Kids Are Worth It!-Barbara Coloroso

5 May

There’s been a lot of changes at my house lately. My husband moving out, changes with child care, growing up, my youngest in school soon-things are busier than ever and I find myself not always having the time to really sit with my kids and connect as much as I might like.

So when Penguin Canada said they had a few copies of Barbara Coloroso’s “Kids are Worth It!” to review, I jumped at the chance. I’m not so crazy to think that I know everything, especially when it comes to parenting my children. Losing my mother young, I often feel like I don’t always have all the tools I need.

Most parenting books irritate me-they speak in various voices, but mainly in two-one that assumes you’re a blithering idiot, and one that assumes you can’t possibly know what’s best for your children. For the most part, Coloroso avoids these.

Originally written in 1994, and reissued with a new introduction, Coloroso does follow the general parenting advice flow of slapping labels on parenting-namely, splitting them into 4- the Brick Wall parent , the Jelly Fish parent (A&B) or the Backbone parent. All problems and successes flow downhill from these.

Much of the advice using this mechanism is valid-I find I vacillate between a Jellyfish B and a Backbone parent. (Either I just ignore them and then yell when angry, or I actually take the time to sit down and be rational, see their view, let them do the work) and agree her take that we should all parent as a Backbone parent-i.e.-let children, where appropriate, find their own answers. Her quote, which I firmly agree with, “it’s not morally threatening, it’s not unhealthy or life threatening” rings true, and is close to my “no blood, no foul” rule in my honest.

The key it seems, according to Coloroso, is to treat your child as the adult they will become. Give them permission to their own body, their own wants. Allow them the wiggle room when younger to experiment and branch out. Obviously, don’t let them drive drunk-but pick a hill to die on. her example of her son’s crazy hair cut is a great one-it’s his head. A little autonomy goes a long way.

I have really enjoyed many of the common sense suggestions in this book-and have already started using some techniques to help with my children. I had fallen off the rails in terms of thinking through my parenting-I don’t think I was ever that far off, but it’s so much easier to turn back into the brick wall parent and just yell and demand. The message that rebellion can be embraced and managed, and is a good thing-we need to hear that!

I also appreciate the common sense that logic should be followed. If I’m late for dinner, I eat late. I may not get as much, but not giving dinner makes no sense. The message being that the power struggle is not valid or purposeful with parenting-this is not a race or a war

This isn’t a quick fix book, as it warns on the back cover. If you’re closer to a brick wall or a jellyfish, making some changes will be hard. I have to fight my own jellyfish tendencies sometimes, trying to not just go against what my own mother did. Kids Are Worth It! is extremely helpful in laying out the reasoning behind examining, and perhaps altering how you parent.

That said, I am not a huge  fan of the idea that ALL rewards and punishments are fruitless-the motivation for many people (my eldest included) is not only job well done-but the outcome of that, or the implication that a reasonable line of consequences (told you 6000 times to clean your toys-if you can’t take care of them, they disappear) ISN’T reasonable. 

Personally do not like the implication that all kids who are not parented correctly “as backbone” in book will then become promiscuous, drug users or run away. Seems like a relatively simplistic view which isn’t levied by the disclaimed early on that not ALL kids are going to end up like that, and it seems to continually come back to this point through the book.

Overall, unlike many parenting books that leave me rolling my eyes, annoyed, I find Kids Are Worth It to be just as relevant now as it was in 1994, if not more so. The stunning conceit of treating kids like human being-what a concept. This book was also great in terms of covering and applying the concepts to all age groups-something not all books are able to do.

Not only did Penguin Canada provide me with a review copy, they also gave me 2 copies to give away! To win, leave me a comment about your most difficult parenting scenario so far, and what you did to alleviate it.

I’ll take comments until midnight, Saturday May 8. 🙂

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4 Responses to “Kids Are Worth It!-Barbara Coloroso”

  1. Jennifer May 5, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    Most difficult? I need a list of most difficults.

    I think the biggest issue for me, is the sibling rivalry and how to deal with it. Like when the youngest does something to her sister, out of site and there is drama. I have no idea how to handle it, except say, well, I wasn’t there so I can’t know if your sister smacked you in the head on purpose or by accident.

    As an only child, this whole sibling thing mystifies me.

    Also, my youngest is a very….challenging child, I need creative ideas on how to discipline without squashing her spirit. Cause she’s an awesome kid and I’d hate to overparent her into a submissive pile of goo.

  2. Suzanne May 5, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    I have difficult parenting scenarios every day. Just this week my 10-year old son called me from the office at school because “his leg hurt.” He has been calling me at least once a week, with some complaint or another- stomach hurt, leg hurt, etc. I talked him into staying at school, with his leg up until I got done with work. But that night, we had to address the main issue. School is hard for him, he doesn’t have a lot of friends, and when he is “sick” or “hurt” at school, he gets attention. We told him that’s not the way to get attention, and we’re on to him. We also told him since he seems to hurt his knees, and ankles a lot, he needed to do some leg exercises, starting that night. Who knows, I may get another call next week, but I’m trying my best to deal with things like that. I think I need this book!

  3. Bad Mummy May 6, 2010 at 12:04 am #

    Difficult parenting scenario?

    The constant talking. It wears me down. I don’t want to tell her to not talk, but at the same time, I feel bombarded with her chattering. Esp when I correct her about something and she argues with me. Like what a sign says. Seeing as I can read and she can’t, it annoys me that she’ll insist she’s right.

  4. Marcy May 6, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    Oh, Bad Mummy, I soooo relate.

    It would be hard to pick the most difficult parenting scenario.

    I’ll just pick one. Emotional health. I want my child to grow up secure in her self, knowing that emotions have no moral content, able to express herself in appropriate ways at appropriate times in appropriate places, able to make time for herself when “appropriate” isn’t good enough, able to consider others without feeling like a doormat, able to pursue her own desires without feeling like a selfish brat, and on and on.

    But the problem is that I am a human being, too. I’m not the perfect ideal “Maternal hold” figure that psychology informs me is what all children need (and no children get). When she behaves in certain ways, it provokes certain responses in me.

    And, well, that’s part of emotional health, too — she needs to know that what she does will indeed affect other people. And she needs to learn how to deal with that — how to know her own responsibility and make wise choices, how to tolerate other people’s feelings as well as her own…

    Alleviating this situation?

    Sometimes it’s that I need to lighten up about something I’m expecting of her.

    Sometimes it’s that I need to give her the space for the yelling or whining or whatever, and not react to it.

    Sometimes it’s that I need to put her in timeout immediately instead of giving her space.

    I still have a lot to learn.

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