Feel inadequate as a parent? MOMFIDENCE! AN OREO NEVER KILLED ANYBODY AND OTHER SECRETS OF HAPPIER PARENTING, by Paula Spencer, Three Rivers Press, 2006; $12.95.

Do you hear a little voice in your head throughout the day? One that nags, second-guesses your actions and catches all your Bad Mom moments? Paula Spencer calls that incessant voice your momologue and urges you to turn it down, tune into your kids and enjoy your family.

Spencer knows a few things about happy mothering. In addition to raising four children, she’s written hundreds of articles for national parenting magazines and several related books. She’s interviewed experts on potty training, discipline and just about every other parental hot-button issue. But she also knows that today’s highly informed moms receive an overwhelming amount of advice-advice that often leaves us feeling inadequate and confused. So her counsel is simple: trust your gut and lose the guilt.

Spencer explains Momfidence as her philosophy of common sense, instinctual, fun, hands-on parenting (and why there’s no need for Dadfidence). She fills her book with hilarious, real-life anecdotes. In 24 chapters Spencer tackles guilt, safety, control, work-family balance, feeding, discipline, parental romance and more while demonstrating the principles of Momfidence without preaching or laying out a 10-step improvement plan.

For example, in the chapter on safety, An Ounce of Prevention, Not a Ton, Spencer recalls her first baby shower. She anticipated adorable baby gifts, but instead received a plethora of safety products."It was a party designed to give me a warm welcome to the sorority of motherhood and celebrate new life, and there I sat, unwrapping harbingers of death.” Spencer tells us that there’s a fine line between vigilance and nutcase, but in true Momfidence style she reminds us that we need to find that line for ourselves.

Spencer readily shares her own doubts and admits that even she has trouble tuning out her momologues. Still, Momfidence is a useful book packed with humor and insight. If you suffer from advice overload or cower at the mere mention of Super Nanny, Spencer’s message of trusting your instincts may be just what you need to lighten up and love motherhood.

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