It's Mommy Monday again. The day my momma-bear just comes roaring out.
Kids DO come with a manual. There are parenting books/blogs/DVDs on every subject under the sun.
How to, how to, how to. You should, You shouldn't, You must, Don't you dare.
I am, in all aspects of my life, a happy mix of planning every detail and completely winging it. I parent in the same way. So I read a handful of books and took all of them with a grain of salt.
These are three that I believe are worth your time:
The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel. The subtitle of this book is Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children. I am not Jewish. I love this book.
Dr. Mogel was a Beverly Hills child psychologist who noticed that more and more parents were bringing in their over-scheduled and exhausted children into her practice for general unhappiness or because the children were "failing" in some way. After a series of tests would reveal that there was nothing wrong, the parents almost seemed disappointed. It seemed as if parents wanted an explanation for why their precious angel wasn't tops in his class or the best athlete or the most social. It couldn't be that their kid was just average.
Dr. Mogel turned to her faith to find meaning and purpose in parenting. I turned down the corners on many of the pages of this book, but the ones that stuck with me were about family ritual and character.
"A key concept in Hasidic thought expresses the idea of balance: 'Keep two piece of paper in your pockets at all times. On one write, 'I am a speck of dust.' On the other, 'The world was created for me.' The divine and the ordinary merge in Judaism, where the holiest day of the year isn't Yom Kippur, the majestic and awesome Day of Atonement, but every Saturday. This potentially average day of the week is such a distinctive time that, according to tradition, a band of ministering angels follows each person home from synagogue to help usher in the special spirit of the day."
Isn't that something?
Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. I annoy everyone around me by quoting incessantly from this book. I wrote about it more in depth here. I know a lot of the principles in this book make parents nervous.
I was given a lot of freedom when I was kid. My parent's trust wasn't something earned, it was something expected. I consciously or subconsciously rose to their expectations. I probably could have destroyed that trust in a hot minute, but I didn't. I wanted to keep the freedoms awarded me, and I was no dummy.
This doesn't mean I didn't mess up from time to time. I was, to put it mildly, a headstrong child. But I never gave my parents reason to believe I was anything but a decent person with common sense. They let me find my own way and I am a better person for it.
I'm raising Pigtail in a large city, so the rules are a little different from my own childhood. But I want to navigate from a place of trust and not fear.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. I read a couple of the sleep training-type books that are popular and considered controversial. Can I confess something? I flat out didn't understand them. I didn't understand what I was supposed to do. Really. I felt like the message and helpfulness was lost in the defense of sleep training logic.
This book made so much more sense to me. It broke it down by age and explained in detail what was happening in my little one's brain and her natural sleep patterns. It helped me understand Pigtail's rhythms and how to shape that into a schedule that made sense for our day. The book wasn't too judgmental or too gentle. It was informational. And that is what I was looking for in a sleep book.
I haven't picked up a parenting book in several months. I've gotten more comfortable with my instincts as I go, but I do think I'll continue to read something on the subject several times a year. Any parenting books you swear by?