Parenting Advice: Don’t Read the Books
Anyone who knows me would be shocked that I would tell you NOT to read. I read anything I can get my hands on, especially to help prepare me for big experiences, such as having a baby. I did, in fact, read several books while pregnant. What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Your Pregnancy Week by Week being the main ones. While both of these books offered many interesting insights and fun tidbits about my baby’s growth, they mostly had a WebMD effect on me. I became anxious that my baby had rare genetic disorders, or that my normal pregnancy pains were the early warning signs of a tumor.
It only gets worse once the baby is born. That’s when the books tell you that your baby should be reaching specific “milestones” by a certain age and you end up becoming besties with the nurse at your pediatrician’s office because you call every other day concerned that your child has a developmental delay (hey, Shelly). You’ll also spend a ridiculous amount of money buying books that promise to get your child to sleep through the night. They won’t work. Here’s a better piece of advice: go write one of these books yourself and once you’ve sold it to the poor, sleep-deprived parents desperate to try anything, you’ll have enough money to hire a night nurse.
Now that my daughter is a toddler, I am avoiding books about potty training. Babies and children are INDIVIDUALS. They grow at different rates. They learn at different rates. They reach so-called milestones when they're ready. What works for one, may not work for another, and I don’t want to spend one more minute worrying that there’s something “wrong” with my child.
BOTTOM LINE: find doctors whom you trust. If there actually *is* something wrong, they will tell you, and you will get through it. Talk to friends who have children. Ask for advice. But take everything with a grain of salt and remember that NOBODY - no doctor, no parenting expert - knows your child like you do.
All that being said, there are many parenting books and resources that are worthwhile. I enjoy reading about Montessori techniques and ways to enhance my child’s learning at home. Pinterest, blogs, and social media are wonderful resources for little tips and tricks to make parenting easier. I loved having an app on my phone to tell me which piece of fruit my little fetus was the size of, and it's nice to find other parents online who can celebrate the victories of parenthood and commiserate through the rough times. But sometimes we can be so overwhelmed by the information overload that we begin imagining problems where they don't exist. Find a few trusted resources that make you feel comfortable, and let the rest of it go. You've got this, Mama.
P.S. One exception to the popular parenting books is Dr. Harvey Karp’s “Happiest Baby on the Block,” which offers techniques for soothing fussy newborns. It actually works. The man is a sorcerer. BUT! Watch the DVD instead of reading the book. You’ll get a better sense of the technique in action.