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Ask HN: Any good collaboratively built documentation on good parenting?
186 points by davidpelayo on May 8, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 123 comments
Lastly, I wonder whether there is a good collaborative resource providing consensus-based good parenting practises and guidelines, from a general point of view: Which, of course, would include, techniques, methodologies or guidelines depending on the age, type, culture or context where children grow up.

Am I requesting for a kind of an impossible-to-find asset?

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this.

I'm not against parenting advice in general--sometimes it's invaluable, like when you have a specific problem that's impacting you/your child's life, and you need to find a solution.

In terms of long-term parenting philosophies, though, I'd strongly suggest reading Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids by Bryan Caplan: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004OA64Q6/

It's a book length treatment of the fact that twin studies have demonstrated extremely convincingly that as long as you meet a pretty low bar for decent parenting (you aren't such an obviously bad parent that you would get rejected by adoption agencies) the impact of your parenting on your kids' lives is minimal at best. You won't make them smarter, you won't change their personality to be more adventurous or cautious, you won't succeed in molding them with all the life lessons you've learned, and you won't put them on a path to happiness (or unhappiness) when they grow up.

This may sound somewhat bleak if you're hoping to tiger-mom your children to Harvard. But it's also freeing--you can stop worrying, enjoy the ride more, and maybe most importantly, give your kids a fun childhood they'll look back on with pleasure.

> as long as you meet a pretty low bar for decent parenting ... the impact of your parenting on your kids' lives is minimal at best

That's assuming an upbringing in regular society, though, yes? I'm curious whether there'd be much larger effect-sizes on these interventions for children who are brought up in isolation, knowing only their families (e.g. this girl: https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/invisible-girl/).

If that's true—if there is a larger effect-size—then it suggests that "the real problem" isn't so much that nothing works, as that your society has a much larger effect in shaping you (toward the mean, usually) than your parents could ever have; and that, perhaps, part of the plan for raising children well should be to immigrate to a country with the sort of culture that you would want to rub off on them. Or, at least, emigrate away from your own country—to anywhere else—if you severely disagree with your culture's beliefs, because your kids are likely to pick up some of those beliefs no matter what you do.

And if a larger effect-size isn't there, then it would suggest everything about people is a lot more genetically determined than we think, and that you should translate any impulse you have to raise kids to be a certain way, into an impulse to select mates with good genes (and maybe to adopt if your own genes won't produce the kids you want.)

Thats actually an interesting concept i've contemplated lately, but I didn't find a conclusive answer. Is there a questionnaire i can fill out that spits out the community my family would fit into with our belief-system?

It's not that its a healthy thing for society to form these monocultural blocks of opinions, but after thinking about what values I were taught in school and how long it took me to unlearn the most damaging ones, i'd favor having the option to go somewhere else more sensible to me.

There's a difference between trying to influence how your kids turn out (for some value of “turn out”), and approaching your parenting in a way that facilitates the ease of your ongoing personal relationship with them. Your choices and actions as a parent may not be able to make them smarter than they are naturally inclined, but you can make your own relationship with them better or worse based on your choices.

But yeah, not worrying overmuch about the outcomes does allow parents to enjoy the ride and help their kids feel the love, attention, and structure that facilitates them growing into themselves.

I would strongly suggest you don't read a parenting book by an economist. Read one by a developmental psychologist or a pediatrician, who is an actual academic expert in this area.

Also, you probably don't need books. Be an attentive parent and get to know your child. They are a person. Invest a lot of time in finding a good pediatrician, and listen to them, too.

Wouldn’t tiger moms be a counterpoint to that thesis though? They obviously have a huge impact on their children’s lives.

The twin studies suggest that you can "break" your kids (and damage their outcomes to some degree) if you go too far in most directions, but that as long as you don't do this and you stay fairly moderate, their outcomes depend far more on nature than nurture.

In the case of tiger moms, the confounding factor is that along with their overbearing parenting they probably passed along some highly effective genes, though the kids probably would have been just as effective (maybe even more-so) with a more relaxed upbringing.

That intuitive obviousness is why the contradictory evidence is so surprising!

I would guess that tiger moms probably influence their children's lives much more through heritability of personality attributes (like persistence, ambition, intelligence, etc.) than through their parenting style.

No, the argument in the book is that upbringing matters through ~college graduation but the probability of success (which I think caplan roughly defines as the ability to support an average American family) reverts to genetic probability by 35. Caplan makes a point to say this assumes upbringing in an OECD type of economy.

Been a while since I read it but he covered the obvious counterpoints from what I remember.

Their kids have similar genes. But for better or worse I live in a neighborhood full of tiger moms, and they are not necessarily successful. Also, it takes a certain set of psychological traits to be a tiger mom in the first place, e.g., self discipline and emotional control. I don't think I could have pulled off being a tiger mom, even if I had believed in it and wanted to do it.

Only if tiger moming is actually effective: popular perception of it is probably warped by selection bias.

For every child that was pushed into an Ivy by a ruthless parent, there are probably many others who were left only with an unhappy childhood and a lingering lack of self-esteem.

Plenty of way parents can heavily influence you. I would have turned out much different if my father didn't teach me programming. The current POTUS wouldn't be who he is if he didn't get a small loan of a million dollars.

Counterexamples: Polgár Sisters. And basically all professional athletes, which typically start at a very young age, presumably with a parent's support (or pressure).

Treating interactions with your child like it's they're a problem to solve means you're treating them like a pet, and I have real issues with that.

Best parenting practise - ignore most advice from people you don’t know. It tends to be totally subjective, contradictory, and faddish.

Give your kids loads of love, in whatever way feels right to you and your family.

I'd say ignore most advice from people you do know too. Especially anyone who doesn't have kids, or only has one kid. There are definitely good tips to take from parents or books -- the stuff from happiest baby on the block (swaddling, shushing, etc), which baby carrier doesn't hurt your friend's back, etc. But kids are so different, what works for one won't work for another. So anyone who listens to your tale of why your particular baby is difficult and then tells you why you're doing something wrong is just full of shit. They can tell you things to try, and who knows if they'll work, it's always worth a shot. But please don't let yourself feel bad because some random friend of yours had an easy baby and you're having a hard time. Kids are different and it's incredibly unfair how big a delta there is between easy babies and hard babies.

[EDIT: I went back and realized the original ask wasn't just about newborns, but about parenting all different age levels. I'm not sure that changes much of my opinion, but I do think it makes a collaborative project more interesting/useful]

> Especially anyone who doesn't have kids, or only has one kid.

People say this all the time even though it ignores the fact that virtually anyone has parents even if they don't have kids. Having a kid doesn't make you better at parenting. At best, it forces you to think about parenting but there was nothing stopping you from doing that before.

There’s a certain empathy that is hard to have unless you’ve gone through it. People without kids have a tendency to underestimate both how challenging child rearing can be and also how totally different kids can be. That ends up with people giving parenting advice as if there’s a single right answer when there’s no such thing. It’s why I said people with only one child fall into the same trap. Often they think that the way their kid was is how all kids are. But kids can be so amazingly different, and it’s hard to truly understand that unless you have a couple kids yourself and you can experience it firsthand. I don’t claim to know all about parenting, but I’ve experienced enough to know that I can’t give any other parent the right answer for how to raise their kid.

This very much reminds me of inaccurate perceptions people have of being a teacher since they've had so many teachers they get a sense that they are pretty familiar with the profession but most have only seen one side of it. Also analogous to the other point you were making, a difficulty in education research is how hard it is to come up with generalizable conclusions since each context can be unique.

> Having a kid doesn't make you better at parenting

Holy cow, this is so untrue. Having a kid is pretty much the _only_ way to get better at parenting, saving maybe babysitting someone else's kids for long periods of time.

Making a genuine effort to be a good parent is what makes a good parent. You don't magically become enlightened after giving birth.

> You don't magically become enlightened after giving birth.

Given that no one even came close to saying this, this comment seems very disingenuous.

I think you have it more or less right.

Speak to them. Listen to them. Read to them. Play with them. Don't try to over manage things. Don't over protect them. Let them fail. Let them fall. Don't be too pushy with things you want them to like.

They are not mini you, they are them :)

while I generally agree with your point, I'd like to point out that all those things are wildly generic and subjective (but much like "eat with moderation" still meaningful!).

E.g. what does "over protect" mean? Is it ok to let your 2yo climb on the climbing things at the playground, even if they are for bigger kids? Is hovering to catch him/her in case of fall overprotecting? What about climbing on trees? And Fences? At what age exactly is it ok to let your kids go to school or come back on their own?

Or, "read to them". Is one story at evening enough? one booklet per kid maybe? 2 each seems better, but then, probably it's better to read them something in the morning too etc.

Going back to the original proposition, most likely it won't matter too much if you read 1 book a week or ten stories a day to your kid, s/he will love you anyway, and as long as you are not abusive and keep them fed and clean, you'll be a good enough parent, which is the best one can hope for.

Regarding reading,there is probably no amount that is enough. Just read as much as you have time for and inclination for.

And remember to recalibrate for your sense of “normal” which was formed by your parents, and by their parents.

Not to mention recalibrating your sense of "normal" from your life before children. Totally not saying that one has to let the child completely take over their life ... but it's also unhealthy to expect everything to stay the same as it was before the kid arrived. Aside from the kid _demanding_ more of your time for fulfilling their basic needs, you will likely _want_ to spend more time bonding with them.

I did kind of a poor job at this at first, and it resulted in me getting completely burned out from trying to maintain work, side projects, community engagement (ie. the user group/meetup I had started), etc etc etc ... once I re-evaluated my priorities, I realized that for the next few years I had to cut back on that other stuff a bit to focus on my family (and work of course, gotta bring home that bacon after all ;) ). Resulted in a significant QoL improvement for me ... and the kids eventually got older, which opened up more time for "stuff" again :)

Loads of love and take the time to listen to them when they speak to you even if you don't understand just nod and continue engaging they get used to you paying them attention in this way and eventually you'll understand them.

I don't think it's a bad thing to want to see other people's ideas and thoughts on it.

As long as you bear in mind what they are - just individuals' ideas - not advice, the right answer, gospel, etc.

I'm choosing to ignore your advice on the basis that it's subjective and faddish.

unless any of us know blowski personally, we're all supposed to be ignoring their advice anyhow

There is lots of room for variation, but there are also things that are well established scientifically to have a known effect.

Talking to babies more helps them learn language faster.

Reading to children helps them become stronger readers.

spanking children makes them more likely to have problems with aggression. Later in life it's a risk factor for criminality and problems with mental health.

> spanking children makes them more likely to have problems with aggression.

I don't spank, but up until 30 or 40 years ago, spanking was a perfectly acceptable form of punishment, and probably most kids were spanked at one time or another. And it wasn't like society was significantly more aggressive than it is now. So I don't know how you can make that sweeping generalization -- at least post links to some studies.

Here is one study that found that the link between spanking and aggression is greatly determined by the context in which the spanking occurs: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED415019.pdf

To be fair, society was significantly more aggressive than it is now:


Violent crime rates both in America and within the developed world at large are way down. This is usually overlooked because we've now become hypersensitized to remaining acts of violence - a "mass shooter" that kills nobody but themselves is now all over the Internet in real time, while when I was a kid in the 80s, everyday violence within large swathes of American society would just be a "just another homicide in a blighted urban area, don't go there". But by the statistics, America today is a lot safer than 30 years ago.

Now, I have no idea whether this is because of spanking or not, and drawing a causal connection is much harder in the face of all the conflating changes within society since then. But it's factually incorrect to say that "society wasn't significantly more aggressive than it is now", because it was.

> Violent crime rates both in America and within the developed world at large are way down.

Except they're still higher than they were in 1960 (and kids raised in the 1930s and 1940s certainly got spanked).

Citation needed.

He's correct on a factual level:


There's a wider context, though, where violent crime during 1940-1960 was abnormally low compared to the earlier part of the century (which had violent crime rates similar to today), and then it shot up in the 1970s. And the 1900s in general has been quite low to historical homicide rates in colonial times.


All of this fits my point that you can't really draw conclusions one way or another from the crime rate.


From the Wiki

> Proponents of the lead-crime hypothesis argue that the removal of lead additives from motor fuel, and the consequent decline in children's lead exposure, explains the fall in crime rates in the United States beginning in the 1990s. This hypothesis also offers an explanation of the rise in crime in the preceding decades as the result of increased lead exposure throughout the mid-20th century.

There's also:

The Abortion hypothesis: kids who would've otherwise turned out to be violent criminals were aborted:


The Broken Windows hypothesis, that cracking down on minor petty crime reduces major violent crime:


The Economic Development hypothesis, that tough times create crime:


And probably a bunch that I haven't heard of.

Really, I doubt we'll ever figure out what causes an increase or decrease in the crime rate, because there's likely more than one cause. Because of that, I don't think it's good evidence on either side for a debate on spanking. (Which, BTW, has just validated the point everyone's been making that any collaboratively-built parenting encyclopedia is likely to generate more heat than light.)

I wonder if there’s an Xbox / Netflix / AC hypothesis? Why go out and get in trouble when there’s so much entertainment readily available.

> And it wasn't like society was significantly more aggressive than it is now.

Yes it was. Much, Much, Much more.

Murder and violence, domestic violence. Society 40 years ago was radically different than it is now, and most of the 20th C. was a very violent time.

This supports that, yes, it was more aggressive 40 years ago, and simulatenously remind us that correlation isn't always causation:


Yes, but then there's studies showing spanking children makes them more aggressive. The physical abuse of children is by the physically abusive who were themselves physically abused.

It isnt merely accidental. Of course it isnt the explanation for WW2, or the 1970s murder rate. Neither is lead.

There have been a lot of studies on this. It's not ambiguous anymore that spanking does more harm than good.


Reading to newborn does nothing.

Curious to know whether people downvoting really believe that reading to newborn has an effect. And whether they ever seen newborn if they indeed believe so.

It trains the parents

I think different parents have different goals, so probably the best is to read a bunch of books and pick out the ones you like.

Some suggestions:

The Gardener and the Carpenter

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids


The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline That Really Works!

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen

Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child

And Baby Makes Three

The Rational Male - Positive Masculinity

Parenting With Love And Logic

I’d like to add: Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves — reduce your effort by working with nature and not against it. Teach respect, self-respect by modeling them. Let your child learn who they are by giving them age appropriate meaningful choices. Create conditions for them to learn self discipline by following their interests and projects.

All great suggestions.

I'd also like to add Janet Lansbury [1] as a great resource

[1] http://www.janetlansbury.com/

I also want to add the resources from https://www.handinhandparenting.org/. The techniques mentioned like Special Time and staylistening have helped a lot with my child.

Good! Thanks. I'll add it to the repo I just created to document all this stuff. Appreciated!

Creating collaborative parenting documentation sounds like an invitation to endless flamewars. People are intensely emotionally involved in their decisions, and the outcomes are very noisy, hence difficult to measure the effect of parental decisions.

You're probably better off asking for collaborative documentation on the relative benefits of Democratic and Republican polices.

agreed, you should only allow editing by people you know. not random internet strangers

But then you'd be stuck in a bubble of people who already think like you.

While there would be flame wars, you might get some good ideas from people outside your network.

but then you’d have to do some curation and deleting unwanted comments by trolls and people that just want to comment, turning it into a full time job

I like ask and answer at https://parenting.stackexchange.com/ - there are some good advice there.

I was going to mention this as well. I don't know about "good" but it's definitely collaboratively built.

My personal thoughts.

1. Treat them with love. 2. No hitting that damages them. 3. Appreciate them like you appreciate an adult. 4. Dont lie, ever, even if it was a joke or making them fooled. (Like saying ill buy you candies if you stop crying, yet you didnt actually buy the candies). 5. Be there, and listen. 6. Never argue with your spouse in front of them, or in front of anybody. 7. Dont lecture them in public. 8. They are smart, dont let them do the mistakes that you once did. 9. What they eat shapes them. 10. Help them fix their mistakes, no need to blame them. (Broke the glass? Help them fix it. 11. If you have multiple children, if you buy a present, buy for all of them.

>2. No hitting that damages them.

To the best of my knowledge, all violence hurts children, even if it doesn't damage them physically. There's a wide variety of studies I've seen over the years that suggest negative outcomes for kids due to corporal punishment.

Here's one such meta analysis from a quick search, but there's plenty more out there: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768154/

Agreed with the remainder of your points. Though what's actually is difficult is the execution of all that, in my opinion.

> 2. No hitting that damages them.

hoo. what? No. Hitting is a hardline. I understand that it is popular in some cultures but I have yet to see any studies that confirm its usefulness. If anything, it was morally damaging for me.

So no, please. Don't your child, or any other kid. Or anyone for that matter (excluding self defense)

If you imagine hitting here as me forming fist and hit them, then maybe i chose the wrong word. Its more like tapping them, hands open. I usually do it when im in crowd and my kid fools around that might disturb people. I’ll tap them twice to get their attention, usually on their shoulder, but never on their head. Then tell them what is wrong with their behaviour. If they do it again ill tap them again and they will know what it means. I never hit my kids with a fist.

I mostly avoid shouting or speaking loudly, so the best way for me to get their attention is usually by “hitting” them.

No hitting that damages them includes moral damage, but then again its hard to measure.

No, people know what you mean. They're telling you that all forms of hitting children are wrong.

I used to believe #6 (never argue with your spouse in front of them). But if you and your spouse have a healthy relationship, displaying and modeling productive disagreement and arguing can be helpful. The world is full of disagreements. Where else will kids learn to properly "fight fair?"

It's likely wrong things will be said and mistakes made in the midst of an argument. When this happens, debriefing with the kid later can be a useful exercise in admitting your own faults, while also showing that life isnt always perfect.

I'm reading a lot of these comments that say "good parenting is too subjective" - I must say i STRONGLY disagree - and am a little surprised to see so many comments like those from the HN crowd. I wonder how many of those are actual parents?

I think there are MANY pieces of parenting wisdom that are VERY accepted. For instance:

- giving kids 'structure' i.e. repetition, nighttime routines, bedtime to ensure they sleep well, etc

- consequences for negative actions <--- big one

- creating spaces and norms for activities, i.e. reading, eating, etc

- playing in certain ways including imaginative games, etc, that are age-appropriate

- ensuring lots of exercise and play that encourages dexterity, use of all body muscles, etc

anyway, i could go on and on.

- consequences for negative actions <--- big one

And probably more important, rewards for positive actions. Positive reinforcement is pretty powerful in general.

Parent of 2 (8 and 3 yo).

Rewards for positive actions have a few side-effects that I have observed though:

1) Individuals start expecting positive reinforcement for everything they do. Doing it for the external reward instead of finding the intrinsic reward for doing the right thing on their own. This is probably extensively researched already, although i don't have sources handy right now.

2) Along time, positive reinforcements behave in accordance with the "law of diminishing returns". i.e. If you always reward positive actions with some standard reward, it will lose effect over time. With the danger of the positive action not feeling worthwhile anymore.

I thus became a great believer in the importance of negative consequences for bad behavior. I mostly apply (within reason) Shame and Restriction of freedoms to punish my kids for bad behavior (reserving the occasional physical slap for very serious offenses). Shame is a motivator that interests me a lot as a parent. I think it is an essential motivator in society in general, but the most delicate one. Too much Shame can also make you socially inept.

In the end I think its always about the right balance...

Your children are young, and the tools that are working for you now will not be as effective as they get older. In particular, if you are leaning on shame and restriction of freedom to punish, you are sowing the seeds of teenage rebellion. You can only restrict so much freedom from a teenager, and shame only matters in as much as your opinion of them matters to them; abuse either of these, and you will find yourself with a teenager who dedicates themselves to distancing themselves as much as they can from you.

In my experience, you should rather focus on building character by developing the intrinsic rewards for good behavior: we do the right thing because it is the right thing, even if it is a more difficult path. No amount of shame and punishment can get a child to do that; it has to come from something deeper and more positive.

> 1) Individuals start expecting positive reinforcement for everything they do. Doing it for the external reward instead of finding the intrinsic reward for doing the right thing on their own. This is probably extensively researched already, although i don't have sources handy right now.

I've read a book some time ago that mentioned something to this effect - motivating people with external rewards greatly lowers or straight out erases the intrinsic rewards from those tasks. To the point where people stop enjoying tasks they used to if you pay them for it.

This was based on a scientific study, if I recall - so well done on spotting this effect on your own.

I believe the book I got this from is "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel H. Pink.

Ok, time to link a book : Free to learn by Peter Gray https://www.amazon.com/Free-Learn-Unleashing-Instinct-Self-R...

Or how and why parents and adults should really stop trying to control their children.

Awesome, I'll link the book to the github repo.

Not a parent (yet), but there's a great book for dealing with kids (aged 2-99) by Faber & Mazlish titled, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” that I would strongly recommend.

Totally agree, a fantastic book.

I'm not a parent so take this with a grain of salt.

There are so many fads in parenting and they change all the time. Fads are, IMHO, dangerous and kids are not something you want to experiment on (too much). Finding someone who has raised happy children into the sort of people you'd like your kids to be would be the best way to go. Might be tricky to do in the modern world but if you can find a community of like minded people you'd be surprised how many people love to pass on their wisdom to a younger generation.

You know, before I had a child, I would upvoted this and likely written a comment about how much your opinion matches mine. But, now I have a two year old and, let me tell you, these little people develop strong personalities at a young age.

My Mom and Dad were great parents, but I have to raise Lauren differently. It isn't that my Mom and Dad raised my sister and I wrong, it's just that my sister and I were our own little people with our own personalities.

If you ever want a wonderful guide to this (in real time), you should come experience bath time at the Hluska household. It's something else...

> into the sort of people you'd like your kids to be would be the best way to go

If only things were that simple. All children are different, what works well with one is a complete disaster with another.

Ultimately, I think you just have to wing it and do the best you can. You'll get it wrong most of the time and get it right not enough. But there you go. Best advice I have read is the poem:

This Be The Verse

By Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn

By fools in old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.

It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

Its like gardening - the best thing for a garden is the gardener's shadow. Same thing with kids. Spend time with them, and be deliberate in what you talk about.

It’s hard to arrive at a consensus of what constitutes good parenting. For example, my sister wants her kids to be doctors, and so all activities and goals are oriented toward that. I prefer my kids choose a career path that brings personal happiness and freedom of time. As such, my methods and KPIs are different. Parenting is sort of one of those things that can easily degrade into a constant stream of fomo.

> my sister wants her kids to be doctors

Thats such an Indian stereotype :D. Source: me.

People commenting on this post, please state if you have kids or not. The reason is, people who don’t have kids tend to be extremely naive about parenting.

My take: there’s no such thing as universal “good parenting” advice. Kids are different, and what works well for one can wreck another for the rest of her life.

Full disclosure: I’m a father of a “difficult” 15 year old.

OK: got more kids than fingers, and no amputations yet!

You may be dealing with toxic friends, failed perfectionism (can't meet a possibly self-imposed standard so just give up entirely), social rejection due to cluelessness, depression, an inability to picture a future self and work toward satisfying the needs of that future self...

The kid has also had 15 years to learn how to manipulate you.

Give it your best shot, but be prepared to let go. Besides the possibilities of "not your fault" and "you were awful", there is the "ordinary imperfection". At some point, sooner or later, you have to kick them out the door and hope they manage.


"Founded by an evolutionary anthropologist, this parenting resource is for critical thinkers -- people who want to understand child development from the perspectives of psychology, anthropology, evolution, and cognitive neuroscience.

I’ve got opinions. But who cares? You might be a scientist, physician, or teacher. Maybe you're an educated, skeptical layperson who loves science. Whatever the case, you don't need a sermon. You need evidence. You can draw your own conclusions.

So here it is: No folk theories. No preachy advice. No authoritarian pronouncements or pseudoscientific political dogma. Instead, you’ll find my analysis of the research, fully-referenced so you know where to go if you want to dig deeper yourself."

I love this idea. While every family and child is different, having all the opinions in one place might be helpful. Even if some of the opinions are conflicting, at least they would all be there so that you could read through them all and choose for yourself what you think is best for you and your family.

I don't know of any such resource. I know there are a lot of "mommy groups" on Facebook where they pass around articles and stuff, but those groups tend to have a bias towards one type of parenting or another.

But at the end of the day, there is no "right way" or "best way", there is only "your way". It's kind of like product management -- you do a bunch of research, choose a path, then gather data as to the outcomes, and change tack if necessary.

Thanks! I understand the potential conflicts on different approaches at so many different discussions.

However, as you've mentioned, it would be awesome to have a resource putting different opinions together.

As per in one of the comments below suggested, I've created this repo: https://github.com/davidpelayo/awesome-parenting so I'll be tracking all the info posted here and others findings.

Thanks for reading.

+1, this article spells out what I think is a major miss in parenting. I wrote some small thoughts on it here: https://whoami.sh/thought/taking-children-seriously

I like the style of your blog.

Probably an impossible-to-find asset. Such a collaborative effort is likely to attract the most vocal and opinionated people, many of whom do not have children of their own. I am simply extrapolating from the median author of the parenting books I've read (and thrown away afterwards).

You may find that successful parents who balance two or more kids with full-time jobs and some measure of sanity will not have the interest or energy to put into such a project. The more enlightened among them may also hold their tongues, having realized that what works for their kids is not universal.


Favorite books:

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen. And Listen So Kids Will Talk.

Smart But Scattered

"How to Talk so Kids Will Listen. And Listen So Kids Will Talk" is a fantastic book. It's clearly (and compassionately) written and has cartoons which depict exchanges between parent and child.

You should really try the original that book is based on: Between Parent and Child - H. G. Ginott

i used to listen to my parents otherwise there would have been hell to pay. :D

No, but that's actually not a bad idea. I agree with what most commenters here have said: don't listen to advice from strangers on parenting. But at the same time, I would expect that advice to regress to some sort of mean if enough contributors were involved.

Why not make an "awesome-parenting" GitHub repo? :)

I created it a few days ago, with another name. But I really liked your proposal. Find it here: https://github.com/davidpelayo/awesome-parenting

Feel free to add stuff. Really, I'm just asking this to get different opinions from people worldwide.

I am working putting a form together to target learning activities. I guess this would be more focused on learning and not parenting in general. My sister-in-law is an OT and she always gives us great learning techniques and I figured it would be helpful to put this all together in one place.

No. There is no consensus on anything. People argue a lot. If you have problem, read multiple things and try them to see which works.

Rule of thumb, if it looks like extreme it likely is. If it makes you insecure or is a lot of tiring work to your family then it is bad advice.

I don't know if it works for your or not. But, to me, it makes lot of sense to gather as much info as possible so that when I have doubts on doing something, I can query first what info says and maybe the decision-making process is better.

I also want to add the resources from https://www.handinhandparenting.org/. The techniques mentioned like Special Time and staylistening have helped a lot with my child.

I recommend finding books based on actual parenting research, rather than collaborative or consensus-based sources. Consensus does not mean truth. There are countless parenting myths bandied about that are based on nothing more than idle blog posts or simple social inertia. Parenting advice is especially susceptible to "feel good" myths which sound like common sense, but aren't actually true. (I've found that most "consensus" advice is just rationalization validating the giver's choices, e.g. saving for college, bedtime routines, etc.)

In my experience, pediatricians often have good advice on relevant books and topics.

This is the comment I came to write.

I’m a father of a newborn. And I agree with people who say that universal advice doesn’t work. You find what works for you, and as long as it’s safe you roll with it.

I also agree that generalized non studied consensus is not useful if you want at the truth. It’s a fallacy: just because many people believe it, doesn’t make it true.

Besides, advice from non parents/people without skin in the game is “taken under advisement”. Unless you’re there all night dealing with baby, your sleep advice can suck it.

I have no idea if the asset you want exists.

I think the best thing you can do is keep in mind that you are raising future adults. That detail seems to frequently be overlooked. I found it a very valuable metric by which to measure my parenting decisions.


I don't think you could have this without it devolving into what is essentially a religious debate but I'd be very interested in a collaboratively built wiki of age appropriate challenges or documenting developmental milestones vs skills they unlock (similar to tropes vs stories on tvtropes)

For example I've heard kids can go to school when they can reach the ear on the opposite side by reaching their arm over the head. Also at some age they start to understand non-literal meaning i.e. sarcasm but until then they are oblivious. This would be very useful knowledge to concentrate into a wiki.

Thanks everybody. I didn't expect this massive amount of reactions. I've tried to update the github repo gathering the info you all provided me (mainly references, websites and books).

If anyone wants to raise a PR fixing english errors (non-native speaker here) I'd be much appreciated (https://github.com/davidpelayo/awesome-parenting).

I'll also add a spanish version soon.

There is definitely useful parenting knowledge that's not intuitive to many parents.

I'm building a site to collaboratively document topics like this. I just created a "Good Parenting" topic in case you and others in this thread would like to pool their knowledge into something concise and useful.


I find the advice not to listen to strangers bizarre. Maybe it's because the following is assumed, but since it hasn't been stated yet:

Try to practice evidence-based parenting.

Instead of having arguments about parenting, try to understand what the science says, and if the science doesn't say anything conclusive, critically evaluate the anecdotes you receive from other parents.

The problem is there is very little good science available about parenting, because it is considered unethical to experiment on children.

Then it would be nice to have a good resource where to find science nice articles on many topics affecting parenting?

No new parents' bookshelf is complete without der Struwwelpeter:


Spoiler: It's a terrible parenting book by modern standards, but good for cheering up the parents after the kids are in bed.

There is no consensus on parenting. Every family and every child is different.

The one piece of (still opinionated) advice I give is to keep in mind your goal - it is not to raise "good children". It is to raise 'good' adults, capable of living their own lives, with success, and adapting to all life may throw at them.

If you judge by reactions of a large number of parents across the world, "Parent Effectiveness Training" book (and training!) seems like a great resource. Interestingly, his approach to parenting has applications in daily life with adults in general :)

There's https://parenting.stackexchange.com/search?q=resources

Other than that - it's a fundamentally political question.

Consensus based parenting seems like a good idea when you've got one kid and think you have the game figured out. Then you have a second child and see that much of what you learned gets tossed out the window. That's when you realize, every child is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It's also a divisive topic, with two camps (nurture/caring vs tough love/discipline) which makes a consensus all but impossible.

All I can tell you is what has worked for me:

* Lose the goo-goo talk and chat with them like people from day one. They will learn to hold a conversation a lot earlier and talk circles around their classmates. If possible, expose them to a second language early - they will pick up other languages later in life with ease. It also helps them to think in different ways.

* Hitting and aggressive behavior scares and confuses a child so much that the lesson you are trying to teach them is often lost. There are other forms of discipline which are more effective in the long term (isolation, taking away something they like). But most important what you want to do is foster a sense of understanding about right vs wrong. This is why kids favorite question is "why?" We often take what we know for granted and expect this new mind to pick things up the way we did, even though that's not how it works. Be firm and don't roll over every time, but also be flexible and pick your battles. Not every hill is worth dying on.

* Empathy is your greatest tool and most important lesson. Use it often. Even when you are angry, resist the urge to scream till you are red in the face. Take a deep breath and get down to their level, eye-to-eye. Find out what's upsetting them and vocalize how it affects you as well. Show by example what it means to feel what others are feeling.

* Use positive reinforcment. Reward them when they do well. Shower them with affirmation and praise, especially in the early years as it shapes emotional health. Inspiring them to do well is far more effective than scaring them into it.

* Socialize them early. Regular trips to the parks, play dates.. whatever it takes. The sooner they learn to be around other kids the faster they will gain the social skills that will aid their success later in life.

* Make time for them. Feeding, clothing, sheltering them are just the beginning. They need to play, talk, explore and there is no greater gift you can give a child (or anyone) than your time. All too often bad behavior is their way of turning your head, because any attention is better than no attention.

There's probably more but those are the basics which work for both of my kids, who have very different temperaments. Good luck!

Does anyone have a good list of websites that provide educational content (Math, Writing, etc.) and let you track your kids progress? For example, Khan Academy is pretty good, does anyone know of some other resources?

Thank you!

Yeah its talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers, neighbours. Which is why there are many different cultures that do things different ways and most people turn out great.

A course called Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive, available through Great Courses Plus.

A less scientific approach is a reference book called The Pocket Parent.

Thanks for the info!

Not a collab resource but the best resource I know of: Between Parent and Child - H. G. Ginott

Thanks for your recommendation!

Don't overthink things. Just do your best, and you'll be setting them up better than 90% of children.

"good parenting" seems incredibly subjective. Say your 3 year old takes an interest in opposite gender clothing/toys. Do "good parents": a) encourage this behavior and buy more opposite gender toys/clothes, b) discourage this buy not buying more c) do nothing, wait and see if child grows out of it

I don't know. Can't we just use common sense instead?

Of course we can. But maybe it's not bad to have extra resources, books, opinions, techniques and methodologies you might want to look at to reflect on whether your common sense makes actual sense or not? I think it's healthy to be open to listen other opinions and evaluate your owns.

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