I heard a lot about this book when it was released. It sounded interesting, and some people really raved about it, but I figured I wouldn’t like it much. Besides, I had never read a parenting book and didn’t know if I wanted to.
Then one of my best friends (who does not have kids, but who loves all things French having studied there) read it and asked my opinion. She said it gave her a whole new perspective about stay-at-home-moms. Well, that made me want to read it enough to place a hold at the library. Because I may be a working mom, but I can tell you that if I had the chance to stay at home with Meredith, I would do it. If there is one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that every family’s situation is personal and unique, and there isn’t one WAY that is right, or better (discounting abuse and neglect of course). So I wanted to read the book to be able to talk about it in an educated way.
I read it and I liked it! Well, at least I liked the experience of reading it since it’s basically a memoir about parenting, not really a straight up advice book. I can’t say that I agreed with everything in it, and I don’t know how “French” some of the ideas were, but since it was my first parenting book I came away with a lot of ideas and things to try as Meredith grows older.
I kept a list of these things as I read, and here is what’s on it. Some of these are broad concepts and some are specific ideas to try. I am not saying that these will work, or that this is what we are definitely going to do, but this is what struck me as interesting or sensible.
- On weekends the kids aren’t allowed in the parents’ room until we open the door.
- At bedtime the kids have to be quiet in their room but they can do whatever they want.
- Figure out what your zero-tolerance areas are (for example: respect for others & physical aggression) and when those are breached say no with conviction and follow through on consequences.
- Along with the magic words “please” and “thank you,” make kids say “hello” when they enter a house (or meet someone) and “goodbye” when they leave – this shows respect.
- Bake something every weekend and have the kids help as soon as they are old enough.
- At mealtime, the kids don’t have to eat everything but they must taste everything. Also, they don’t get to choose what is served and they don’t get a different meal.
- Let kids entertain themselves.
- Let kids “discover” things instead of pushing them to acquire skills.
- Treat kids (and even babies) as full functional members of society. Talk to them as if they understand (because they do) and expect that they can learn to be civilized.
- Make lunch the largest meal of the day with protein, have one snack in mid-afternoon, and have dinner be something lighter (soup, veggies, pasta, fruit).
- Don’t over-praise so the child lives for the praise and not intrinsic enjoyment.
- Be clear that there is a time for adults only (such as after bedtime).
That’s my list! I’m interested in hearing your thoughts if you’ve read the book, or if you haven’t, what do you think about these ideas? Are there any other parenting books you recommend? I love the memoir style, but Meredith is no longer just a lump of a baby and actually has a will to defy me now, so I sense that I might be needing any kind of help I can get in the near-future. :)