By Tracy G. Cassels
I’ve been reading and reviewing a lot of books lately and I have been lucky to pretty much love them all. Well, the newest, Sage Parenting by Rachel Rainbolt, is no exception. Like all the books I find most helpful for parents who follow EP (and who I assume are looking for a bit of science and logic in their parenting reads), Sage Parenting is filled with research on topics from birth to breastfeeding to co-sleeping to the appearance of a new sibling. The book focuses on the younger years and ends right around school age. In fact, the myriad topics covered make this book one many people might use as a go-to for several years. Although many earlier sections are baby-focused, the later sections on Discipline and Gender Socialization speak to the older child (albeit up to about 5 years of age). As an aside, I know by updates from Rachel that she’s working on an education chapter after starting the homeschooling experience with her oldest, something I look forward to reading.
For me, the highlights of the book were the chapters I wouldn’t expect to see in a parenting book, which so often focus only on the child and parent-child relationship. In Sage Parenting, there is an entire Section on the Self as Parent. I think we often forget that this personal transformation is something that can be very difficult for parents to accept. So often we see new parents who expect their lives to be the same, their body to be the same, or who struggle with their own experiences with their parents that they can’t truly embrace the role of parent. Rachel talks to these parents in a way I imagine they could all relate to and feel heartened by (I admit I have to say I “imagine” it because it was not something I faced personally). I’m always impressed when a book can add something that seems so obvious upon seeing it, but is something that is rarely included in other books that it surprises me.
The other part I really liked was her willingness to talk about issues that many AP-style books shy away from. She goes into detail on being disappointed with a baby’s sex (though she mistakenly uses “gender” but given the prevalence of this mistake in our society, I won’t be too hard on her 😉 ), a topic that can be very difficult to talk about as so often people feel immense guilt for having a preference or any negative feeling around a baby’s sex. What we forget is that there are very valid reasons for people having these emotions and that we ought to be able to work with them on it. A second example is her discussion of bottle-feeding. She doesn’t shy away from it, leaving many women feeling left out, but rather discusses (as I have in an EP post) how to make the best of the bottle-feeding relationship.
Unlike some of the more recent books I’ve been reviewing, however, it is a more challenging read. Whereas the brevity of say, Gentle Discipline or ToddlerCalm, makes it ideal for some parents, Sage Parenting requires more work. It is worth the effort, but I am well aware that some parents require something a bit more easily digestible when they find themselves in a bind; after all, not everyone has a lot of time to take in the needed information. As such, this book is better suited to pregnant women or those who have the time to truly engage with a book and take in the many, many details presented. The only other apparent “drawback” that I was quickly aware of was that it was American-focused. Many of the issues discussed are US-based, just as Ms. Rainbolt is. It’s difficult to blame a woman for speaking from her own experience and those experiences around her, but with the international audience we have here at EP, I know some people may want to consider this. As a Canadian, I noticed it, but in no way would it be something that I felt took away from the book, but rather just made for moments where I thought, “Hm, not really relevant here!”
All in all, I would recommend Sage Parenting to any parent who is willing to put in the time to a longer and challenging read because it will be worth it. And if Rachel ends up doing a newer version with homeschooling it in? Well, we’ll all be better off for that too.