Breaking news: your kids’ grandparents think you’re a dumbass for reading parenting books.
Okay, I’m paraphrasing a tiny bit, but a recent study done by a UK website revealed what many of us probably suspected all along: by and large, our parents think the modern trend of relying on books for kid-raising advice is a bunch of hooey. 62% of the surveyed grandparents said they never read a parenting book when their children were young (probably because they were too busy raising kids in the snow, uphill, both ways), and nearly a quarter believe the advice contained in such book is “no help” — and in some cases, “can actually be quite harmful.”
Not only do I totally believe these statistics, I can actually see how this sort of eye-rolling intolerance happens as time goes on and new parenting trends take place. Even though it’s only been five years since I had my last baby, I already feel sort of curmudgeonly about new-to-me baby-raising methods. Baby-led weaning? Why, back in my day we spooned puréed glop into our babies’ cry-holes, and they learned to like it. We didn’t indulge in this newfangled business of handing our babies a plate of organic crudité as if they were at a formal dinner party, by golly!
Constantly checking in with parenting manuals wasn’t very common when our parents were younger, so it’s no wonder they think the current glut of books on everything from sleep to poop is a little silly. Plus, grandparents often have the double advantage of experience and objectivity — they already know what it takes modern new moms a while to realize: you will go slap out of your mind if you try to adhere to all the parenting advice you read.
In fact, the surveyed grandparents tend to think that instead of buying parenting books, we should be turning to — who else? — our parents. That’s what they mostly did back in their day, after all. When they were young parents, their sources of advice came from:
• Their mother or mother-in-laws (64 per cent)
• Their own motherly instinct (46 per cent)
• A doctor (37 per cent)
• Other mothers or friends (28 per cent)
The founder of the site that conducted the study says,
(Grandparents) feel that new Mums are getting very confused and hung up on advice issued by the overwhelming amount of parenting books out there, not to mention the aggression they face on some parenting forums. We think it is important for mothers to be encouraged to discover their inner instincts - something that parenting books can overlook.
I agree that it’s important to develop your own parenting instincts, but I’m eternally grateful for all the advice — printed, online, or socially-shared — that was available when I was a scared new mom. While following every single piece of advice would be contradictory and confusing at the very least, more information is almost always a good thing. Eventually you learn to take what’s valuable and discard the rest of it.
Would I tell a new mother to toss out her parenting books? Absolutely not. I’d just say that it’s important to find some common sense among all those opinions and recommendations, and that’s not always easy for any mom … no matter what generation she’s born in.
Do you think parenting books are actually causing trouble for today’s moms?