Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Tao of Parenting

I don't like parenting books.

There's just so many of them.  I can go to just about any section of a bookstore and feel perfectly at ease, right at home.  I can nearly always find what I'm looking for, or at the very least something I wouldn't mind plopping down and spending the next couple hours absorbing its text.

Science Fiction.  Medicine.  Fine Art. Cooking.  Electrical Code and Repair.  I can handle all of them.  (And I say all of those with confidence because you can't test me on that last one; their manuals are usually plastic wrapped and can't be opened until you've bought them, which I would never do, because they're expensive and I'm clumsy, clumsy, clumsy, a quality I'm guessing your average homeowner does not look for in their electrician.)

The Parenting section makes me twitch.

Just one book with Jenny McCarthy on its cover and off goes that adorable little tic under my left eye, like it's trying so very desperately to communicate to the rest of my body via morse code: "FLEE NOW.  DANGER IMMINENT.  IDIOCY ABOUNDING."

I cannot handle parenting books.  I've started dozens, but I get a couple chapters into "Your child is a precious, precious gift from God that you should treasure and snuggle and hold hands with them all the time even when they're teenagers and you're warping them for life" (paraphrasing here) and I'm throwing the book across the room with more enthusiasm than any PE teacher was ever able to wring from me.

I usually can't even finish the books that I know are really good.  Dobson's Bringing Up Boys?  I couldn't do it.  I just couldn't.  50 pages in I'm sitting there, reading, reading, reading, thinking Wow, this is really good, I'm so glad I'm reading this, I should get some kind of parenting merit badge for reading this, Oh crap I'm not focusing, I haven't taken in anything he's said for the past three pages, Oh screw it- Where's that Lee Child book I picked up from the library yesterday...?

Enter Dr. Kevin Leman.

First of all, he has the credentials: Doctoral degree in Psychology, Family psychologist in private practice for umpteen years, regular guest on television and radio programs like The Today Show, Oprah, Focus on the Family, and most importantly to me, successful father and raiser of five perfectly sane children.

I read one of his books a few years ago and enjoyed it, but nothing like his most recent book:  Parenting Your Powerful Child.

Why do I love this newest book so much?  Here's a fine example:  After listing a bunch of very frustrating and very plausible traits of powerful children, he asks, "Do any of these sound familiar?  If so, you of all people can understand that there's a reason some animal mothers eat their young."  And that's just the Introduction.

Saccharine, lovey dovey parenting advice?  Booooo.  Animal moms eating their babies?  Yaaaaaaaay!

Basically, if you have a powerful child in your life, this book is an excellent resource.  You know who I'm talking about:  The one you can't predict.  The one that drives you crazy.  The one who's fiercely independent.  The one who's just like you.

If you're looking for squishy sentimentalism, this is not the book for you.  If you're looking for straightforward advice that's very applicable to your family but will also make you laugh?  You should definitely pick this one up.

It's not just me that loves it, either!  Hours after finishing it and setting it down, I went upstairs to help put the kiddos to bed.  There was an open book on the top bunk- Adelaide's bed- which is certainly not out of the ordinary, but this one looked a little different.  I asked our daughter what book she was reading, and she held it up and answered, "Parenting Your Powerful Child."

She was almost halfway through it.  At my raised eyebrows, she defensively said, "What?  It's good!"

I'm not really sure what she makes of chapters like "Raising Attila the Hun" or "The Quiet, Shy, Sensitive, Walk-on-Eggshells Manipulator," but she carried it around with her for a couple days and giggled frequently while reading it.

So... this book is recommended by 30- and 7-year-olds alike, I guess.

Note:  I'm not reviewing this book for anyone but myself.  I'm not getting paid or compensated in any way for this review.  Dr. Leman does not know I exist.  I just liked the book.


  1. Hee, hee, he's a hoot, isn't he?! I have to remind you of my "Kevin Leman" post: http://www.learninghowmuchidontknow.blogspot.com/2013/05/more-kevin-leman.html

    But you might not want Miss A reading his sex books for a couple years yet. ;)

  2. The best parenting book I had was by Penelope Leach (Leech?) who said right at the beginning of the book, "You know your child best." I had to stop reading parenting magazines because all the unilateral "DO" and "DON'T" commands made me twitchy. I haven't heard of Dr Leman (and it's hopelessly late for my parenting skills anyway) but I think I would like his approach.

    I can't imagine my children reading parenting books, especially at age 7!


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