Poems & Essays

27 Jan

Book Review: Naked Parenting

In Mother Words Blog No Response

Review by Jennie Robertson

My husband and I had great parenting examples, though I often fall short of what I know to be best. But, even with strong parenting examples, we all need occasional reminders. Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence offers just that: many much-needed reminders.

“What is Naked Parenting?” That’s the title of the first chapter and a good question that I think can be answered with this quote: “Wide open, up front, and direct communication, especially when it could be uncomfortable, is a basic tenet of Naked Parenting.” I believe being honest and openly affectionate are the pillars of this idea.

The book contains chapters on love, honesty, communication, responsibility, discipline, mistakes, and gratitude. I found the honesty chapter the most thought provoking. It opens with an anecdote about child after child getting up on stage in a school talent show and squawking out a tune while the audience squirmed uncomfortably. The point was that the children’s parents should have told them they had no singing talent before their child got up there—I found that a little challenging because I question whether most parents are able to see their children’s talents that objectively. Personally, I’m still trying to absorb that my helpless baby can now walk and talk! Nonetheless, I think she has a good point, and I appreciate her giving permission to parents to steer kids towards their best potential. Later in the chapter, she talks of not gushing over every piece of artwork, but saving your praise for the very best pieces in the interest of being honest and not making kids question your sincerity.

Here’s a quote that illustrates another aspect of honesty in parenting: “If you’re bored silly watching the kids dunk underwater for the 63rd time, then it’s okay to call them over to you, tell them that you’ve enjoyed seeing their new trick and you’re happy they’re having fun, but now you, too, would like to have fun, so you’re going to sit and read your book or talk with your friends.” My first thought was an excited Really? It’s ok to do that?! Looks like next summer might be a lot more enjoyable than last summer!

Possibly my favorite quote in the book is a simple one in the chapter on Naked Responsibility: “No adult with a victim mentality is happy.” All I need is a scroll through my Facebook feed to convince me that this is true.

In the chapters on responsibility and mistakes, there were good words on the importance of failures and frustrations. I always feared failure; I didn’t learn that it could be helpful and healthy until I was in my thirties. Perhaps this was a gap in my parent’s technique, or maybe it was just my personality. I’m told that, even when learning to walk, the important thing to me was not falling down, ever. Here’s a sample of DeCesare’s wisdom on the subject of failure and frustration: “The feeling of frustration pushes us and drives us forward to achievement. Don’t rob your child of the accomplishment, of the success after the hard work, because you don’t want him to feel frustrated.” She points out that successfully dealing with failure and frustration helps us to be more prepared to deal with them in the future; I would add that this makes us more willing to take risks, knowing that even if we fail, we can move on, and that risks, of course, are what help us make progress. I think of myself skiing when I was in high school: I snowplowed ever so slowly down that mountain, and I never fell down, but I never got better. I needed to be able to fail.

I made a list of about 25-30 other short reminders and ideas gleaned from the book, but why not give it a read yourself? You may not find a lot that you didn’t know, but you will find plenty of reinforcement, and we all need that as parents.

Every chapter in Naked Parenting closes with a couple of pertinent quotes, and I’ll follow that model with a quote from the end of “Naked Mistakes”:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” Calvin Coolidge

Headshot Leah DeCesare

 

Leah’s first book, Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence stemmed from her main gig as mother of three and her fifteen years as a doula, childbirth and early parenting educator. The second in the Naked Parenting series was released in December 2015: Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World and she is finishing her debut novel. Leah’s current parenting adventures revolve around her kids, tween and teenagers, who created the basis for her Mother’s Circle parenting blog, www.motherscircle.net, where she shares perspectives on parenting from pregnancy through teens. She parents, writes, teaches and volunteers in Rhode Island.

 

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