Wednesday, December 15, 2010


In science, it helps to have a general Theory Of Everything to guide one's experiments and reading. Of course, the MODEL OF EVERYTHING responds to variables, new data, and other information by changing.

I've been flipping through a few books on sleep (the Bug has been waking-up-screaming for N months, where N=(our patience+2)). And books on parenting, because they're next to the trains at the library. They are annoying. (The sleeping is getting better.)

The reasons for my annoyance go something like this:

1) If you have a sweeping scientific theory, generally one counterexample is sufficient to upset it. Example: "All Cretans are liars." If one meets a truthful Cretan, it must be amended to "Most Cretans are liars."

2) These parenting books espouse theories that, clearly, have counterexamples. Example: "If your almost-two-year-old is still nursing, he will NEVER EVER go to sleep without nursing and you must wean him from this awful habit immediately."

3) I keep meeting people who espouse theories to the exclusion of dealing with the real world. If your 3-year-old child is throwing a tantrum at the top of the stairs, now is not the time for a discussion of Injuries Requiring Hospitalization. Now is the time to move the child. Likewise, if you are all about reinforcing the positive, if your child is reaching into a moving fan, or sticking a coat hanger into an outlet, now is the time to say NO NO NO.

4) Unified, Universally Applicable Theories of Parenting must, logically, be predicated on a predictable and consistent response to stimuli across children. One's response to Behaviour Category X can be consistent. Children are not consistent.

The book I liked the best so far- although all of its sleep suggestions were utterly useless with Bug- was that No-Cry series, because it has a set of behaviours and then a set of things you can try, rather than a One Size Fixes All. On the other hand... it was useless.

I think I should stop reading parenting books.


  1. Meh. Go with your gut. It knows the right thing to do for your family. I stopped reading (mostly) and I feel better about it (and hoping it all works out in the end...)

  2. None of the sleep advice books helped me either. My kid eventually just started sleeping better on her own - maybe got used to not being so scared of being alone at night? Now the only real sleep disruptions are illnesses or teething. The former being happily infrequent while the latter keeps coming back. :)
    Best of luck to you.


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