At first the two parenting books seem to be quite different.

"Mr. Rogers' How Families Grow" is a little paperback, as warm and unpretentious as the sweater Fred Rogers wears on TV.And "Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World" seems more like a textbook. Full of facts and acronyms, it's by Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelsen.

Read them both though and you find the basic premise is the same: To raise self-reliant children one must help them see they are valued and valuable members of the family.

Fred Rogers' book takes on a wider variety of subjects (not only how to encourage self-reliance but also how to cope with parental anxiety, talking about sex and death, and more). It is aimed at parents of preschoolers - while "Raising Self-Reliant Children" talks mainly to parents of schoolchildren.

Both books are reassuring.

Says Rogers, on the subject of children acting like babies, "Most people who work with young children believe that these times of `regression' are often necessary for growth - that under stress children sometimes need to let go of the struggles of their actual age and go back to an earlier time to gather their strength and inner resources. . . We adults have times like that, too, times when we need a little extra looking after until we feel strong enough to go on coping for ourselves and growing beyond where we've been.

"Thinking about how we want to be treated at times of our own regression can give us a clue about how we might best treat our children when they need to feel little again."

Glenn and Nelsen offer these thoughts:

"Whenever a person perceives threat in any environment, including the real or imagined loss of regard, the possibility of rejection, or the possibility of feeling foolish, he or she will stop learning and practice self-defense. He or she will lie, scapegoat, cheat, or do anything that keeps the threatening person from seeing him or her as he or she is." - Kurt Lewin

"Until I can risk appearing imperfect in your eyes, without fear that it will cost me something, I can't really learn from you." - Rudolph Dreikurs

Glenn and Nelsen give very specific directions, including sample conversations on how to encourage children to make their own choices and act responsibly. Rogers focuses more on how to create an emotionally healthy family. But all three seem to have the same definition of what constitutes a responsible, emotionally healthy child.

If you missed these two excellent parenting books in 1988, take heart. They're still around. You can read them in 1989.