Instinctive Parenting: Trusting Ourselves to Raise Good Kids Hardcover – Mar 16 2010
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"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.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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 ½ 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.
Ada Calhoun's Instinctive Parenting is a well-written, interesting, funny and intelligent look at parenting in the 00s. It's not necessarily a how-to guide but mostly a memoir on how this NYC mom parents her son Oliver and is part of a progressive and interesting community of moms and dads. The book provides a thoughtful discussion on what being a parent means in these hyper-competitive times. Ada's advice: breathe, trust yourself, love your child, be good to yourself and other moms and dads. Sounds pretty simple but the truth is we forget to do all of these things on a daily basis.
Ada gives an entertaining and balanced overview of many of the hot-button issues that can get any group of moms and dads worked into a lather like vaccinations, breastfeeding, sleep training, junk food and the like.
I will have to honestly say I don't share the author's views when it comes to leaving vaccination schedules to MDs (a brief chapter in the book) ... I am pro-vaccination but prefer a gradualist approach and more research ...but whatever the topic, I feel the author always explains her viewpoints in a balanced and intelligent way.
I feel reading the book is like having a series of conversations with a wise, wonderful non-judgmental best friend who totally understands what you are going through. So if I'm feeling a bit anxious or stressed out about xyz topic as it applies to mothering, I know I can turn to this book and get a calm rational perspective on a wide range of topics that all new moms and dads confront.
I would strongly encourage that you buy this book.
Lightening up does not mean being flaky; Ada talks about how it is important to instill manners, generosity, patience and other important attributes in your child so they will become good adults. She gives lots of personal examples that make her point.
I like the informal style of the writing and the honesty. I have a 13 week old daughter and she is wonderful. It is always nice to hear how other parents do things. This book is entertaining and worth reading for any new parent.
Some people may hate this book because they like to do the very things she says aren't worth worrying about; no one likes to be told they are wasting their time. I am surprised that a few reviews are so rude and go as far as to say she is a bad mom; that is out of line. I think the author is a good mom who has written a good book.
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