Thoughts on Parenting Books

I have sort of a love – hate relationship with parenting books.  Anyone else?

To me, it seems like the same situation as health books / philosophies – a myriad of “experts” touting opposite opinions and capitalizing on fear.

With this sort of opinion, you’d think I would just stop reading them.  The problem is, I love to read and I love to have a plan.  Having a book to turn to automatically makes me feel like I’m doing something about the problem.  Having a plan makes me feel in control, even if the plan winds up failing.  No problem, I’ll make a new plan.

But I hate how each parenting book starts by telling you all of the catastrophic things that will occur if you fail to execute their plan – how your child will be sleep deprived and therefore ADHD and therefore never amount to anything.  How your child will become hopelessly codependent or unable to form a bond with anyone or grow three heads.

I’m pretty sure parents worry enough about these things without the books magnifying it.  Aaaand, I’m quite sure that parents, for instance, reading a book about supporting healthy sleep in children, are already aware of the importance of sleep.

I was “off” of parenting books for quite some time, but alas, the nap situation caused me to fall off the wagon and I bought another one.  I started listening to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child on Audible.  A lot of the book makes a lot of sense to me, I could just do without the chapters on how sleep deprived children are doomed at life.  Thanks for that Dr. Weissbluth.  Thanks a lot.

I also find that, similar to health books, you can pretty much find a book to support whatever you want to do anyway.  I suppose this can be helpful in boosting confidence about a parenting philosophy you already have, but it’s decidedly unhelpful when you’re actually looking for information on what to do.

With that said, there are actually a couple of parenting books I’ve read that I really liked.

The Self-Calmed Baby

This is an older book and I don’t think it’s in print anymore.  I thought some of the information (e.g., regarding breastfeeding) was outdated, but I loved the ideas for gently helping your baby learn to self-soothe from the start.  This book had a lot of great tips for avoiding creating crutches that you later need to wean your child off of.

Montessori from the Start

I think this book would be useful even if you’re not familiar with Montessori.  It has a lot of great information about developmental timelines and how to support your child in various phases of development and in reaching greater independence.  I read this one when I was pregnant and am hoping to reread it soon.

How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk

This one is more for toddlers and up, but I recognized so many of the strategies we successfully used with children in the classroom that I would definitely recommend it to a friend.  It’s amazing how little tweaks in language can prevent power struggles with a toddler.

I found all three of these books to be helpful and to include minimal “scare tactics”.  I think it’s unkind and unnecessary for authors to play into the already present fear that we will somehow mess up our precious children.  Because while they may all disagree, I don’t think any expert says, “You know what today’s parents need?  To worry more.”  No thanks.

How do you feel about parenting books?  Do you have any favorites?


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