I am a Mom of three and I can honestly say I haven’t read any parenting books. I’m six years deep and I’ve survived so far without a single case of spontaneous human combustion, despite the lack of parenting books.
Reasons I don’t do parenting books:
- Who has time to read when TV offers shows like The Walking Dead?
- I don’t like being told what to do.
- I get enough unwanted advice from strangers and family, why would I want more?
- If I don’t make plans, I can’t gauge failure.
- Google and I are friends.
Having lived by this mantra for over six years, I have this month finally cheated on Google, sorry buddy. I was offered the opportunity to review a new parenting book and I figured hey, how bad can it be? Think how awesome it will be to be able to binge The Walking Dead on catch up… yes. Hand it over, pour the tea and let’s get started.
The book that took my parenting book virginity:
Tears Heal: How to Listen to Our Children by Kate Orson
Why I’m ready to pop my parenting book cherry:
A little background here… there was a genuine reason I thought this book may float my parenting boat. If you’ve read previous posts such as ‘Poopcrastination‘ and ‘Whiplash‘ you may have gathered that not only is my six-year-old daughter a bit of a drama queen, she can at times lack self-confidence be very emotional. The trouble is that I am none of the above. I am more of the Robot Mom, full of love but in an awkward non-hugging kind of a way. So there’s a clash of personalities… and I’m just about ready to put my hands up and saying “help!”.
What happened when I did the deed:
I’m all ready to skip to Chapter 1 but I figure I should probably do this properly and start with the introduction. I draw the line at the acknowledgments though… not happening. Does anyone read those?
I settle into the introduction feeling all ready to get fixing up my parenting…
‘We tend to judge the success of our parenting by how much our children cry.’ (Kate Orson)
Err… my kid cries all the time, total parenting fail. But as the title suggests, Kate’s all up for crying and being all emotional, so surely that means I’m totally bossing it? I figure I had better read further than the introduction to find out whether I’m actually failing or bossing it.
In the chapters that follow, Kate talks a lot about understanding our own childhood and putting together a ‘coherent story’. She suggests setting up a ‘listening partnership’ with a friend you can talk to in confidence. The Book then guides you through a number of exercises to bring you in better touch with your emotions (and therefore your child’s):
‘When listening, try not to interrupt, give advice or tell your own stories while the other person is talking.’ (Kate Orson)
Well my listening partnership is stuffed right there. I am one of those awful people that interrupts and talks about themselves when someone’s mid-story (sorry friends). I continue…
‘Scientific research has shown that the brain is not really a solitary organ, but works in a system with the brains of other people around us, sending out and picking up subtle, non verbal cues.’ (Kate Orson)
Yes… now we’re talking. I love a good telepathic mind control sci-fi movie. The freaky subliminal stuff is right up my alley. What Kate goes on to say is that just being present and having kind, supportive thoughts while your child goes into melt-down is more productive than intervening. Let them melt down, just be present.
‘It’s a powerful boost to our child’s self-esteem to sense that we still think they are a good person, even when they’re having an emotional upset.’ (Kate Orson).
So there it was. I had learned something useful, something I can actually use, from a parenting book. It made total sense. How many times had I shouted over my daughter’s hysteria to try and calm her down, only to find it made things worse? How many times had I walked away from a tantrum because it was just too overwhelming for both of us? I realized in reading Tears Heal that just my presence and mind vibes could make my daughter feel more secure, loved and supported than any interventions. Thanks Kate, your book help is much appreciated.
Kate comes up with lots of other useful nuggets such as why using food to distract from an emotional situation is not wise…whoops. There’s even strategies to help to get your kids to sleep that don’t involve the age-old tradition of dunking the pacifier in Granny’s sherry.
So if you’re into parenting books (or not), and want to improve a case of the Robot Mom, get yourself a copy of Tears Heal, even if it’s just for the reflection exercises such as:
‘Rent a few tearjerkers, and put on some sad music. Let the tears flow without holding back.’ (Kate Orson)
Oh Gawd… I’m really no good at all this emotional stuff. Does it count if I’m watching The Walking Dead?