Parenting Short Takes: Terminal Illness, High-Risk Pregnancy & Single Parenting

While any one of these three crises‚ terminal illness, high-risk pregnancy, single parenthood‚ can send a parent into a tail-spin, librarians can offer their patrons some of the excellent new titles reviewed this month. Bay Buchanan gives single parents an enthusiastic boost with her parenting memoir, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish are back with an updated, 30th-anniversary edition of the beloved How To Talk, and Kelly Whitehead presents an in-depth look at high-risk pregnancy. While none are fun spring-break reads, almost all these titles have staying power and an extended shelf life. If mom is seeking lighter fare for vacation, offer her Jill Smokler’s Confessions of a Scary Mommy, reviewed last month. (I’m still chuckling over that one.)

Bailey, Christine. The Top 100 Finger Foods for Babies & Toddlers: Delicious, Healthy Meals for Your Child To Enjoy. Duncan Baird. (Top 100 Recipes). Jun. 2012. 144p. ISBN 9781848990159. pap. $9.95. CHILD REARING
In this attractive title, nutritionist Bailey (The Top 100 Baby Food Recipes: Easy Purees & First Foods for 6-12 Months) offers 100 nutrient-dense recipes, which are more appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers than the title’s suggested babies and toddlers. That aside, her brief introduction to the nutritional needs of young children includes a handy chart of select vitamins/minerals, key food sources, and possible signs of deficiency. The recipes do not provide nutritional breakdowns but instead use sidebars outlining the health benefits of the recipe (coriander has antibacterial properties and can be useful for relieving gas). Also included are storage guidelines, preparation times, and suggested accompaniments. The book is divided into breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, and desserts, with each recipe marked by symbols signifying if it is dairy-free, vegetarian, wheat-free, etc. While some recipes are more approachable than others (who keeps kecap manis in the house?), there’s no reason these can’t be prepared for the whole family. VERDICT A sound purchase at an affordable price for libraries needing an update in child-friendly and nutrition-geared cookbooks.

Buchanan, Bay. Bay and Her Boys: Unexpected Lessons I Learned as a (Single) Mom. Da Capo Lifelong. May 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780738215136. $25. CHILD REARING
In 1981, Buchanan (Extreme Makeover of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton) was the youngest ever U.S. treasurer as well as the divorced single mother of three young boys. She here shares her story as well as parenting tips to help remind single parents “that they can do it” and “that their kids can make it.” Admitting that single parenting is “brutally challenging,” she gives readers a touching look into her (at times) tumultuous home and combines these stories with “eight rules for single parenting.” Of course, not every reader will agree with her views (spanking and no dating being among them), but she makes no apologies for her beliefs and the text never reads arrogantly. Her style is inviting and humorous and the book includes contributions from her children throughout. VERDICT From creating new family traditions to not badmouthing dad, her advice is in line with the best of child development experts, and her honesty and pure stamina are evident throughout. Bravo, Bay!

OrangeReviewStar Parenting Short Takes: Terminal Illness, High Risk Pregnancy & Single ParentingFaber, Adele & Elaine Mazlish (text) & Kimberly Ann Cole (illus.). How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. Scribner. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781451663884. pap. $16.00. CHILD REARING
how to talk Parenting Short Takes: Terminal Illness, High Risk Pregnancy & Single ParentingIn this 30th-anniversary edition of their 1980 best-selling classic, Faber and Mazlish (coauthors, Siblings Without Rivalry: How tTo Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too) keep true to the style of the original, while also updating their text with new scenarios and including feedback and letters they have received from readers over the years. Praised for its down-to-earth and respectful approach to communication, this book helps parents acknowledge their child’s feelings, engage their cooperation, and encourage autonomy. Instead of stopping at theory, however, they break down each step into specific do’s and don’ts, replete with sample conversations and effective cartoons. They also address questions from parents who either object to or want further clarification about the book’s advice, answering their “what if’s” and “but then’s.” VERDICT This title has developed a cult following over the years, and this revised edition is a welcome arrival. An essential purchase.

Hartstein, Jennifer. Princess Recovery: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Daughter Who Can Create Her Own Happily Ever After. Adams Media. 2011. 256p $21.95. ISBN 9781440527951. CHILD REARING
Child and adolescent psychologist Hartstein presents parents with tips for counteracting the negative message of “pretty is better than smart” that permeates girlhood culture today. She argues that “when taken to an extreme‚ and without positive messages to counteract it‚ princess play sucks little girls into a world where their self-worth is tied to their outward appearance, their happiness is based on the arrival [of] a prince who will love them, and their intelligence is something to be hidden rather than celebrated.” While few would disagree with her argument, she cites research from Pepperdine University and states that “girls as young as three are anxious about their body weight,” which misconstrues the study’s actual findings. She nonetheless successfully helps parents replace “princess symptoms” (entitlement) with “heroine values” (hard work), outlining suggestions for girls between the ages of two and three, four and five, and six and eight. VERDICT Recommended.

OrangeReviewStar Parenting Short Takes: Terminal Illness, High Risk Pregnancy & Single Parenting McCue, Kathleen with Ron Bonn. How To Help Children Through a Parent’s Serious Illness: Supportive, Practical Advice from a Leading Child Life Specialist. St. Martin’s. 2011. 368p. ISBN 9780312697686. pap. $15.99. CHILD REARING
Founder of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation’s Child Life Program, McCue has significantly updated her 1996 classic in this revised edition. Arguing that honest information is one of the greatest needs of children who have seriously or gravely ill parents, this book help readers understand that if children are “deceived, lied to, [or] ‘protected’ from the truth, they will learn a life-long lesson of distrust.” It gently and professionally walks readers through the common reactions and beliefs children will have during these difficult times. With concise yet comforting chapters that cover everything from preparing children for hospital visits to making long-term arrangements for the care of children, the book also include important new considerations, such as the double-edged sword of the Internet, special considerations for the growing number of single parents, and information on genes and formally fatal diseases that can now be treated. VERDICT This title is one of the most necessary and singularly recommended books on the subject. Essential for all collections.

Teigen, Rob & Joanna Teigen. 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates: Fun, Easy & Creative Ways To Build Memories Together. Revell. 2012. 192p. ISBN 9780800720339. pap. $10.99. CHILD REARING
Like many fathers, Teigen had “the passion to connect” with his daughters but not the tools and essentially felt “ill-equipped to connect with them on a deeper level.” To remedy that feeling he instituted date night and here offers tips for other fathers looking to strengthen their bonds with their young daughters. Most suggestions are obvious (flying a kite, sleeping in a tent, baking cookies), but others are quirky and creative and sure to please (doll parachutes, animal pancakes, etc.). Aimed at girls ages six through 12, each activity has a “grab, go, and grow” component, listing necessary supplies, instructions for the outing, and ways to relate the activity through discussion to a Christian value. VERDICT While the scripture and prayer might limit the book’s audience, open-minded families could easily tweak these sections to celebrate the importance of laughter, appreciating mom, caring for others, etc. For another Christian “daddy date” title, see Greg Watson’s Daddy Dates.

Warshowsky, Joel H. How Behavioral Optometry Can Unlock Your Child’s Potential: Identifying and Overcoming Blocks to Concentration, Self-Esteem and School Success with Vision Therapy. Jessica Kingsley. 2012. 160p. ISBN 9781849058810. pap. $19.95. CHILD REARING
Vision therapy is a fringe subspecialty of optometry that has quite a few critics, most of whom cite the lack of scientific evidence to back up its claims. This particular title takes a questionable medical practice and combines it with an awkward, autobiographical style that at times sounds like hocus-pocus. Despite his sound credentials as a behavioral optometrist, Warshowky (pediatrics, SUNY Coll. of Optometry) believes that his treatment of a patient with a visual-related reading disability resulted in his ability to “make an association between her eyes turning outward and a long-standing depression,” tracing both “to a time when she was four years old.” When he is not recounting his fishes-and-loaves miracles, he writes bloated sentences such as, “Problems quite understandably occur when one’s ability to achieve convergence to a particular target of desire is deficient.” In the end, there are only seven exercises outlined. VERDICT Regretfully, this title will do little to legitimize vision therapy; not recommended.

OrangeReviewStar Parenting Short Takes: Terminal Illness, High Risk Pregnancy & Single ParentingWhitehead, Kelly with Vincenzo Berghella. High-Risk Pregnancy: Why Me? Understanding and Managing a Potential Preterm Pregnancy: A Medical and Emotional Guide. Evolve. 2012. 425p. ISBN 9780983264743. pap. $22.95. CHILD REARING
Microbiologist and doula Whitehead lost a son 22 weeks into her pregnancy and afterward experienced two high-risk pregnancies that ended with the birth of her son and daughter. Here she teams with Berghella (obstetrics & gynecology, Jefferson Medical Coll.) to pen one of the best high-risk pregnancy books available today. Addressing the usual topics (e.g., preeclampsia, cerclages, and twin-to-twin transfusion), she also covers more detailed information, including general classes of drugs and their uses (e.g., oxytocin-receptor antagonists, prostaglandin inhibitors, etc.). Footnotes are included throughout and each chapter ends with a full bibliography. Of note is her inclusion of Cochrane Reviews, which are systematic reviews of primary research in health care and health policy. Of particular note is Whitehead’s relaxed yet reassuring style: she is never alarmist, pedantic, or overly optimistic. VERDICT This book does a fantastic job of explaining complex medical scenarios and strikes a near-faultless tone of reassuring clearheadedness. An outstanding contribution to the literature of pregnancy that is ultimately hopeful, despite the heartbreak of the subject.

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