10 Things You Don’t Know About Me: I Don’t Read Parenting Books

A professor of mine once cautioned against parenting books, warning us that parenting cannot be neatly wrapped up in 10 chapters.  I listened and stored it somewhere inside my brain.

When I had Emily, his warning slipped back into my consciousness.  Yet, when Emily wasn’t sleeping through the night, I resorted to reading one sleep book.

The author’s language was too terse,  too strong,  too deterministic.  I just didn’t buy that if I didn’t get my kid on a sleep schedule immediately her whole life would be screwed up.  I stopped reading after a couple of chapters.

Even so, I had allowed certain phrases to penetrate my defenses.  It was painful.  If Emily refused to sleep, I thought about her long term consequences.  I envisioned her energy lagging because her night time was shorter than the recommended 12 hours.  I was sure that I was already making a mess of her life.

I started feeling guilty.  So guilty, in fact, that I would lie in bed at night, paralyzed by that inner demon’s whispers.

It took a few months (okay a year) of coaching from my husband to finally elevate myself above the harmful affects of that demon.

When Andrew was born,  I determined I would read his signals.  I would, metaphorically, “go with the flow.”  I also decided to listen to my professor’s warning and not turn to immediately to a parenting book if things went awry.

This doesn’t mean that I find all parenting books to be harsh and demanding.  No, they have their place.  And, if they work for you?  Why not use them.  But, for me?  It was too much pressure.

So, I went with my instincts.  Yes, those first couple months were hard.  Yes,  I often dreamt about sleep filled nights.  Still,  I knew that sleep would come.  Eventually.

And, you know what? It has.



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16 responses to “10 Things You Don’t Know About Me: I Don’t Read Parenting Books

  1. Dad

    I absolutley agree! The best resources out there, bar none, are The Gift of the Holy Ghost and the scriptures.

  2. I’ve always thought I would read some books. I think you need to find ones that work for you.

    I am excited you are coming to the lunch! It will be fun.

  3. Parenting books just tell you completely different things, which leads to the tearing out of copious amounts of hair! I’m with you on that one!

  4. I totally agree. Despite basically bowing to any authority, EVER, in all other parts of my life, I’ve rejected almost every single parenting book. They are too categorical and rigid and they create panic if your child doesn’t fall neatly into their suggestions. At least that’s my experience!

  5. Parenting books are a crock – and I’m still addicted to reading them!

  6. I know a gal who tortures herself with parenting books. It’s so sad to watch her.

    I’m with you. And when I need advice? I ask people I know. =)

  7. Well hooray for this one! Early on, I read a few, and quickly abandoned them.

    Instinct, your kids themselves, other parents you trust – with rare exceptions – I think that’s what works best for some of us.

  8. I never read any parenting books when my kids were little. The last time I truly tormented myself at all was with “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” And, trust me, that drove me nuts enough, especially when I only went to 29 weeks gestation and had a pound and a half baby.

    I read somewhere that the best parenting advice is in the Torah. Along those lines, and for older kids, I do love, “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee,” by Wendy Mogel, PhD about using Jewish teachings to raise happy, grateful, self-reliant children.

  9. I’ve never read a single parenting book, although I’ve had many recommended. There is one, written by an LDS professor that I would like to read some time… but for the life of me I can’t think of the title right now.
    Anyway, I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t read those. =)

  10. Melanie J

    The nice thing about self-help books, and especially with parenting books, is they all conflict with one another. If one of makes me feel bad, I just go find one that says the opposite. No inner demons to bestir that way.

  11. I am an expert on going to bed with guilt tucking me in. It is horrible and it is harmful. You are doing your best and your kids know they are loved, I am sure.

  12. I whole heartedly agree with you. You are the only one who knows your child, their cues. Every parenting book I’ve read I’ve found myself yelling at, or throwing. The sleep books in particular.
    But I think it took me until the second child to come to terms with that 😉

  13. Your professor is a wise man. Always go by instinct, no book knows your child like you do. And all children are different. Good for you and your husband for doing your own thing with your kids.

  14. I much prefer talking to other parents and hearing what did or didn’t work for them. There’s nothing better than hearing the little twists and quirks that come from trying something 8 different ways, and only a first-hand experience can give you that.

  15. Well, I think you know how I feel about this one: constantly drawn to books and plans, but always reminded that there is no one-size-fits-all model for parenting.

  16. Nicki

    Good for you, Amber! Instincts trump parenting books any day.