In the spirit of Banned Book Week, I decided to keep going with my posts on books. You can read about the 10 books that changed my life here.
Today I thought I should write about parenting books, mostly because I have serious mixed feelings about them. On the one hand, every parenting book claims to have all the answers. And despite each book being fairly unique, they all claim to have the “right” disciplinary methods or the “only sleep training method that works”. The only thing that parenting books have in common are, if they use them, basic psychological and developmental principles.
However, on the other hand, parenting books can be an awesome resource. The key, I found, is to read them with an open mind and to pick and choose methods and tips that work for you and your child.
Around the time my toddler decided to stop napping altogether (when he was a few months shy of two years), I started to get really desperate for some parenting advice. I had this wild toddler that never slept and acted like a tornado. So, I pretty much read the public library’s selection on parenting books, aimlessly grabbing for anything that would give me some peace, calm, or at least a routine. I found some tricks here and there, yet there were even more that didn’t work or weren’t for us. The books that I found to be the most valuable were the ones that gave me two things: a fresh parenting perspective and some general, classic advice.
Funny enough, the books that I enjoyed most about parenting were about international parenting. I love that America has so many parenting styles to choose from and a ton of flexibility, it’s fantastic because every family is different. But it can be tough without a strong, set culture of parenting to guide us. This is why I took a look at other parenting cultures for some new ideas.
- Parenting Without Borders by Christine Gross-Loh: An American mom raising her kids in Japan explores parenting methods in a variety of cultures. She explores differences as well as methods that seem to be working well. It was particularly informative on Japanese parenting and gave us some great new ideas.
- The Lost Art of Feeding Kids: What Italy Taught Me About Why Children Need Real Food by Jeannie Marshall: I couldn’t put this book down. Although this book focuses less on parenting, and more on processed food, it really inspired me to create a stronger food culture for our little family.
- How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Parenting Adventures by Mei-Ling Hopgood: This is another parenting book that explores different aspects of parenting in various cultures, this time from an American mom living in Argentina. It was eye-opening to me because she discusses a ton of information that I had never heard of, such as the way Tibetans view pregnancy. A great book to give us a fresh perspective on parenting.
- The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl: I really enjoyed the simplicity of this book’s message. It breaks Danish parenting down into simple tips and general ideas, and although I wish it were longer or more detailed, it gave me some fantastic tools for my parenting toolbox.
- Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman: This is a book on French parenting from the perspective of an American. Mostly it made me want to pack up and head to Paris, but I think it had some fantastic parenting tips. There are several books on French parenting that I read, but I liked this one in particular.
Parenting books can be a fantastic resource for adding tools to your toolbelt. But remember, the key to parenting books is not to use them as a word for word guide. You know your child best and each family has different routines and norms and cultural backgrounds. Open your mind, try approaches that speak to you, and just see what works.