- Step 1: Read THE BOOK.
- Step 2: Do exactly what it says.
- Step 3(option A): If your child follows the pattern described in the book, rejoice that your parenting skills are awesome and pass on this book as the best parenting style to everyone you know.
- Step 3(option B): If you’re not having success with THE BOOK, try THE OTHER BOOK. Read it and realize that you’ve done everything exactly wrong. Despair that your child has been ruined for life. Turn in your parenting keys. It’s over.
I have a love/hate relationship with parenting books. I’ve found some techniques that have worked really well for our family. On the other hand, sometimes the results I get aren’t exactly what the book promised. As a new mom, I felt like a failure. I read The Baby Whisperer. I did exactly what she said. Then I read Babywise and did exactly what that book said. Then I read The Happiest Baby on The Block and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I still had some really rough times with sleep and nap schedule with my kids.
I remember being in tears calling my husband. I had just read from one book that the things I did from the other book had caused my baby to no longer trust me and that I was going to have to crawl up in the crib with my baby and sleep with him until that trust was rebuilt. I could not make this up if I tried!
Do you know what’s really not helpful to a new mom who is struggling? Telling her that the reason her child isn’t doing (fill in the blank) is because she is doing it wrong.
Can we stop telling discouraged moms that the reason they aren’t sleeping well is because they aren’t following steps A, B and C in whatever the parenting book of choice might be? Can we stop telling discouraged moms that there is no way their child would still wet the bed at night if they did all the things outlined in How to Potty Train Your Child in A Day?
This isn’t an anti-parenting book post. I see no reason to denigrate any. On the contrary, if you’ve found something that works for your family, feel free to share it with other moms. It might help them a lot. On the other hand, if a certain system doesn’t work well for you, you should not be afraid to say that either. I have friends who have had awesome results from some parenting books and they are afraid to tell anyone about it because they fear backlash. Women are crazy when it comes to these things(I can say that because I’m a woman!-ha).
Perhaps there is a way to handle this with more grace. Can we share what has worked for us in a way that our fellow moms aren’t afraid to report back that they are still struggling? Can we move away from campaigning for or against different parenting styles? If I were to sit down with a new mom who is struggling today, I would share some different approaches that worked for our family and then I would say:
“Parenting is hard. Really really hard. You are not doing it wrong. Whatever parenting approach you choose for your family, I will do my best to encourage and support you. What can I do so you can get a nap today?”