Parenting Short Takes: Mindfulness, Foster Children & Chocolate Consumption

There’s an Eat, Pray, Love thing going on in parenting this winter. Feel better about food with Jena Pincott’s Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?, a fun science read I loved. It’s much easier on moms’ minds than books about all the genetic abnormalities that can occur during pregnancy. (Turns out the chocolate is okay, too.) Carla Coroy is praying her heart out while holding firm to that husband, offering advice that will be a tough sell for most readers. And Kalyani Gopal, Nerissa Nields and Katryna Nields, and the Rad Dad essayists contribute solid offerings as well.

Coroy, Carla Anne. Married Mom, Solo Parent: Finding God’s Strength To Face the Challenge. Kregel. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780825426261. pap. $15.99. CHILD REARING
Blogger Coroy ( describes a solo parent as a person who is raising her children and running her home and family all by herself, although still married. Whether their spouses are absent because they are traveling for work, are in prison, or have a debilitating health condition, Coroy advises devout Christian women to let God work in your heart to release you from the bondage of your anger rather than seek emotional or legal divorce. She helps readers answer such questions as: How do I find time to spend with God? and How can I love my husband when I feel like a doormat or his servant or nanny? While the predicaments are moving and the advice heartfelt, there is so much fervent prayer that all but the most dyed-in-the-wool readers will soon tire.

Gopal, Kalyani. The Supportive Foster Parent: Be There for Me. Friesen Pr. 2011. 136 p. ISBN 9781770674257. $37.98. CHILD REARING
According to Gopal, a clinical psychologist with more than 25 years of experience, 80 percent of those currently incarcerated have been in the foster care system at some point. She does not glamorize the role of foster parents or play down the difficulties these often maladjusted children present. Instead, she presents a concise, research-driven picture of what makes a good foster parent and identifies the skill sets necessary for foster parents to develop. The book has little actual narrative and is made up of many tables, graphs, and bullet points, which enhances the clarity of the information though at times gives it the feel of a PowerPoint presentation. Gopal looks at foster child adaptation over time, examines behaviors that are common at different stages, and offers foster parents concrete advice for empowering children and increasing their chances of success in life. Highly recommended for foster parents, social workers, educators, and those helping children via legal or government services.

Jantz, Gregory L. with Ann McMurray. The Stranger in Your House. David C. Cook. 2011. 240p. ISBN 9781434766229. pap. $14.99. CHILD REARING
Jantz (founder, Ctr. for Counseling & Health Resources; Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse) gives parents of teens a Christian-lite approach to understanding the alien that their once-loving child has become. He advises parents on, among other topics, how to interpret a teen’s behavior, when to relax and when to panic, how to get back on track, and which issues call for greater concern; and he concludes each chapter with self-evaluation questions (for parents, not kids) and activities for reflection. Some (see The Truth About Girls and Boys, below) will balk at his assumptions about differences in behavior owing to gender, and others will be discouraged by the corniness of some of his suggestions, such as creating an art piece around the Serenity Prayer, but his understanding of and appreciation for teens comes through. That said, from a subject standpoint, this is utterly redundant. With so many books about adolescents on the market, it’s a wonder anyone is still confused.

Naik, Anita. The Lazy Girl’s Guide to a Blissful Pregnancy. Piatkus: Little, Brown UK, dist. by Trafalgar Square. 2011. 256 p. ISBN 9780749953218. pap. $13.95. CHILD REARING
Billed for the modern woman who wants to find the less stressed way to be pregnant, this handbook joins the saturated market of girlfriend guides to pregnancy. Covering topics from keeping your boss happy to taking it easy and pampering yourself, the prolific Naik (The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Beauty; Kitchen Table Tycoon) chats up the reader with the goals of smoothing the pregnancy path and lightening the load just a little. As with the vast majority of these titles, the author claims to have written the book because all the other pregnancy books were complicated and/or depressing and/or didn’t have the answer anyway. These titles breed like rabbits in publishing houses. That fact, combined with the British slant of the Lazy Girl series (e.g., nappies and mums), makes this an unnecessary acquisition for libraries.

Nields, Nerissa & Katryna Nields. All Together Singing in the Kitchen: Creative Ways To Make and Listen to Music as a Family. Shambhala, dist. by Random. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9781590308981. pap. $22.95 with audio CD. CHILD REARING
The Nields sister act (of musical duo the Nields) have 16 CDs to their credit and, now, an unintimidating guide to including music in everyday family life. The benefits of musical exposure are well documented, but, for the uninitiated, singing aloud to youngsters can feel like an embarrassing chore. The authors cheerfully assume no previous background on the part of the reader and give simple tips for singing, keeping the beat, incorporating dance moves, and also suggest games and finger plays to accompany favorite tunes. With a focus on folk music, they encourage parents to schedule time for concerts and sing during everyday routines. The charming line drawings, included throughout, break up the book’s rather lengthy text. (The book has an accompanying CD, which was not included with the review copy.) For more sing-along fun, you can’t go wrong with Sandra Boynton’s Philadelphia Chickens: A Too-Illogical Zoological Musical Revue.

Pincott, Jena. Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy. Free Pr: S. & S. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9781439183342. pap. $15. CHILD REARING
What a charm! Science writer Pincott (Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?) tackles some myths and legends associated with pregnancy and compares them to peer-reviewed research on the matter. The book covers such questions as: Do men prefer babies who resemble them? What does a baby’s birth season predict? and Do bossy broads have more sons? This is an enjoyable, insightful, and fascinating look at pregnancy that explains what we know and identifies what we don’t. In discussing topics from stretch marks to mama’s boys, Pincott takes a conversational tone, making the science readily available to all readers. An ideal acquisition for public libraries, a great gift for expectant parents, and the perfect choice for the doctor’s waiting room, this winning title deserves some talking up. Way more fun than What To Expect.

Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood. PM Pr. Dec. 2011. 200p. ed. by Tomas Moniz & Jeremy Adam Smith. ISBN 9781604864816. pap. $15. CHILD REARING
Moniz’s Rad Dad won the San Francisco Bay Guardian‘s award for Best Local Zine in 2011 and the Utne Reader‘s Independent Media Award for Best Zine of 2009. The essays collected here, from Rad Dad and Smith’s (The Daddy Shift) blog Daddy Dialectic [], well represent the intense, honest discussions of serious issues among the Rad Dad community [] in addition to the literary quality of the contributions. On topics ranging from sperm donors to the heartbreak of infertility to stay-at-home dads and beyond, this book treats readers to a host of poignant and graceful essays aimed at the thoughtful and intelligent parent. Those already familiar with Rad Dad will be pleased to discover this on the shelf of new releases, but newcomers may be unlikely pick it up based on the unfortunate cover design. Librarians should give this book an extra push. Highly recommended.

Rivers, Caryl & Rosalind C. Barnett. The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children. Columbia Univ. 2011. 240p. ISBN 9780231151627. $24.50. CHILD REARING
Rivers (journalism, Boston Univ.; Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women) and Barnett (senior scientist, Women’s Studies Research Ctr., Brandeis Univ.) here tackle the growing media trend of taking recent brain research on gender differences out of scientific context. Examining the cultural and parenting implications of misconstruing both the intent and results of these studies, the authors come down hard on the media. They argue that old myths about gender differences are being packaged in shiny new bottles and that parents and educators are being fed a diet of junk science that is at best a misunderstanding of the research and at worst what amounts to a deliberate fraud on the American public. Covering familiar topics including math, toys, and aggression, they debunk such experiments as single-sex education and present relevant research showing how heterogeneity has more beneficial effects than homogeneity. This spirited book is best for academics, educators, and anyone interested in a serious look at the science of gender.

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