I've been reading two books, Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and The Myth of the Perfect Mother: Rethinking the Spirituality of Women by Carla Barnhill.
The Kohn book I started reading after an exasperating attempt to implement an incentive chart. It didn't work for me. I felt that I spent all my time monitoring every blessed thing the girls did to see if I needed to add points or subtract points, and I had a sneaking suspicion that getting them to comply wasn't the same as encouraging actual kindness, helpfulness, and general character development. When I started investigating my feelings about incentive charts, I ran across Alfie Kohn, who has taken up arms against most conventional forms of behavioral modification in favor of, well, something rather amorphous that combines listening, respecting children, playfulness, and the avoidance of criticism OR praise as forms of parental manipulation. That last floored me, because it's drilled into us to praise our kids as much as possible. Though I have at times thought that gushing over every kind or nifty think my kids did was an easy way of not actually thinking about any of it very deeply. Oh that's so beautiful honey, what a great job you did! On to the dishwashing. He referances research that shows that children praised for doing nice things actually act less generously in situations where there's no "reward" and children begin to loose interest in projects and activities after parents praise their efforts, or they start thinking only in terms of how to earn another pat on the back. Anyway, I have only an imperfect idea of how to parent the way he describes, but has been a very thought-provoking read. I have another of his on my stack to read: Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise and other Bribes.
The second book addresses the problems with the "ideal mother" as promulgated by mainstream evangelical Christianity--the mom who never complains of boredom or dissatisfaction because motherhood is her ultimate calling, self-sacrificing, stay-at-home, homeschooling, success or failure measured by the behavior of her children, which in turn indicates how well she is training them in the faith. There's some of that where I work. One woman told me that she didn't believe teen rebellion was inevitable, if a child was reared properly (so of course rebellion would be a sign of poor parenting). Homeschooling is how you keep your children from the evils of evolution. Spanking is biblically mandated and if you don't you're some kind of liberal weirdo. I even heard one woman mention the Ezzo's, who are crazy wacked out Christian child rearing "specialists" who believe in something called "first time obedience," which sounds like it would be at home in a fascist regime. Then there was the time I read a forum discussion on schooling where one angry dad declared that he "wouldn't sacrifice his covenant children in the public schools." Well, back to the book. Barnhill is much nicer than I am, since I'm inclined to throw my hands up in exasperation and find a children's illustrated guide to evolution, so there.