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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book review: NurtureShock

Since becoming a parent, I've read a lot of parenting books. When the babies are little, the books are filled with lots of fluff and sweet talk. They also like to give you lots of advice without backing it up with any real facts or science.

During the newborn phases, most parents probably don't even notice that. For one, we are assuming that these books are based on some sort of evidence, but it's just watered down for our mushy new-parent sleep-deprived brains.

But I like facts. I like to know where information comes from. This is why I absolutely loved NurtureShock.

I spent almost two years lying down with Annika for most of her naps and about 80 percent of her bedtimes.

During that time, I read a lot of parenting books.

Somewhere in there, my brain regained about 80 percent of its functionality and I realized something. Most parenting books are filled with information that's based on what people know about adults, not children.  

That's one of the many reasons why I loved NurtureShock. Not just because it's filled with easily digestible science and research, but because it doesn't assume that we already know how children work.

NurtureShock is filled with information gleaned from research studies that DISproves a lot of the common societal beliefs that we've been spoon-fed by pediatricians and "parenting experts" for the past several generations.

For one thing, the authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman are not pediatricians. They don't have agendas, other than as information seekers.

And secondly, the information in this book is about researching what we thought we knew about parenting to see if it is accurate. The finding are truly shocking.

In NurtureShock the studies found:

  • Praising actually causes low self-esteem. (Also a lesson learned in Unconditional Parenting, another book I love.)
  • White parents' refusal to talk about race PROMOTES racism.
  • Teenagers are not naturally lazy and cranky. Their bodies really do function differently than adults'.
  • Kids lie because we send them the message that it's okay.
  • Young children shouldn't be judged on i.q. tests because their brains aren't done forming yet.
  • Teen rebellion is a sign of respect. (No that's not a typo, it is supposed to say respect, not disrespect.)
  • Programs designed to teach children life skills can be detrimental.
  • Violence and aggression are sometimes caused by the television shows children watch, but the study results were surprised by which shows caused aggression.
  • Language skills develop based on a specific parental reaction. 

These aren't the only things you will learn in NurtureShock. It is a solid 240 pages filled with evidence and findings relating to common parenting advice and why a lot of it is wrong. The book also has another 94 pages of notes, acknowledgments, and references if you are interested in reading more.

NutureShock is also a great read because the book's authors chose to focus on what works for the masses. This book isn't promoting pie-in-the-sky hopes and dreams about making your child the best and the brightest. Instead, it is a book chock-filled with information for parents on how our children work, mentally and emotionally. With this kind of information, it is bound to help parents be more effective at relating to their children. 

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