Diapers, money, and injuries, oh my! It’s a wonder we choose to have children at all. What remains, however, is our communal need to share the experience of parenting and to seek reassurance that we are doing the right thing, that our children will be OK, that our hassling has not ruined them for life. “No,” says author Faber (How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2–7), “kids are resilient.” “Yes and no,” says Moniz (Rad Families: A Celebration), “our parents taught us both what to—and what not to—do.”
Amid these philosophical musings are new books offering practical advice, ranging from developing language skills to tempering anxiety in young adults. I recently asked my 14-year-old son at what point “dudes” should become “fathers,” and after a pretty insightful (if humorous) exchange, he told me that “you should always have a little dude in you.” So whether you struggle with or succeed in meeting the demands of nurturing milestones and development in the children you interact with, may you also find your inner dude and celebrate your own childhood and its accompanying bruises and glories. Rock on, dudes!
Faber, Joanna & Julie King. How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2–7. Scribner. Jan. 2017. 448p. ISBN 9781501131639. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9781501131660. CHILD REARING
Parent and educator Faber, with educator King, picks up where esteemed mom Adele Faber (How To Talk So Kids Will Listen) left off with this updated “survival guide” for talking to little kids and gaining compliance. Her wisdom is in the same affectionate and funny style of mom: “Enough with all the talk about feelings. It’s lovely to know we’re enhancing our children’s confidence…but we still have to get our kids to do things.” Faber zeroes in on the most common (and irritating) things and tactics little ones employ, and provides caregivers with a clear and supportive path to holding their own. From tattling (“snitches and whistleblowers”) to runaways (“kids who take off in the parking lot and other public places”), the authors describe exactly what life with little kids is like and make neither excuses nor pedagogical pronouncements; their advice is always supportive, appropriate, and ultimately best for the parking lot escapee in question. VERDICT Parents should not be put off by this volume’s length. The “How To Talk” books are treasures to read. All libraries should acquire and recommend with gusto.
Green, Jarrod. I’m OK! Building Resilience Through Physical Play. Redleaf. Nov. 2016. 160p. ISBN 9781605544519. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781605544526. CHILD REARING
Some kids seem to plow through injury and pain, while others weep at the merest affront. Here, early childhood educator Green, hoping to create a culture of resilience through play, recognizes that injuries associated with play often involve parental education. “Learning about physical experiences precedes more abstract learning in all domains,” he argues, citing that children must pick up and move blocks before they can count them. Issues of safety, parental overinvolvement, and fears of litigation have all tempered how parents perceive development through play, and the author warns that the joy, growth, and learning that come from physical activity are being lost in our current culture (e.g., “safety first” has become “safety should be maximized, no matter the cost”). He explains how early childhood play is the perfect time for risk-taking and supplies productive tools for discussing injuries and placing concerns into their appropriate context. Although slightly dry in presentation, Green’s teaching is spot-on. His goal of giving children “the experiences of learning and joy, challenge and triumph, and the ability to enter the world, with all its challenges and obstacles and setbacks, in the most positive way possible” is holistically delivered. Here’s to horsing around. VERDICT Recommended for education collections.
Josephs, Sheila Achar. Helping Your Anxious Teen: Positive Parenting Strategies To Help Your Teen Beat Anxiety, Stress, and Worry. New Harbinger. Jan. 2017. 224p. ISBN 9781626254657. pap. $16.95. CHILD REARING
Parents, asserts psychologist Josephs, PhD, are crucial to helping their young teens overcome the vicious cycle of worry and fear. Demonstrating how persistent anxiety is a learned response, the author begins by explaining how an anxiety cycle operates (how thoughts and behaviors trigger ramped-up new thoughts and behaviors) and presents common approaches parents take that don’t work, such as jumping in with advice and contributing excessive reassurance. Instead, she encourages Socratic questions that help identify and challenge doubt. From teens who are constantly agitated to those caught in avoidance cycles and others struggling with perfectionism, Josephs looks at these experiences and offers thoughtful tools for helping young people help themselves. VERDICT Recommended for public library collections.
Kobliner, Beth. Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not): A Parent’s Guide for Kids 3 to 23. S. & S. Feb. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9781476766812. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476766829. CHILD REARING
Best-selling financial author Kobliner (Get a Financial Life) here provides a step-by-step look at developing financial literacy skills throughout childhood. Concerned that we are avoiding teaching our kids the financial facts of life, she outlines specific dos and don’ts that parents can adopt, such as whether or not allowances should be tied to chores. She strongly suggests not disclosing your salary nor the babysitter’s wage, and presents age-appropriate money skills for preschoolers through college grads (“Research shows that kids whose parents carry the full burden of college costs score lower GPAs than kids who chip in.”) Addressing everything from car loans to moving home after college, Kobliner’s recommendations are practical, thorough, and relevant (e.g., she explains why extended warranties are almost always unnecessary). VERDICT Considering the huge burden of debt that many young people carry today, wise is the parent who starts the youngster saving early. Warmly recommended.
Maclagan, Margaret & Anne Buckley. Talking Baby: Helping Your Child Discover Language. Finch. Nov. 2016. 192p. ISBN 9781925048605. pap. $18.95. CHILD REARING
In this puddle-jumper from down under, child language development lecturer Maclagan and speech-language therapist Buckley set forth a just-technical-enough look at how children acquire language and how to best support its development. Beginning with infancy, the authors encourage parents to talk, talk, talk, about anything and to leave time for “response” (anything the baby does is her “turn” in the conversation). They do an excellent job of explaining why language and motor development often coincide (first sounds happen after six months when babies become vertical and the tongue is no longer “flopping against the back of the mouth”), and further details what language acquisition parents can best support at that time, such as “performatives,” which are words associated with gestures (e.g., “bye bye”). Librarians would do well to follow and suggest the authors’ reading recommendations, such as choosing books with rhythm and rhyme for infants so they can focus on voice, and then moving on to books that stimulate gleeful recognition of everyday life (bedtime, bathing, block play) for one- and two-year-olds. VERDICT This commendable title provides exactly what parents need without becoming bogged down in research and academics. For all libraries.
Ogden, Paul W. & David H. Smith. The Silent Garden: Raising Your Deaf Child. 3d ed. Gallaudet Univ. Nov. 2016. 344p. index. ISBN 9781563686764. pap. $34.95; bk. ISBN 9781563686771. CHILD REARING
In this third edition of this esteemed text, coauthors Ogden (dept. of communicative sciences & disorders, California State Univ., Fresno) and Smith (director, Ctr. on Deafness, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville) deliver a foundational approach to raising deaf and hard-of-hearing children, emphasizing that “being deaf is not about hearing but about communication.” Starting with a description of diagnosis, they cover the entire span of childhood and young adulthood of individuals affected by hearing loss, guiding parents in finding the right professionals, how and when to begin communicating, which communication languages are available (and their very important differences), available schools (or considerations for mainstreaming), and transitioning to independent life. The advice includes both specific instructions (tap and signal with babies) and developmental overviews (why discussing deafness and “differentness” is important to convey around age four). Especially informative is the thorough coverage of visual languages, such as ASL, and their current controversies and implications. This timely update includes the growing research into surgical procedures, such as cochlear implants, and the many technologies available that support independence. VERDICT A required acquisition for all libraries.
Pegula, Chris with Frank Meyer. Diaper Dude: The Ultimate Dad’s Guide to Surviving the First Two Years. TarcherPerigee. May 2017. 224p. notes. index. ISBN 9780143110262. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781101992616. CHILD REARING
Despite their 50 percent DNA contribution, many dads feel completely out of sorts when their own children are born. Mom and baby feed, sleep, and coo to each other, but where does that leave dad? While the thematic literary contribution of fathers desiring involvement is often of a he-man, boom-boom nature, the market for dads wanting to know how to do best by their babies is undeniable. Toward that end, author Pegula (founder, Diaper Dude), with journalist Meyer, offers dads a desirably lean look at how to help, how to bond, and what milestones to look for. He incorporates his own story (and mishaps) into a readable and easy-to-implement text for other new fathers with a testosterone-flavored style: “I don’t care what anybody says about their perfect baby. All babies cry.” The typical day-to-day adventures, such as sleeping (or not), pooping (or not), and crying (likely) segue into more complicated scenarios, such as parenting styles, sex, and tax credits. VERDICT Recommended for all dudes, however silly their eponymous identity remains.
Rad Families: A Celebration. PM. Feb. 2017. 272p. ed. by Tomas Moniz. ISBN 9781629632308. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781629633152. CHILD REARING
Writing professor Moniz’s Rad Dad started as a zine over ten years ago, and this reviewer had the pleasure of critiquing that title in 2011 during its growing pains. Now, with a few more kids, Rad Dad has a full-fledged family, and this latest offering exhibits growth in depth and advice. These collected essays, written by various contributors, are raw, inspired, and artful, capturing the joys and pains of parenting with no apologies and no lack of grace. As such, some entries will speak more to readers than others, but the truth and beauty they evoke is elegant and grounding, celebrating the victories and struggles of a generation of parents: “I did not grow up in a family where anything seemed possible. The future did not really exist because surviving the present was the priority.” Topics range from sex to incarceration to adoption and include the viewpoints of mothers and fathers both new and seasoned, introspective and wishing for a do-over. VERDICT For the literary-minded, this Rad Dad collective is a gem of inspired thought, though this reviewer still loathes the book jacket.