food allergies and food intolerance…

After reading Overcoming Allergies, I dove into Jonathan Brostoff’s Food Allergies and Food Intolerance. The beginning of the book is quite informative regarding the biological processes behind food allergies and food intolerance. Based on the work of clinical ecologists and scientifically sound, my only complaint about the beginning of the book was the lack of references. For individuals faced with reactions to food, the earlier sections are definitely worth reading. Some of the appendices at the back are also useful.

However, there is a rather long section in the middle of this 450+ page book which remains lacking. The book waxes on about various food intolerance theories without adding much beneficial information. The lack of references in this section is especially apparent. My other complaint is the breastfeeding advice. While the authors are pro-breastfeeding, it is obvious that they are not educated on the topic and should definitely not be dispensing some of their horrendous advice.

Check the book out from the library. Read the front part of the book, glance at the appendices, and turn it back in.

you’re loveable to me…

It had been a big day. It had been a hard night.

Many parents can identify with the opening pages of Kat Yeh’s book, You’re Lovable to Me. Long nights and sometimes longer days can often leave parents tired and cranky. However, it’s important that we continue to show our children that no matter what, we love them unconditionally. As the mother rabbit in Yeh’s book explains to her little ones, no matter what a child’s feelings may be, the child is always “loveable to me.”

The simple prose, combined with  Sue Anderson’s sweet illustrations, makes a wonderful book about unconditional love for toddlers or preschoolers and their parents. This would make a wonderful story to use for reconnection after a big day or a long night.

what color is caesar?

Maxine Kumin’s book, What Color is Caesar?, is a delightful children’s book about discovery. Caesar, a black and white spotted dog wonders if he is truly black with white spots or white with black spots. On his quest to find the answer, he speaks with other black and white animals. Rather than answering his question for him, he becomes more confused. The true colors that the animals say they are befuddle him. Eventually his journey takes him to a circus, where he meets a make-believe guru named Harry. Harry, a lollipop loving guru, tells Caesar to look within. Only then will he know his true color. After discovering his true color, that which is inside, Caesar goes back to his home life, secure in the knowledge of who he is.

The messages in this book are simple and clear. One cannot judge a person based on their appearance. One must look within to find one’s true self. Paired with Alison Friend’s dream-like colorful illustrations, What Color is Caesar? is a touching book. My soon-to-be three-year-old has checked it out three times this Summer.

connection parenting…

Pam Leo’s book, Connection Parenting, begins a bit differently from many other books. Individuals new to the subject of gentle parenting or consensual living will be happy to read that parents are doing the best they can with the information, resources, and support they have at any given time. While you may feel regret about how you have parented in the past, there is no need to feel guilt about it.

Her focus on connecting with our children is an important message. When we aren’t connected with our children, we are disconnected with them, affecting our communication and interactions. In today’s rushed society, most children don’t receive a large quantity of time with parents. While they may receive some quality time, that is different than connection time.

The concepts in Connection Parenting are nothing new to those familiar with consensual living. While there are some nice reminders in the book, it probably has the greatest value for those just beginning their journey into this style of parenting. Much of the book focuses on the connection parents have with their young children. That is a very important aspect of our lives with young children and a foundation for the rest of our relationship with them, but I wish that more time had been devoted toward having a connection with older children. Older children may not rely on us for as many things as their younger counterparts, but their need for connection is no less.

taking back childhood…

Childhood has changed. Endless hours of playing in dirt, working beside parents, and sitting down to a dinner with your family has been replaced by a mad rush to get to the next activity, run through drive-through for a bite to eat, and then sitting down to watch advertisement filled television. Interactions between parent and child are limited and stressful. Instead of building a life-long relationship with our children, families are being driven apart and individuals find themselves looking to fill those roles with what the media deems as necessary. 

Nancy Carlsson-Paige addresses these issues and more in her book, Taking Back Childhood. Building off of the work of Jean Piaget and Marshall Rosenberg, she has presented the concepts of consensual living in a gentle, non-confrontational way which would appeal to those gentle parents who aren’t quite on board with the paradigm shift of consensual living. Addressing topics such as age and developmentally appropriate behavior, I-statements, active listening, win-win conflict resolution, and descriptive observations rather than judgements, Carlsson-Paige has a firm understanding of non-violent communication.

She has also linked much of the downfall of families to the media marketed violence children experience, citing a drastic change in marketing to children during Reagan’s administration when limitations on marketing and media were lifted. Today’s children are viewing an unprecedented amount of television and movies, all conveniently chock full of advertisements. Instead of playing creatively, they are learning how marketers dictate that they should play, with mass marketed toys which play for them.

The author’s easy going writing style is an assest to this book, along with the strength of her subjects. However, it’s my opinion that she has tried to take on too many topics in one book. Both aspects, consensual living and marketed media, would make stronger books on their own. The constant switching between topics detracts from the finer points and takes away from the strength of the ideas.

don’t swear with your mouth full…

After reading my post concerning the disadvantages of time-out, Dr. Cary Chugh contacted me and asked if I would review his book, Don’t Swear with Your Mouth Full! When the book arrived, my husband joked that I would have to write a good review, but by that time I had already read the back of the book and scanned the inside.

The book has a few insights. Chugh states that both authoritarian and permissive parenting cause problems in the parent/child relationship and that an authoritative parenting style yields better results in the long term. He comes back to this concept briefly when discussing teenagers, but only allots a few sentences to the topic.

Reading the book, one comes out with the idea that the author really does care about families. The introductory chapter is a bit egotistical. Comments such as getting out your highlighter and the mass amount of exclamation points (where was the editor?) detract from his excitement over a concept that is nothing new and definitely not something I would ever want for my family.

Chugh states that there are seven forms of discipline and then goes on to list seven forms of punishment. He continually refers to punishment throughout the book as discipline, seemingly unaware that punishment is not a key component of all disicpline methods. The majority of the book consists of Chugh explaining how to properly punish children according to the behavior-limited method.

Behavior-limited punishments involve a parent imposing some type of punishment (Chugh advocates the bigger the better) which have no set ending. Children are continually punished until they comply with whatever the parent wants. As soon as they have performed the required task, the punishment ceases. According to Chugh, this promotes self-control. In fact, it does no such thing. External motivation does not beget self-control, a quality developed through internal motivation. The child does not have much of a choice – endure whatever punishment the parent dictates or comply with whatever it is that the parent dictates. Children are not treated as people.

I’m not a fan of authoritarian discipline techniques which claim to be authoritative. Love and Logic is a prime example of this type of discipline, and I’ve been known to call it sugar-coated control. Chugh’s book ranks even lower on the list. There isn’t anything sugar coated about it. It is straight up parental control. Perhaps if I wanted to raise my children to be the perfect disciples of a dictator, it would appeal to me. Instead, I prefer that my children learn to think for themselves and learn conflict resolution so that they can work with others in order to find mutually acceptable solutions.

Pull out the matches and roasting sticks. It’s time to make s’mores.

percy jackson and the olympians…

My children were thrilled when we discovered Rick Riordan’s series about Percy Jackson, in which he successfully blends modern day life with Greek mythology.. They waited impatiently for each new book to come out.  I had fun reading the series with my children and brushing up on my Greek mythology at the same time. There are five books in the first series: 

  1. The Lightning Thief
  2. The Sea of Monsters
  3. The Titan’s Curse
  4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
  5. The Last Olympian

After completeing the series, my children began asking when the second set of the series would be released. I think they have just about given up, but I am excited to be able to tell them that the first book of the Camp Half-Blood series should be available in October.

For those of you who are a bit rusty on your Greek mythology (although Riordan has done a wonderful job of incorporating the myths into his books), I highly recommend D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. We had this book checked out from the library for a long time until we finally ordered our very own copy.