Saturday, April 16, 2011

Parenting: Amenable to Study

A conversation on the sidelines of Charlie's little league game this week:
Teddy (coming up to where I was chatting with some moms from C's team): I'm hot. Can I take off this [long sleeve] shirt?
Me (thinking that it was just getting chilly): Well, my parenting book tells me I should let you, so yes.
Mom 1: Oh, parenting books? I threw those out in the first month.
Mom 2: My husband picks the strangest battles. I think "you just threw down the gauntlet about that?"

In my observation, Mom 1 doesn't parent all that well. Specifically, she asks too little of her children in terms of behavior and politeness. Mom 2 does a far better job and has charming, generous happy kids. And Mom 2 has somewhere learned some of the lessons that I've learned from parenting books.

In a quirk of timing, that conversation occurred one day after one in which I shared with our childrens' minister at church that I really believe parenting is amenable to study. Right now, with a group of other parents at church, we're reading and discussing Parenting with Love & Logic, a classic which I'm nearly ready to review in this space. It's one in a series of books that we've read and discusses in a parent & family Sunday school class. The book group style sharing and wrestling with topics has proven really valuable even when
the occasional book has been a dud.

When a parenting book really stimulates me, it tends to scare me because it presents approaches to parenting that run contrary to my intuition. Love & Logic, especially has got me wanting to shed some of my parenting control freak tendencies. When experts in child development present theories and propose practices based on kids' development, I find that they often make sense, and that I would never have come to them on my own.

Come to think of it, these parenting books have been more useful the older the kids have gotten. Baby instruction books tend to contradict each other too much. Maybe that's why Mom 1 flung hers aside so early. It's just a shame that she hasn't gone back to them because she and her kids might really benefit now. It feels like so much of my kids' future happiness depends on me working to be the best parent I can be. I want more confidence than comes from just winging it.

1 comment:

Lauren Jackson said...

We all pick and choose our parenting books, though. We'd never accept one that was really contrary to our own common sense. I feel like they help refine us and let us see things in ways we previously didn't. (BTW, Mike's mom, Mary, taught Parenting with Love and Logic for many years on Bainbridge Island. She was officially trained by Jim Fay. If you want to toss anything around with her, she'd be thrilled. Let me know if you want her email or phone number.)