February 28, 2012

How to parent- Quirk Books Style

A few weeks ago there was an email in my inbox from my friend Eric at Quirk Publishing.  He had 2 new books on child care & parenting that needed review.  I thought, "Who better to review such titles than a mother of four?  I could write these books....if I wasn't busy being the mother of four."  They got here last week & I have to say, I'm pretty impressed.

Coming from Quirk, you know these are not going to be your typical parenting books.  They do have a bit of a twist.  The first book that showed up is written by 2 fathers (possibly the first parenting book written by men that's come across my desk....see how professional that sounds: across my desk), David Borgenicht and James Grace (they also wrote some of the the Worst-Case Scenario Handbooks).  It's called How to Con Your Kid.

To be honest, my first thought was, "Great!  Let's teach more manipulation to an overwhelmingly manipulative society."  But as your mother has been telling you since you were 4, don't judge a book by it's cover (or title for that matter).  The fellas do a really good job of teaching newbie parents the tricks of the trade.

We've all done things to convince our kids to do something they're reluctant to attempt.  This books breaks it down into Con Jobs.  For example, the con: get your kid to play alone.  First off they explain just what we're trying to do.  This one is pretty obvious.  Then they teach you to lay the ground work.  "The key to increasing the odds that your child will play by himself for any period of time is to be realistic about your expectations.  If you think that you will make a four-course meal, do your laundry, write your dissertation, and catch up with a colleague today, you are in for disappointment."  They guys suggest that you "hype the fact he's doing something special and 'grown up'" whenever he plays by himself.

Then they lay out the basic cons: Play music, set up a toy testing area where your child needs to play with a group of toys to figure out which one he likes best, let him mimic what ever task you're working at (cooking, cleaning, typing), make a blanket tent to distract him, etc.

Next comes the short cons: "Why don't you teach your brother [dolls/stuffed animals] how to play _____?"
or "...I'll read you one story either before or after?  Do you want to hear it now or later?"  Simple, sweet ways to give them a choice (what kid doesn't crave making their own decisions) and nudge them in the direction you need them to go.

Each con ends with a section called If They're On to You telling you what to do if the distraction doesn't work.

Having been at this for 10 1/2 years & having 4 kids, there weren't too many tricks I haven't learned along the way, but if someone had given me this book when BabyGirl was learning to walk, it would have helped immensely with the New Mom Learning Curve.  I can't wait until there's a new mom in the family I can pre-arm with this book!

The second book is called Stuff Every Mom Should Know and it was written by Heather Gibbs and - Whitney Moss.  You may have read their blog - RookieMoms.com or seen their earlier release The Rookie Mom's Handbook.  Again, this is a great book for Newbie Moms.

It covers everything from how to swaddle your newborn to how to make Mickey Mouse pancakes like a pro to 5 things to do with your Tween that you'll both enjoy.  It's not a long or in depth book, but it covers a lot of stuff they don't teach you in Lamaze or your basic parenting class.

My favorite sections are Comebacks for Unsolicited Parenting Advice ("Really?  That sounds cool," or, "I'm glad that's working for you," or, "I've never thought about it that way."), Girl, Your a Soccer Mom Now, and Stuff You Should Know That We Can't Tell You (like the location of lovies that must be rescued in case of a fire or what your child looks like when she's lying ).

Again, this is a great book for parents just getting started but even veteran mom that I am, I picked up a few tips.

Both books come with the FarmWife seal of approval (you didn't even know there was such a thing, did you?) and they hit shelves (and Kindles) yesterday so pick them up for the next baby shower you have to attend because really, how many pacifier clips and onsies does anyone need?

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