That one time I read a parenting book...

After Cosette was born, I stopped reading parenting books. They all started to sound the same. They all offered abstract information like, "Just enjoy your kids" that made me want to slam my head in the wall. They were boring.

The other day I was walking by the parenting shelf at the library and this book stood out to me:

the collapse of parenting - that sounded just like me. Maybe I should read it.

I picked it up, expected to get 30 pages and then abandon it forever. But I didn't because it was surprisingly good. And surprisingly what I needed to hear right now. My kids have slowly began to recognize that I truly don't have much power over them. That besides loss of privileges, time-outs, and the occasional spanking there really is not that much more I can do to change their behavior. My kids, well, let me rephrase that, my boys have made me question if I am too lenient or too strict or too something that makes wonder everyday, "Why are they this bad?".

My boys are pushing the limits - all the time. They scream. They fight. They ask for treats 20 times a day. They say "NO!". They demand food at every turn. They have begun to hit and kick at each other in way that goes beyond just "rough play." And this book reminded me that I am the mom. I am the one in charge. I am the one that needs to reign them in because if I do not than who will?  So I have stopped some of the dialogue. I didn't realize that I was giving them so much authority by asking questions, offering choices, or even bribing them to preform certain tasks. Things are not perfect - oh no, they are still very determined little boys - but I have started to see an improvement in Fielding as he recognizes that yes, indeed, mom does mean it. 

For example, I made Fielding a hole in the egg for lunch yesterday. He is very particular about how I cut it so I don't rupture the yolk. While cutting it, I accidentally hit the yolk and it spewed forth it's yellow goo. He was upset. In the past, (a) I would have just eaten it and made him a new one or (b) apologized profusely and said next time I would make sure not to hit the yolk and topped it off with some chocolate milk to distract him. This time as he began his meltdown into "I can't eat it now!" I simply said, "I didn't mean to cut it - it will still be delicious so you can eat it or go play." He attempted to rope me into his never-ending dialogue of "Why would I ruin his day like this?" But I refused to respond. I repeated my "Eat it or play." And pretended to be completely absorbed in doing the dishes. Next thing I knew, his plate - scraped completely clean and the offending egg and toast eaten - was deposited in the sink. I had avoided a landmine by simply not responding to his words.

The author would have been proud of me as his main point of the book is that we are raising children who are "fragile." That they can not handle stress and disappointment or sub-par lunches.

He also made some other thought provoking points about medications, technology, and over scheduling our children. 

I recommend this book to any other parent who has given up on parenting books.


Jo said...

Good on you for constantly trying to learn and improve. It's hard to find the right advice since all of our children are so individual! I'm still trying to figure it out and probably never will.

Chadwick and Julie said...

Have you read "parenting with love and logic?" I enjoyed that one, as well as "7 habits of highly effective families." The second book was mostly for me, and I've found as I change my habits for the better, my kids will respond. Or at least that's the hope! Thanks for your thoughts on this - I'll have to grab a copy!