Author: Frances L. Ilg
Title: Your Baby And Child: From Birth to Age Five (in this edition only!)
Author: Penelope Leach
Author: Sheila Kippley
File Under: Child development, life syllabus
This iteration of the Like Mother, Like Daughter Library Project is brought to you by Ask Auntie Leila and a comment from a reader, dear Chantelle.
I recently re-read your response to the lady who was feeling guilty for not working. Part of your advice to her was to use her time to learn things, to grow and to read…. However modern parenting books give me the heebeejeebees, I can’t trust myself to read them as I know, even if I fundamentally disagree with what they say I will feel morally compelled to live up to their expectations…. Could you perhaps recommend some titles that may be advantageous to a young mum? The older my little girl gets the more clueless I feel! (I think you recommended The Abolition of Man by CS Lewis… so I think perhaps we might have similar tastes in these matters!)
Thank you for your blog. You manage to tell people (aka me) what they probably ought to be doing without making me feel like a failure. Also you remind me that I’m not the only one, even though you all are very far away! (I’m Australian). I’ve been praying the God will lead me to some real life kindred spirits but in the meantime you all make me feel a little less lonely.
I completely agree with your suspicion of modern parenting books, and I’ll tell you why. They are mostly politically driven, and the specific politics that drive them are of the gender-neutral variety that make it impossible to even remotely suggest that a woman — a mother — has something unique to offer a baby, despite the overwhelming, indeed unanimous, research and common sense to the contrary.
Even books written from a putatively Christian perspective — the ones for the popular market — seem to me to suffer from a faulty anthropology. I haven’t found any that are based on solid research and that take into account fallen human nature and/or common sense. To paraphrase from Ruddigore, the arguments sound very well, but if reduced to their syllogistical form they would not hold water.
So avoid all that.
The Gesell Institute is in New Haven, Connecticut, where I lived in my childhood. I don’t remember now how I happened to be in the front offices — what could I have been doing there? I picked up and read as quickly as I could what, at the time, must have been pamphlets produced prior to the writing of the books I recommend here. I couldn’t have been older than 16.
They were divided by the child’s age, and I seem to have stored away certain facts, because they came back to mind when I had little ones of my own. I may have taken the book out of the library at some point, and chuckled over its accuracy (since by the time it was published I had a five-year old, a three, and a one).
Thanks to reading the Gesell information, many behaviors in children which strike others as faults that need to be corrected appear to me to be developmental issues that need to be guided properly. Knowing about how children act as they grow is just tremendously helpful to prevent excess freakage on parents’ part.
I am happy to see that the Institute seems to oppose Common Core and continues to fulfill its original mission to protect the actual development of children from overzealous educators of all stripes. And the books are just written in a very positive way! However, I haven’t looked into their views enough to recommend the Institute itself.
Reading these books, simply take note of the descriptions of the stages. Make your own determination about what to do about them, based on your convictions, your family style, and your knowledge of your child.
You don’t have to do what they say about things, in other words, but just appreciate that someone is affirming that what your child is doing is what all children do, pretty much.
Big sigh of relief.
The other book is by an author who has gone completely to the dark side, Penelope Leach. This woman has abandoned all scientific objectivity to promote state-run and gender-neutral child rearing.
So do not buy her new books!
Nevertheless, the book I specifically link to above is available second-hand and I do recommend it. It systematically goes over everything that you need to know about taking care of a baby and child — with the child’s interest at heart, rather than the busy parent’s.
I’m sure there is some stuff in there that is outdated, but then, I think that a lot of today’s advice will be outdated soon enough. As I say about “Your Baby and Child” in this post, babies have been babies for a long time! If you like to be told exactly how to do everything — with nicely drawn pictures — this is the book for you. In terms of the collective memory, there are quite valuable nuggets in here about taking care of sick children and understanding how babies are reacting to their environment. She’s very practical about tantrums and other kiddo strategies for undermining your sanity. I’m sure you can mentally update things like diapers and sleep positions (which I take with a grain of salt anyway) as you read.
If you have a child who must be bottle-fed (an adopted child, for instance), she explains it all. I remember her breastfeeding advice as fairly reasonable.
The defects in the Leach book (especially breastfeeding and maternal bonding ones) are ably remedied by Sheila Kippley in Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing. But it goes beyond mechanics to explaining how the bond between mother and child is for the proper development of each, in every possible way.
The first means of communication that you have with your child are all about holding, cuddling, and feeding him — all of which I call “nursing” in the breastfeeding but also the old-fashioned sense. Communication builds on communication, so I do count a breastfeeding book (well, this one) as in this category of foundational reading.
I have many other books to recommend as reading for a young mother, but we’ll stop with those, which actually were the ones I referred to myself when I was doing my foundational, “Life 101” reading way back when. I’ll give you other ideas in the future!
Disclosure: I am sure you know that we get a little something when you click through and buy at Amazon. This funds our own book-buying! Thank you!