Sunday, May 24, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: "The Everything Parent's Guide to Raising a Successful Child"

The Everything Parent’s Guide to Raising a Successful Child
By Denise D. Witmer
Copyright 2004
Adams Media Publishing

Well, I have to say that it is kind of a difficult thing reviewing a book about parenting. Everyone has such different ideas about what makes a good parent. There were some really good suggestions in this book, but there were also some parts of the book where the author tells you what you need to do, but not really HOW to do it, which was a little frustrating.

One thing I liked about the book is that in each category, the suggestions are broken down by age group. One of the sections of the book deals with organizational skills in children. I followed one of the suggestions of this section and wrote lists for my daughter breaking down some her chores and routines to manageable tasks. It used to be very difficult getting her to clean her room, but we sat down together and wrote a list of all the different parts of cleaning her room (i.e., making her bed, putting stuffed animals on the top bunk, putting all the Littlest Pet Shop toys in their bin, putting all dirty clothes in the laundry basket, etc.), and now when she cleans her room, she can do each task one at a time without getting overwhelmed.

I definitely agreed with the section of the book that talked about modeling behavior for your children. The old “do as I say, not as I do,” does not ever work, which is why I have a huge pet peeve with parents who smoke or use foul language around their children. If children hear you say something inappropriate, you can be certain they will repeat it at the MOST inopportune time (and nobody likes a potty-mouthed kid). I also think it is important for parents to protect their children from being exposed to other people who speak inappropriately or do inappropriate activities around children.

One of the sections I had mixed feelings about was the section on Discipline. Basically, this section says to use Time Outs, Privileges/Rewards, and Natural/Logical Consequences over all other forms of discipline. I don’t know about you, but pretty much none of these work for my kid. When she was younger, the Time Out worked somewhat, but now the only thing that really works is “The Lecture”. She dreads that pretty much over anything else (except maybe the threat of a spanking which, of course, the book categorically disapproves of). Now, I’m probably going to get all sorts of comments from folks who think spanking is the WORST thing a parent could ever do to their child, but they have probably not been faced with a child who doesn’t care if every belonging she has is taken away, who doesn’t care if she’s not allowed to watch TV for a month, and who doesn’t care if she is forced to sit on the stairs for an hour. Sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do (by the way, before I had a child, I SWORE I would never spank….) Of course, it’s been eons since I’ve had to actually spank her—the threat apparently carries a huge amount of weight in a 7-year-old mind.

Anyway, enough about that. Some sections of the book that didn’t give enough information were the sections on forming good habits, practicing self-discipline and building your family’s strengths. None of these sections spelled out practical ways of accomplishing these tasks; it just said they were important.

But basically, I liked most of the suggestions the book had. I always want to know what I could be doing better as a parent. And finding better ways of doing things is always great.

Next up on the Parenting Book front? How to talk to your child about sex. Yikes. I don’t think I’m ready for that one quite yet.

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