Monday, May 21

Even June Cleaver Would Forget The Juicebox

When I was pregnant, I read only one book aimed specifically at parenting. The main purpose of that book, Becoming the Parent You Want To Be, was to start a dialogue between SB and myself about our parenting style in relation to discipline, religion, how to talk to Bumper about the serious stuff, and other important childhood issues. I thought that this book would cover all the subjects that I needed to know to be a mom. Easy-peasy, right?

I did read multiple baby books so I could deal with the everyday “what-the-heck-is-happening with my precious child” sort of things but I slowly came to realize that there always seemed to be a subtle or not-so-subtle parent guilt message in the text. I think the one that kicked me hardest in the guilty-mom-o-meter was a famous sleep-advice book that told me that children who had sleep schedules that solely accommodated the parent’s lifestyle end up stupid and working at dead-end jobs for a lifetime. I took this one right to heart.

While I do agree that keeping little Johnny up all day so Mom can go socialize, shop, or eat bon-bons while watching soaps is bad form, I really took this advice to the extreme. I freaked out every single time I kept Bumper up five minutes late or OMG I missed the naptime window of opportunity because I wanted to eat, go pee or do something else equally as selfish. I was a total freak about the elusive sleep and I was thoroughly convinced it was all my doing that Bumper couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.

In addition to my failure to have Bumper sleep properly and the fact that I was screwing up her chances of being a productive member of society, I also felt the need to have every possible baby educational product available (thankfully my wallet did not agree with these urges). I constantly checked and rechecked the baby-milestone charts and tried to figure out what I was doing to prevent her from reaching every single one of the checkpoints. Sure, I tried to act all cool on the outside but inside I was a mess.

I didn’t try to compare myself to other moms and I tried not to have negative thoughts about my parenting skills but I heard the voices in my head and they weren’t very nice. I really thought I was going to be the perfect mom and I tried everything in my power to attain my goal. I really thought I was going to love every single minute of being a parent. But it was not to be. And this made me feel terrible.

If it hadn’t have been my discovery of parenting blogs I would probably be in worse shape but thankfully, I found some like-minded moms who felt the same way which made it easier for me to cope with my guilt. But despite this, one thing that I really needed was how to change and banish this mom-guilt way of thinking.

Dr. Anne Dunnewold’s Even June Cleaver Would Forget The Juice Box addresses just that: a new paradigm and solution for this age of extreme parenting. Extreme parenting, according to Dr. Dunnewold, is basically “parents pushing to control their children's lives to perfect ends”.

Of course a parent wants to protect and never have their child experience failure, rejection, and pain but children need to know how to deal with these realities. I cannot get over some of the examples in the book of parents who take this level of protection to the extreme. I could quote many of the examples but those stories alone are worth the read.

Many parts of this book made me smack my forehead and say “OMG – I understand what she is saying and how it applies to me.” What I love most about this book is how Dr. Dunnewold not only identifies the problem but outlines strategies for a solution and how to share it.

The chapters contain mantras to help moms remember the new way of thinking. There are exercises that challenge you to reveal to yourself how you think. Dr. Dunnewold lists stumbling blocks that moms may encounter when trying to change thinking or behavior and how to deal with these hurdles.

Parts that really spoke to me were Illogical Thinking (I am the queen of illogical thinking but that is changing), Types of Moms (gone is Ms. Extreme and hello Perfectly Good Mom!), and Safety in Numbers – No More Mommy Wars (we’re in this together and I’m here to help).

Dr. Dunnewold based this book on research and writings from many different sources all outlined in the extensive appendices and index. Appendix Two is a fantastic collection of the “Perfectly Good Mother Mantras” which she suggests can be in your wallet, daytimer, on your dashboard, or refrigerator. These can help you stay focused on your new and, more importantly, attainable goal of being a perfectly good mom.

The mantras that I’m now applying to my life are: “Look what I accomplished today” and “It’s no big deal”. Sound easy? Well not as easy as you think.

After reading this book I can honestly say that I do feel like a perfectly good mother and the quest to be a perfect mother is not one that I want for my friends or myself. We all need to work together and stop this need for perfection.

And how can I not like a book that quotes Stephen Colbert? You know truthiness doesn’t just apply to politicians; it applies to all extreme parents on that doomed quest to be perfect.


This review is part of the
Parent Blogger Network coverage on Dr. Dunnewold's book Even June Cleaver Would Forget The Juicebox, you can read more review here.


Kyla said...

Sounds like a good read!

jdoriot said...

Great post! I think that book sounds like something I would like to read. Thanks for the review!

Sandra said...

Good review. I think I'll buy this for a friend of mine

petite gourmand said...

great post- I so hear you on this one.
I personally don't read many parenting books- I find that when I actually get a chance to read a book these days, the last thing I feel like reading is more stuff on how to be a good parent, or what I'm doing wrong.
But this one sounds good.
thanks for the review.