At a recent Grad Talk put on by the Family Care Office, which discussed the option of becoming a parent while pursuing graduate studies, one of the panelists was Nana Lee. Nana Lee is the Director of Graduate Professional Development at the University of Toronto and is also a lecturer. She is a huge advocate of parenting literacy. In her words, “In lieu of village wisdom, we have the next best thing – experts in various fields who pass along the wisdom in the form of books. I am an advocate of reading, attending these types of workshops, and asking other parents about the experience.”
For thousands of years, mothers and fathers have relied on their support systems, including grandmothers, aunts, and other mothers to provide insight as to how to raise their children. In the past, families lived close together and were always available to provide help and advice. Therefore, literacy during parenting received little importance or support. However, times have changed and these days parenting literacy is now receiving much attention again. Here is why parenting literacy is important and why you, as an expectant or new parent, should pick up a good parenting book today.
Limited Time and Separation from Extended Family
In the past, there was a high chance that mothers stayed at home to raise their children and as a result, had the time to seek advice from relatives and other loved ones. However, over the years our society has experienced a shift. In the 1960s, 65% of families had mothers who stayed home with their children whereas more recently in 2012, it was found that now only 22% of families have mothers who stay at home (Luscombe, 2014). For graduate students wishing to become parents, parenting may have its challenges, as school and other work responsibilities may limit the time that students have to seek wisdom and advice from family members and other outside support groups. Furthermore, graduate students may travel long distances to pursue their education and can experience separation from relatives and friends they would traditionally go to for support. Considering these factors, it is important for graduate students who are parents to seek advice and authoritative information by other means. Parenting books written by experts can provide this necessary information for parents.
Important Information That Our Support Systems Cannot Provide
Certain types of information important for child development can only be attained by reading expert books and articles. Necessary information that fits this category includes health information, since health suggestions for children are continually changing as new studies are performed. Health and nutrition information that family members and friends are able to offer may not always be up to date or reliable. As a result, parents should act on behalf of their children by practicing reading and educating themselves about current health and nutrition facts for children (Velardo & Drummond, 2013). This is of utmost importance, as parental health literacy directly influences how parents make health related decisions for their children, how parents speak to their children about health, and how parents create a healthy home environment (Velardo & Drummond, 2013).
Developing Your Own Parenting Style
By consistently seeking advice from extended family members and other supporters, certain parenting strategies or styles may be imposed onto new parents without their recognition. These specific styles may not always be the right style for a particular parent or their child. Luckily, numerous parenting books shed light on a multitude of parenting approaches and provide parents with the information they need to adopt a parenting style that is not only the best for their child, but also for themselves. Furthermore, expert titles encourage parents to discover their individual strengths and inspire parents to apply these strengths to their parenting practices. Considering this, parenting literacy has special importance in helping parents develop and nurture their own unique parenting style.
Feeling inspired to enhance your parenting literacy? Check out our TipSheet, which highlights great books suggestions for expectant parents. Also, listed below are some books that expectant or new parents have found extremely helpful in their parenting journey!
- The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
- Strengths Based Parenting by Mary Reckmeyer and Jennifer Robison
- First Meals: Your Questions Answered by Annabel Karmel
- Well Beings: A Guide to Health in Child Care by the Canadian Paediatric Society
- Breaking the Good Mom Myth by Alyson Schafer
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Written by FCO Library Communications Coordinator, Alicja Adamczyk.
Luscombe, B. (2014). There is no longer any such thing as a typical family. Retrieved from http://time.com/3265733/nuclear-family-typical-society-parents-children-households-philip-cohen/
Velardo, S., & Drummond, M. (2013). Understanding parental health literacy and food related parenting practices. Health Sociology Review, 22(2), 137-150.