There are many enlightening, informative books out there to help parents raise your child. These books are so popular that they fly off the bookshelves. They are written for parents of all shapes and sizes with children from newborn on up. They run the gamut from birth to the teenage years and cover everything from teething, potty training, how to say no, when to say yes, when to have “the talk” and what to say when you do, plus just about every other problem you could possibly run into during their childhood years. If you have a problem or a question, you can probably find the answers in one of these books.

Mother and child having fun while teaching and playing together

The problem, however, is that this is YOUR child we're talking about, not some hypothetical child in a book that behaves in a certain way according to discipline and praise. The most important instruction manual should be your common sense and basic instincts, which came from nature, your parents, and their parents.

Referencing these books for suggestions during your child's growing up years is fine, and there are many useful tools and ideas to help you find your own options. But always remember that your child is unique and behaves in his/her own unique way that only you can understand and interpret – each child will develop in their own way. What might be considered “bossy” behavior in one child could be viewed as “caring and nurturing” in another doing the same thing because of their distinct personality qualities. You, as the parent, are the only one that is qualified to make this judgment because you have the insight into their behavior, which is necessary to quantify it.

Raising your child “by the book” is like diagnosing their illness by reading a medical guide – you wouldn't. You'd take him/her to a qualified doctor, so put your child's development into equally qualified hands: your own.

Trisha Festerling, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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