Sunday, October 15, 2006

Which Parenting Method Book is Right for You?

Currently, the babe is going through a rather focused amber-alert stage, which involves screaming bloody murder if handed even briefly to someone other than mommy, daddy, or the dog (because, of course, anyone but the aforementioned trio is trying to sell him to the circus). Advice we've received to combat this includes letting him scream, waiting patiently for the natural end of this developmental stage, passing him gradually and only for short periods of time, and using string to attach his feet to a mobile (we're not sure how, exactly, this last one would help, but our friend is sure this would solve all our problems).

Making this and every other parenting decision more difficult is the fact that each recommender backs their advice with expert opinion. For every kooky technique, there is an MD/PhD looking to ride it to status as the next Dr. Spock.

The other side of this (and what makes parents vulnerable to advice-book smoke and mirrors), is the fact that we really have no idea what we're doing. Most days, if the babe eats, sleeps and poops without falling down the basement stairs or joining his dog in the hands-on experience of rotting fish at the K9 beach, we chalk it up in the Good Day column. For the nuts and bolts, we need advice. This is why our bookshelf sags under the weight of every 734-page encyclopedia of baby knowledge ever published.

Unfortunately, cross referencing these produces more contradictions than a politician on November 9th.

Dear reader, please heed this humble blogger's advice and choose but one method book on which to hang your child's Harvard dreams. And which one depends not on some absolute measurement, but on your own predisposition as parents. Solve this equation to simplify your choice:

First, rank these parenting issues in terms of their importance to you (1-6 with 1 being “this is the key to a socially adept, super intelligent, self actualized baby”):
___ SI= Spoiling a baby ___ TI= Ceasing thumb sucking and/or pacifier use
___ ZI= Sleep training ___ PI= Potty training ___ EI= Eating
___ FI= Discipline during tantrums

S= Do you think it is possible to spoil a baby? (1-10 with 1 being “anything you want, my little prince” and 10 being “the prince should learn to enjoy playing alone with cardboard”)

T= Do you believe in breaking children of thumb sucking and pacifier use, or letting this habit fade naturally? (1-10 with 10 being “at age two, out comes the hot pepper sauce”)

Z= Enter the number of the phrase that best completes this sentence: Babies, ages 8-12 months, should sleep…
• 1= In your bed and on their own schedule
• 3= In a co-sleeper and with soothing before they cry
• 6= In a crib with soothing only after they have cried a reasonable amount of time
• 10= In a crib placed in another room, without soothing even if they cry

P= Enter the number of the phrase that best completes this sentence: A 30-month-old who is not yet potty trained should…
• 1= Be left to discover toilet training when he or she is ready—hopefully before college
• 3= Be given gentle encouragement with any sign of interest
• 6= Be rewarded for using the toilet
• 10= Spend ten minutes on the toilet, every hour

E= Enter the number of the phrase that best completes this sentence: A picky eater should…
• 1= Not eat if he or she does not want to—they will develop more sophisticated tastes over time
• 3= Continue to be presented with many food options and encouraged to try them
• 6= Be rewarded for finishing their food with desert or other appropriate incentives
• 10= Be presented with the same food until it is eaten

F= Enter the number of the phrase that best completes this sentence: A child who is throwing a tantrum should…
• 1= Be cuddled and comforted
• 3= Be carried gently to a quiet area where they can work through their problem
• 6= Be left completely alone until the tantrum subsides
• 10= Be spanked

If Book is less than 5, go with The Baby Book, by Dr. Sears
If Book is between 5 and 9, use Touchpoints, by Barry Brazelton
If Book is between 9 and 13, use the standby: Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care
If Book is between 13 and 18, try New Parent Power, by John Rosemond
If Book is over 18, consider Dr. James Dobson on Parenting

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