New parenting books focus on food allergies, autism and why there is no perfect mom


The Good Mother Myth (Seal Press)

This installment of our round-up of recent parenting books includes more on achieving work/life balance, a treatment program for autism and a collection of essays about being a good mother. These titles were chosen from books we’ve recently received from publishers and cover a range of pressing parenting issues.

“Food Allergies: A Recipe for Success at School.” I don’t remember knowing anyone with a food allergy when I was a child (a long time ago, admittedly). But these days, you’re hard-pressed to find a classroom, soccer team or scout group that doesn’t have at least one child with nut, dairy or egg allergies.

It’s serious stuff. Exposure to the offending food can be life-threatening for these kids, and it can be scary to send your child off to school armed with an EpiPen, hoping that she doesn’t have any dangerous food encounters during the day.

Jan Hanson’s book reviews common food allergies, including possible treatments and the most recent research. She gives parents a three-step plan for managing food allergies at school and goes over the laws that protect students with food allergies. She also suggests strategies for helping your child if she feels isolated from her peers because of her dietary restrictions.

“Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All.” Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober’s 2009 book was reissued last month, with a foreword by “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg.

In light of the ongoing debate over how and whether working mothers can have it all, the authors say women can have successful careers and be good moms, but only if their spouses are equal partners in the work at home.

“The most important career decision you make is whom you marry,” they write. They quote research that shows that couples who split the home responsibilities equally have a lower risk of getting divorced. They also cite a study of 1,250 fathers that indicated children do better academically when their fathers eat, play and do homework with them. So women should shed their guilt about wanting both career and family. They need to lobby for flexibility at work and help from their spouses at home.

By allowing sources to speak anonymously, the authors were able to get candid responses from couples and employers about why women struggle with this, but men don’t. The last third of the book is devoted to advice on how to get to 50/50 with your spouse.

“The Good Mother Myth. ” Avital Norman Nathman edited this collection of essays about motherhood. Rather than painting pictures of idyllic mothers, the pieces debunk the idea that there is one right way to parent a child.

The authors are refreshingly honest about parenting, from the opening essay about a mom dropping her daughter when she was a baby to another about learning how to say no to the volunteer recruiters at your child’s school. There is an essay about only wanting to have one child and another about how women compare themselves with other mothers.

The book also includes the voices of a mother who struggles with mental illness, a male-to-female transsexual parent, a teen mom and a mother who smokes marijuana to deal with the stress of raising her child.

The message: There’s no such thing as the perfect mother. And most of us are perfectly good mothers. Thank goodness.

“How to Be the Parent You Always Wanted to Be.” Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish revisit their 1992 guide to respectful parenting with this new release, a workbook accompanied by an audio guide.

The authors’ goal is to help parents communicate effectively with their children, particularly in today’s “time-starved times.” Chapters about feelings, cooperation, punishment, praise and anger include comic strips illustrating pertinent situations, followed by quizzes and exercises that allow readers to practice the approaches recommended by the authors.

The last part of the book is answers to questions they are frequently asked when they give parenting seminars.

“Spectacular Bond: Reaching the Child With Autism.” Marion Blank, Suzanne Goh and Susan Deland co-authored this guide to a program parents can use at home to help children with autism develop language skills and master appropriate behavior.

“Tremendous results are attainable for the great majority of children,” the authors say, when parents focus on improving the parent-child bond.

The method described in the book is primarily for children ages 2 to 6 but can be used for children up to 10 years old. It requires parents to change how they talk to their child, how they go about their daily routines and how they show affection.

The program has six parts: simplify the world; build self-control; manage meltdowns; sit quietly; organize daily life; and move on. They are all building toward “achieving inner calm and control,” the authors write.

@OnParenting

Mari-Jane Williams edits community news for Local Living.
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