You’re Not the Boss of Me – A Book Review

When I got the email from Mom Central seeking participants in a blog tour for “You’re Not the Boss of Me – Brat-Proofing Your 4- to 12-Year-Old Child” by Betsy Brown Braun, I couldn’t enter my sign-up information fast enough. 
Once I started reading the book, I placed little tabbies on pages with ideas I could relate to or that echoed parenting challenges I have had in the course of raising an almost-11 and almost-14 year old.  As you can see, the book resonated with me:
As I was reading the book, I had the distinct feeling that the universe’s vibes were aligning to give me some life experiences that would result in me adding more tabs.  Like the phone call I got from Wayne’s teacher telling me that he had decided not to turn in his art project, one he had been looking for about three weeks prior and that I had put out of my mind.  Like my 13 year old getting threatened to be “beat up” because she stated something factual (yet incendiary) in a phone conversation.  Like the parent of one of my son’s peers who called to say my son had had possession of his kid’s “Phiten” necklace four months ago and since it could not be found any longer our family should pony up a replacement.  Yeesh.  How is it that everything I learned obtaining a degree in Child Development and Family Relations, as well as a master’s degree in Counseling and Human Systems, goes out the door when I cross my own threshold?
Although I didn’t agree with 100% of Betsy Brown Braun’s suggestions, the book did help me take a step back from the intense, subjective aspects of parenting and think about some logical, concrete tactics that I can use to parent more effectively and restore the balance of authority in our household.  Ms. Braun reminds us parents that:

“…as you well know, your child is not like a self-basting turkey; he’s not going to emerge well-seasoned and having just the right tenderness without effort.”

So true. 

Ms. Braun breaks each chapter into an introductory “theory” section that discusses parenting topics such as “Growing an Empathetic Child,” “Teaching Responsibility,” ” Instilling Honesty in Your Child,” and “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme! – Eliminating Spoilage in Your Child.”  These introductory sections are followed by Tips and Scripts that provide concrete methods for applying the theory.  In the chapter on Building Independence, for example, Ms. Braun encourages us to Support your child’s interests; they may become his passions.  As a parent who has struggled to “let go” of Tenley’s successful and intense gymnastics career, I took to heart Ms. Braun’s reminder that, “Your child needs to live his life, not yours.”

In the chapter on Instilling Honesty, one of the tips is:  When it’s done, let it go.  How often does a particularly memorable incident become part of family lore?  Yes, I have had one of my two children steal something from a store.  Yes, I marched this child back into the store and made the child return the item.  Yes, many years later I still joke around with this child about the incident.  Ms. Braun reminds us parents that, “Your child must not feel defined by her transgressions.” 

Again, so true.

One of the appendices of this book is called The Ethical Will of a Grandfather to His Grandson.  Although the book goes into thorough detail and provides specific tips, this appendix almost completes sums up the point in one page.  I particularly liked:

  • When there is a job to do — do a good job, never a sloppy one.
  • When your time is free, explore the things you think might be interesting.  Follow your curiosities.
  • Think for yourself.  Don’t believe what you read or what other people say, unless it seems true to you.
Blue hair?  It happens.

Ups and Downs of Parenting?  Yep, that happens too:

Two children worth taking the time to read a book that will help them be all they are meant to be?  Right here:

Note:  I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of HarperCollins and received a copy of You’re Not the Boss of Me to facilitate my review  Mom Central also sent me a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.  pk

Obama – The Historic Journey – My Friends Cast Their Votes!

What is your first childhood awareness of the presidency? For me, it had something to do with the “casualties” count in Vietnam, followed by Watergate. My children are growing up with different presidents, certainly, but with differently “packaged” Presidents and a program called “Kids Voting” that teaches them about the electrion process. When invited me to join the blog tour for Obama – The Historic Journey, I wondered if this book had a place in my children’s 24/7 media – infused world.

My youngest voter (my son, Wayne, 9) looked at the table of contents and said, “we need to turn to page 17.” The chapter titled, “A Skinny Kid With a Funny Name” appealed to him. Subsequently, we discussed the fact that Obama’s favorite tv show is Sportscenter and discussed President Lincoln’s Bible which was used during the inauguration. It was when we started exploring the page of children’s letters to President Obama and their drawings of him that my son was most interested — we almost missed the bus due to our absorption! When I asked Wayne what he would say in a letter to President Obama, I learned that he had spent what attention he was going to spend on this book.

When my daughter (Tenley, 12) didn’t want to read the book in the midst of “last week of school” euphoria, I asked my friend Yasmine (13) to look it over for me. Yasmine just completed 8th grade, and had a “platform” of comments for this book.

What Yasmine liked best: That Barack Obama is the first African-American to become president. She wished, though, that he had shared more about his close childhood friends. She also would have preferred more details about why he chose to run for president instead of the preponderance of pictures.

Something that Yasmine learned that she did not know about Barack Obama: That he went to Harvard Law School, that he spread his mother’s ashes in the river, that he liked to play basketball in his spare time, and that his favorite food is chili.

Yasmine shared a few additional comments that intrigued her about this book: Malia was born in 1998 — my brother Christopher was born the same year! Sasha was born in 2001 — my other brother Dezmon was also born in 2001!

Here’s a picture of Yasmine, Christopher, and Dezmon:

Lastly, I “polled” my friend Ann, who homeschools her son, Alex (8) about the book. She said that she “particularly liked the quotes throughout the book, the stories including the first lady and their daughters, and the pictures of the President and suggestions made by children at the end of the book.” She would “veto” the fact that President Obama was a smoker, though.

And here’s my vote. I enjoyed the summary this book provided me, an adult reader. It covers a lot of territory in a fairly simple way. Of course, I am the reader who found the section in “The Audacity of Hope” where Senator Obama (in Washington for a crucial vote) is urgently called by his wife (in Chicago) and reminded to bring ant traps home — it appears the Obama home was being infested — one of the most interesting. So maybe what appealed to me was the “little things” that even a world leader has to contend with, and that he and his family may have in common with mine.

This book has features that appeal to children of various ages. The pictures appeal to the younger children, and the text is valued by older children who are motivated to read about the topic. As a mom, I would find it slightly more approachable if it were “throw it in the backpack” size. Instead, it is more “I need to check this out for my book report” or “coffee table” size.

All in all, however, I would cast my vote for this book. More importantly, I cast my vote for any reading material that encourages kids to be involved in creating the world in which they will grow up. As Frances Moore Lappe said, “Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.” Kids and adults (like Wayne, Yasmine, Alex, and Ann) who are willing to learn more about our leaders, whether they agree or disagree with their politics, are voting for the kind of world I want to live in!