I Hate Parenting Books!

I hate parenting books.

I’ve read so many and with my er….difficult child, they all just left me feeling like a failure. I may try all of the suggestions and they wouldn’t work. I may have already tried those things and they didn’t leave me with the desired result.

I’ve have read a handful that were helpful. The others left me feeling defeated and beyond hope with my atypical child. However, I can see that with more ordinary children who were not born with wills of iron and heads of stone, certain parenting books may be somewhat helpful.

Additionally, many parents may have grown  up in rather dysfunctional homes and really many need some hand holding and pointers on appropriate forms of discipline. Also, inexperienced parents definitely benefit from learning about what is normal, developmental behavior and what is bad behavior.

So, if you MUST read parenting books, I suggest that you look them over remembering the following points:

  • This is a list of suggestions for your family. You should try them and see how it goes. Don’t be afraid to pick and choose from ideas that may or may not work for your children.
  • You know your child and yourself. No anonymous author (other than God) knows your kids like you do.
  • No formula will magically produce cheerful, willingly obedient, helpful kids. Every child is different and every child needs to be disciplined and trained differently. Some children need gentle guidance while other children need limitations of steel. There is no one-size-fits-all parenting style.


All that to say this. Improving the parenting paradigm in my home occurred only when I recognized a few things.

1. My kids are young and have specific needs. I should think twice about disciplining them for poor behavior when I have not set the stage for good behavior.

Think of it. When an infant is squalling because they are hungry, what to parents do? Feed them. Of course, my 6 yo can learn to wait a few minutes for his dinner, but if he is legitimately hungry, he needs food; not a lecture for whining. My solution? Give the kid some carrot sticks or apple wedges.

I teach my kids patience, of course, and that their every need isn’t ALWAYS INSTANTLY provided (if we’re in the car 20 minutes from the house and they’re hungry, I’m not going to pull into the first McDonalds I see. But I can also expect some grumbling)

So I give them the tools for success by making sure that they are fed, comfortable, and rested. As they get older, I make sure that their social and intellectual needs are met. My extroverted teen daughter does much better when she can get out of the house several times a week, but I also have had to teach her that sometimes needs go unmet and we have to deal. (Ice storms shut us in the house for 3-4 days at a time in the winter and we just have to manage)

A whining kid during school may need an earlier bedtime, or a healthier breakfast, or a different kind of curriculum. I try to look for an underlying NEED before I assume my kids are just being little creeps trying to irritate me.

2. My kids are people with flaws. I don’t expect them to be perfect. I’m trying to teach my 6 yo appropriate levels of complaint about school. An “Aw man. Rats. I wanted to finish my game.” is okay when I call him for lessons. However, a total meltdown because he doesn’t want to do his lessons is a bit of overkill. So accepting a little bit of complaint is okay. I don’t do unpleasant things cheerfully 100% of the time. But I have learned as an adult to suck it up and not be a whiner about every little thing. This takes time for kids to learn. Be patient.

3. Modeling, explaining, and discussing often has better results than punishment with kids that are school aged or older. Sometimes, I do punish my kids. But I punish my youngers way less than I did my olders. It’s not that I am against spankings and punishments altogether. It’s just that I have learned that there are other tools in my parenting toolbox that are more effective against certain behaviors at different ages.

By the way, I have also learned that in the moment, explanations and discussions are almost always a waste of time.  Usually, when tensions are high and attitudes are bad, a discussion will not go well. The time for these things is later on when feelings have calmed down a little.

4. I need to check my own attitude. Disciplining a kid for something that just annoys me because I have a headache is unfair. If I am grumpy myself, I need to make sure that I am being fair, loving, and kind.

What do you think about parenting books? Are there a few that you love? Do you find them helpful or not? Leave a comment below and lets talk about parenting.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rebeca Jones
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 19:01:05

    I too, have read quite a lot of parenting books. There are gems to be gleaned in almost all. However, it was last year when we went through a group doing Growing Kids God’s Way that got my attention. If you can get past the dated videos, the logic behind so much of what they teach is truly refreshing.

    It’s difficult to find the balance between child centered parenting (not healthy) and authoritative tyranny (also bad). Christ centered parenting is the only way to go. And then it often requires changes in ME, in becoming more focused on Jesus myself. Then I can see more clearly how to engage each of my children individually, as He made them.

    Nice post, with lots of wisdom here! Blessings to you– 🙂


    • fairfarmhand79
      Sep 13, 2014 @ 19:39:31

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, what you mentioned is exactly why I hate parenting books. It’s either child centered, modern foolishness. (Sorry, I am not negotiating with a toddler about brushing his teeth) or almost hateful, controlling, dictatorship. I’ve found that the best parenting book is the Bible. Reading it every day and learning to demonstrate Christ in my life and teaching my children to follow in HIS steps is the best parenting strategy.


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