Parenting books can be found in almost every bookstore and library in the United States. It would seem there are more experts on parenting than there are parents. Why such a high demand for parenting literature? No one is for certain why how-to books are so popular in today's society, but there are mixed emotions on these parenting instruction manuals, and many psychologists say "They don't work!" Even with this statement by professionals, why are parenting books still raking in the dough?
Parents today seem to be at a loss or lacking natural instinct in parenting and are more than willing to seek advice from virtually unknown authors without proof of any form of credential. First, let me say this, parenting does not require an instruction manual, although there are some people who could use certified classes when things go bad. With that being said, let's explore if parenting books really help. First, lets look to the skeptics. The most common arguments are that parenting books generalize everything and every child is different, therefore what you read may not work in your situation. I agree. No child is the same just as no adult is the same. The second argument is that many parenting authors have no children themselves therefore cannot accurately advise parents based solely on degrees. Many parents who do not condone parenting books are quick to point this out as well. Without the hands-on experience, an accurate account of parenting instruction cannot be given. The next, most common argument comes from conspiracy theorists. Many believe that parenting books are actually being commissioned by the government to control how we raise our own children, taking things a bit too far. Of course, this sounds a bit out there, but you would be surprised how many people actually see it this way.
With those who disagree with parenting books, there are just as many who wholeheartedly approve. They have arguments supporting these books that can rival any skeptic. The main argument for the supporters is that today's parents are losing natural ability to make the right choices for their children. Whether it be drugs, misplaced accountability or a hard childhood themselves, one thing is certain, parenting today is not as it was when we were young. Another argument is that these books can save taxpayers money on needless government and CPS intervention in families with parenting issues. By making these books available and offering parenting classes, we can avoid the rising cost of foster care and benefits paid for by taxes.
What do the experts say? Well, according to Guy Winch, Ph.D. of Psychology Today, one reason parenting books don't work as well as they should is the unwillingness of both parents to read them and put their advice into effect in their own home. He argues that many parents constantly disagree on parenting styles and belittle the other's ideas, especially when it comes from a book. He recommends being on the same page before you begin following a book you read. Another good piece of advice from experts, check the author credentials, carefully. This info can easily be found online, and should be the first line of defense against shoddy, uninformed authors.
Parentingmonitor.com warns against dependence upon these books. They can quickly become a crutch and the only place you go to for any situation which takes the personal touch out of parenting and can distance you from your child. Books can also give you the false sense that you know everything, which in the long run, can mean you will turn down sound advice later on, believing it beneath your own expertise. This includes advice from your doctor as well. No one likes a know-it-all. On the flip side, they also state that there are a few pros to parenting books but not so much in the information. Reading one can show you care about raising your children and are willing to whatever it takes to do it right. It can also give you a sense of being in control rather than the frazzled parent who doesn't know where to turn. You may also find advice to those difficult situations that tend to crop up once in a awhile during the course of parenting.
It seems the trick to parenting books is to only take them as advice and not a solid parenting strategy. Communication between you and your spouse is highly encouraged to create an effective plan of action and reduce stress as your children grow and learn. Remember, there is tons of advice out there, so be careful what you follow and who you listen do. Do what feels right to you and the benefit of your child.