Parenting Experts: Their Advice, the Research, and Getting It Right

By Treffinger, Don | Parenting for High Potential, December 2006 | Go to article overview

Parenting Experts: Their Advice, the Research, and Getting It Right


Treffinger, Don, Parenting for High Potential


Parenting Experts: Their Advice, The Research, And Getting It Right. by Jane L. Rankin, Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-97678-5, Harcover, 304 pages., $44.95.

Professor Jane L. Rankin, Associate Dean for Research in the School of Communication at Northwestern University and formerly Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Psychology Department at Drake University, is an established researcher and a parent. Her book builds on the observation that "most parents lack the time, training, and other resources" they would need to become familiar with scientific research on parenting, and may often rely on advice from a few well-known authorities in popular books, newspapers, or other media. Thus, Dr. Rankin decided to take a critical look at the advice of five widely known experts (Benjamin Spock, T. Berry Brazelton, James Dobson, Penelope Leach, and John Rosemond) and then to compare their views with the findings of hundreds of empirical studies on children.

Although this book does not focus on themes or issues that are specific to giftedness in children, the author considers the five experts' positions on a number of major problems that are relevant concerns for all parents, including persistent infant crying, toilet training, early day care, discipline, adolescent sexuality education, substance abuse, and the influence of television and other electronic media. In the final chapter, Rankin summarizes the accuracy of each expert's advice compared with research findings, points out the common ground between experts, and summarizes their major strategies and biases. She reports that, in a number of cases, a substantial gap exists between expert advice and scientific research findings.

Rankin's goal is not to declare any of the five experts to be the overall "best" or "worst," but seeks to provide a balanced and thorough analysis of their advice and approaches. …

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