If you'd told me a year and a half ago that I'd be reading Bridget A. Barnes and Steven M. York's Common Sense Parenting of Toddlers and Preschoolers , I'd have given you one hell of a weird look. Which probably goes to show something, but dang if I can think of what.

So the thing about parenting is, it seems like the sort of thing that an intelligent person should know how to do instinctively. I mean, it's just some obvious interpersonal stuff combined with simple psychological conditioning. Except damn if it doesn't turn out to be more confounding than that -- dealing with pre-rational children is fundamentally different from dealing with semi-rational adults, and the complexity and immediacy of actual situations confound obvious solutions. So, like any good computer person, when the interface is unclear, I turned to the manual.

The most popular kid-manuals are probably the What to Expect... books, and they're damn fine books, indeed -- but they only go up to three years old, so the particular child with which I'm concerned is out of spec for those books; hence, this one.

It's a good book. Unlike the What to Expect... books, it focuses only on parenting and disciplining topics, and doesn't address developmental, medical, or other topics at all. It's written clearly, concretely and simply, and outlines a straightforward path of action that seems sensible, at least. Whether or not its recommendations actually work in practice is something I won't know for a while yet, but the book is convincing enough that I'll give 'em a shot.


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