There are books to reflect every possible philosophy, from attachment parenting, to parenting for dummies, to many books on why the French are better at everything to do with raising children. How to make your child sleep, eat, behave, and succeed -there’s books for all of it.
When you’re a new parent all this conflicting advice can be overwhelming, and it can also undermine any confidence you have in your own ability to take care of the little people in your life. One thing I have found consoling in the many times of doubt I’ve experienced over my years of parenting is to read stories about people who are even worse at the job than I am.
A co-worker recently recommended a little graphic novel which I found both hilarious and reassuring, Guy Delisle’s A user’s guide to neglectful parenting. This book pokes fun at the author’s own parenting style as he faces challenges that many parents will recognize. Whether he is finding it impossible to take his eyes off his phone to answer a child’s question, helping children cope with bullying at school by taking revenge at a birthday party, or giving his children way too much information when they ask him a simple question, the simply drawn vignettes express an amazing sense of comedic timing. I found the sequel, More bad parenting advice, even funnier; several of the conversations Delisle has with his children I have had almost word for word with my own kids.
I just want to pee alone is a collection of brutally honest and funny essays by “37 kick ass mom bloggers” which will make the reader feel they are not alone in finding it hard to make things work as a 21st century parent. Chapters include: Embarrassment, thy name is motherhood, A Pinterest-perfect Mom, I am not, And then there was that time a priest called me a terrible Mother. Read more from the blog based on the book here: www.ijustwanttopeealone.com
Parenting: illustrated with crappy pictures, another book based on a blog, features Amber Dusick’s simple drawings illustrating wry and unique perspectives on parenting and her attempts to understand the logic of toddlers. For a sample of her work see her crappypictures.com.
When things seem really bad and I feel like the Worst Mom in the World, I’ve found consolation in reading the memoir of someone who has experienced a really difficult childhood. Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t let’s go to the dogs tonight is harrowing but also fascinating account of her childhood in Rhodesia and Malawi growing with erratic, eccentric, and sometimes neglectful parents. And then there’s The Glass Castle, Jeannette Wall’s memoir about growing up in grinding poverty with parents who are creative and charismatic but also extremely dysfunctional. I only have to remember Walls’ parents throwing their young children (including an infant) in the back of a cube van with all their furniture for seven hours when they moved to another city and then I think: hey maybe I’m not doing such a bad job after all.