When my babies were born I always felt a little distressed that no instruction manual came with them. Trouble-shooting tips like - "they need to be held upright for hours on end to go to sleep" or "give them the dummy - don't bother trying other strategies" would have been helpful!
I think this is why we are all looking for a parenting strategy that will give us all the answers to our sleep/discipline/toileting/routine questions. Despite my great love of parenting books I'm reluctant to say one system has all the answers. Or "you should do this - it will definitely work". I also really dislike being told that a particular parenting strategy is a "Christian" way of doing it - arrgh. (implying that if you DON'T follow it then you are acting in a less than Christian way).
Parenting to me is a wonderful puzzle. And it is a puzzle that might be solved by reading a book, or talking to a wise friend or hearing a talk. Bits of the puzzle might be solved simply through time spent with your child as you get to understand them and what works for them.
When I had two toddlers I really believed I was a hopeless mother because I couldn't successfully follow the parenting program that was doing the rounds among many of my peers. I'm sad now that I thought I was failing because in hindsight I can see that I had happy, healthy little ones.
Part of working out the parenting puzzle is also working out what you are like as a parent. So much of how we look after our children is related to our own personalities. I assume that God made us and our children all different for a reason and I trust in his cleverness! So the way we parent is going to be different both from family to family and from child to child.
As mums we need to keep using our brains. Keep thinking, praying, reading, talking about bringing up our kids so we are intelligent, confident parents. That means that sometimes we'll go "yep, I like that bit of that book but not the rest" or "just because every other mother does ____, I don't think that will work in my family".
I'm glad parenting is a puzzle - keeps life interesting!