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September 7, 2007

"Parenting: Whatever You're Doing, It's Wrong"

... is going to be the title of my new parenting book.

Many studies have shown that being stinking rich doesn't make one happy. People who've won the lottery return to their baseline mood.

I'd like to challenge this finding first hand if you don't mind.

The way I'm going to tackle this is to write a parenting book. Last night, while on our father-daughter Thursday night on the town, I fell prey to a parenting book in the library while Frankie was playing computer games. It was called "Parenting Without Fear". I forget the author's name and I'm not going to waste your time by giving a link. I'm just lucky I saw it at the library and didn't buy it. But, I was vulnerable and picked it up because of the title. Hence, the title of my book.

Nothing can shake up one's insecurities like parenting decisions. We make them, stand by them and hope we don't screw up our little ones in the process. We also try desperately to minimize engaging in social comparison. Yet, we still stumble on these rags. My only idol in the field is Dr. Sears; lots of good advice, no flashy book titles and his advice is largely free online. Again, what lures me in is the title. It's like being stabbed with a fork and the only way to get it out is to pick it up and torture yourself by reading a few pages.

The author tries to convince the reader of an authoritative style of parenting and claims repeatedly his style is not authoritarian. He fails repeatedly. He describes many anecdotes in which the parents have made wrong decisions and never bothers to mention that the child in two different situations may actually be different and may require different learning strategies. I don't want to rant about this author more than I already have, it's not worth it, and I don't want to disclose the specific reasons why he would consider my wife and I complete failures as parents because parenting decisions are private. (No, we've never laid a hand on Frankie in anger, ever, and a frequently used reward system utilizes smoked pork products, but that's all I'll say.)

So, I'm considering starting work on my book. I think it'll be amazingly short because there are no general parenting rules. Every kid's different and every situation is different. But, with a title like that, how could you not pick it up? Sounds like a book Ann Coulter would write. I'll make millions.

Chapter Outline to follow.


Unknown said...

I found you through Kitchenlogic, you are funny:)

Anonymous said...

Oh and I want to try out that money doesn't make you happy experiment too.

Big Momma said...

We definately need more parenting books from Dads who have regular outings with their daughters. You are doing this sooo right!

Cindy said...


Here's my favorite Dilbert comic that deals with money vs. happiness:

Betty said...

It's easy to either repeat what your parents did - parrot parenting, or to become the parent that you needed and didn't have. You are doing your best to be the parent that your daughter needs. Many kudos to you for that.

Dave said...

West Coast, let me know if you get a chance to try the expt.

CBM, I'll send you an early draft.

Lleian, Thanks, that Dilbert strip is going on my office wall Monday.

Betty, thanks, it's a scary journey, I hope we're doing it right.

Lorence said...

Dave, I see so much of myself in the things you write. Parenting is the most difficult thing I've ever dared try - every single tick of the second hand is a potential chance to completely screw up the kid forever... And yet, now that I've started, I can't imagine not doing it. I've found that I'll do things I swore I'd never do, 'cause I know it's the right thing to do now.
I think the title of your book says it all - it could be nothing more than blank pages and still be the most accurate book on parenting ever written, which is why, way back when we first found out we were having a baby, we made a conscious decision to not bother with any of the pregnancy books or parenting books. Seven years after his birth, we still avoid them. Essentially, we've been winging it, doing some of the things our parents did and avoiding many others.
So far, so good...

The great thing about all of this is that it only seems to be getting better. You'll see.

Dave said...

Hey Lorence,
I think we are quite alike. I was impressed you could get a grill together with your son. Amazing. Frankie has the attention span of a gnat. But, today she helped me with a banana bread and we even played a bit of soccer together yesterday. I don't think I've ever engaged in a sports activity that involved a ball in my entire life! So, yeah, it's getting better and more fun. She's hilarious and happy. My goal is that she's happy above all else. So far so good on that.

The only thing we're different on is you have the courage to not look at the parenting books and do what feels right. I weaken and peek at them. It's always a mistake. Take care.

hiltonheadpopcorn said...

As a married, 33 year old, decided-not-to-have-kids man, I do not envy you. Or anyone else who has kids for that matter. I laugh now because of the decisions that my parents made for my brother and I that seem so foolish now. But what did they know? I don't blame them. And to tell you the truth, I don't think they would have found the answer in a book. Glad to hear your playing soccer!

Hilton Head Popcorn Co.

Dave said...

Hey Tom, Thanks for stopping by (Your popcorn looks amazing!). I don't want to say I have any regrets, but I respect your decision to not have children. It's not something to jump into just because you should. It's a frantic ride at times. I don't think I have the best set of traits for the job, but it is getting more fun by the day and is rewarding. I'm also having more fun with soccer than Frankie. As a youngster, I was terrified with any sport that had a ball.

dusio said...

God, that is the funniest comic I've ever seen!