Let’s Talk Parenting Books

[I told you I had more to say about Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline…]

I remember when Mary Bullock was about a year old, and I was sitting with a group of women [let’s leave out the specifics, shall we?], and they were talking about how badly they felt about having to yell at their kids. The consensus seemed to be that the hardest part of the day, the part that resulted in the most yelling, was getting everyone ready and out the door for school.

And I remember sitting there, imagining my Bubby, my precious Bugina, or whatever it was we called her before she named herself Buck Buck, and thinking: what in the world would I ever have to yell at her about?

Seriously. I remember thinking this thought in my poor, naive little brain. This was back when the only parenting book in my arsenal was Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. And this was back when, for the most part, healthy sleep habits did mean a happy child.

And then she turned two. Suddenly, healthy sleep habits were woefully insufficient for keeping that girl happy.

It actually never occurred to me that anyone would be anti-parenting books until I was pregnant with MB, and I heard someone say she would never read that crap because she could use her common sense to raise her children.

Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I always think there is something to learn. Maybe it’s in a book, maybe it’s not, but it never hurts to read it and see what you think.

And so I did.

By the stack.

I could write up a healthy bibliography of the parenting books I’ve read.

But I really should have just skipped them all and read Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline first.

The basic premise of Easy [we’re on a first name basis] that is different from every other parenting book I’ve read is this: my children are not the problem. I am the problem. I am the one who is difficult to discipline.

Actually, I take that back. If I had read Easy way back in the day, in my glory days of parenting only one child who could barely talk back to me, I probably wouldn’t have been able to accept this basic truth. I am the problem.

But this book slid onto my radar at just the point [HOLY CRAP I HAVE GIVEN BIRTH TO THREE OF THEM!] when I recognized this parenting thing would get the better of me if I didn’t get myself together.

I am the problem. And that’s not: oh, poor me, I am the problem. It’s: I am the problem, and I am someone I can control.

I can’t control what my children do– nor would controlling them be my ultimate goal, if I want them to grow up to be independent and happy.

But controlling myself? Modeling self-control? That I can do. Some days better than others, let’s be honest. The ideas in the book are amazing but also amazingly hard to carry out. Can we talk about how difficult it was for me to respond with love when Mary Bullock hit me the other day? 

But I did. I did it! And then she took a nap [healthy sleep habits!], and the day was salvaged from near ruination.

Maybe you have an angel child who never throws tantrums, never hits, never screams at you or calls you Bad Mommy in a fit of rage. Maybe you were born with supernatural patience– I have met such people in my life. I, however, am not one of them. And my children will never, ever, ever sit peacefully in a high chair, as long as they are in high chairs, till the end of time, Amen.

But I can take a deep breath, scoop them up, hug their little bodies close [pinning down the arms as necessary if her name rhymes with FAIRY GULLOCK] and say comforting things to them.

When it doesn’t work, it’s at least as effective as yelling.

When it does work, the heavens open and down pours all forgiveness, love, protection, and understanding. For them, and for me.

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