Do We Parent By The Book Or By The Gut? : Tell Me More Host Michel Martin reflects on recent interviews with two writers who have very different perspectives. Ada Calhoun, author of Instinctive Parenting says moms and dads should forget parenting books and blogs, and let their instincts guide them. Po...
NPR logo Do We Parent By The Book Or By The Gut?

Do We Parent By The Book Or By The Gut?

Instinctive Parenting by Ada Calhoun. hide caption

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NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. hide caption

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So, you go to the ice rink or the playground and a kid comes up to your kid and wants to play. Then your kid tells the other kid, no, I don't want to play with you because you're brown, or because you're pink, or because you don't have a Spiderman lunch box.

And you are HORRIFIED.

What do you do?

As my daughter would say...Gotcha!

Did you just get hives right here and now?

Or hey! Let's get the kids together and talk about race!

Did you say, oh...well...ahem...SURE...let's do that...later?

I'm thinking about this because we featured conversations with two different authors who focused on parenting issues...if you are a fan of mommy blogs then you probably know Ada Calhoun, one of the founders of

She has a new book called Instinctive Parenting. In our interview with her, she says all this "do this, do that" parenting stuff will make you crazy. Go with your gut, she says. And she backs it up with her parenting memoir where she gives you anecdotes from the trenches and reassures parents they will figure it out

But we also featured Po Bronson, who co-authored NurtureShock with Ashley Merryman. In their book, they tell us about a large body of research that challenges many of the ideas we have about what works with kids. For example, they say lavishing kids with praise for merely existing doesn't make kids more motivated.

One of the examples we covered previously was research that shows that NOT talking with kids about race just makes it taboo and leaves them free to come up with their own ideas — which are often not the ones progressive parents want kids to have. Kids are sorters, and they will sort by race if you let them. So, you can't let them, or rather, you have to name it and shape it.

So, gut or book? A little of this, a little of that?

And while we're on the subject, here's a link to an interview we did back in September with Briggite Vittrup of Texas Woman's University. Her research into race relations among children was used in NurtureShock.