adults our children will become, and this is good… kind of.  We should imagine, and think about our parenting and caregiving styles as something that will directly affect the adults babies will become.  But we should also know that this too will change.

Books Books Books

stack_of_books2293x500In general, I’m not huge on reading parenting books. I think people rely too much on them and forget that they are human beings who have natural instincts for these things.  I’ve looked over and read, what I consider to be a fair amount of parenting books, (yes, sometimes reading parenting books for my employers is part of my job) there are a few problems I find with most parenting books.

1.  Most parenting books consist of long monologues with little information.

2.  It’s nearly impossible to know what books to get, because there are hundreds out there, all claiming to be experts on the same topic.

3.  Most parenting books consist of long monologues with little information… OH, I already said this?

I might take for granted that I know what I know about child rearing, safety, developmental stages, etc. because of all my years of experience, (I should also thank my mom for her amazing educated advice) but I do realize some people go into parenting with no experience, thus making it a little scarier and overwhelming.

It would be hard at this point to trace back all the moments when I learned all of the valuable information I take for granted now, such as, that babies have “sleep signals” to cue us for bedtime, that biting babies nails when they’re infants is easier than using finger nail clippers, that letting your baby run around without a diaper for a few hours is the best way to get rid of a rash…. you get the point.  At some point I did learn all of this, there was a moment when it all clicked, and I learned this through experience, not from a book.

All of this being said: For people with little to no experience, and without a ‘model’ parent for which to ask questions I realize it can be comforting, and informative to read a book….or twelve.  My personal opinion is that we (Americans) over-read on parenting.  So far a few books I would recommend are listed below, keep in mind these books for the most part fit into my “parenting” style, or they are simply information based.

Baby and Toddler 411 by Denise Fields and Ari Brown: These are 2 different books.  The books have factual information about your child’s developmental stages they also have products like car seats, discussed and rated. I rarely look at this for developmental stages but I have referenced it when choosing important products, like car seats and high chairs for my bosses. I like the books because they are simple and to the point, you don’t have to read 12 pages to find the one sentence of actually useful information you wanted about diaper rashes.

Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman:  A great book about an American woman in Paris, and her discovery, and conversion into French parenting.  When I read this book I was shocked by how similar my “parenting style” is to the French parenting style.  The book helped me to feel more confident in my choices and gave me some more useful tips on sleep and eating.  A great book for someone who is unsure of what parenting style they want to go with!

Baby-led weening by Gill Rapley and Tracey MurkettFor those who are interested in, or want to know more about baby-led weening.