The new parenting trend is to admit your bad parenting moments. Those little (or not so little) things that you joke to your friends will put them in therapy as they get older. It can be comical to think about and make you feel good to know you're not alone, but inevitably, we all feel guilty about those things and feel some shame for doing them in the first place.
Really though, if they're enough to make you feel guilty, it's probably something you think about changing.
My "bad parenting" secret is that I'm a yeller. Okay, so maybe it's not a secret, because I yell pretty loud. It's the one thing about my parenting that I wish I could change. I get angry and frustrated and I've been known to use guilt on my own kids to get them to listen. I'm proud of a lot of my parenting accomplishments, but all of those things together mean nothing when I think about some of the things that have come out of my mouth.
Overall, discipline is not a huge issue for our family and our children are very well-behaved. That said, they're children and they test their limits. They whine. They have tantrums. They talk balk. I can tell you right now that it seems lately that Alex account for about 75% of all of those.
When I got an email from Elizabeth Pantley asking me to review her new parenting book "The No-Cry Discipline Solution", I jumped. Three years ago I sat bleary-eyed at my kitchen table, coffee in hand, Mr Non-Sleeping Wonder Alex in my other. I was desperate. I hadn't slept in months and I felt like I was unraveling. A friend recommended her "No-Cry Sleep Solution" and while it didn't cure the underlying reason to Alex's lack of sleep, it certainly gave us many tools to deal with them.
Elizabeth is a fellow Mom and she too has four kids. They're nearly all in their teen years and not only are they still alive, she's still smiling, so I take that as a very good sign!
I'm not usually a fan of parenting books. I find they're targeted at parents who are at a desperate place, the end of their ropes, and they preach - making the parent feel even worse. I think it's such a fine line between helping and harping. Reassuring or knocking down.
Elizabeth's book had me right from the first few pages. The second section of Part 1 is titled "Banish The Myths" and from there she goes on to reassure parents that most of those things we consider to be good parenting traits are, in fact, myths. She lets us know that normal parents yell, normal parents lose their patience and even the strongest of couples can disagree about parenting. Her message is clear - parents are people and people aren't perfect.
That's where I breathed a big sigh of relief.
When confronted with a parenting situation, I think of the present and how my decision will affect my kids now. More often than not, from there I immediately shift to the future. I picture what my children will be like as teenagers and as adults and how that decision will affect them then. It seems I'm doing something right because Elizabeth encourages the reader to do just that. She also gives an easy-to-understand chart of typical teenage behaviors and how to help your younger child achieve the preferred behavior at an older age.
Elizabeth breaks her style down into four parts; Correct, Teach, Give Tools and Build A Relationship. She gives relevant examples and breaks each one down into the four parts. The tools are clear and concise and very easy to remember. I've only just read the book and found myself using many of them tonight while out with the kids.
Her sections on anger; how to reduce it, how to find peace and what triggers your anger, sound like they might be very obvious, but they are very much not. As I read the book I'm sure my eyebrows raised on more than one occasion as I realized things I hadn't before. Like children are childish and we can't force them to just get it just because they want to. Kids want to babble and hoot and holler. They want to run and be totally unrestrained - and that's okay. In fact, it's beautiful. I know that I'm not always going to see Alex running around shaking his butt in my face as beautiful, but at least I'm reminded that he's not just going to know not to do it, I have to remind him at his level.
I'm a visual learner. You can demonstrate and explain and theorize all you want, but until you show me how to implement and give me examples, I'm not going to get it. That's why I was thrilled to see that the last third of Elizabeth's book was all examples titled "Applying No-Cry Parenting Skills To Everyday Problems." In this section she covers everything from not coming when you call them, hitting, kicking, biting, restaurant behavior, bath time, sleep issues, name calling even toothbrushing!
In the end, Elizabeth Pantley's No-Cry Discipline Solution is more than a strong reassurance for parents. It's relevant and easy to follow solutions provide parents with key tools for dealing with everyday stresses. We aren't discussing medical or behavioral issues that require intervention - this is day to day stuff that we all deal with. The stuff that makes us want to pull out our hair and cry. The stuff that makes us say "I'm so having a beer when this kid goes to sleep!". The stuff that makes us wonder if our kids like us at all or if they want to see us in pain.
To celebrate the release of this new book, I would like to personally offer a copy of this book to a reader. All you have to do is comment and you're entered into the draw. Here's the key! I want you to comment on one parenting thing you think you do right. Something that makes you proud and tell yourself you're doing pretty good at this.