We don’t do it often, but occasionally my wife and I read a book together. Or in this case, we listened to this on audiobook together while driving back and forth to her family’s cabin. It took us about six weeks to finished the book, but it led to a lot of good conversation about parenting and family. Because I was a nanny to my two nieces for 5 years (now 6 and 4.5) and I am still very involved with them, and my wife has been a teacher for 17 years, we had a lot of current context to think about beyond our current 8 week old daughter.
I first came across this book in a series of posts from Rhett Smith, a family counselor. The focus of the book is 12 different parenting strategies (which can be adapted for teachers or family members or others that work with children) to help children learn to integrate their emotional, intellectual and creative brain functions to be a more integrated person.
What I think is most important about this book is that while it believes parenting is very important, it is low pressure in its approach. This is a quote from close to the end of the book:
“The goal of parenting is not to be perfect by an stretch of the imagination. But a goal of every parent should be to be intentionally and consistently engaged in the lives of our kids in a meaningful way — not just there — but really present.”
Most people are aware that there are two hemispheres of the brain, the right brain and the left brain. Roughly these are thought of as more oriented toward logic and creativity. (The book has more nuance than this, but for the purpose of the review this is good enough.) In addition, there is an upper (more controlled and detail oriented with the capacity for planning) and a lower (more impulsive and primal) parts of the brain. It is not that one part is better than another, because all are part of our makeup as humans. But part of the role of parents is to help children learn how to use their whole brain, not just the parts that come easy.
I will not walk through all 12 strategies (Rhett does a good job of this in a 20 part series if you are interested), but instead just strongly recommend the book if you are a parent. I have already giving away a number of copies to friends because I believe this is important, especially as we attempt to prepare children to become emotionally healthy people that related well to a wide range of people in the world.
I told my wife that half way through, it really feels overwhelming because these are not all natural ways to parent for me. But I can see the reasons behind them. And later in the book it seemed less stressful. But I will need to re-read this in another six months or so to help lock down the concepts and put them into practice.