Why I Read Murder Mysteries Instead of Parenting Books

Parenting books- no thanks.

It is kinda fun to follow a blogger for a while and see how parenting and growth and adding children has changed their perspective on things.  I read this post recently from Mama Eve about how she no longer practices attachment parenting but has changed things up and now does RIE with her third.

I have a confession.

I have read approximately two parenting books in my 9 years as a mother, and one of them I didn't realize was a parenting book.

That book was Dr Sears' "The Baby Book" which I didn't realize until a year later was about attachment parenting.  (Somebody told me they practiced "AP" and I was like, "huh?" and they explained.)  The other book I read was called "Scream Free Parenting" and it was pretty good.  Not that I ever scream at my kids...

I did listen to a guy named Kim talk about "Simplicity Parenting" on a CD that somebody gave me, but I never bought the book.  (Why would I?  The whole premise of the lecture was to simplify, so why add more clutter with another Amazon purchase?!  He sounded smart though, mostly because I already agreed with him.)

Why no parenting books?  Why no ascribed "method" or "philosophy"?

I prefer murder mysteries.

Hillerman, Leonard, Nesbo, Mankell, Rankin, Grafton, James, Hiaasen...Oh my.  The list keeps going on and on.  I consider this a fairly healthy addiction, with a particular fondness for those from foreign and depressing countries where the sun never shines.

I felt kind of strung out and crazy after a few months of constant "AP".  I knew I couldn't do it again.  Instead of ever reading another parenting book, I started reading Tony Hillerman in huge quantities.

In fact I had a stack at least two feet high of books next to my little rocking chair where I nursed.  There was not a baby book or parenting book in sight.  It was truly satisfying.

I love reading Mama Eve's musings on motherhood and parenting methods.  But I guess I am too lazy to actually do any research myself.  I probably need the help (badly), but I sometimes I think the few spare moments I have to read and enjoy myself are actually better spent if I am not spending them thinking about KIDS some more.  I have convinced myself (in my deep selfishness) that I am helping everybody out a little more if I enjoy the macabre end to some bad guy as drawn by the great Carl Hiaasen.  Sweet justice.  Me time.  Escapism.  Sometimes I think I need that outlet more than I need to learn another method to raise my kids.

After all, there are a few things I have figured out since having kids.

-Kids are all different.  What works with one, doesn't work with another.  In fact, what works with many sometimes won't work at all on some.

-Children are not raised by books.  Nope, they are raised by people.  Books are good at being calm and awesome because nobody kicks them when they don't want to brush their hair.

-Little ones are not raised by strangers.  They are raised by their parents.  Strangers might have figured out how to raise their own kids, but not mine.  (True story- I was talking to a guy one time who was a therapist.  So was his wife.  After they had their first wonderful child they taught parenting classes and felt really good about helping other people be great parents.  Then they had their second child.

They stopped teaching those parenting classes.)

There are some things that I think work better than parenting books though.

1)  Friends.  Watch other real people who are raising their kids and learn from them.  What happened that we have replaced the love of a community of women and the wisdom of our ancestors regarding raising humans with the dull, dry touch of paper?  And you know what else?  Online friends don't count.  Reason being- you can't actually see or meet their kids except for in sticky sweet family pictures.  You have NO IDEA if the person spouting advice about child rearing actually is having any success raising theirs.  I listen to friends and family and my elders who have raised human beings that I actually like- not online people who claim to do so, and not authors who are trying to sell me something.

2)  Intuition.  Why not just pay attention to your own kid and see what they need?  My first liked to be held.  My second didn't.  She liked to sit and watch.  So you know what?  I let her sit and watch.  And she was very happy.  This isn't always easy, and it does take time, but it is part of the journey of motherhood- learning to understand and interact with each new person you are given.

3)  Prayer.  Why not say it?  People hate me no matter what I say.  When all else fails, why not ask from some wisdom from a higher power?  When I am in a healthy place spiritually, I am a better mother even if I don't read parenting books.  There- I said it.

I admire women who have the energy and the willingness to continually research and read about how to be a better parent.  But I must admit that I am not good enough to be among their ranks.

So no, I don't read parenting books.  I don't have a label that I embrace.  I don't know what I do.  I don't know if it will work.  But I hope for the best.  And when days get really hard and I feel like I can't handle it, I escape.  I read a book I love instead of beating my head against a wall trying to learn from some fake stranger what I should be doing with my kids.

Maybe we really are good enough to figure this out...

Ya think?


Heidi said…
I agree 100%! I also hate reading books on how to get your baby to sleep.
I love this! I do read parenting books on occasion (pregnant with my third), but more about developmental psychology than "how to" etc etc. And I have also found the more kids I have, the less I need to consult a book and the more I need to consult myself!
i love this! can i share it?