A Ride on Mother’s Back

For families who are living differently from mainstream America, it can often be difficult to find children’s books which reflect our own values. Emery Bernhard has a lovely book entitled A Ride on Mother’s Back: A Day of Baby Carrying Around the World which appeals to attachment parenting families everywhere. The book takes a look at how different families in different cultures around the world go about their days with securely attached babies and children. While the title of the book specifically mentions mothers, the book shows many relatives sharing in the babywearing, including siblings, fathers, and grandparents. The brief glance into other cultures, along with a slightly expanded bit of information at the back of the book, is appealing to older children. Babies and toddlers love reading books about others their age. This book gives a nice opportunity for those families who practice attachment parenting to share with thei rchildren about other babywearing families. My children have all loved the book when they were little and continue to do so as they grow older.

Parenting From the Inside Out

Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell is an informative and insightful book. Our previous experiences have lasting effects on future experiences. If we don’t take the time to process our own pasts – good and bad, we are destined to repeat history. While I didn’t find any of the information to be new, the biological and psychological processes were very interesting. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend the book for many individuals due to the technical nature of much of the book. If you are looking for a good parenting book addressing healing yourself from your childhood and separating yourself in order to be fully present with your children, I would steer you instead to Naomi Aldort’s Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children

It’s So Amazing

After reading It’s Not the Stork with my children, I had high hopes for It’s So Amazing, the next book in the series by Robie Harris, geared for ages 7 and up. I decided to read the book before sharing it with my children, as I wasn’t quite certain what the difference between the two books would be. For the most part, the book builds on information presented in It’s Not the Stork, with the added topics of puberty and HIV/AIDS.

Harris addresses HIV in her previous matter of fact manner. She also takes a similar view point for bringing up the terms of hetero- and homosexuality. After going over the basics of puberty and briefly discussing sexual intercourse, birth control is mentioned, which may be uncomfortable for some families. However, it is not a definitive guide, only mentioning condoms and birth control pills, and is more an opening to discuss the concept with your children, ending with the fact that abstinence is the only way to completely avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

I had the same complaint with this book as its predecessor in regards to its reference to intact penises as uncircumcised. In this book, she goes further to say that both are normal. While our society’s vernacular isn’t quite what it used to be, accepted would be a better term for circumcised penises than normal. Society accepts individuals with both intact and circumcised penises, but there is nothing normal about cutting off a part of someone’s body. She also once again mentions in her discussion of okay versus not okay touches that it is acceptable for a doctor or nurse to touch a child’s private parts. It is never acceptable for one person to touch another person without their permission.

She also lost a little respect in this book by presenting to the mainstream crowd when it comes to childbirth. Not everyone chooses to have an attendant, which isn’t left as an unsaid option in this book. Women, in almost all cases except for when there are rare problems, are perfectly capable of birthing a child and do better when not inhibited and without interventions. Mainstream choices such as immediate cord cutting and delayed skin contact with the mother are also stated as fact rather than choice. While she mentions c-sections as an alternative birthing method, the word normal is once again inappropriately used. Surgery, while accepted, is never normal.

I ended up choosing not to share this book with my children. The greatest reason is that they haven’t shown any interest in discussing puberty more than we already have. They are still young, although we will probably be discussing the topic in greater detail in the next couple of years. However, I think there must be a better book out there for when they decide they do want to explore the topic in more depth.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children

Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball

Today is my youngest niece’s first birthday. As part of her birthday gift, I was looking for the board book version of Vicki Churchill and Charles Fuge’s book, Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball. This has been a favorite book at our house through the years. I think we are on our second or third copy. I love giving this as part of a first birthday gift. It’s perfect for toddlers. We have given many, many of these as gifts, to friends and family who practice attachment parenting and those who are very mainstream. Everyone has loved it.

Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball

The rhythmic prose of the book flows well. Children love to imitate what the little wombat does throughout the book, so it works for those toddlers who are active all the time and don’t want to sit down to read a book. I like the fact that the little wombat does things to explore and has big feelings. It appeals to every child. At the end of the book, the little wombat does what he loves best – he curls up in a ball and snuggles close to his mom to sleep. What a better way to end a day then with your little one snuggled up close?

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children

Positive Discipline

In her book Positive Discipline, Jane Nelsen approaches the topics of gentle and non-punitive parenting from an Adlerian point of view. She introduces the four R’s of punishment – resentment, revenge, rebellion, and retreat – and focuses her version of positive discipline as one which works toward mutually acceptable goals and solutions. The book has a lot of good information in it, although this is not the book I would recommend to parents new to the concept of consensual living or non-punitive parenting.

Nelsen writes as though she is lecturing, which ironically she advocates against (small pun intended). While she provides review questions at the end of each chapter, supposedly for discussion, they read as text book assignments. In an attempt to cover a multitude of ideas, the book tends to be repetitive and drawn out. This isn’t a book that grabs you with inspiration, compelling you to turn pages. I do find the book useful for quiet contemplation for those who are comfortably practicing  consensual living and actively working toward their own growth as parents and individuals.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof

My 7 year old has a loose tooth. It isn’t terribly loose, so I don’t think it will be coming out for quite some time, but it is loose none-the-less. The first loose tooth is a sign of coming change. My child is growing up. It’s new and exciting and bittersweet.

We weren’t certain what we would do for this monumentous occasion. Surely such a significant event must be celebrated in some way. Then we saw Selby Beeler’s book, Throw Your Tooth on the Rood: Tooth Traditions from Around the World.

In the book, Beeler describes traditions concerning loose teeth from all over the world. The short desrciptions, along with illustrations, make the book suitable for children of all ages. It was interesting to learn about different traditions and to see how similar cultures have similar traditions. It seems that throwing the tooth is a recurrent theme throughout Europe and that Spanish speaking cultures have traditions centering around a rat or mouse. Throughout many parts of the world, the various traditions center around having a new tooth that grows in strong and straight.

At dinner one evening, I asked my son what he wanted to do when he looses his first tooth. He is undecided at this time, contemplating how he wants to celebrate. The question did lead to a most interesting, and later hilarious, discussion about possible traditions. It culminated in a family story time where the kids and I decided it would be a lot of fun for my husband to dress up in a tooth fairy costume, complete with glitter “fairy dust.” I’m not certain of my husband’s thoughts on that matter, as by that time we were all laughing to hard to have any further discussion on the topic.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children

I Love You Rituals

Sometimes parents get so caught up in the physical acts of parenting, that they forget about the emotional acts of parenting. Becky Bailey presents the idea of making rituals in order to reconnect with our children in her book I Love You Rituals. While much of the book is targeted to parents and caregivers with young children, I think many parents could benefit from reading her book.

The first couple of chapters seemed to drag on a bit, but she started getting to the heart of the matter in chapter two. In line with other writers of non-coercive parenting, Bailey discusses the concept of unconditional love. She takes her explanation a step further by clarifyng it as unconditional affection. Just as others have written, most parents always love their children. The disconnect is in the child’s perception – based on our actions. Children need to experience our unconditional love as unconditional affection.

I’ve often heard from people who would be sold on the idea of non-coercive parenting if the idea of praise was part of the concept. Some people exclaim that they themselves love hearing praise, and therefore they refuse to take that away from their children. I believe that Bailey hits a key point. It isn’t praise that people long to hear, it is feedback that they truly want. They aren’t really looking for a “Good Job” when they clean the kitchen, go to work, take care of the kids, or do any of the other things we as parents do on a daily basis. What they really want is feedback. They want to hear that someone noticed what they did and possibly whether or not that person appreciated their effort. The same applies to our children. They don’t need to hear that you think they did a good job at something, they just want acknowledgement that you saw them do it. They want specific feedback without judgement because in listening to feedback, they know you are there for them, and yet they are free to make their own decisions about their actions.

I Love You Rituals are things we can do to reconnect with our children, both in normal times and in times of undo stress. It’s that connection with our children that allows us to work together as a team in order to solve problems. Bailey addresses the idea of authority in a different light, using the root of the word. Parents as authorities do not impose their will on their children. It is impossible to truly control another person. Instead, she suggests that we use our authority to lead the situation away from where it is going and reconnect with our children in times if stress (whatever they may be) by using rituals.

The rest of the book has suggestions for love rituals. There is an extensive section on finger plays which would be quite appropriate for toddlers, although she does address activities for elementary aged kids at the end of the book. Overall, it’s a good book, and I think she has found a unique way of explaining some of the NCP/CL concepts. The examples of love rituals would be helpful for parents and caregivers of young children who need a little help coming up with ideas.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children

It’s Not the Stork

Due to recent discussions and inquiries about sex at our house, I had requested the book It’s Not the Stork by Robie Harris from our local library. Based on some of the reviews on Amazon, I was expecting a book for older kids and was a little surprised to see the circle on the front as saying it was for ages 4 +.  I agree that this book is completely appropriate for that age group.

The book is honest and straight forward and answers some seemingly complex questions in a simple way that children can understand. The simple cartoon-like illustrations, while anatomically correct, are modest and not at all graphic. Harris addresses both similarities and differences between the bodies of men and women, girls and boys. She takes a non-biased view on issues, keeping everything to the facts.

I liked the fact that while it stated that most babies are born in the hospital (I would personally add in the United States to this statement), that some are born at home. While not mentioning it specifically, he doesn’t leave out unassisted birth due to his statement that many moms have someone help them out and equally mentions doctors and nurses along with midwives and doulas. No where is it stated that all women utilize these people.

The first part of the book focuses on correct terminology of body parts, utilizing a style shown in many board books where body parts are labeled with a line pointing to them. It focuses solely on reproduction after introducing terminology, mainly focusing on anatomy and what happens after the egg is fertilized. One statement explains that the man places his penis into the woman’s vagina during sex. This is the only mention of that and frankly, it’s needed after your children pass the stage where they want to know exactly how sperm reaches the egg. Contrary to one Amazon reviewers claim that the associated illustrated is soft porn, the picture merely shows a man and woman in bed covered up with a quilt. Since most people in our society sleep in bed with some type of covering, I’m not certain how that could be construed as something else.

The book goes on to cover how a baby is formed and grows. Despite the cartoonish nature of the drawings, I’ve noticed my five year old picking the book up to look at the babies and the mother’s pregnant bellies. Harris briefly mentions some of the needs newborn babies have, again taking an unbiased view on topics such as breastfeeding and bottle feeding. I was delighted to see an illustration of a mother tandem nursing her newborn twins.

After addressing reproduction, the author briefly goes over what are okay touches and what are not –  that it’s okay for you to touch your private parts if it tickles and feels good but that it is not okay for others to touch you. She also mentions that families can look very different, including all of the many children in our society who live in a family that doesn’t conform to the typical nuclear family.

Besides some initial giggling from my children at the beginning of the book with the mention of poop (why is it that children find poop so funny?), I mainly thought the book was very well written and illustrated. There were two things I would change. In the illustrations which show the differences between an intact penis and a circumcised penis, discussed with Harris’s unbiased writing style, the intact penis is labelled uncircumcised. Since penises are naturally intact, this really is not a correct way to describe them. The other part was in the discussion of who is allowed to touch your private parts. The author mentions that it is okay for doctors to touch you in order to help you. I personally skipped over that part. It’s my opinion that it is unacceptable for anyone to touch another person’s private parts without permission.

The book is geared for toddlers and preschool age children. With younger children, one could easily skip over parts that they weren’t quite ready for. I was pleased with the content of the book and look forward to exploring some of the author’s books for older children.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children.

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