Parenting is messy. This is no perfect equation.
I just finished a good book that gives one viewpoint on parenting called Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. And since it's two weeks overdue at the library, I thought it was high time I shared my thoughts with you on this good read.
The author is an American living in Paris, and the book details her observations on French parenting - mostly those of educated Parisian parents. This is not a how-to guide book to parenting - it's a collection of observations with supporting research and humorous anecdotes.
My favorite idea was that "...autonomy is one of a child's most basic needs." (p. 256) The Parisians give their kids a sense of responsibility and ownership of their own feelings, starting at a very young age. They guide their children but don't do everything for them. And from infancy on, there is an emphasis on strict sleeping and eating guidelines. There are few kids' menus in French restaurants, the author observes; children to learn to eat what their parents eat.
I also liked the idea of parents still remembering they are individuals and are emotionally separate from their kids. Kids will have disappointments in life, and we can't always be there to make it right. But we can give them the right tools to be sage (French term for wise) to rely upon themselves.
Maria, one of my personal parenting gurus, always says that you if you set expectations for children, they will rise to them. This book speaks to that - expect more and you will get more. This book details the respect had for Parisian children as individuals, even from an early age. They believe that this respect and trust are recipe for a happy life.
This book has a lot more - details on letting children explore new things and take classes so to not to get a higher SAT score but to discover the pleasurable things of life. There are also thoughts on publicly provided childcare, giving mamas more opportunities to balance work and family. This book is not the end-all in parenting, but it's a good read. You can never have too many perspectives on parenting, no?