Acquiring parenting books starts before one even becomes a parent. Like virtually every other expectant mum, I was handed a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting by the smiling Ob-Gyn who confirmed my home pregnancy test. (I then received it from at least three other well-wishers.)
So, I dutifully read the first few chapters. With each new trimester, I learned about and checked off the symptoms I was experiencing. Fatigue? Check. Swollen breasts? Check. Morning sickness? Check, in abundance. But, I waited to read the last couple of chapters until about a month before my due date when the expectant father and I went away for our last-vacation-before-baby. There I was, in my maternity (read, skirted) bathing suit, next to the pool at the elegant, old world Mt. Washington hotel. And, as I read about the actual mechanics of the upcoming so-called blessed event, I realized that this was really happening.
That isn't actually the word I used. But, I digress.
It's all well and good to be prepared, but there's something to be said for mystery.
Soon enough, we were through it and our little bundle of joy came home with us. What to Expect When You're Expecting was replaced with What to Expect the First Year. For good measure, I also bought Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Guide. It was originally published in 1946 and by the time my now teenager came along, it had been through seven editions, reflecting medical advances and parenting trends, as well as cultural changes. It was straight-forward and common sensical. But, what I liked best about it was the index in the back. Ear infection? Check. Croup? Check. "Coxsackievirus?" OMG, check.
I tried a couple of rather controversial parenting books twice: (a) when we were desperate to get her to sleep through the night and (b) when we were equally desperate to get her potty-trained. I found the whole "let her cry" thing beyond painful but effective. Meanwhile, the shame-her-into-24-hour-toilet-compliance method was so horrific that I not only abandoned it (M&Ms and a Princess Barbie did the trick instead), but I threw it away. No Good Will box for that book! I wouldn't wish it on any other mom.
As my daughter became a tween, I found a couple of helpful titles; I enjoyed Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? and Lions and Tigers and Teens. Then, with love and support from friends and readers, I even went so far as publishing some favorite Lovin' the Alien essays in a book — the perfect gift for mothers of tweens, if I do say so myself in this utterly shameless plug.
Whether I was too busy writing myself, too busy being a mom, or (still) deeply disillusioned from the potty fiasco, I didn't give parenting books much cred as my daughter grew up. But, there are many helpful guides out there.
The titles alone may make you smile:
Yes, Your Teen is Crazy: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your MindMichael J. Bradley
Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I'm Grounded?: Stop Fighting, Start Talking, and Get To Know Your Teen
Vanessa Van Petten
Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens
Laura S. Kastner
Parenting a Teen Girl: A Crash Course on Conflict, Communication and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter
Lucie Hemmen, PhD
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood
How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Years
Julie Ross, M.A.
Best title ever, Julie. Best. Title. Ever.
If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.