Parenting by Books

Scene 1 : The baby is crying!

He : What does this mean?

She : Don’t know. Look up in the book.

While she alternates between feeding  and comforting the bawling child, he opens up the book and starts reading aloud…

Parenting by Books, Shilpa Garg

Is it hunger? Is the baby sick? Is he uncomfortable? Is it indigestion? Is he wet? Is it fatigue?…

They check all the plausible reasons and then follow the suggestions to calm the child and something works and the baby sleeps peacefully. They smile at each other, look lovingly at the sleeping child and cast a grateful look at THE BOOK.

Scene 2 : Sonny boy shows a huge temper tantrum in a mall.

After the screaming, kicking, embarrassing and frustrating show, they return back home to read all about the temper tantrums of 2 year olds, how to deal with it and how it is a part of development process…

Yes, books have been our big support system in helping, guiding and preparing for almost every parenting situation.

It all started much before our baby came in our world. A miscarriage after 2 years of marriage and the next 3 years spent in frequent visits to the hospitals and laboratories pushed us to read and understand all about the pregnancy, issues, complications, the reasons for the tests and what to expect etc  etc. And the fact that there were no elders of the family around to share the expert advice / comments, further made us, the first-time-parents, go deep into the world of books.

So, what developmental changes happen at the age of 3 or what toys are best for psychomotor development or how to ensure that the child sleeps well or what to plan for a healthy diet or why the child is scared of strangers or how to prevent bed-wetting or is boarding school right for your child… books on parenting and child care opened their secrets with suggestions and tips, guidance and perspectives, explanations and explorations…

So, can we learn parenting from books?

The answer is NO. We can’t learn to be a parent from a book. We learn it from our every moment, every day experience with our child.  Our daily experience with our own child provides the perfect laboratory for applying and developing the practical approach that eventually becomes our parenting style.

We learn so many things on our own, from our maturing process that makes us  better parents, with each passing day. The lessons in patience and maintaining calm in most trying moments are some of the hard earned and learned lessons courtesy our kids which cannot be found in any book.

But there is no denying the fact that books on parenting and child care open up a world of knowledge and insights  for us. This knowledge empowers us  to confidently handle the  challenges of parenthood and become more conscious and aware parents. It’s the learnings from these books coupled with our experience that make us give our very best to our child, for his better today and best tomorrow.

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers, in our journey of parenthood!

A former pharmaceutical professional -turned -soft-skills facilitator for corporates and mother of  a 11 year old, Shilpa Garg blogs at


  • Rachna Parmar

    A very apt post for parents like us, Shilpa. You know when I was expecting my first child, my sis-in-law suggested that I become a member of I was in the US then and away from all relatives. The website was my friend. It had forums, questions answers and also pregnancy development milestones. I diligently read through all information and subsequently on other websites too. Even now I don’t hesitate to google or search parenting websites. I have even spoken to Counselors. I think these and books are great resources that offer accurate information. Sometimes, elders end up feeding us a lot of superstitious stuff that I want to stay away from. A nice post!

    • Thanks Rachna! Agree, the weekly stage-based newsletters from detailing your child’s development are so helpful and informative… gives you that comforting feeling that all’s well and what to expect too. And of course, the forums and articles answer almost all queries! The books and websites on parenting and child care are truly a wonderful resource for parents/parents-to-be. 🙂

  • I agree totally. But for books parenting would be a difficult task for these days’ nuclear families.

    • Very true, right from tips on planning a baby to pregnancy and caring for your family the books take you through all the stages of the parenting journey, smoothly!

  • As for me, parenting is an art no workshop can teach. Like books, today you find parenting workshops and i find many parents crowding thesse and trying to follow to T. Each child is different, even if they come from the same gene pool. but those basics which you followed are what generally any elder would advice ( about the child crying or throwing tantrums). The books perhaps follow some time tested advice. Happy parenting 🙂

    • Well said, Asha, parenting is an art. Each child is different and unique and needs a different parenting style, which you learn and adopt over a period of time based on your personal experiences. Books are the resources which provide you insights, information and knowledge… Your experience coupled with the knowledge from books/ workshops helps you to handle the challenges of parenthood better!

  • All I remember about parenting is that children don’t generally react the same ways as books or elders say they would. Either we get too tensed, and seek our own means of trying to pacify the child, and also we don’t have the patience to wait for the results predicted by the books and elders.
    So most of us end up going through the learning process of trial and error.
    Sometimes we are successful , and sometimes we are not.
    There are many good books, and while reading them one tends to believe in the written words, but when it comes to following them, many of us tend to fail.
    With the internet, we are able to clear many of our doubts, and hopefully with that, and our own efforts, maybe our children would suffer less, and we would also be more relaxed, understanding and loving with our kids.

    • The books or the resources from the internet help give us some insights and perspectives on handling an issue or a concern! As you rightly said Rama, most of the times, we do learn to take care of our lil ones by trial and errors which makes parenthood surely an interesting and a rewarding journey! 🙂

  • Hi Shilpa, Your views on the issue of bringing up a baby are very thought provoking. You have correctly stated that a book cannot give inputs on the minute to minute situations which the mother has to face. And it is the mother’s intinct which is always THE answer.. A book can only generalise the ways and means of tackling a a problem,It is not the bookish knowledge but the mothers handling which is victorious.The wonderful knowledge provided by the books coupled with mothers intincts always bring the best results. Very good post,which every would- be mother must read.

    • Thanks a lot, Ma’am for sharing your perspectives here!! Truly appreciate it! 🙂

  • Strangely, I have never read any books on parenting and like you say whatever I have learnt is through my everyday experiences. It is a continuous process and yes the books must surely equip us with knowledge as to what to expect. Nice post shilpa !

    • No, it’s not strange, Priya. Experience is surely the best teacher. After all, the knowledge contained in books is based on experience!!
      Thanks a lot, Priya! 🙂

  • Great post Shilpa! I am a big fan of Parenting books and have read quite many of them. I even wrote a post on 10 best parenting books that every mom should read. In my opinion the books don’t make you a parent but they do help you in making you a more informed and an aware parent. Instincts are definitely a mom’s best friend but the books can also help you learn more about your child.

    • Thank you, Swapna. Glad you relate to this post.
      That’s cool, will surely check your post on best parenting books!
      You are absolutely right, books helps us to be an informed and an aware parent, help us to know what to expect and when and also it’s good to learn from the experiences of others and also to know that you are not alone! 🙂

  • Lovely Post Shilpa!! You are so correct about the books not being able to teach you to be parents. It is something which only experience can teach us.
    I am married for the past 1 n half yr and field these kind of questions regularly.. I mean there are people who ll tell you bring the child into this world then all your problems, worries will get solved from the luck of the new member!!

  • Great Post shilpa!!..I believe books, internet and your so much experienced relatives do know a lot but they dont know your baby! When My daughter Lv was born… I learned that a new me is also born who doesn’t know a thing about raising a baby! but you know every mother learns to nurture her baby in her own unique way! So I learnt and still learning with my own experiences with Lv, books, internet and from other mommies!

    • Thanks Vandana! Agree, we evolve everyday, with our daily experiences with our children, books and other internet resources just add some different perspectives. Happy parenting Lv 🙂

  • Parenting is completely an art…ask me a new parent who survive in a nuclear family. I fish out internet for various parenting tips and had learnt so much from different sites, forums & books.
    Parenting is somewhat like management skills, you have so many books on this topic but you cannot learn to a manager by referring books only…as you said, it is the experience which completes the process.
    enjoyed reading your post 🙂

    • That’s a perfect example, Nibedita! While the management books gives us various concepts, principles, techniques, styles and the broad view, what you pick, what you adopt as per your own circumstances and people you handle, becomes your management style and the same holds true for parenting too! Thanks Nibedita, glad you could relate to this post! 🙂

  • Thats so true…I always believe that parenting is instantaneous feeling. A particular solution might work for some parent-child but not to all. We cannot generalize problems and solutions related to parenting. Why, what worked for my elder one didn’t work for my younger one !!!

    This is a great initiative !!! I would love to contribute too…let me think of something soon. 🙂

    • Well said Uma, each child is unique and the same parenting styles cannot work for all. It has to be tailor-made for each child!
      Yes, it sure is a wonderful platform, look forward to your inputs on parenting! 🙂

  • Hi Shilpa

    Very well said. Experience is the best teacher. If you have elders around who can guide us there is nothing like that. Especially when it comes to really small babies. Also, having friends with children in similar age groups helps a lot. Its always good to know that there are others facing similar challenges as your own be it through books or social contacts.

    • True Jayashree. Learning from the experience of the others is the bestest thing to do. As somebody said, learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won’t have time to make them all yourself. 😉 😀

  • I am a new mother. I am member of every mommy site you name. I read all the popular books for mommies. I felt at peace by doing so. I am new at this and I live in a nuclear family. Elders are a call away but calling them in the middle of the night because the baby pooped a funny green color will not be funny for them. The books tell me its iron in the formula , Its A-OK. I sleep still the next worry comes along.
    I am echoing most comments above till now 🙂 Its what I interpret from those books is my style of parenting. I take things like not giving salts and sugars till 2, not showing any TV , not co-sleeping seriously. But many would laugh it away saying its all idle research.
    Every child is different and so is every parent.
    But in way we worry or care , we all parents are the same I believe.

    • You know what, Sirisha, what you have shared is exactly what I have gone through! Had subscribed to 3-4 weekly newsletters, would read up in the middle of night if something bothered me, following the do’s and don’ts which made sense to me and believe me, it is all worthwhile and added some wonderful learnings and experiences in this journey of motherhood. Happy parenting! 🙂

  • Saru Singhal

    Books can be of great help. They can act as a guiding light on how to understand a child’s problem. But as you said it can not learn parenting from it. You can, however, enrich the journey with the help of books.

    • Oh yes, you are absolutely right, Saru! Books are surely the guiding light that illuminates our way! 🙂

  • Totally agree, especially when you are away from the family! In fact, in many cases, I would rely on websites and books more than on elders, just because i felt that the former would be more up-to-date and more reliable than mere hearsay! But, of course, firsthand experience is the best, especially since every child has a distinct personality that cannot be captured in a chapter!

    • Agree completely, Roshni, the modern and contemporary along with scientific approach the books have for parenting is a lot more comforting than someof the age old practices!

  • Loved reading this post and the comments too. I can so relate to this. I used to read so many pregnancy websites and had subscribed to a weekly email/newsletter during my pregnancy and post pregnancy too. What was happening to me and my baby was just a click away. The knowledge that I gained from all this was comforting and enlightening too. Even now I keep checking the parenting websites and forums whenever I face any issue or dilemma. These parenting resources are a blessing for young parents like me.

  • Thanks Sheetal. Glad you could relate to this post! 🙂

  • So true!! For all the parents without the extended family to pitch in with their experience, ‘the book’ is where we all turn to. Well written, Shilpa!

    • Yes, the books are the saviors and guiding lights! Thank you Meena 🙂

  • I am sure books are a lot of help to young parents who don’t have elders around. Nice write-up, Shilpa. 🙂

  • When I was bringing up my baby, I swore by Dr Spock. Always an avid reader, I started with books on pregnancy and then moved on to parenting. Of course, not all children are the same and not all of us have the patience to abide by the rules of “good parenting” But a little bit of knowledge never harmed anyone.

  • Well said, Purba. Dr Spock’s book is like the bible for young parents! And that’s so true, a little bit of knowledge never harmed anyone!! 🙂

  • I enjoyed reading the post… Brings together old gen with the new gen.. Raising a child, herculean task.. advices from elders definitely a great help… books have a role to play … reading is next to learning….but at the end of the day parents have to learn to deal with their toddlers in their own special way and I can bet each one can write a book on this. 🙂

    • You have aptly summed up the parenting process for the new-generation parents, Madulika! This is exactly how our learning curve looks like and you bet each one of us can write a book about our parenting journey! Thanks 🙂

  • Divya

    I even today swear by parenting books … It might not have answers to all the problems, but at least we know that the problem is universal to all parents. I have grown with my kiddo and books are my constant companion.

    • Agree… it’s really heartening to know that the issue you think is SO BIG or is terrible or embarrassing, is not only your story but is faced by so many parents!! 😛

  • I have never been a parent, so can’t comment on this post. But I have seen so many parents struggling with little kids! I wonder how my grand parents managed to bring up 6 kids and how the earlier generations dealt with even more!

    Destination Infinity

    • I guess, the kids of earlier generations were easy to manage! 😀

  • Since I am a bookaholic, the moment I discovered I was pregnant, I discovered a whole new category of books and ordered 3 of them. I read extensively including googling every single thing I was curious or in doubt about. I would not say I went by the book completely but they were huge support. I even gave some gyaan to my mom and mom-in-law. (They did not have google back then, na!).
    I still read a lot about parenting, child development and learning – both online and offline. Raising a child is not a child’s play, knowledge helps us act and react in a better way 🙂

    • You echo my thoughts thoughts, Reema! And agree with you completely, knowledge helps us act and react in a better way! 🙂

  • Hi Shilpa, A to the point article and how very true.
    Books cannot be the know-all nor can they be sidelined. We need to depend on the inner knowledge that Ma Nature provides us mothers but also be graceful enough and open our minds to the knowledge that doctors, scientists have to provide via books and the like…..

    • Thanks Shail. Glad you think so too! Parenting today has to be knowledge from the various resources coupled with our natural instincts and learning by our experiences! 🙂

  • so true shilpa, books and internet help us a lot even they cant remake or change us but help us to be better parents. for me books are best friends and i thank all writers who have provided books on all topics. my pregnancy i read lot of books and every evening when hubby returned from office i use to have a new topic to share and make him understand about changes in my body coz of our baby, it was great fun. i still am subscribed to babycenter newsletters and they guide me to understand that age group, even if my child is different from the situations they explain, but i am open to all growing up stuff this way. earlier mothers were exposed to knowledge provided within homes but now this way we are more exposed to experiences of global moms and variety of kids activities and variety of ways to handle them.

    • That’s so awesome Pracz! The feeling of knowing what’s happening to your body during pregnancy, or getting more knowledge or information on a topic empowers you and prepares you to handle the situations better. My son is 11 year old, and I still browse through parenting books and sites to know/understand about a behavior pattern or how to handle certain situations etc… Books/Internet certainly open up the world of insights for us! Glad that you believe so too! happy parenting, Pracz! 🙂