Parenting books can drive a person InSaNe. They all have a laundry list of things not to do:
- Don’t label your children. They’re changing all the time. So instead of saying “you are such and such,” say “you can be such and such” so that you don’t limit their perception of themselves.
- Don’t spank or hit.
- Don’t yell or scream.
- Don’t give general praise like “good girl.” Give specific praise like “That’s a complicated 3″ silver robot you drew with the Faber Castell pens I got you at the stationery store 16 days ago.”
- Don’t tell them what to do or boss them around. Engage them in choosing the right way to behave or to accomplish something.
I break almost every one of those @#! rules every day. (Notice I said almost.)
So now I’m reading about Barack Obama’s childhood in his book, Dreams from My Father, and guess what? He had a far from perfect childhood with far from perfect parents. His white mother married his black African father at a time of rampant racism. His father then leaves him and his mother to return to Africa when Obama was only two years old. Then his mother marries an Indonesian and they move from his grandparents’ home in Hawaii to Indonesia where Obama runs around with the neighborhood kids in a squalid environment where people cut the heads off chickens and lets them run around in circles dripping blood from their necks until they drop dead. Obama later returns to live in Hawaii with his grandparents without his mother who is too busy with her own life to bother herself much about him.
With this kind of parenting you’d think Obama would have grown up to be a serial killer instead of the first African-American presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party. And he’s neither bitter nor filled with resentment towards his parents.
Clearly I won’t be like Obama’s parents but I should probably quit reading parenting books and driving myself crazy with guilt.