You’re Right, Parent, You’re Doing It Wrong

Monday, July 30, 2012

It must be someone’s job somewhere to keep count of the number of parenting books that come out each year. And if this is true, man, I feel sorry for that guy. Not a fun assignment. Actually, who am I kidding? There’s probably an app for this task. That guy’s fine.

Whether the focus is on praising le parent français, deriding the ubiquitous Helicopter Parent or the newer and more awful-sounding Snowplow Parent, pecking at the Free-range Parent, or introducing the utterly frightening Sloth Parent (what — that wasn’t one?), it seems to all boil down a similar point: Yeah, parent, you’re doing it wrong.*

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from MMM‘s Global Mamas series it’s this: There is no one way to parent. And trying to collapse all of our colorful differences into one montone parenting style that we’ve read about in a buzzy book isn’t going to get us any closer to “perfect.” It simply doesn’t exist. The better lesson, I think, is to skip all the books and read your gut instead. Figure out what works for you and your family and bet on that.

*Clearly, I’m not one to buy into all the parenting books. We have maybe three books on parenthood in our library, and the one I’ve relied on the most has nothing to do with examining my parenting choices — it’s all about sleep. However, after reading about psychologist Madeline Levine’s new book Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success in the NYT’s Sunday Book Review over the weekend, I’m definitely interested in hearing more from this one.

The book sets out to give “practical, research- based solutions to help parents return their families to healthier and saner versions of themselves.” Healthy and sane sound good right about now, yes? There were many points In the NYTimes piece that had me nodding along, like this entire paragraph:

 “[Levine]’s had it with schools that worship at the altar of high achievement but do everything they can to undermine children’s growth and well-being: eliminating recess; assigning mind-deadening amounts of homework; and ranking, measuring and valuing kids by narrowly focused test scores, while cutting out other areas of creative education in which large numbers of students who don’t necessarily test well might find success and thrive. And she’s had it with parents who profess to want nothing more than “happiness” for their children (“Kids laugh when I tell them that their parents don’t mention money as a measure of success; they think I’ve been snowed,” she divulges) while neglecting the aspects of family life that build enthusiasm and contentment, and overemphasizing values and activities that can actually do harm.”

In fact, I think this book might just get added to the other three in the parenting collection.

Have a read of the review and weigh in with your thoughts. Would you buy the book?

1 Comment
  • 1
    Amy says:

    Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. Sounds like a keeper. I like the part of the review where she talks about parents being physically present but have a track running through their head about the “right” way to parent. Wow, I think that is so true. I’ve fallen victim to that myself when my son was an infant and I was reading parenting books like a mad woman. I’ve learned that it can make you seriously miserable. I can’t imagine doing that for 18 years! No wonder these kids (and parents) are anxious and depressed.