I first encountered Carlos Gonzalez in this Guardian interview, and thought, what a lovely man! I bought his second book, Kiss Me!: How to Raise Your Children With Love, and gobbled it in a couple of days. He had me at ‘hello’ with this on the second page:
The stance of a book or of an expert is rarely explicit. On the back of every book it should state clearly: “This books assumes that children need our attention” or “This book assumes that, given the slightest chance, all children will try it on.” Paediatricians and child psychologists ought to provide similar explanations during the first appointment. … Seeking the advice of a paediatrician without knowing whether he or she is an advocate of affection or discipline is as absurd as seeking the advice of a priest without knowing whether he is a Catholic or a Buddhist, or reading a book on economics without knowing whether the author is a Communist or a Capitalist.
Because, in the end, this is a matter of personal opinion, not of science. Although throughout this book I will try to provide arguments in order to back up my point of view, it must be said that, in the end, ideas on parenting, like political or religious ideas, are more about personal beliefs than rational arguments.
Yes! Yes. One of my chief frustrations through pregnancy, as we tried to decide what kind of parents we would be, in a bit more detail than before, was this.
Not only does pretty much everyone have strong opinions about parenting, but most people’s opinions are based on anecdote, personal experience or ideology. Which is fine for justifying what works for you, but not so good for telling other people about the Right Way To Raise Children.
There’s hardly any good research on which to base parenting philosophy, certainly once you go beyond the general advice to love your kids and do your best for them. So I feel much more inclined to listen to someone like Gonzalez, who acknowledges that and then tells you what he thinks and why, based on a career in the field and his own parenting, than anyone who professes to know the only right way to do it.
I read this before we sort of morphed into kind of attachment parents, and Gonzalez’ charming attitude and permission-giving air helped me feel ok about where we were heading.
I particularly loved the chapters – both title and content – ‘Your child is a good person’ and ‘Theories I do not share.’ (Heavens, I could write a Proust-length collection with that title.) Check out more by looking inside the book on Amazon.
Kiss Me! is one of the few parenting books I’ve enjoyed and found useful (though there’s a lot more parenting to go!). I probably would have hated it if he hadn’t begun with the words above. The other books I’ll no doubt rave about soon.
What about you? What books or other stuff have you found helpful?
You might also be interested in my posts on co-sleeping, which are collected here.
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