I am 3 1/2 years into being a mom. My husband and I are parents. We are past the oh-my-god-what-did-we-get-ourselves-into phase and we sailed past the baby years. Because it only get easier after that, right?
When I was asked to read a relatively new parenting book, “Courageous Parents, Confident Kids,” I thought that I would quickly read it and write a nice little review. I’ve never been one for self-help or parenting kind of books. And I firmly believe that 90% of parenting is simply common sense.
Turns out I’m right but there is a lot more to know that I didn’t know I needed to know. Are you with me?
Amy Tiemann compiled and edited a book that’s really more of an anthology. It’s a collection of eleven chapters divided into four sections all relating to the subtitle of the book, “Letting Go So You Both Can Grow.” Let me translate that for you: helicopter parenting.
Again, I thought that I am far from a helicopter parent (one that hovers around and buffers their child from the real world) so what could this book really offer me. I’m here to tell you.
Amy Tiemann kicks off the book and each section with a nice introduction. And by nice introduction, I mean, she tells it like it is. Her voice made me sit up, pay attention, and think that maybe this chick has something to say. Society has created a heightened state of anxiety for parents. It’s hard not to worry from dawn til dusk. So how do we take the fear and anxiety and create the courage we need to raise confident kids?
“Parenting will teach us to make peace with chaos and unpredictability like no other experience, and it takes courage to face the truth that we can’t control everything.”
You had me at chaos.
Some of the highlights for me:
Start by investing in your own development. Did you hear me, moms? YOUR development. Because to be good mothers, we have to take care of ourselves as women. But you knew that already.
Renee Peterson Trudeau struck me with her simple breakdown of self-care. She made it easy for me to see where I, as a woman, might not be fully taking care of myself.
- Emotional care: Yep, I like myself and I have no problem pouring my heart out.
- Spiritual care: I spend time thinking, appreciating, being.
- Mental care: New challenges and mental stimulation? Check.
- Physical care: Sleep, healthy eating, exercise
…Uh oh. I think I might have fallen down on that last one. Note to self: Must take care of self.
Focus on courageous parenting, or rather, your own courageous parenting style. Last I checked, we aren’t cookie cutter parents so we do need our own style.
Melissa Stanton gives you the right reassurance that you are your own parenting expert, even though you may not realize it. We think that all of our fulfillment should come from our children and set ourselves up to feel like a failure when it doesn’t. And then we take it out on others.
“Mommy Wars are waged because by demeaning someone else’s choice or circumstances, we can feel better about our own.”
“It’s easy to have high standards when we’re not actually the ones having to meet those standards.”
That last one is referred to spitting in the air and having it come back to smack you in the face. Kind of like when I scoffed at the other mothers feeding their children, gasp, a HAPPY MEAL because I was never going to ever do that. Yeah, right.
Note to Melissa: I love you. Thank you for making me feel like a normal mom.
An important part of your parenting style is discipline. I know all about positive reinforcement. I was sure that discipline wasn’t my problem. Until I read Amy McCready’s chapter on Positive Parenting Solutions.
She talked about parenting styles and the opposite ends of the spectrum. Nope. I’m a moderate. Or I thought I was until I read this:
“One thing worse than a permissive or excessively strict parent is one that swigs back and forth from one end of the continuum to the other – the ‘pendulum’ parent. Pendulum parents vacillate their parenting style depending on the tone of the family at the time.”
Uh oh. I might see why we’re not seeing angelic behavior from my darling son. Note to self: Your discipline needs some serious work.
Be real about real-world safety skills. I supposed I’ve discussed some of the harsh realities of the world with my son but tried to paint it in a soft light. Turns out, I could be doing better.
I loved Irene van der Zande’s approach to what she calls Kidpower. She doesn’t believe in sheltering our kids from the harsh realities. But she does believe in focusing on the positive. Forget Stranger Danger. Most strangers aren’t dangerous. Teach them Stranger Safety. Don’t wrap them in a world of fear. Wrap them in knowledge and empowerment.
Find your voice in a sea of mothers. I found a lot of this on my own motherhood journey and maybe you have too. I found it online and in the community. I’ve found it through blogging. This section ends with a chapter called “It Takes a Motherhood” which I loved, re-emphasizing the importance of finding your own circle of support to help you in your journey.
I’ll admit that not every chapter resonated with me. Not every author had a voice or a view that spoke to me. And the entire fourth section of the book seemed a bit like an add-on. Then again, I’m not every parent and that section might speak to someone else.
Once I finally made time to sit and read this book, I loved most of the different topics and voices. It made it easy to skip around to the things that I found more interesting or relevant to me. In the end, I have given and will continue to put a lot of thought and effort into ensuring I’m a better parent and my son turns out to be the best he can be. And this worn and highlighted book will stay firmly on my nightstand. At least until the teen years.
Leave a comment telling me your biggest parenting challenge right now.
And if you have parenting advice for someone else who leaves a comment? Feel free to help them out. Remember, it takes a motherhood!
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