Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Some thoughts on parenting and the book every Dad should read.

We learn new things every day. For example, last night I learnt that it’s not a good idea to snack on too much pineapple before bed. And then I learnt that it’s a horrible idea to brush my teeth right after snacking on pineapple. My mouth was on fire! Not a pleasant feeling. Will not do that again.

But that was an unintentional kind of learning. What I am trying to learn intentionally is how to be a good parent. I want to be the kind of mom that my mom has been to me and my sister. My mom is my best friend and she and I never really went through any kinds of difficult periods that are described in many parenting books, like teenage years, for example. I’ve always told her everything and not because I was forced to, but because I’ve just always wanted to share good and bad with my mom. She always knows exactly the right thing to say. I hope when Allie grows up, she will feel the same way about me and will share things with me and will see her friend in me. That’s my goal.

When Allie presents me with a new kind of behavior that I don’t know how to deal with, I think of my mom. What would she do? Luckily, there are hardly any behaviors so far that can be difficult, mostly throwing a fit once in a while or something similar. What would my mom do? She would stay calm. So I try to stay calm. Allie feels the energy and usually calms down. Even when she was a baby and once in a while would be hard to console, my mom taught me a trick: you take very deep breaths and breathe out very slowly while holding Allie. And you do it until she calms down. I swear it works every time! It usually takes no more than 5-10 breaths until she starts to calm down. I am sure things are going to get more complicated than throwing a fit when Allie gets older, but fortunately I have a great mentor! :)

To help myself become a great parent and just for general education I like to read various books on parenting. At all times I have some kind of a parenting book on my night stand. I usually have at least one fiction book that I am reading, but also have another 2-3 other ones on my stand in case I am in a non-fiction kind of mood. I have a parenting book, maybe a cook book, some new magazine and something random. An additional benefit to this is that I almost never have to dust it, because the night stand is covered with books and there is no room for the dust to land anywhere :) (That was obviously not a good kind parenting… Allie should never see this sentence about not dusting).

MJ on the other hand almost never reads parenting books. Unless Allie is sick, then he digs into our baby health encyclopedias. I guess it’s just not in men’s nature to read parenting books. And despite that, MJ is the best father I could ever wish for Allie. He is just great at being a dad, he is very funny, fun, I can never make Allie laugh as much as he does. He also teaches her to be tough, where this is not something I can do. When she gets a “boo-boo” he gets Allie to say ‘I am tough!” and she does, and that makes the boo-boo go away, where what I do is kiss the booboo. Both ways are fine, of course, whatever works for the boo-boo, but it’s probably good to teach her different ways to deal with things right from this age. MJ is the one who recognizes when Allie is ready for some new “big girl” stuff. For example, he is the one who taught her to pour milk for herself and right now he is working on teaching her to wash her hands like a big girl. Just the other day he brought a step stool by the sink and had Allie use it to wash her hands. Now, if that was me, I probably wouldn’t even realize she was ready for that until she is 5! He knew she was ready. And she really was, she loves washing her hands like a big girl and does really well! He just instinctively knows that.

A few weeks ago however I discovered a special parenting book for dads that MJ read and found very, very useful. So I am writing here to share this excellent read for dads! One day my coworker came over to me and told me about this book and how every father must read it. He had just become a father a couple months ago, so he really appreciated the book. The book is called “Strong Fathers, strong daughters” written by Dr.Meg Meeker.

This is the way the book is described on its website “Eating disorders. Failure in school. STDs. Unwed pregnancy. Drug and alcohol abuse. This toxic culture surrounds young girls—our daughters. But teen health expert Meg Meeker has the answer: fathers.” 

The book talks about a father’s role in a girl’s development. It talks how important it is for every father to react appropriately to his daughter’s behaviors, how to address them and basically how to raise “a good girl” with proper values and morals. I am reading the book, as well and I think it’s useful for mothers to read it. It’s very different from the other books on parenting that I’ve read. Dr.Meeker describes lots of real life examples in this book, where she analyzes a particular girl’s problem or a disorder and what might’ve caused it and what could’ve been done differently about the situation and how you can make it better now. There are lots of examples that are shocking and seem like they are very far away from your life and your kids, but those things happen to someone’s daughters and how do you ensure that they won’t happen to yours? It’s hard to protect little girls from watching inappropriate programming on TV screaming about the looks and being skinny as most important things in life, whether it’s at your house or her friend’s, or even if you can she will go to school and hear things there and her developing mind may not know how to process that information properly. So Dr. Meeker makes it very clear what parents can expect and how to deal with it. Really, really good book, I think every father should read it.

On that note, I am saying good night and I am off to continue reading…

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