After being a mom for almost seven years, it was time to take it to the next level and crack a parenting book. Truthfully I read parenting books when I had a newborn, but that was it. I have a library of Dr. Sears books, most of which have not been touched, but if anything, they make me look like a conscientious parent, even if I'm only winging it.
The parenting book was somewhat forced upon me: it was a disappointing book club pick by a mom in my son's playgroup. We could have read a mindless Danielle Steel novel or some other chick lit, but it felt like getting a homework assignment when we were asked to read Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy. If written more recently, this book would be called Your Three Year Old: A Pint Sized Frenemy.
Another mom in the book club warned me not to get the book, explaining it says three's great, but at three and a half, get a babysitter as much as possible. I laughed, thinking it was a joke until I read the book and it practically says that verbatim. I didn't need a parenting book to tell me that getting a break from your kids can make every stage better. Unlike some other parenting books, this one only made me feel better about my parenting. Up until this week I felt I could write a successful parenting book, that was until the New York Times printed a story that killed my working title, "Yelling: IT WORKS!"
What I wouldn't suggest is paper training a kid like a dog, as the three year old book recommends. In the "puppy dog" stage, a parent can spread out a newspaper in the bathroom and ask the child to go on that, then "within a week or two" - assuming you survive this stage - you can introduce a potty chair. This method would thoroughly confuse our dog and maybe my son, who might expect us to slowly move the newspaper toward our back door before requiring him to go outside, just like we did with our dog.
After reading the puppy dog suggestion, I decided to view the book as a historical piece. It made other notes about the father's temper and disciplinary role not only easier to swallow, but kind of quaint. In the feeding chapter, the book says, "If the preschooler does eat at the family table, he does best if he sits next to his mother, who can give him the attention he needs. And hopefully, Father, if father is present, will refrain from lectures on table manners." First of all, I waited for the book to suggest eating on the floor with the dog as the best way to table train a kid. Second, clearly times have changed because when my three year old plays with his food or acts crazy at the table, my husband usually laughs while I consider sending my son to finishing school.
Reading this parenting book in particular did help me but that was solely because it set the bar pretty low. I've lived through age three with an older child without having to send her away to boarding preschool, so I'm confident I can handle this age again. The greater lesson for me is that I shouldn't always read our monthly book club selection.