I was discussing Bringing Up Bebe last night in book club (which was interesting because everyone else was British or Australian, meaning their interpretation of everything is a bit different). We were talking about how in France there seems to be a consensus on how to parent, broadly speaking, but in the English-speaking world (and in the United States in particular, I think) this is not true. I've noticed the same thing in Chinese parenting: for example, pretty much every Chinese parent firmly believes in the importance of corporal punishment (particularly in school-related contexts) and in definite distinctions in family roles based on age (so older siblings are always responsible for younger ones' behavior, parents must always be respected, etc.).
This is really not true for Americans: some parents use corporal punishment a lot; some use it occasionally, but only certain types (ie, spanking), in certain contexts, and for certain ages; some would never use it, and in fact don't even believe in punishment. There is hardly any parenting strategy which everyone agrees upon. Moreover, even the role of the parent is up for debate. Should parents be firm disciplinarians instilling obedience and morals into their children? helpful guides facilitating the children finding their own path and way of doing things? mentors constantly encouraging the children to challenge themselves, strive for success and gain skills? There are numerous parents in each camp (along with the associated books, experts and parenting practices).
I find it a little frustrating, in part because the assumptions about the parental role are rarely made explicit. I just read Positive Parenting, which I liked: it falls firmly into the 'helpful guide' camp (parents are supposed to avoid punishment altogether in favor of helping the child understand his/her internal motivations: she is a psychologist). I am now reading Parenting with Love and Logic, which I also like: it is a "mentor" book (parents are supposed to use a lot of 'tough love' techniques in order to introduce real world consequences early on, thereby teaching accountability and responsibility). But while the techniques described by each are largely determined by what the authors think a parent ought to be/do, there is very little explicit discussion about whether those assumptions are in fact valid.
I haven't quite decided for myself yet what my take on my parental role ought to be, although I lean towards the "guide" role (B is definitely a proponent of this one, which of course influences me). It's definitely an interesting question.