Thought it was high time we take a stab at sharing some recommendations for parenting resources. At the moment, I’m thinking primarily of websites and books, but any and all suggestions are welcome.
Do you frequent any parenting websites? Here are three that I regularly visit and/or have come highly recommended…
This wonderful website, billed as “resources for pregnancy, childbirth and parenting young children in Taiwan,” has about 400 registered users posting in its Family Forum, which includes discussion areas for Childcare & Education, Parenting, Life in Taiwan, Just for Fun, Travel, Virtual Library, Book Discussion, Pregnancy and Childbirth, Breastfeeding, Nutrition & Recipes, General Health & Wellness, Hospitals & Doctors, Buy / Sell, Where can I find…, Store Specials, Miscellany, Calendar, and Announcement & Feedback. There are also baby blogs, articles, reviews of shops, parks, and play spaces, and links to other resources. Check it out!
From the folks at Parenting magazine, features Pregnancy, Baby, Child, and Mom areas with online articles covering everything from Activities to Weight Issues and information on eating, behavior, lifestyle, health, etc. The Buying Guide area includes Toy Hall of Fame, Toys of the Year, Books of the Year, and a Baby Gear Guide.
A nice site developed by the BBC with several articles in sections on TV and radio, Having a baby, Kids, Dads, Family Matters, Play, Childcare, Video, Q&A, Work, Learning, Support, and an Interactive Area.
Have some parenting books you’d recommend? My parenting shelf has been slowly but steadily growing over the years. Admittedly it’s not the sort of reading I tend to do cover-to-cover, but I do regularly pick up one of the titles below and read a chapter or two – and always come away with new insights. While I don’t know which if any of these titles are available in Taiwan (I’ve been carting mine here from back home), here’s my personal Top 10…
1. What to Expect When You’re Expecting & What to Expect in the First Year
from the What to Expect series (Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff, and Sandee E. Hathaway, 2002, 2003)
I highly recommend these books (I also have What to Expect the Toddler Years, but don’t particularly care for it – there are better resources below). I’ve recently gone through Expecting for the second time, and really love its sections on diet, labor and delivery, and postpartum (not to mention the chapter on fatherhood); the month-by-month chapter approach; and special sections on weight gain, exercise, medication, and special concerns – the book has really helped to ease our minds and prepare for what to, um, expect. I’m now re-reading The First Year and remembering what a great resource it is, too.
2. The Pregnancy Book & The Baby Book
from the Sears Parenting Library (William and Martha Sears, 1997, 2003)
To be honest, these are so similar to the above two titles that you probably only need choose one or the other (my own preference for What to Expect is just a judgment call). There are, however, many, many other wonderful Sears titles, such as The Birth Book, The Breastfeeding Book, The Fussy Baby Book, The Discipline Book, The A.D.D. Book, and The Family Nutrition Book. Sears and Sears also publish several mini parenting.com “FAQ books,” like How to Get Your Baby to Sleep and Keeping Your Baby Healthy.
3. Ages & Stages (Charles E. Schaefer and Theresa For DiGeronimo, 2002)
One of my favorite parenting books, mostly because of its compact size, clear writing, and focus. While there are a zillion titles out there on physiology-behavior aspects of child development, this book focuses on psychological development. In fact, in each of four age ranges (0-18 months, 18-36 months, 36 months to age 6, and 6-10), discussion is broken into five areas of psychological health: emotional health, cognitive development, family and peer relationships, personal growth, and character formation. The book also suggests lots of activities for stimulating psychological development and includes “science to take home” sidebars with recent research findings.
4. Proactive Parenting: Guiding Your Child From Two to Six (Faculty of Tufts University’s Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development, 2003)
This amazing book is a collection of essays divided into two sections: Children and Parents in Relationships (conflict resolution, behavior problems, physical closeness and affection, the importance of friendship) and Children and Parents as Learners (home as the first school, the importance of play, communication, writing and reading, electronic media). Each essay includes several vignettes (many of which I can identify with either as a parent or from my own upbringing) and discusses strategies for dealing with each. Some essays are based on a particular model: Fred Rothbaum’s essay on conflict, for example, is based on the “family system approach,” in which you consider variables such as your relationship with your partner, your children’s relationships with each other, family routines, and the influence of relatives and friends, rather than just limiting focus on your one-on-one relationship with your child.
5. The Yale Child Study Center Guide to Understanding Your Child: Healthy Development from Birth to Adolescence (Linda C. Mayes and Donald J. Cohen, 2003)
This 500+ page tome covers an incredible range of topics. Its chapters are broken up into 7 major sections: preparing to be a parent (making the decision, practical realities, course of pregnancy, etc.), child development (genetics, brain development), body functions (motor skills, eating, sleeping, gender), cognitive development (play, language, books, school), social development (feelings, violence, exercise, family culture, morality), developmental “bumps” (both parents working, child care, siblings, separation anxiety), and unpredictable troubles (illness, mental health, divorce, death, and sexuality). This is definitely a “chapter once in a while” book.
6. Your Child: Emotional, Behavioral, and Cognitive Development from Birth to Preadolescence (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2000)
This book is divided into four parts: the Life of a Child (chapters on development in infancy through elementary school years), Day-to-Day Problem Behaviors (home challenges, school, chronic illness), Serious Problems and Abnormalities (emotional disorders, sleep disorders, developmental disorders), and Seeking Help. Also has nice appendices on medications and developmental tests. While its tone might seems more geared toward clinical problems, it does contain a wealth of useful information, and it helps to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to psychological notions of “normality.”
7. Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education (Shinichi Suzuki, 1986)
The founder of the Suzuki Method (the guy who got 3–5 year olds playing violin concertos at concerts – if you’ve seen School of Rock, most of those kids were Suzuki Method students). While I don’t necessarily care for his musical taste, Suzuki’s educational philosophy – that any talent can be developed in any child from a very young age – is fascinating. Using language acquisition as a springboard, he talks about the value of daily exposure and practice (and discusses how “years of study” is meaningless next to, say, “hours of study”). Definitly food for thought. Although it repeats some of the above, also see Ability Development from Age Zero (1999).
8. Child Development (Laura E. Berk, 2006)
A PhD in Early Childhood Education friend swung me a copy of this comprehensive, in–depth, up-to-date, and very expensive hardcover textbook - she told me it’s widely considered the standard introduction to the field, (and with a seven page table of contents, I can see why). The main sections are Theory and Research in Child Development (history, theory, and application; research strategies), Foundations of Development (biological, prenatal, birth; infancy; physical growth), Cognitive and Language Development (Piaget, Core Knowledge, and Vygotsky; information-processing; intelligence; language development), Personality and Social Development (emotional development, self and social understanding, moral development, sex differences and gender), Contexts for Development (family; peers, media, and schooling).You name the study and it’s referenced somewhere inside. Also includes special sections on cultural influences, social issues, milestones, and biology and environment throughout. The sort of thing that makes me feel like I should be cramming for a test when reading it, but lots of interesting stuff nonetheless.
9. Child Behavior (Frances L. Ilg, Louise Bates Ames, and Sidney M. Baker, 1992)
I picked this one up out of respect for the work of the Gesell Institute, and while it’s not my favorite resource, it does contains some valuable insights. The emphasis is primarily on the link between physiology and behavior. For example, when it comes to discipline, the authors argue that the emotional level (spanking, shouting, threatening) and reasoning level (talking rationally through problems) are never nearly as effective as “developmental techniques” - understanding behaviors characteristic of different age levels then matching your strategies, such as “household engineering,” accordingly.
10. Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide (Anthony L. Komaroff, ed., 1999)
Picked this up this massive 1,000+ page reference book at Costco a few years ago, and it was well worth it. I’m only including it here because it contains sections on pregnancy as well as infant, children, and adolescent health (not to mention every conceivable malady you might want to read up on).