When it comes to deciding what menu item to order or car brand to buy, sometimes less is more. Psychology professor and author Barry Schwartz refers to this phenomenon as the "paradox of choice" in which, very generally speaking, more options muddy the decision-making process and also leave behind a nagging worry that we pulled the wrong lever or opened the second-best prize door [source: Tugend]. Certainly, new and prospective parents must encounter a similar effect when perusing parenting aisles in book stores. Bursting libraries of titles promise happy, healthy, well-adjusted babies with different and conflicting road maps to child rearing success.
All of that parental prosthelytizing kicked off at the beginning of the 20th century with the publications of "The Care and Feeding of Children" in 1894 by pediatrician L. Emmett Holt and 1904's "Adolescence" by G. Stanley Hall, the first American to earn a Ph.D. in psychology [source: Shea]. And with their vastly differing recommendations, hard-lined Holt and coddling Hall fired the sounding gun of the proper parenting debate that immediately struck maternal bosoms with the fear that they weren't raising their little ones appropriately [source: Hulbert].
But if only those post-Victorian era mothers had known how easy they had it in the parenting advice department. In the following 100 years, Holt and Stanley's books spawned myriad parenting methods that espouse a dizzying array of principles from authoritarianism to veganism. Today, instead of Holt and Hall, it's Amy "Tiger Mom" Chua, Bryan "Serenity Parenting" Caplan and other mouthpieces of the following five unconventional parenting methods that snag headlines and induce parenting quandaries. And in the meantime, generations of children have grown up, blissfully unaware that a 100-year-old parenting method dispute even exists.