What type of parent are you? Not an easy question to answer in today’s label-crazy society. Although psychologist Diana Baumrind’s so-called “Baumrind Parenting Types” (authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, neglectful) have, indeed, stood the test of time since the 1960s, there are now enough sub-genre labels to make your head spin. These include: helicopter, lighthouse, bulldozer, snowplow, lawnmower, attachment, hummingbird, elephant, dolphin, tiger, jellyfish, free-range, concerted cultivator, and wabi sabi, to name a few. 

There is not enough space in this column to define each of these categories. Moreover, are they even useful? Or necessary? Most parents probably share traits from one or more of these labels but resent the negative connotations that come with them. The publishing industry has responded with a recent surge of books advocating label-free parenting. Here are a handful of examples:

“Cribsheet: a Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool” by Emily Oster. The author uses data to address the gray areas of parenting — the often-conflicting advice received from doctors, family, friends, and the internet — and enable parents to make better, more sensible decisions in their child’s early years. Oster debunks many myths around breastfeeding, sleep training, potty training, language acquisition, etc., and encourages parents to make informed choices on both small (bathing newborns) and large (child care) issues — all while keeping their sanity.

“Weird Parenting Wins: Bathtub Dining, Family Screams, and Other Hacks from the Parenting Trenches” by Hillary Frank. A light-hearted but surprisingly inspirational collection of mostly hilarious, often bizarre and sometimes poignant parenting “hacks” employed by real parents in their most desperate moments. If the experts’ advice isn’t working and you’re at the end of your rope, why not try someone else’s weird parenting tricks? Want to get your daughter to try eating beets? Try telling her that it might turn her poop pink. Need to quiet your screaming son when dining out? Try telling him it’s against the law to be too loud in restaurants.

“Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler: Tackling These Crazy Awesome Years – No Time Outs Needed” by Jamie Glowacki. This is funny, friendly but frank from-the-trenches advice on how to recognize and deal with the trigger points that contribute to what most parents view as bad behavior and recognize it for what it really is: curious behavior. Glowacki encourages parents to eschew over-scheduled, over-stimulated, helicopter parenting that can rob children of real childhood in favor of giving them, and themselves, the freedom to grow at their own pace and become who they are.

“How To Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results” by Esther Wojcicki. A former teacher and mother of three very successful daughters, Wojcicki offers her secret to raising self-motivated, empowered children using a method she calls TRICK: Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration and Kindness. Using stories from childhood, parenthood and her classroom, the author encourages a throwback approach to parenting using basic principles that allow children to thrive in homes, in schools and in life — and allows parents to relax.

“Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults” by Lisa Heffernan. A valuable guidebook for building strong, supportive relationships with your teens and preparing them for the transition to young adulthood. Tips on how to help your teen survive the roller coaster ride of high school and college years while staying close as a family even as your lives move apart during the nest-leaving process. Lots of great advice on everything from how to let your kids go to how to help them furnish a dorm room.

Find these and many other parenting books at your local Anoka County Library branch or online at anokacountylibrary.org.

Bob Allison is a collection department librarian for the Anoka County Library.

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