Dr. Fuhrman Dr. Fuhrman

Parenting resources

hands from baby and parent

This may seem totally off topic on a health blog, but I do not think it is. A loving family is one of the key parts of a long and healthy life. There is so much information about parenting; in this post, I only give the resources I found most valuable.

The most important concepts

  • Assume positive intent. Your child is not out to get you. Your three year old doesn't know she should not pick all the flowers from your beautiful garden. She just wanted make a nice bouquet. That does not mean you have to accept it, but that is a totally different issue.
  • Stay connected to your child. Do not isolate your child as punishment. If your child needs a time out, go have a time out together.

The best parenting book

There are many, many parenting books. They all advise different things. Sometimes the differences are diametrically opposed to each other (cry it out versus carry all day), sometimes the differences are more subtle (grounding versus time outs). All books seem to have followers who claim the book saved their family and let them reclaim their sanity. All those books are a mixed blessing. The danger is that most books, even the good ones, reduce parenting to a set of skills. A couple of techniques that you just need to master to make everything right. They can make you feel that you are doing things wrong if your child does not do what you want, constantly looking for solutions to this problem, until the next problem arises.

All that said, I did find it very helpful to read some books. Parenthood was completely foreign to me. I had no friends or family members with children and I was way more insecure about some things than I should have been. The one book I recommend most, a book I recommend to everybody, even if you are only involved with other people's children is Hold On to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.

Our focus is not on parenting but on parenthood--not on what parents shoud do but on who they need to be for their children --Hold On to Your Kids.

The best mailing list/community

If you are having discipline problems, I highly recommend the Positive Parenting/Discipline Yahoo Group. It is a very helpful and supportive mailing list where you can ask concrete questions ("my daughter always throws a tantrum when it is time to leave the playground. What do I do?") and get concrete answers. This may seem contradictory to what I wrote before (Parenting is not a set of skills), but it is not. In our culture we are not always very well in tune with our intuition. We do not get much support from other people, and advice we get is often contradictory. Maybe we were yelled at constantly when we were young, so we do not even know how to parent differently. A mailing list can be a substitute for the tribe previous generations used to have. That said, I found it totally possible to spend way too much time reading about parenting, instead of just connecting with my daughter. It is kind of ironic when you get annoyed that your baby wakes up because you wanted to read all those e-mails about parenting. After a couple of months I realized that I got the main concepts and I unsubscribed, but I do not underestimate the things I learned there.

It is relatively easy to change your food intake and to start exercising, it is much harder to change your parenting style. I believe that the most important thing you can do for your children is to read Hold on to Your Kids.

July 21, 2006