34,711. This is the number of books on parenting that appears when searching on Amazon.com. Parenting advice books are a big business. So are their online counterparts, with dedicated websites, blogs, and message boards telling you how to put your baby to sleep, how to discipline your child, how to tell if he or she has roseola, the best way to swaddle your baby, whether or not to encourage the use of a pacifier, the best way to read to your child, how to tell if your child is going to one day be obese, and the list goes on. At some point you have to realize two things:
- You cannot parent from a book
- You will make mistakes and that is okay
No parent is perfect (read my post on how I have sucked) and trying to “learn ” how to parent from a book is just going to lead to frustration. We cannot let go of our instincts in favor of all the “experts.” Does this mean you should never read? No. Does this mean I haven’t turned to the Internet to figure out if my child’s rash looks normal? No. The information age is wonderful, but it is also a slippery slope, especially if you allow yourself to be swayed from your instincts.
Good parenting is about trusting your instincts, learning from your mistakes, reaching out to your community, and forgiveness – for yourself and your child. When I say community, I mean leaning on your family, friends, co-workers, and yes books and the web.
Raising children cannot be approached like a professional or a student. You cannot study for some test or find the answers in one place. Here is an excerpt from a recent article in the National Post, a Canadian newspaper:
At the end of the day, parents just need to trust their instincts and pay more attention to their child — that unique little snowflake that will never be a carbon copy of the next, said Judy Arnall, a Calgary-based parenting educator, who recently wrote a parenting book entitled The Last Word on Parenting Advice. It contains a few short sentences and key take-home message: “Trust yourself.” The rest is a whack of blank pages.
Would you follow your GPS off a cliff or would commonsense prevail? I like to think that you would keep your eyes open and pay attention. The same applies to raising children – and I’m sure at least one of the 34,711 books out there would agree with me.
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