“Everyone struggles with parenting. Everyone.”
Dr. Deborah Gilboa makes that assertion in the introduction to her new parenting book, “Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You Hate.” As an author, family physician and mom to four boys, she’s in a unique position to know the depth of truth of that statement. I have yet to meet a parent who thinks this parenting gig is a piece of cake, but then why is it that we think other parents look like they’ve got this parenting this figured out? The reminder that we all have our struggles is one of many valuable nuggets contained in this book.
As much as we struggle as parents, I loved Dr. G’s acknowledging that each parent is an expert on his/her child(ren). She tells the reader that you “are parenting expert on the kids who live in your home! No one knows the kids you love better, or cares more about their welfare, than you do.” That philosophy is woven throughout the book. I really appreciate the recognition that there is no one-size fits all parenting approach, and that every family and every child is unique.
Her approach is that our knowledge of our kids can be used for great parenting success with a few new ideas and a framework for success that focuses on structure and consistency.
I particularly enjoyed that she included suggestions in this book based on a child’s age, and that she covers the spectrum, from toddlers through tweens.
The first portion of the book focuses on Dr. G’s “3 R’s of Parenting” to empower parents to raise respectful, responsible and resilient kids. The final section is entitled, “Making Change Happen: How to Actually Get Kids to Do This Stuff.” I admit that it was that last part that really grabbed my attention. I appreciated the short chapters for easy reference – Dr. G says early on that this is a “choose your own adventure” type book meant to be picked up, put down and referred to later on.
There’s a chapter on lying. That may not be an issue now, but down the road, you’ll likely be flipping pages madly to get to it. Her advice in that chapter exhibits her approach throughout the book.
One of Dr. G’s consistent messages is explaining the “why” to kids, and starting to do so at a young age. She doesn’t underestimate their ability to understand why certain behaviors, like telling the truth, are critically important.
She also focus on the positive. In the chapter on lying, she recommends that parents point out all the times that truth benefits your family, keeping the discussion upbeat and not always happening in the midst of a crisis.
Focus on What You Can Do as a Parent
Dr. G. also focuses on what parents can do themselves, as one of her philosophies is that we can change ourselves more easily than anyone else. She reminds parents to be careful with their words, which really, really matter. “Kids believe what we say about them. If you call a child a liar, then that is what he will be,” she writes. And she reminds parents to set the example by not lying themselves and offering outs, like reminding us that it’s okay to say “I don’t know” or “That is not your business.”
Dr. G covers a wide variety of topics and is a cheerleader for parents, giving us the encouragement to do what is right, but not necessarily easy, be it saying no, taking away privileges, or letting life’s consequences happen.
I enjoyed the Ask Dr. G boxes that are sprinkled throughout the book. They highlight Dr. G’s quick answers to topical parenting questions that she has been asked frequently. One that seemed particularly timely offered her thoughts on whether spanking is effective:
“I am opposed to corporal punishment. On this topic I agree completely with the American Academy of Pediatrics: Spanking does not change behavior for the better and can be very damaging. Causing kids physical pain to improve their behavior has never been shown to work.”
Another chapter that really spoke to me was on the importance of admiring our kids and how to praise them effectively and without overdoing it, including letting them overhear you praising them to someone else, and writing them a letter.
My favorite quote: You have the power to make your child walk taller, stand strong, and believe in her own worth.
Dr. G is here to help make sure that happens.
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