Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Between Parent and Child

If my friend Andrea reads this post, she'll drop her jaw! I borrowed her book, Between Parent and Child, by Haim G. Ginott, a really, really long time ago, and finished it today.  Her new looking book, definitely looks gently used from me carrying it around for the last many, many months.

Anyway, it wasn't my favorite parenting book, but I still got some good things out of it, so I thought I'd jot down a few notes.

The original book came out in 1965, but was updated in 2003, so it was kind of funny reading advice that was given back in the 60s.  For example, there were lots of examples of REALLY MEAN things parents might say to children.  I seriously couldn't even imagine saying things like that to a child!  I couldn't imagine my parents saying things like that to me, either -- and I came over a decade later from the first printing!  I'm sure people do say really mean things to kids, but I also like to hope that overall we've gotten nicer to children.

This book also seemed like the predecessor to Love and Logic, which is still currently my favorite parenting book.  Both books encourage a parent to empathize with a child -- maybe not agree with them, but to try and understand their feelings.  We've tried to do that with our kids, and I think it's a good thing.

I think one reason I had a hard time getting into the book was that the first part focuses on interpreting what your children say and then repeating it back to them.  I thought it was a good idea, so I started trying it.  I can't say it worked even once!  I kept trying to interpret what my kids were saying and they'd say, "No, that's not what I meant."  I finally gave up on that tactic and moved on in the book.

I really liked Appendix A at the end of the book regarding "How Children Can Be Helped."  The author outlines all sorts of problems kids might have, and identifies what is normal developmental behavior and what is over the top -- i.e. where kids may benefit from some therapy.  There's a section regarding "Fearful Children," and let's just say I may seriously consider help in this category for our 5 year old!  Our 8 year old has grown out of his fears, but there was about a 9 month period when he was 3/4 when he would not go to bed without one of us in the room with him, and if he woke up, it was game over.  He also developed a stuttering problem, which we got help for, but now I understand there was probably an underlying problem.  Luckily, so far, our 3rd child seems to be not so fearful as the first two.  Knock on wood.

Kind of along those lines, too, the book had some really good information on jealously between children.  I wonder if our kids' fear problems somewhat stemmed from a new sibling.  Each of our older kids developed some sort of problem about 6 months after having a new baby.  I can't help but wonder if there's a correlation.  The book suggested letting kids draw a picture of the sibling and cut it up or something, rather than hurt the baby.  My kids never indicated they didn't like the new baby, but maybe it was part of their problems.

There was an entire chapter on how to talk to your kids about sex, which I appreciated, but I was also bugged by the common attitude that we should just expect our kids to have sex -- and we shouldn't freak out when we find out they do.  Being a religious person, I still think we need to set the expectation to be chaste, but if our kids mess up, we shouldn't freak out (outwardly!!), but we need to be there to help them get things corrected. 

I also liked (p. 109) that the author said a shy child may be helped by having outgoing friends.  My 5 year old has a group of little friends and they are ALL shy!  I can't help but wonder if they just rub off on one another!  We've put her in a drama class with louder kids, and I do hope they'll influence her to be a little more outgoing.

I really liked, "Efficiency is the enemy of infancy" (p 169).  I am so guilty of pushing efficiency in my kids (more-so as a first-time parent, luckily I've learned a little).  There's a time and a place for efficiency, but kids need time to develop and grow at their own rate.

So I got some good things out of the book, but there were some things I'd just never try, but it was worth the read even if it took me so long.