Editor’s Note: We’ve all pored through our fair share of parenting books over the years. NYC Dads Group member Seth Nemeroff writes about a former NY Times bestseller that he thinks has proven to holds today. We’d love to read in the comments what parenting books, old and recent, you have found most helpful. KMcK.
NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, published in 2009, is mainly concerned with the conventional wisdom of raising kids as opposed to being dedicated to a certain parenting ‘style’ or one specific topic. Their stance: Not only is much of the conventional wisdom (and what sometimes we call common sense) wrong, but we can be hindering the very progress we are attempting to make with our children.
There were many “wow, really?” moments in NutureShock for me. One chapter on how we talk about race to our kids proved eye opening as did examinations of how and why kids lie, and how children digest parents’ arguments. I found ideas about sibling behavior and how to improve upon those relationships interesting and especially helpful. The book’s then cutting-edge examination of the praise dilemma (overpraising kids is counterproductive, parents need to be more specific and more selective with our praise) seems to have become the ‘new’ conventional wisdom, at least in my circles.
The topic I found most fascinating was about testing and education. It specifically mentions New York City and its ineffectual admissions system for Gifted and Talented programs. An interesting result from some of this research is that today private schools are in their final year of using the old testing system.
The book is laid out in magazine fashion, allowing for it to be easily put down for a bit while coming back in later and not skipping a beat as many of the chapters are only loosely related. The topics discussed are broad, and there’s really enough in this book that most people can find some use in reading it. At the very minimum to at least think about things from a different perspective. I look forward to picking it up in a few years as my kids prepare to enter the teenage years.
Seth Nemeroff is a financial manager with more than 15 years experience in the capital markets. These days he applies his expertise to initiatives at a number of nonprofit organizations as well as taking care of his son as often as he can.