I haven’t read many parenting books – well I can name one, and it’s not really a parenting book in the typical sense of the word – it’s Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik – which is more of a case study of ‘this is what worked for us and why we have decided to do things this way’. So when I was asked if I would like a copy of ‘Kids don’t come with a manual – the essential guide to a happy family life’ by Carole and Nadim Saad I was curious to see what they had to say.
I read the introduction and I became even more interested… you see the book explores the topic of co-parenting – and in particular how to coparent with a partner whose parenting style is very different to your own. Through out the book there is the ‘voice’ of the two opposing styles of parenting the ‘strict authoritarian parent’ and the ‘all-heart parent’. What I like is that neither is always right and neither is always completely wrong. The book suggests that instead of a good cop/bad cop set up we all try to aim for consistent parenting where children are built up and given choices (albeit limited ones) in order to give the child back some control and to make them, hopefully, grow up in to responsible fulfilled and most importantly happy adults.
I have to say that a lot of this book made sense to me, and we have been trying to do a lot of the ‘tools’ suggested in the toolbox section of the book, such as ‘limited choices’ ‘positive redirection’ and avoiding nagging. I think the book is great because it gives you the reasoning behind choices you might have made subconsciously and it also gives you a discussion from the two different sides of the coin. Examples of how these tools worked for both the strict and all heart parent and their thoughts on them.
The ‘examples’ in the toolbox section – how the theory worked in practice felt a little bit contrived on occasion – but I guess it is difficult to show a full situation for some of these tools in just a few short paragraphs. There are places in each section for your notes, so maybe an example of how it has worked for you, to help you remember or to write how you would change the tools to work for you and your family.
One of the earliest suggestions is that we should not challenge our co-parent if they are doing something different to how we feel it should be done, in front of our children – as this can make children feel insecure and that they are to blame for the discord but also it obviously undermines our coparent. Now I have so much trouble with this one – but I have been following the suggestions in the book such as asking if I can help and then leaving the room if I can’t keep my thoughts to myself and talking about it later.
What I also like about Kids don’t come with a manual is that it includes the ‘voice of the child’ so the reasoning behind why a child might be doing certain things – and how best to ensure as positive outcome – like the need for attention – any attention even bad! The authors advocate special one on one time and making play fun – to help forge a strong connection between parent and child.
I feel like the book has found a good balance of instruction and suggesting (with great in-depth explanations) without being preachy or pushy. It obviously won’t be for everyone, nothing is, but I think for me there are several great takeaways from reading this book and I am going to try to be a more balanced parent.
I would recommend Kids don’t come with a manual as a read for any parent as I think there are some great ideas in there and I think most people reading Kids don’t come with a manual would get a least a couple of ideas or things to think about from reading it.
I received a copy of Kids don’t come with a manual free of charge – however all thoughts and words are my own