In the past, mothers often lived near their own parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents who were readily available with parenting advice. Nowadays, people tend to live further away from where they grew up and may not have family around to help them make childcare decisions. Therefore, many parents turn to parenting books for guidance. However, as the number of parenting experts out there rises, so does the amount of conflicting advice, which creates confusion. Parents may worry whether they should or should not sleep train their baby or whether they should be following a strict routine or not. At one extreme there is the rise of attachment parenting books, which suggest that parents should carry their baby around at all times and sleep with their child. At the other extreme, there are books telling parents to get their baby into a routine straight away.
‘Psychology for Parent: Birth to teens’ tries to cut through the conflicting advice offered by parenting experts by presenting psychological research on parenting issues in an accessible way. It aims to plug the gap between child psychology textbooks and ‘how to’ parenting guides.
One controversy, I feel strongly about is whether breastfeeding affects the mother-baby bond. I know that breastfeeding has important health benefits for babies but some mothers are made to feel awful if they can’t breastfeed and that is wrong. Many of my friends had problems breastfeeding their first child for various reasons, having a premature baby, having a baby with tongue-tie (a condition where the underside of the tongue is too tightly bound to the floor of the mouth for the baby to breastfeed easily), getting mastitis (inflammation of breast tissue) or not producing enough milk. I heard many comments when my son was a baby about breastfeeding leading to a better bond with your child but I was pretty sceptical about them. ‘Psychology for parents: Birth to teens’ presents evidence, which shows that breastfeeding does not affect the mother-baby bond.’
Another topic that leads to heated debate is whether parents should smack their children or not. Gershoff (2002 ) examined 88 studies looking at the effects of physical punishment on children and found that it led to more immediate compliance but also more aggressive and anti-social behaviour later on. The children also had worse mental health and had an increased risk of being a perpetrator or victim of physical abuse. Another study found that children who had been physically punished by their parents were far more likely to be aggressive as adolescents (P. Cohen, Brook, Cohen, Velez, & Garcia, 1990). Therefore, the research suggests that smacking is not the most effective form of discipline. However, there are lots of other discipline techniques, which have been shown to be effective.
Have you asked yourself the questions: Is it better to be too strict or too lenient with my child? What should I do if my child is being bullied? How can I get my teenager to talk to me? What should I do if my child has dyslexia? If you want answers to these questions grounded in psychological research, then ‘Psychology for parents: Birth to teens’ may be the book for you.