Many of you have probably Googled a product looking for the instruction manual online as many manufacturers are now providing. Unfortunately, you cannot Google the instruction manual for your child. Many new mothers wish one were included with the basket of goodies they leave the hospital with including diapers, formula, etc., but, alas, none are available.

Even if there was an instruction manual for how to raise your child, it could not be customized for every child based on their temperament and other characteristics. The parenting strategies you used for your first child may or may not have worked on your second child and you found yourself searching for parenting tools and undergoing “on the job training.” So, what is a parent to do?

Most every parent tends to parent the way they were parented as a child. If you had nurturing, loving parents, chances are you too will be a nurturing and loving parent. You will most likely use many of the parenting techniques and strategies your parents used with you. Those will be what you draw on with your first child, but it cannot be the only source of parenting skills you use.

First released in 1945, Dr. Spock’s “Baby and Child Care” quickly became a best seller and was considered the “holy grail” for every parent. It has been in continuous publication ever since. Now in the 10th edition it has been expanded to include the latest information on child development from birth through adolescence—including cutting-edge research on topics as crucial as immunizations, screen-time, childhood obesity, environmental health, and more. Every new, first-time parent should have a copy.

If you want to add to your parenting library, Good Housekeeping has recommended their top 20 parenting books for 2020. They include: “What to Expect the First Year,” 3rd Edition (a month-by-month look at your growing baby), “The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies To Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind”(to help foster healthy brain development, leading to calmer, happier children), “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk” (time-tested methods to solve common problems and build foundations for lasting relationships), “How To Raise An Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Child for Success” (relevant for parents of children of all ages), and finally “Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills.”

Don’t forget teenagers. Many parents think their work is done when children reach their teen years. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, teens probably need their parents more at that stage of their lives although they just don’t want it to look like they do! There is an excellent book to help you in parenting your teen: Parenting Teens With Love And Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood, It covers a wide range of real-life issues teens face, including divorce, ADD, addiction, and sex. This book gives you the tools to help your teens find their identity and grow in maturity.

Another great resource is networking with other parents you know. That is especially beneficial if their children are about the same age as yours or are older than yours. Networking parents form a support group of peers that allows you to find out if someone else is experiencing the same issues as you are with your child. As mentioned before, no two children are alike and what worked with one may not work with another. Chances are a parent in the group will have already dealt with the issue and can tell you what worked for them.

The best parents are those with many tools in their toolbox. Here’s hoping some of these will help you. Happy parenting!

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Mary Migliaro is an educator, parenting mentor and consultant who lives in Cherokee County.

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