My mom adventures in Fort Collins

Parenting books make great coasters

I don’t read parenting books. It’s not that I don’t want to, because I do. Often, something will happen, and I will think, “I have to sit down and read some credible information about _____ before my children suffer at the hands of a mother who never spent a moment trying to learn how to get better at this stuff.”

It’s not that I don’t try to read them. I try. My problem is multi-faceted, though. First off, my personal policy is that whenever possible I borrow books from the library rather than buy them. In the same vein as public education and public parks, I’ve sort of already bought these books. Second of all, my interest in non-fiction does wane at times. Frequently, when I check out a book on parenting, the book is due back before I’ve read more than a chapter.

However, in my quest to at least read something relevant to the work I do, I have attempted to read some of these beauties. Not all of my parenting books are used as coasters. Here are a few of the many I’ve at least put my hands on (perhaps even made it past page 10).


The Birth Bookby Dr. Sears–This was the only baby book (if you can really call it that, because it does center largely on pregnancy, labor and delivery, not so much on parenting) that I read cover to cover. I even read the chapters in order. That’s almost unheard of for me. But I love the stories from Martha Sears of how she brought each of her babies (7? 8?) into the world. I have recommended this book to friends who literally went running. They think Dr. Sears and family are  cuckoo, but I love them.


On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Dr. Robert Bucknam–I know people who swear by this book. I am pretty sure that the timing of when I read this book had a lot to do with my feelings about it. Picture this: I am pumping milk like a crazy woman, while my husband feeds the darling week-old baby in the other room a bottle full of formula. Yeah, I had some issues those first few weeks of Scout’s life, not the least of which was pumping-and-dumping the golden nectar of life on account of the crazy-strong meds I was on for what amounted to an allergic reaction to latex. I think I spent a lot of time with this book just bewildered with the word “sleep.” I mean, what’s that? Sounds so familiar… So, in summary, I hated this book. Really really hated it. I pretty much couldn’t fathom how any baby slept through the night at 7-8 weeks old (that was until Ruby did it pretty regularly at 7-8 weeks old. Crazy. But don’t worry, by the time she was teething she was making newborn days seem idyllic). I think what struck me as so completely wrong about this book is that right off the bat the author bashes Attachment Parenting. As I said earlier, Dr. Sears got to me first. Sorry, Babywise parents, I’m sure you’re well-rested and all, but I never finished this one either. I think I gave my copy to Goodwill.

From their website

Parenting with Love and Logicby Foster W. Cline, M.D., and Jim Fay–This one came highly recommended by several friends. I even know a few who went to workshops that followed this technique. General premise, from what I remember, is that if you give your children choices from a very young age it prepares them for making appropriate decisions. You’re supposed to emphasize natural consequences, too. So, things like, “Would you like bubbles in your bath or just a plain bath tonight?” as opposed to “Would you like to come and take a bath now?” And when dinner is ignored and then inevitable hunger pains erupt, you are supposed to emphasize the fact that dinner is supposed to be eaten during dinner time and make empathetic statements like, “I understand, I get hungry and upset , too, when I don’t eat my dinner.” All in all, this is one that I’d like to revisit because it sounds so practical, but it’s one of those that I checked out from the library and only got through page 45 before it was due back. When you actually spend most of your time parenting, it’s ridiculously difficult to find time to read parenting books, no?

From google

The Baby Book by Dr. Sears–Again, Dr. Sears. My friend gave me this as a baby gift. It’s bigger than most city telephone books, so I didn’t consider reading this one cover-to-cover. No, this tome is meant to be a flip-to-the-index kind of resource. But, as I said earlier, Dr. Sears just seems very supportive of the things that I wanted to hear: he’s big on breastfeeding, big on wearing your baby, big on bonding, and even advocates a family bed if that’s something that you’d like to try. I also found his approach to food introduction somewhat helpful, though his list of when and which foods to introduce varied from the pediatrician’s list.

Touchpoints by T. Berry Brazelton, MD–Oh Dr. Brazelton, what a fabulous man. I can just picture him, his compassionate wisdom. It was Dr. Brazelton I turned to for potty-training advice. His advice, from what I remember, calmed me. If the kid isn’t ready for the whole potty training thing, just put the topic away for a bit. Sounds simple enough, right? Yeah, I think it’s actually hard to read a parenting book that basically tells you to “tone it down, you’re being too controlling.” Yet, I love him and I wish I could follow more of his suggestions. This is a book I actually own and occasionally look at. Well, I look at the book binding from where it sits on the shelf, not actually open to a page, but, still, I look at this one.

From google

Parenting the Strong-Willed Child by Rex Forehand, PhD--From what little I got to read of this book, I actually liked it. Unfortunately, this book prescribed a 5 week plan to restructure your home and your interactions with your child. I got to week two, I think, before the book was due back at the library. But the first week, if I remember correctly, was about “Attending.” Attend to your child. This makes a lot of sense to me. According to this author, children often tune out parents. Words like “no,” “don’t,” “stop,” and others all start to sound repetitive. If you are saying words like this all the time (and, for a while there, I sure felt like I was!), your kids figure it’s just another statement that they can ignore. By “attending” to your child, you create more positive language around your child so that on the occasion that you need to comment on something egregious, they actually hear you. For example, I’m sitting with my daughter while she plays, and the entire time I run a play-by-play of her actions, keeping things light and positive. “Oh, I see you put the blue block  on top of the red block.” Or, “The tea party is a major success!” Or, “The puzzle you’re working on is really coming along. You’re doing a great job!” That way, when I have to say, “No, we don’t cut holes in your sister’s bedskirt with the manicure scissors,” the hope is that she’ll actually hear me.

So, in essence, I’m a major dud when it comes to reading the latest and greatest parenting literature. Funny thing is, I don’t really feel bad about this. I guess I should, but I don’t.  I do really like anecdotal stories about parenthood. I loved Amy Chua’s Tiger Mother book, and one of my all-time-favorites-must-recommend-it-to-everyone-I-know is Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions. But, I’m still open to suggestions.

Tell me, what is the book on parenting that I must read? What book changed your perspective on parenting?


7 Comments so far
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I enjoyed Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel. Lots of practical ideas. (I actually own this book.) I’m really not big on parenting books either. I think I can count on one hand the number of them I’ve read since my kids were born. I had What to Expect When You’re Expecting and liked that, but since…hmmm…I’m thinking. I like the Creative Correction book. Can’t think of another off the top of my head.

Comment by the domestic fringe

That’s so funny, I almost put “What to Expect” on this list… It’s a lot easier to find time to read when you don’t actually have kids. Thanks for the book suggestion. Is this LIsa Whelchel who was Blair on Facts of Life? I have to get my hands on Blair’s book! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Comment by jaymers

I, too, only really read What to Expect… I have used the internet for parenting questions frequently. Maybe we need to write our own parenting book! 🙂

Comment by jeandayfriday

It is pretty amusing how the internet is such a solution to so many things… how to fix your toilet, how to make a French silk pie, how to discipline your kid! Ha! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Comment by jaymers

I’ve got my own library of these parenting books. In my experience there’s a heck of a lot of common sense in them, laced with stuff that makes me feel inadequate as a parent. I’m with Jeandayfriday on writing our own!

Comment by valleygirl96

Like I said, my favorite books are really the memoirs. I could totally see an anthology of hilarious anecdotes. As for “advice,” I’d sure cringe if anyone knew what I really do to get my kids to behave–dum dums, anyone? Thanks for commenting.

Comment by jaymers

[…] Parenting books make great coasters […]

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