The Most Controversial Parenting Books Ever

The Most Controversial Parenting Books Ever

There are a huge number of parenting books available to new parents. If you have kids, you've probably read a few, whether out of curiosity or sheer desperation.

Whatever style of parenting you aspire to, there is a book to help you out! There are however a number of books that seem to cause controversy. Maybe because they offer parenting suggestions that are contrary to what is currently fashionable, or perhaps because they seem to take an extreme or rather inflexible view of child rearing.

So here are some of the most controversial; some have ideas which may seem extreme, weird or just plain daft. Some of them seem like harder work for the parents than for the child.

My take-away from reading these books? I personally don't believe in sticking rigidly to anyone else's parenting methods, however I do believe that there is always something that can be learnt from these books.

Who knows, you might just find the answer that you're looking for!

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Probably the most controversial parenting book of the last few of years has been Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In it, author Amy Chua describs how she subjected her children to a life of strictly enforced discipline, including no sleepovers, no school plays, no TV and no computer games.

They did 2 hours of homework and 3 hours of music practise every day, along with extra lessons in Mandarin Chinese. (Chua's own language is Hokkien and much was made of the ridiculousness of this, however to be fair, it is probably easier to find Mandarin classes and Mandarin is more widely spoken.)

Both daughters have attended Ivy League universities in the US and elder daughter Sophie performed on the piano at the Carnegie Hall, so I guess it worked.

Chua explained her methods as simply the usual way Chinese children are raised. As Asian parents all over the world rushed to distance themselves from this degree of discipline, Chua's elder daughter wrote a robust defence of her upbringing.

Her husband has been conspicuously quiet on the subject.

Related: How To Be A Tiger-ish Mother

French Children Don't Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman

French Children Don't Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman

So what is it about this book that is regarded as so controversial? American author Pamela Druckerman moved to France with her British husband before the birth of her first child, so expeienced first-hand the French way of having children, from Pregnancy to school.

The main message of French Children Don't Throw Food (published as Bringing Up Bebe in the US) seems to be mainly one of setting reasonable boundaries and expectations.

Perhaps the French tendency to avoid breastfeeding and put their children in a creche at an early age so that mothers can go back to work has been widely portrayed as not child-centric enough for the anglophone world.

I suspect that the other reason for the level of controversy that this book aroused, is that we simply don't like being told that foreigners may be doing something better than us.

Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care

Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care

It is hard to believe that this venerated parenting manual was controversial in it's day, but Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care's message of responding to your baby's needs and moving away from strictly enforced schedules was shocking when first published in 1946.

American Pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock's methods seem to the modern day reader a calm and pragmatic middle-ground way of bringing up a baby.

However to a post-war world where mothers were ordered by doctors to feed on a strict schedule and advised by their midwives to leave baby in the garden so that their crying wouldn't bother them while they got on with the housework, it was regarded as shockingly modern.

The Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford

Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford

While Dr. Spock advocated a move away from proscribed routines which shocked the mid-century English speaking world, experienced maternity nurse Gina Ford's Contented Little Baby Book with it's recommendation of returning to meticulously timed routines of feeding and sleeping inspired extremes of venom and praise in equal amounts.

The book specifies times to feed baby and when he should sleep and be woken for a feed. The main critisim levelled at Ford is that as she has never has children herself she does not take into account the role of maternal brain chemistry in a mother's relationship with a baby.

Parents around the millenium who claimed to be 'Doing Gina Ford' largely had to endure the derision of other mums and were sniggered at by more liberal parents who knew that the first rule of surviving motherhood is that you Never Wake A Sleeping Baby.

Related: Good Mother, Bad Mother: Gina Ford's exploration of motherhood

Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik

Beyond The Sling by Mayim Bialik

In Beyond the Sling, Big Bang Actress and PhD in neuroscience Mayim Bialik used both her experience as a mother and degree knowledge to write this book which both explains the biology of attachment parenting, and how she achieves it in her own life.

Controversy?

Attachment parenting is hardly controversial these days, so maybe the fact that an intelligent, well-qualified, attractive woman who also happens to be a successful actress and mother wrote this book?

Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy

Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy

The controversy started when Lenore Skenazy blogged that she had let her then 9 year old son ride the NYC subway on his own. She was branded the "America's worst mom"

The aim of the book Free Range Kids is to debunk many of the myths about the level of danger that our kids are in and argues that by protecting kids from every danger they are being robbed of the chance to grow up.

The book makes the seemingly outrageous suggestion that giving our children a little trust and freedom will help them grow up into self-reliant adults who are used to looking after themselves.

As a consequence Skenazy has become an advocate for allowing children the opportunity for a little freedom and founded the Free Range Kids movement to counteract anxious parents becoming over-protective.

The Heavy

The Heavy

Subtitled 'A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet', The Heavy by Vogue writer Dara-Lynn Weiss caused controversy with it's frank portrayal of how she got her obese seven year-old daughter to lose weight.

The book was regarded as controversial for two reasons. Firstly readers were appalled by her apparent 'fat shaming' of her daughter.

Secondly parents are usually advised that children should not diet but should 'eat healthily and get more exercise' - unhelpful and frustrating if your child is diagnosed as clinically obese.

In fact Weiss worked alongside doctors to help her daughter lose weight and learn to eat sensibly, although critics of the book felt that Weiss was over controlling with her daughter's diet.

Related: How To Be The Parent That You Want To Be

About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.

The Most Controversial Parenting Books Ever







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