I have read a lot of parenting books in my time. This is partly because I like to do my research and partly because my children are statistical outliers which means that I have spent hours pouring over books trying to figure out, basically, what was up with my kids.
This was particularly the case before Pearl got her diagnosis. I would read the books which would assume the child would walk at roughly a year and assure the anxious reader that lots walked later than that but that if they had any concerns they should see a doctor. ‘Later’ would not be defined and it certainly didn’t mention what to do if the doctors could not make a diagnosis and just kept prodding and poking your child and then saying doubtfully that perhaps she was just a slow developer.(1)
This experience of parenting books has led me to pooh-pooh the majority of the genre. I think they are fiercely focussed on… well not the wrong things precisely because they concentrate on feeding your kid and getting them to sleep. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say they are focussed on the 10% of the parenting iceberg which is visible.(2)
Here are some suggestions for parenting reading which contain virtually no suggestions on how to get your child to eat vegetables or to sleep through, but which consider the political aspects of parenting. (Political in the sense of exploring the interchange of power over parenting and that my politics favour the feminist. I eschew the sense of political meaning the short term chest thumping of politicians in parliament.)
Sandra Steingraber’s *Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis* (2011) really changed the way I view parenting and being green. ( Read more... )
Another work I enjoyed reading is Daphne de Marneffe’s *Maternal Desire: On Children, Love and the Inner World* (2005) which celebrates spending time with babies and very little kids. ( Read more... )
In short, both well worth reading if you want to consider the emotions and implications of being a parent rather than just focus on getting your child to sleep (as I type my daughter is shrieking at me rather than sleeping) or to eat (hahahaha, no good at that either).
(1) I particularly loath those books which go through what your child should be able to do month by month because my kids, of course, lag behind. Even though I firmly believe it is just their physical development which is slow, this affects all the ways in which they can demonstrate their mental and social abilities so they wind up doing badly all round. (For instance, did Pearl gesture with her arms that she wanted to be picked up? No because her arm muscles were too weak to allow this kind of non-verbal communication as a baby or toddler.)
(2) OTOH, I suck at the feeding/sleeping parts of parenting so perhaps I just pooh-pooh the books in a defensive move.