Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In the minefield of parenting (and Christian parenting) literature...

...finally, somebody speaks some common sense.

This from Dr Sandra Aamodt, author of a recent book called Welcome to Your Child's Brain:

"Everybody wants one-size-fits-all parenting advice, and I think the one thing that's really come out of the last 20 years of research into paediatric behaviour is that there's never going to be one-size-fits-all advice. Parents do have some ability to influence events but you really must start with the child you have and not the child you wished for."

Amen, sister. I want to read this book already.

One of my big issues with many parenting books (both Christian and secular) is that they are overly simplistic and advocate their own approach as the one true way. That is, by following the book's program, routine or whatever, you are guaranteed a child who sleeps all night, behaves properly in every situation and becomes a Christian when they grow up. It's not as straightforward as this generally. And it makes some parents stressy and anxious if their kid doesn't fit the pattern. The less stressed ones just say they're flexible and don't follow the program to the letter, which is fine, but then why bother with it at all in the first place?

I relate much better to the books that give choices. The ones that suggest following the child's lead rather than what the book says. The ones that say that if this works, do it, but it doesn't always work. If something else works better, then try that. Maybe you'll need to try a lot of different things. The ones that give the message that we're all trying our best here, and there are no guaranteed outcomes in this parenting gig. All we can really do is keep trying (and messing up with our kids lots of times), and praying for them and for ourselves.


Wendy said...

We've pretty much given up on parenting books, Christian or otherwise. My husband's take on Christian parenting books is that they leave out the Grace factor. There is NO guarantee our kids will grow up to be Christians. Indeed, as you say, no guaranteed outcomes at all!

My beef with these books is similar to you, but also that they pile a whole lot of guilt on people when the outcome isn't the prescribed one i.e. you must be a bad parent if you don't get this result. A whole lot of rubbish and unnecessary guilt.

Helen said...

They don't all leave out the grace factor, Wendy. Can give you some good names of books that don't.

I totally agree with you Karen, that books need to provide choices and options. I do this in my therapy all the time - ok, that doesn't work for that client, let me try this way...and for my kids as well.

When I was at church as a student and lots of women were having babies there was a certain book/program around that I read before I had Lucy - and later, in my sleep deprived, depressed hours - bits would come back to me. I ended up with a secular book - which provided choices! - which was excellent!