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Instinctive Parenting: Trusting Ourselves to Raise Good Kids [Hardcover]

Ada Calhoun

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Book Description

March 16 2010
Babble.com’s readership has tripled in the past year and is still growing rapidly, indicating that today’s busy parents—especially those from Gen X and Gen Y—are hungry for advice. According to editor-in-chief Ada Calhoun, many parents are unnecessarily anxious, worrying and trying to follow advice from their own parents, other parents on the playground, or board-certified experts. She believes, “if we encourage our kids to be kind and generous and we trust our own instincts about all the other stuff, we may just be able to rear a generation of capable people—and stay relatively happy ourselves.” Sound easy? It is, and in Instinctive Parenting , Calhoun makes smart sense of all the available choices and opinions for how to raise one’s child “right.”.

As a mother herself, Ada knows firsthand about all the pressing issues, fears, and anxiety parenting brings. And she’s discovered that food, shelter, and love are all kids need to thrive—a welcome antidote to many modern childrearing philosophies that are currently popular. So forget the organic-cotton t-shirts, ergonomic wooden toys from Sweden, and locally grown chickpeas for snacks, and instead do the very basic things that matter most. Thoughtful, hip, and relatable, Calhoun’s parenting advice is a refreshingly simple approach for every parent wanting to raise a decent human being. .


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (March 16 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439157294
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439157299
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 14.9 x 22.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,269,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"With Instinctive Parenting, Ada Calhoun has captured the zeitgeist of the postmodern American family in the uniquely compelling voice that has made her the brightest star in the new generation of parenting writers. I loved this book and can't wait to hand it out to all of my pregnant friends." -- Katie Allison Granju, author of Attachment Parenting

"Why did I ever worry about motherhood? I read this book and was instantly cured!" -- Lisa Crystal Carver, author of Dancing Queen

"Thank you, Ada Calhoun! Instinctive Parenting injects sensitivity, smarts, and a welcome dose of sanity into the often-overwrought process of raising kids. Prospective parents: Never mind What to Expect -- this is What You Need." -- Pamela Paul, author of Parenting, Inc.

"This book is light and funny and also very wise and wonderful." -- Tara McKelvey, author of Monstering

"From the delivery room to the playground and beyond, Ada Calhoun bravely defies the cult of perfection today's new parents must endure. No bossy, patronizing advice given here, Instinctive Parenting simply encourages parents to rely on their own good judgment and trust themselves (and each other) to raise their children -- not perfectly -- but perfectly well." -- Kathryn J. Alexander, coauthor of Easy Labor: Every Woman's Guide to Choosing Less Pain and More Joy During Childbirth

"I love this book. It's smart, funny, and easy to read. More importantly, it's an advice book that 1) won't stress you out, and 2) is worth its weight in gold." -- Kathleen Hanna

"The book I've been desperate for has arrived -- a common sense and compassionate approach to helping parents navigate the task of raising a child. Most importantly, it reminds us we are not alone and that we can trust ourselves." -- Lili Taylor

About the Author

Ada Calhoun was the founding editor-in-chief of the award-winning parenting site Babble.com. She is the co-author of Tim Gunn's book Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making it Work, and has written for the New York Times, New York magazine, the New York Post, Salon.com and TIME magazine. She lives in New York City with her husband and young son.

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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for parents-to-be or those interesting in parenting stories Aug. 2 2010
By K. Salinger, MSN, FNP, RN AHN-BC - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I'm surprised this book has such mediocre reviews. Perhaps folks were expecting parenting advice, despite the pretty overt title "Instinctive Parenting"? (If you are seeking specific guidance on how to parent in a manner that seems more natural and instinctive, consider the books I recommend below)

the whole point of the book is to demonstrate that you need to trust your own instincts on what is best for your baby & child. Society, media, neighbors, friends, family will all be more than happy to try and convince you that THIS or THAT needs to be done in order to be a good parent. This is especially so in our consumer driven society.

The author touches on the pressures in our culture around parenting - from buying the "in" baby equipment, to parenting in a particular style. Essentially, we're all individuals who have differing needs and styles and there are no one size fits all. Follow your instincts - our species has survived thousands of years without Dr. Spock, Baby sleep trainers, High-end strollers, seperate rooms for babies, etc. Most of the needs we associate with babies today are purely the constructs of our culture or society. Go to a different culture and things are done differently.

Two great parenting books that discuss an instinctive parenting style in more detail, including how it's been done across the globe both currently and in the past are:

Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent - an absolutely amazing book comparing the way babies are viewed and cared for in various societies from the perspective of an anthropologist who became a mom herself and was curious. A great view of more instinctual parenting methods across the globe.

The Continuum Concept: In Search Of Happiness Lost (Classics in Human Development) - a bit dated, but has incredible information on a natural, instinctive style of parenting that has been used in tribal societies for thousands of years. The last chapter is a bit out there, but if you consider the norms of our culture in the 1970's it's not quite so surprising. Despite the age of this book I HIGHLY recommend it!

Books on attachment parenting, which is also often also called "instinctive parenting" might be a great choice for someone seeking guidance for a more natural, instinctive parenting method.

I like this book. I think the mixed reviews are due to a misunderstanding around what the purpose of the book is. It is not a guide or manual on how to parent, but rather a thoughtful, loving discussion on how society instructs us to parent in a way that devalues and discounts our own instinctive knowing. The emphasis is to trust yourself and your judgement of what is best for you and your child. It is not intended for someone who truly needs education or guidance on raising a child/parenting. It assumes a basic knowledge and to trust yourself beyond that point.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, wish each section was longer though..... June 18 2010
By It'sMe! - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I really enjoyed reading about Ada Calhouns parenting experience as it pertains to her time with her young son. She seems like someone who I would genuinely like hanging out with and someone who seems to be laid back about life and it's foibles. The last thing one needs in this stressful world is someone who just adds stress to their life and stupid restrictions but surprisingly we are surrounded at all sides by such people. Lucky for us, Ada Calhoun is there for us and is ready to stand bastion against such foes. Or at least point them out to us so we can laugh at the, and her funny, biting wit.

Miz Calhoun is not giving parenting advice, per se, she is regaling us with stories about her experiences on the playground and the schoolyard with her young son. Her experiences as a full-time working mother with her stay at home husband. Her experience as an editor with a humorous yet helpful website for parents.

Some of her stories (chapters) seem to raise other people's hackles. Especially the one where she regales stories of certain movies she watches with her son, while the two of them enjoy take-out. Predictably, the horror stories of how takeout and Disney movies rot children's brains have been splattered all over some other reviews for this book but seriously. Some people aren't cooks. Or (gasp!) some people work too hard to then come home and cook for a two year old who is only going to pick at his food anyway. And the Disney watching? Please. Please people. Let's keep it in perspective. Watching an hour and a half movie will not warp your child's brain into thinking we are all 2 dimensional animated characters and now cannot be bothered to learn how to read and write. This is reality. Not a science experiment. Just continue to talk to your child and hopefully he or she will not slip too deep into Never Never Land. Or my favorite part of this book, where Ada talks about the forward facing stroller stunting language ability idea. The idea that not facing your child while he or she is in their stroller so that he or she can see your mouth move while you speak is stunting their speaking ability. Really. Where do these people get the time to come up with these ideas?

Luckily, I really don't know many people who are this neurotic. Praise Jesus. But it's funny to vicariously live through Ada as she maneuvers her baby stroller around them.

The majority of her stories are about genuine moments with her child and her need to have a job, pay the bills, and live up to her responsibilities outside of the home. A beautiful story was one where she was sad to come home from a long day at the office and hear about how her son was trying to lasso her home from up in the sky. She was ready to burst into tears, pained to hear how her absence was harming her young child, only to hear how her son repeated the game, but replacing her with Elmo. It just reinforces the idea that children are naturally resilient, when provided with a safe, nurturing and loving home.

This was a very enjoyable book. A little short when it came to each chapter, which are only about a page or two or three long. I understand why some people thing she's just recounting blogs from her website. Also, this book is not so much a book about giving ADVICE. This book was more about sharing funny STORIES. And it's one that I ultimately enjoyed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good advices, good read! May 27 2010
By morning fog - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Ada Calhoun's book on parenting is mostly an account of her experiences, observations, and lessons while raising her first child, Oliver. Calhoun's book is witty, thought-provoking, and just plain honest. Her book is divided into three categories: shelter, food, and love.

The premise behind Calhoun's book is basically what the title implies: instinctive child-raising. Rather than focusing too much on others' advice or trying to be the perfect parent, Calhoun recounts her parenting as natural, trial and error. Calhoun does not instruct on how to be the perfect parent; instead, she focuses on trusting herself first as a parent, which is essential in any situation, particularly while raising a child. She rejects the notion that parenting should be stressful and negative, and instead highlights that parenting should be joyful and fun, while also challenging. Calhoun often adds personal anecdotes, not only to add relatable parent experiences, but also to add humor. Calhoun also effectively addresses the importance of nurturing, loving, and teaching your child how to be little civil servants, which all contribute to creating a happy, independent, and loving child, and a good adult.

In sum, Calhoun encourages parents to remind themselves that whatever they are doing to raise their child is RIGHT, and no blog or magazine article should dictate how parents should do their job. As mentioned previously, she reinforces this idea by describing her personal stories to make parenting experiences applicable to all parents. I recommend this book to a self-conscious parent such as myself, the mother who needs a little motivation in her parenting ability to feel successful and peaceful with what she does each day to raise her child. After reading this book, I have learned that life is too short to wilt in anxiety, and it's time to enjoy my child more, even if he's more spirited than ten 3  year olds combined. On the other hand, I do not recommend this book to parents who are searching for a "how-to" parenting book, because you will not find this book useful. The only psychology involved is the power of trust and common sense in an individual parent to raise a well-rounded kid.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Thinly-veiled attempt at a "non-judgmental" opinion piece April 6 2010
By M. Krasteva - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I begrudgingly give this book a single star for readability (note: not to be confused with entertainment value, since it was more than annoying at times). Other than that, it is a total waste of money. Trust your instinct as a parent. Wow! Really?! (an amazingly overused phrase in the book) This book is nothing but a collection of blog postings, rants, musing on a variety of topics related to parenting. Ms Calhoun is frequently indignant at how judgmental people get when comparing their parenting choices with others, yet she is no better, dispensing advice freely on what you should or should not do, having collected a statistically significant sample of 1: herself. Oh yes, there are the amply documented endnotes, which mostly point to sources like [...], [...], [...], etc. and the more respected [...] and reuters. Sure, there are the occasional books that Ms Calhoun has read on parenting quoted in the book - but only those that serve to illustrate her point of view. Besides, when would one have found the time to read parenting books from experts, being so busy with editing [...], watching TV with your toddler all day while consuming vast amounts of takeout? Researched - hardly. Useful - forget it, you're better off canvassing opinions in your mother's group. Hypocritical, opinionated - you got it! (Sorry, Ada - your disclaimer at the end of the book just doesn't cut it.)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Annoying book April 29 2011
By Deena Dyson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm not sure how this book got published. The author is not impressive as a parent, though she does seem quite impressed with herself. Every chapter is the same: "some people do it this way, isn't that crazy? some people do it this way, isn't that crazy too? I just happened to do it this easy breezy way, (and giggle giggle, I also happen to have a perfect and mellow kid-- and it all worked out!" Who cares? I don't think she's ever truly had a "real" problem in her life (unless you count the time she couldn't get hot chocolate at the ice rink. Poor thing).

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