Raise your hand if you’ve purchased a parenting book. Keep your hand raised if you discovered the secret to successful parenting in the book’s 150 (or so) pages of print.
Don’t worry if your hand isn’t still up — mine isn’t, either. I imagine most of us are in the same boat. We’ve all purchased book after book, hoping to find parenting advice that will make everything click and help us rock the parenting gig. Ultimately, our hopes of finding the book that will make everything clear are dashed, and we’re back to facing the reality that our kids will end up in therapy in 20 years, complaining about where we went wrong.
There is a parenting book for just about every subject — potty training, dealing with temper tantrums, raising happy children. Most of these books — like the one where you successfully potty train a toddler in 72 hours or less — sound too good to be true, but it’s hard not to give it a try, right? Just like the multi-level marketing schemes where you’re promised to secure your financial future and drive a BMW by the end of the calendar year, the allure is there. It’s tough to pass up the opportunity to become a parenting rock star.
So we buy the books. We pour through the pages, read largely regurgitated content that we’ve paid $12 for time and time before, and yet again come to terms with the fact that we’ll never become parenting rock stars. Our kids will be in diapers until they start first grade, we’ll never get our kids to listen without raising our voices, and getting them to sleep through the night in their own beds won’t happen until college.
It’s not all for nothing, though. The good thing about all of these parenting books is that they make fabulous paper weights. As evidenced by my toddler’s scribbles in a book about raising defiant children, they make for great coloring sheets. I imagine that they’d be useful as fire starters. And, if all else fails, you can toss them in your donate pile and get a twenty-five cent tax write-off. Someone else will get the opportunity to have their hopes raised — and ultimately dashed — for the price of a candy bar.
Recently the topic of parenting books came up in a discussion my husband and I were having with another relative. I pulled out a few of the books I’ve purchased over the years. I had books on positive parenting, parenting the whole-brain child, raising a strong-willed child, raising a gifted child, and parenting a defiant child. We had a laugh over the titles, as my toddler had done at least a dozen things during the past hour to show that the book on raising strong-willed children hadn’t helped.
And then my husband made the comment, “If they really wanted to help parents, they’d make a book called How Not To Kill Your Kids.”
My husband’s comment made me think a little bit about parenting books I wish I would’ve read. Maybe none of them would make me feel like I’m winning at parenting, but they would be a lot more helpful — and realistic — than something like Potty Training Your Toddler In 3 Easy Steps. Here are a few titles that might have made for better reading:
(I’m totally gonna use Shut The Fudge Up when I write my bad mom parenting book.)
I forgot to put the parenting books back on the shelf last week. Baby Girl ripped the page out of the book about positive discipline. Minutes after I corrected her, she used a crayon to scribble in the book about the defiant child.
What book title would you like to see?