NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Read: 17 November, 2011

Common sense and instinct can tell us a lot of things. For example, it’s good to praise our kids, it’s good to leave the radio on because babies will learn language better the more words they hear,  and racial desegregation of schools will lead to less racism as kids grow up interacting with peers of different races.

Unfortunately, all of these are wrong.

“NurtureShock” is the feeling a new parent experiences when they discover that the Parental Instincts Fairy has missed their home. It turns out that while the instinct to protect our children is very real, the how of it is up to us to figure out.

NurtureShock is different from the other parenting books I’ve reviewed in that it isn’t an instruction manual. Instead, it simply summarizes some of the recent science in child development. Although the science itself is very interesting and I positively devoured the book, the lack of practical application was frustrating. As a parent, I don’t just want to know the science, I want to know how I can use it.

I think that NurtureShock would have done better if each chapter were divided in half. The first part would remain exactly as is, but the second part would provide examples to show how parents might apply the theory to their own parenting.

But that doesn’t mean that NurtureShock isn’t worth reading. Far from it, I think it should be required reading for every new parent because it fundamentally challenges so many of the assumptions we make about our kids and how they develop.

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