5 ways to make sense of contradictions between parenting books. Aka Know your confusion dragon!

A few years ago, I visited a natural health practitioner (I’m generous now; called him a quack then, but I digress...).  He asked me if I eat healthy and my only answer was:  “According to which book?” 
 We all have our own confusion dragon and there seems to be a dragon for each topic. 
The confusion dragon is particularly powerful in parenting books and it spawns this way:
  1. You fear messing up your child for life due to your ignorance / perceived flaws/ inexperience/_______ (fill in your particular reason);
  2. You visit CNA/Exclusive Books/___________ (fill in your favourite bookshop) and buy a few parenting books on relevant topics, like how to little Johnny could become confident, how little Mary could grow up without fear of failure or ___________________(fill in the books you bought);
  3. You fight sleep for 10 minutes (________) fill in the number of minutes you are able to resist sleep) at bedtime to read these important books;
  4. You get confused;
  5. You feel inadequate/frustrated/angry/panicky/__________ (by now you know what to do here!);
  6. You have nightmares all night about messing up your offspring for life; and finally
  7. Your confusion dragon has Awakened!  (Roar. Spew fire. And other scary stuff like ___________)
Keep these 5 points in mind when you read books by experts (or blogs by experts for that matter):
# 1:  An Expert knows a lot about relatively little
Authors usually have something valuable to share; that’s why they got published.  When the author is an expert in something, it means that they have specialised in a field; more specifically, they have specialised in an approach to this field because there are many approaches to each field.  Keep that in mind when you read the book:  This person is probably only giving you input on one way of looking at the topic.  For example: some authors work from the attachment approach and others from a behaviouristic approach.  The first will tell you to demand feed; the other will tell you to teach your child routine by only giving 4-hourly feeds.
#2:  A book generalises; everything about your situation is unique
The person who wrote the book doesn’t know your child.  He/she doesn’t know you, your household, your neighbourhood, your town, your country, your culture, your preferences, experiences, wishes and dreams for your children.  Sure, there are characteristics and experiences all earthlings share (like being born of women, having to submit to gravity and wanting what you can have).  Doesn’t mean everything in the book applies to you and your child specifically.  That’s why it is important that you have a good understanding of the specific things that makes your situation unique so you know what in the book should be applied to your unique situation and what would be less applicable.
#3:  Research keeps telling us more about parenting 
  This means that you have to make sure the information conveyed in the book has not been disproved or improved since it was written.  For example, in the post-war years, Dr Spock (No, not the Vulcan one, you Trekkie you ) converted a whole baby-boom generation into relaxing boundaries and limits with their children in response to rigid, authoritarian child-rearing practices of the time.

The results:  child-centred households that lead to an insecure Generation X who turned into workaholics and power games to cope with their insecurity, a rapidly growing divorce rate even though fewer people get married, moral decline, a culture of immediate gratification, growing substance abuse.  I could go on ad nauseum (that means until I shoot a cat, to do a direct translation from Latin to Afrikaans to English.  Ja, probably lost some meaning in the last translative leap, but I digress...). 

Back to the human Dr Spock; now developmental experts are dogmatising the need for stable boundaries and limits for children to prevent said Spockistic anarchy.  This means that you may have to do some basic googling to read criticism and accolades about the book you what to buy, just to get an understanding of how relevant the information in your book still is today.
#4:  There are many ways of skinning a cat

What is it with me and violence against cats today, but I digress... 

 I’ve mentioned that there are many approaches to the same child rearing issue.  Some will be better suited to you and your child. 
If you tend to mother intuitively, i.e, you work more from your instinct to know what your child wants; you might like books that foster that scarce skill and helps you to understand the pitfalls about this approach.  For example, you might not be aware of how your own lifetraps may interfere and lead to counter-intuitive interpretations of your child’s behaviour. 
If you’re not a fly-by-the-seat –of-your-pants improvising type of person and like to understand something before you apply it, you might want to find books that give you the more step-by-step approach. 
This means you have to understand your own preferences and what approach works best with your child.  Also, don’t get too stuck in one specific preference...development of your weaknesses is a good thing.  Yes, you’ve got to learn many ways of skinning a cat. 
Don’t worry: No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post. 

#5:  Your little Johnny or little Mary is unique
As the parent, you have nurtured your little muffin from the raw ingredients stage.  You know your child.  The author of the book doesn’t.   I have a lot of respect for the intensely protective love parents have for their children. 
Granted, there are some parents who want to harm their children.  If you’re reading this blog, you are not one of them.  (Unless you are reading this blog to see how you can do the opposite to harm your children!)
(Note to self:  You are scaring the blog followers. Stop reading Stephen King books.)

(Note to self:  You are scaring the mommies and daddies. Stop watching serial killer documentaries.)
Note to self:  Save your credibility as a human being by not sharing these details! 

(But I digress...)
Back to how I’m sure you don’t want to intentionally harm your little (rough) diamond.  This means that you have to make sure that you understand the uniqueness of your child when you read parenting books.  Not everything will apply to your child. 
Note:  If you have more than one child, it is somewhat more complicated.  While from the same genetic pool, they are probably polar opposites.  Here comes a little nugget of spiritual wisdom: God has planned it this way so you as a parent will never “arrive” and always stay firmly rooted in His wisdom and Word to do this parenting journey. 

 SpockDog Sez:  I want to know what you think about this blog post.  Don’t think you don't have anything to say.  Everyone has something important to say.  These are things I’m interested to know about and that we all can share about and help one another:
  1. What contradictions made your Confusion Dragon alive and well?
  2. What are you still confused about?
  3. What have you learnt about these contradictions?
  4. How is your child unique from what a book told you? (aka in which ways were the books wrong!)
I’m not selling any products, but I want to change the world, remember?  The more people read this, the more I can change the world!  Mwah hahahaha! 

 To do this, you must:
  1. Email this blog post to your friends:  click on the little envelope.
  2. Share this to your facebook and twitter profiles for your friends to strangle their own Confusion Dragons.
  3. At the top left-hand side of the sidebar, is a place to subscribe to the blog posts.  Enter your email and the posts will be delivered to your email.  Then you don’t have to come to the blog to read stuff.
  4. Click on the little green widget above the subscribe/email thingy and my blog will become more known on this site. 
  5. Follow this blog by using one of your internet profiles (if you don’t have one, quickly create one.  Google is a good one to use as they are growing in the number of things you can achieve with your profile) to follow the blog.  The more followers the blog has, the higher it moves up in the blog ratings, the more people read this. 
 Enjoy slaying your confusion dragon!

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