Here's the thing: All the bravado and mental preparation in the world melts into a big puddle of nothing when your first child gets placed into your arms. In my case, courage and certitude were vanquished by an unholy mix of icy fear and incendiary joy. Amidst it all came the sudden revelation that I was a rank parenting amateur of the first magnitude who'd suddenly been handed the ball in the Super Bowl of Life.
At that point, as I stared into the vast child-rearing wilderness stretching out before me, parenting books seemed like a really great idea whose time had come. Except that there wasn't a spare moment to read so much as a preface, and ParentsDigest was still just a twinkle in its founder's eye.
A friend connected me to this resource over the weekend, and it's one worth sharing. Essentially, ParentsDigest buys the parenting books and does the reading for us. When they finish a title, they create an 8-page summary. Readers subscribe and get two of these summaries every month, which means we can now read 24 great parenting books a year without taking time-we-don't-have to do it.
There's a lot to be said for this approach. As humanity rapidly evolves in the 21st century, we're learning all kinds of new and surprising things about how to raise healthy, well-balanced kids. It's hard to keep up with all the emerging information, but it's more important than ever that we try. A service like ParentsDigest is a good way to stay ahead of the curve. And if an author's particular philosophy should turn out to not be our own cup of parental tea, we haven't wasted hours and hours arriving at that conclusion.
I also like the books ParentsDigest has selected. They've got some notable "green" titles in the mix, including my own, if-you-can-only-read-one pick, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, which serves as a good indicator that they're digging deep and thinking wide here.
Overall the selections seem pretty progressive and forward thinking -- good stuff that we don't need to find the time to read. That said, I'm generally not a big fan of Cliff Notes style reading. No matter how good a summary is (and these seem to be good), you just can't reduce a 300-page volume to eight pages without losing a lot of what makes you pick up a book to begin with. You'll get the big picture, but the nuances and subtleties of the issues at hand, the grey areas that really make up the bulk of everything parents have to deal with, will be lost in translation. So while ParentsDigest will probably give you the warm fuzzies, I would say that if you end up liking a summary they've created, do your family a favor, read the real thing, and fully harvest all the ideas it has to offer.
Because while shortcuts are good, occasionally we are best served by the scenery we find along the longer road.