Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nurture Shock – Using science to raise children

The most infuriating moments of being a first-time mother were when my husband would defer an important decision to me with the words “you are the mother, you have motherly instincts, your common sense will tell you what to do”.

Trained in making decisions based on data, I was reading every piece of parenting advice I could get my hands on. My assessment: most are subjective, unscientific, contradictory (if you have ever come across an article covering “attachment parenting” and “Ferber sleep method” in the same paragraph, you know what I mean), and as uncommitted as the smoothest candidate for public office.

I don’t know about you, but I have a degree in Statistics and Economics, and “Motherly Instincts” wasn’t part of the curriculum. And yet being in charge of nurturing the minds and bodies of 3 little humans without any special training is something you are allowed to do unquestioned until law enforcement needs to get involved. So I basically make it up as I go along. (You should start wondering now, if common sense is supposedly working so well, why is our world in the sorry state it is in?) 

So imagine my relief when I came across “Nurture Shock” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. They thought it would be a good idea to check which of the midwife tales, common wisdoms and fancy new parenting approaches are actually supported by real scientific data. Which in 2009, when the book was published, was apparently a rather novel concept. (You can stop wondering about the world now, and facepalm yourself instead).

The book spans topics from toddler to teenager, discussing speech development, lying, confidence building, the importance of sleep and more. The real eye opener for my husband and me was the chapter discussing how to raise children that are not racists (or any type of being discriminating, you can substitute race for any other attribute society might or does discriminate others by). Well-meaning parents trying to raise “color blind” children might actually reinforce the opposite (read an excerpt here).

For an encore check out the website www.nurtureshock.com, where new studies are regularly posted, discussed and interpreted into scientifically proven parenting advice. Your future geek will thank you.

Price: currently $15.63

Geek factor: 4 out of 5

Do you know another good parenting book that uses scientific data? Leave a comment!

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