Daddy's Coming Honey!

I don’t want any parenting books.

I don’t want parenting books.

Does that sound arrogant? I read quite a lot, so it seems fitting that I read a parenting book or two. There are certain topics that I don’t feel the need to read about unless I come across a problem with them that I can’t solve. Even then, I might not have to turn to a book. An article, maybe, but not a book. As an advocate of books, I find the reality they reflect, simulate, or comment on is often times much brighter.

Case in point: I’m not a big fan of self help books. Too many of them are shallow, fluffy, sugar-coated nudges for people who really just need to be grabbed hold of and shaken violently. I mean this metaphorically, of course. I feel a lot of “how-to” books on relationships and leadership are like trying to take a useful type of book—i.e. how to fix things around the house or build a rocking chair—and trying to approach mental and emotional deeds in like manner. Why not just surround yourself with a community that fosters healthy living and learn from them? If you don’t do that, a little self-help book won’t help you. If you do, a self-help book is irrelevant.

The same goes with children. If you don’t surround yourself with healthy parenting role models, a book on parenting isn’t worth two turds in a diaper. Just as there is not a book on leadership that is better than an actual biography of a leader, there is no book on parenting that can teach you better than a handful of good parents, especially if two of them are your own parents.

Why I don’t feel I need to read much of anything about pregnancy:
-My wife has a good doctor
-My wife tells me everything her doctor tells me, as well as everything she reads
-There are fifty-leven people around us who just had children, so we listen to them

Why I won’t feel I need to read much of anything about parenting:
-I’ve been a reader of the Bible all my life, and the wisdom it carries on parenting is indispensable.
-I have also read a good share of articles about parenting, and usually they speak what seems obvious to me. I don’t mean to sound pompous—a lot of the general advice just seems obvious: “Be consistent with discipline.” “Spend quality time with them.” “Don’t go back on your word.” “Give them chores to do around the house.” “Above all, be loving.” When I’m faced with a parenting issue that isn’t immediately obvious, then I’ll search for answers, not try to stuff a million pounds of written advice over the next year.
-My own parents are equally two of the best sources on parenting I could possibly come across. My dad openly tells me what he is proud of as a parent, as well as what he wishes he could have done or not done.
-Again, back to the dozens-of-pregnancies thing, there are also other parents as well I am surrounded by, who I am able to observe and listen to. They are living books on the subject.
-Every child is different. My child will come with his or her own unique traits, and I must learn to deal with them in a way no book can prepare me to. Which leads me to my last point.
-You can never be prepared. In terms of being responsible, you should be prepared. Have a job, have a home, have a healthy marriage. But in terms of being prepared to raise the child, no amount of training can completely prepare you. When issues arise that stump me, I will ask people for advice. There are people I trust more than most “guide” books.

Now, I am aware of exceptions to this rule. If my child develops autism, for example, I will probably buy a book on that. Maybe two or three. That at least focuses the subject matter in a direction more specific than “being a parent.” Specializes.

All this being said, I just might concede and read a book or two. I prefer a memoir over a guidebook, because its an organic recollection of an actual case-scenario. That and its more entertaining. If you are thinking of getting me a book on parenting, or getting one for yourself (because it’s not all about me), here is a list, in no particular oder, of potential winners:

Parenting with Love and Logic— Foster Cline and Jim Fay
Boundaries with Kids— Dr. Henry Cloud
Manhood for Amateurs— Michael Chabon
Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood— Michael Lewis
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year— Anne Lamott

I didn’t really look too hard into these, but they seemed the only ones I would be interested in. Maybe you could convince me otherwise.


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