Another reason to be suspicious of parenting book authors

Ever wandered into the “parenting” section of your local bookstore, just to be amazed at how many different books there are on the shelf? You name it, from books that have Dads sharing sneaky and underhanded tricks they did as boys (presumably the book isn’t intended as a primer for my son!) to books that are stories about crazy things that happen in the hospital delivery room (including my favorite: A woman who went to get an epidural just to find that the anesthesiologist was — horrors! — an ex-flame! So she decided to have her baby (emphasis theirs, not mine) without anesthesia!).
There are also plenty of books about how to be a better parent too, mostly written by people with the tell-tale “PhD” after their names. Look at the pictures of these authors, most are sitting at a desk or standing in front of an expensive office. What do these people know about 3am hunger wakeups, the perpetually wet diaper, babies who wiggle and make it impossible to put ON a diaper, or even sulky kids who just need a hug?

For years I’ve been wondering why more parents don’t write parenting books (or, at least, why more parents with younger children don’t write parenting books) and today the realization finally hit: we’re all just too darn busy being parents to find the time and write an entire book. Look around at your friends who have young children. If they’re lucky, Mom and Dad (or permutation thereof) get one or two greater-than-fifteen-minutes-alone periods in a week.
We have parent friends who haven’t had a date together in years. Literally. I’m not talking about a romantic weekend at a B&B with an expensive dinner and new lingerie, I’m talking about just having ANY sort of dinner without little hands reaching, little bottoms wiggling, and little mouths interrupting.
A number of people have asked Linda and I whether we are going to write a book about attachment parenting, and we want to do just that, and even have a book proposal written (and it’s a great one, if you’re a publisher!) BUT the difficulty will inevitably be to find the time to write the book!
You’re a parent. You know what I mean.
And that’s why all these dorky doctor-types write dry theoretical parenting books that break down once you get into a stressful situation. Because they’re the only ones with time to put pen to paper, or, at least, fingers to keyboard.
It’s probably also why dating books are so lame, now that I think about it. 🙂

11 comments on “Another reason to be suspicious of parenting book authors

  1. I cannot agree more. With one exception. Dr. Sears. Their library of books is unmatched as is their experience. I think we should not pick up a book without three letters at the end of the authors name. PWC. Parent(s) with children. I have read articles, books, and essays written about children. How to raise them, how to sleep them, and how to punish them. The one thing these all miss is one simple message. ALL CHILDREN ARE DIFFERENT and all PARENTS ARE DIFFERENT. I do believe in reading as much as you can as a parent. Books with experiences of real parents are the best way to find confidence in what you are doing and how to handle the hops and skips of parenting. There is only expert parent. THE PARENT. We are of course not talking about the abusive or neglectful parent. That is a discussion for later. I would like to write a book of my own from the male point of view. From birth to eating healthy with your kids.
    take care

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Almost all of the books I’ve read are of the form “here’s what works. If it doesn’t work for you, you’re just not doing it right”, but I can tell you that what motivates one of my kids definitely doesn’t motivate the others. With A-, for example, food is a strong motivator (takes after her Dad!) whereas my 4yo G- is more interested in *doing* than *eating* so “going outside and playing catch” is much more exciting than some cookies or a piece of fruit…
    We like the Sears too but find their series of books redundant. I think that they have two or three books that they’ve massaged into about twenty, maybe because people only buy one or two anyway? And books written by Dads that aren’t asinine, yeah, there’s a market for that too. As far as I can tell though, as a Dad, society expects us to be pretty disconnected and out of sync with the general parenting experience anyway, and publications laud us for spending “17 more minutes a week” with our kids than our fathers did. 😐

  3. Interesting post. After my daughter was born, I made the mistake – I say “mistake” because it contributed to my postpartum anxiety and depression – of reading five different sleep books. I read everything from Dr. Ferber to Elizabeth Pantley. There was so much contradictory information and so many confusing methods that once, during the worst of my anxiety, I sat literally immobilized after my daughter woke up from her (very short) nap. I didn’t know what to do: let her cry? Pick her up? Pat her back? Periodic checks?
    That’s when my husband, an awesome man, said, “Honey, **ck the books.” And he picked her up and hugged her.
    I’ve read some of Dr. Sears’ work, and while I support AP principles, I don’t agree with the peripheral role fathers are relegated to during the first months of baby’s life. Mothering and breastfeeding are important, to be sure, but there are many instances where fathers take on the role of primary caregiver and must use the bottle. Many women with ppd, for example, end up on medication. Some women become so dysfunctional that the dads must take on the primary nurturing role.
    Just goes to show that there are many ways to practice loving AP.

  4. I agree with your husband that sometimes the best way to approach parenting is to throw all the books out and listen to your heart. If my baby is crying, no-one’s going to stop me picking him or her up and making them feel better. I’m not raising future psychos or commandos, after all, who need to be toughened up from birth.
    In terms of the role of the Dad in attachment parenting, I think that’s one of those situations where you need to again discount what other say and do what’s right for your family. I’ve always been highly involved with my kids and wouldn’t have it any other way (except, perhaps, when everyone’s tired and cranky 🙂 ).

  5. What an excellent site (I found my way here almost randomly)! My daughter (8 months) was keeping my wife (18 wks pregnant) up too much so I popped her in the sling and went downstairs to check some blogs and email, and I end up here.
    My wife and I are first-time attachment parents, and we’re having a (generally) wonderful time. We know that AP is helping us bring up our daughter to be a caring individual, and that’s very important to us.
    I’ve been keeping a blog for about two years now, and it’s become a parenting blog since Marion’s birth, recording my transformation from working man (student advisor) to dad to full-time dad. I often talk about the difficulties that I have as and AP-er, and how my family reacts (the old, “You’ll smash that baby when you roll over on her”).
    I’ll be sure to stick around here for more info.

  6. Glad to have you pop by, Jeremiah. I have to say that the sling is a wonderful thing, especially for avoiding carpal tunnel in your wrist from holding the bambina for hours on end. 🙂
    I’ll be sure to check out your blog too!

  7. When I was pregnant with my first, I remember walking into my bookstore and being completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of books. I couldn’t understand why would be any different than another.
    I think what’s interesting is the large amount of blogs and forums out there that have to do with pregnancy and parenting and those seem to be full of advice. Perhaps a better option than spending money on books. That’s part of the reason why I started my blog. 🙂

  8. Thanks for your nice note and we’ll be glad to watch as your pregnancyweekly site evolves (not to mention your baby growing too). And keep takin’ those vitamins too. 🙂

  9. I work with families of small children (yes, I have a PhD!) in their homes, and I often have the opportunity to coach parents through mealtimes, toilet training, bedtime routines, getting ready for school, and other triggers for disruptive behavior. My basic philosophy is that 1) parents know more than any clinician/book will EVER know about thier child; 2) theory provides us with ideas, and research provides us with plans, but it’s useless unless it can help YOUR family; 3) every family is different; 4) there are no cookie-cutter kids, or cookie-cutter families, therefore no cookie-cutter “methods” etc. Even books authored by parents with children will fall short of providing practical advice to promote lasting change in your family life. 5) there are no perfect books/systems out there.
    Don’t judge a book by its cover– there is so much to learn, and having an open mind is the best “method” of all.

  10. AP is a wonderful style of parenting, and it worked great for my kids who are now teenagers. It takes a lot of effort in the beginning, but in the long run, it makes things easier.
    I too, wouldn’t have my kids or myself go to parenting classes by those who never raised kids. You can study theories your whole life, and if you never have kids of your own, then they can just shut up as far as I am concerned. Children are not science experiments. I am also a therapist in training and the things I have learned being a parent outweighs everything I have ever have or will study in college.

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