Great books for parents have only changed a little since 1945.
My mother recently passed along a book to me. It is paperback, its cover is torn, with a yellowed piece of tape no longer holding it together, and its pages are falling out and held together with a rubber band – Dr. Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care. I distinctly remember my mother “diagnosing” my case of the chicken pox with this book in hand! This book covers everything from equipment and clothing to daily care, from inoculations to puberty development, and from how to wash diapers to traveling with a baby, plus so much more. First published in 1945, the book’s revolutionary advice was “trust yourself, you know more than you think you do…don’t be afraid to trust your own common sense.” In her 2013 article “Dr. Benjamin Spock: Child Care and Controversy,” Linnea Crowther wrote:
Today, the basic tenets of Dr. Spock’s child care philosophy might seem obvious to most parents. Hug your child. Tell her she’s special and loved and unique. Feed him when he’s hungry. Discipline with words, not corporal punishment. But in 1945, this was new. Parents had long been encouraged not to shower their children with affection as this would make them weak and unprepared for the world. Feeding and naps were to be done on a strict schedule, regardless of the baby’s immediate needs. And a child who just got a mild spanking for an offense got off easy – physical punishment was the norm. Spock changed all that with his encouragement for parents to follow their instincts, be attentive to the baby’s needs, and be generous with affection.
Though Dr. Spock was not untouched by controversy (and searching him on the internet was interesting), in looking through his book much of what he wrote is still found in the parenting and child care books we read today. While I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a copy of Dr. Spock’s 1945 book (there is an 9th Edition that has been updated by Dr. Robert Needlman if you’re interested), there are many great books out today that talk to parents of this generation. Here are a few for you:
- The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus by Wendy Mogel
- How Children Succeed by Paul Tough
- What to Expect the First Year and What to Expect the Second Year by Heidi Murkoff
- Your Two Year Old, Your Three Year Old, and Your Four Year Old by Louise Bates Ames
- The Everything Parent’s Guide to Childhood Illnesses by Leslie Young and Vincent Iannelli