Our latest round-up of recent parenting books includes more on achieving work-life balance, teaching kids social skills and how to talk to your teens about everything from sex to body image to using social media. These titles were chosen from books we’ve recently received from publishers and authors and cover a range of parenting issues.
“The Field Guide to Plugged in Parenting… Even if You Were Raised by Wolves.” Author Terri Fedonczak wasn’t actually raised by wolves, but she was neglected by her mother and abused by her father. The last thing she wanted to do was follow her own parents’ example in bringing up her children. So the certified life coach wrote a book about how to parent when you have no role models.
Fedonczak says her own parenting is based on a mix of “The Cosby Show,” “Supernanny,” parenting magazines, her life coach strategies and trying to do the opposite of what her mom would have done. She is careful to say, however, that it is crucial to let go of the past and any anger you might feel toward your parents and the choices they made.
She emphasizes setting long-term goals for what you want to accomplish as a parent, and then making short-term decisions with those goals in mind. She offers strategies for coping with change, and advises parents to remember that children need your time far more than they need money or an abundance of toys. To be a “plugged-in parent,” Fedonczak says, means to actively participate in your child’s life, rather than act as a caretaker just attending to his basic needs.
“Got Teens? The Doctor Moms’ Guide to Sexuality, Social Media and Other Adolescent Realities.” Yes, parents could just hand kids a couple of Judy Blume books, tell them to have at it, and then answer any questions. But the world has changed a lot since the 1970s, and as great as “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” was (and is), it doesn’t tackle social media, sexting or eating disorders.
Enter Logan Levkoff, a sex educator, and Jennifer Wider, a physician and women’s health expert, with a book on how to help your child through all of the emotional and physical upheaval of the teenage years.
Parents often avoid talking about these uncomfortable subjects with their children because, well, they make us uncomfortable. But in the real world, kids have lots of questions about sex, their bodies, relationships and drugs. If you don’t sit down and talk to your teens openly and honestly about these things, they will get the information somewhere else. Wouldn’t you rather be their primary resource?
“Got Teens” goes over acne, sleep problems, dating relationships, abuse, how to teach your children to be responsible with social media and everything between. The key, Levkoff and Wider say, is to really listen to your kids, tell the truth and remember what it was like to be their age.
“Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.“ We get more books about work/life balance, and how to achieve it, than just about any other parenting subject. Crystal Paine, a mom of three and the creator of the site MoneySavingMom.com, had her wake-up call several years ago.
Paine says parents can decrease their stress—and increase their joy—with nine simple steps: learn to say no; determine your priorities; set goals; cultivate small, daily habits; get your finances in order; simplify your home management; stop feeling like a failure; become a generous giver; and take time to refresh and re-energize.
Chapters start with a goal and a strategy for achieving it, and each section has specific ways parents can try to live more intentionally. She reminds readers that it takes 3 to 6 weeks for something to become an unconscious habit and that patience is critical (avoid the temptations of instant gratification and focus instead on long-term gain).
My favorite tip from Paine: Don’t try to be someone else. Instead, celebrate your strengths and make peace with your weaknesses.
She points out that while there are classes to teach kids how to do everything from play a musical instrument to draw a picture, no one thinks to teach them how to shake hands, write a proper e-mail, or start and sustain a conversation. De Muyshondt writes that these skills are “the foundation for everything they will do.”
The chapters in the book cover making a good first impression, both in person and online; online etiquette and safety; how to start a conversation and answer questions with more than one word; how to listen; how to end a conversation; curbing fillers such as “like” and “you know” when you speak; and how to adapt the book for kids with special needs. De Muyshondt includes specific exercises and activities to help kids practice their social skills.