Last month I put "parenting books" into Amazon's search function and got more than 50,000 results. The top 10 listed were diverse in focus and included parenting for; education, strength, reading, the whole child, relationships, not yelling, strength (again), happiness, and discipline. Parenting, at least according to Amazon, is an intense and angst filled journey.
How does a parent make sense of so much information? How do we balance competing priorities without losing our minds? I have a few thoughts based on my research and also on my practical experiences as a parent.
1) There is no single "right way" to parent. No author holds the truth of parenting. If a book doesn't fit your family or your child, it's not a good match. Move on and don't worry about it.
2) Parenting books can be helpful when we find the right book at the right time. Kids grow and change rapidly and what works for one stage, may be ineffective for another. Let the old go and try something new.
3) Parenting advice suggests that parenting needs to be consistent. That's broadly true, but consistent is not the same as rigid. Doing the exactly same thing and expecting the very same outcome runs counter to the awe inspiring unpredictability of our youngest family members. It's ok to let go sometimes, to change plans, to forget, to be human...*
* Just to 100% clear, there is a threshold above which parenting is critical. Playing in a busy road, for example, is always off limits. But many of our parenting tasks are lower stakes, even unimportant, and a little wiggle room is good for everyone.