What can first-time mothers expect when they're expecting? Upsetting parenting books that set impossible standards, author Angela Davis has discovered.
Davis researched a variety of women who heeded expert parenting advice published over several decades for her book, Modern Motherhood: Women and Family in England, 1945-2000. Some experts gave strict advice, like Frederick Truby King who suggested a rigid scheduling for feedings, while others, such as Benjamin Spock in the '70s, had an alternative approach. Although the advice varies, Davis found one striking similarity between the parenting books: they stressed out new moms.
"Whatever the message, the advice was given in the form of an order and the authors highlighted extreme consequences if mothers did not follow the methods of childrearing that they advocated," she said.
Such childcare bibles caused stress and feelings of inadequacy in new moms to the point where some found the advice worrying, Davis noted.
Another thing the women had in common? After experiencing both childhood and motherhood, many remained unsure of what parenting approach worked best.
Even todays, mothers and fathers voraciously debate the pros and cons of modern parenting books' child-rearing tactics from co-sleeping to raising children outside of gender conventions.
Read on for parenting books that might keep you up at night:
Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother The Tiger Mom gained notoriety in 2011 when she shared her parenting style, which included calling her daughter "garbage" when she acted disrespectfully, or forcing her other daughter to practice the piano through dinner with no bathroom or water breaks. Although her book was more of a memoir than a how-to guide, parents immediately sounded off on her child-rearing approach. Some were appalled by her abrasive techniques, but others praised her for raising strong, successful children. Besides, Chua said, "a lot of Asian parents are secretly shocked and horrified by many aspects of Western parenting," TIME reported.
Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe Self-Reliant Children Without Going Nuts with Worry The "free-range kids" phenomenon took off when Lenore Skenazy wrote about leaving her nine-year-old son at New York's Bloomingdales with a Metrocard, a subway map and $20, according to TODAY.com. (Yes, he lived to tell the tale.) Ever since, parents have debated whether kids can independently handle 21st-century dangers, or whether the nanny state has prevented children from growing up.
Cheryl Kilodavis, My Princess Boy Inspired by her five-year-old son's interest in dresses and the colour pink, Cheryl Kilodavis wrote a book about supporting her child's individuality in the face of strict gender conventions, according to TODAY.com. Some parents praised her for defending her child's unique personality and starting a dialogue about stereotypes, while others focused on the negative ramifications of challenging gender roles.
Mayim Bialik, Beyond The Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way Mayim Bialik, PhD (a.k.a. Blossom, or Big Bang Theory's Amy Farrah Fowler) advocates attachment parenting, which includes sleeping together, although Canada's Public Health Agency cautions it, ParentCentral.ca says. Bialik also suggests child-led breastfeeding, sweet-tempered discipline and carrying the child in a sling, which many parents support.
Sue Edgerley, 5 Keys Parenting Sue Edgerley believes slack, easy-going parenting is a failed childcare method and parents should rely on smacking children as a first resort, HeraldSun.com reported.