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Rebecca Eckler on Parenting Coaches

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Rebecca Eckler had a really interesting article in Saturday's paper on the role of the parenting coach. (I didn't actually read the paper this weekend because I was up at the cottage enjoying a glorious media-free weekend, but a mom-friend drew the article to my attention, so I thought I'd draw it to your attention, too.)

I thought Eckler did a great job of explaining what parenting coaches do and why you might want one.

I did, however, want to make a couple of comments on the story.

"I sure hope [parent coaching] becomes a trend," says Terry Carson, a certified parenting coach in Toronto, who holds a master's degree in education and is the mother of four. "Most parents are trying to parent differently from the way they were parented, but find the books and advice confusing and difficult to implement. That's where we come in."

I hope this is one of those cases where something got lost in translation during the editing process (as can happen after a story gets filed and something has to get cut for space reasons). This was my gut reaction as a parent to what Carson had to say here: I felt un-empowered rather than empowered: like the message was that parents needed an outside guide to help them interpret the parenting materials and parenting advice they were grappling with -- they couldn't do it on their own.

Here's my take on this: sometimes grappling with that information overload (frustrating and time-consuming as it can be) is what allows parents to become clearer about their values, philosophies, and goals.

That's not to say that consulting a parenting coach wouldn't be valuable, as part of the research a parent might do early on in this thinking process -- prior to really tuning into their own instincts and intuition -- that "parent radar" that allows you to decide what is best for your child, based on everything you have learned about your child.

I also had a problem with this comment:

"Moms don't have the time to read and absorb all the theories out there. They end up falling back on habits. One minute they are authoritative, the next they're passive," [Carson] says.

The moms I know put a huge amount of thought into choosing an over-riding parenting philosophy and making their day-to-day parenting choices. If moms seem to be flip-flopping in their parenting philosophies, it's not because they've failed to "absorb" a particular parenting theory. (Moms are incredibly motivated to learn everything they can about raising happy, healthy kids.) If they fall short of that always-elusive ideal of "perfect parenting," it may be because they may have been up half the night nursing a baby who is going through a growth spurt or caring for a toddler with an ear infection. Parenting consistency often flies out the window after a night like that, after all.

For the most part, it's not a lack of knowledge or a difficulty in absorbing parenting information that makes parenting difficult. Parenting is difficult, period.

And flip-flopping, despite your best intentions to hold steady at the keel, is part of the reality of being a parent.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:14 AM

Squidoo: Great Link on Artist Trading Cards

Thursday, July 20, 2006
People, I am posting this link before I even have my morning coffee, so you know I am excited. This page on Art Cards: The ABCs of ATCs and ACEOs by Monica Moody talks about artist trading cards and art cards (originals and editions). It is awesome. It's over at Squidoo -- a place that I've become somewhat addicted to lately:

Baby Sleep Solutions
TV: Dead Like Me
The Mother of All Lenses: Pregnancy and Parenting
Ann Douglas: Pregnancy and Parenting Author


Okay, I created one more.
Become a Happier and More Successful Author: A 9-Step Plan.
I will now do some serious work.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:57 AM

Scouting for Copyright Violations

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
This is one way to get the kids on board about copyright. Ask your nearest Boy Scout or Girl Guide to lend a hand!

| posted by Ann D @ 11:13 AM

The Shape of a Mother

The Shape of a Mother is such an awesome idea. And the fact that some of the images are a little surprising in a "Wow, I've never seen anything like that in my life" kind of way just reinforces how artificial images of mothers in the media really are. (Do mothers in real life look like anorexic air-brushed models? Not the mothers I know -- for the most part. But there's certainly a lot of pressure to look that way.)

I have souvenirs from all four pregnancies -- stretch marks that have faded to silver, pregnancy pounds that come and go (but are currently in town, if you get my drift), and so on.

I also carry myself like a mother: with more power and confidence, and pride in those maternal curves.

Thanks to Dani for the lead on this awesome blog.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:34 AM

What to Look for in a Parenting Book

Monday, July 17, 2006
Columnist John Hoffman made an important point in his column in the April 2006 issue of the popular Canadian parenting magazine Today's Parent.

"When you peruse parenting tomes, watch for signs of inflexible single-mindedness. Trust those who seem to understand that kids are different, and that there are few one-size-fits-all rules for raising them."

Hoffman's words really resonated with me because they reflect my parenting philosophy and the perspective that I bring to my work as a pregnancy and parenting book author.

I actually feel quite passionately about this subject.

In my book THE MOTHER OF ALL PREGNANCY BOOKS, I write: "There's no such thing as a one-size-fits all pregnancy experience."

In my book THE MOTHER OF ALL PARENTING BOOKS, I note "There's a growing backlast against advice givers who have lost touch with the needs of real families....parenting experts who offer highly simplistic, formulaic solutions that don't take into account the countless messy variables that are the very essence of family life and who refuse to accept that one-size-fits-all parenting solutions fit most kids as well as one-size-fits-all jeans."

And I have been using the phrase "There's no one-size-fits-all sleep solution" ad nauseum during the campaign for SLEEP SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR BABY, TODDLER, AND PRESCHOOLER.

That's because this issue is really important to me. I've always hated it when people have tried to serve me a "one-size-fits-all" or a "five easy steps" bill of goods so I refuse to take that approach in my writing. Nothing about parenting is that easy or straightforward, and there's no across-the-board formula that applies to all parents and all kids. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is selling you a bill of goods. (A very seductive bill of goods that may be just what you need on a very bad parenting day, but a bill of goods nonetheless.)

| posted by Ann D @ 1:02 PM

Lactation Station

Friday, July 14, 2006
A performance art piece about breastfeeding at the Ontario College of Art and Design was given a thumbs down by Jason Kenney, parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "Personally I think we should be funding cultural endeavours that actually draw an audience, that people are actually interested in,'' Kenney told the Canadian Press. "I'm not sure that's the case here."

| posted by Ann D @ 1:55 PM

Dear Thief or Thieves

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
To the person or persons who stole my daughter's backpack from her workplace this morning:

I have to assume you had a greater need for her backpack and its contents than she did -- the contents and her backpack being

  • a Nightmare Before Christmas wallet that was a carryover from her "goth" stage;

  • all of her ID: driver's license, social insurance number, birth certificate, bank card, health card

  • the gift certificates she got for her birthday

  • the change that had accumulated in the bottom of the backpack

  • the iPod (engraved "Happy 18th Birthday Julie -- Love Mom and Dad") that was a gift for her 18th birthday.

This isn't the first time my daughter has had something stolen on the job. Someone stole the tip box from her workplace a few months ago and she and her coworkers lost out on an entire week's worth of tips -- a bitter pill to swallow when you're doing a lot of hard physical labour in a full-serve car wash that pays minimum wage.

So if by some chance the person who took my daughter's backpack happens to read this: I hope you found what you were looking for because the person on the other side of the equation -- my daughter -- had a great deal taken from her today. And her backpack, wallet, identification, birthday gift certificates, and iPod were the least of what she lost.

| posted by Ann D @ 4:05 PM

Diaper Bag Drooling

It's not everyday that you come across a bunch of diaper bags that are funkier looking than your average purse. At least not in Canada. But that happened to me this morning when I chanced across this page. Granted some of these diaper bags cost more than I've ever paid for a purse, but they're worth drooling over nonetheless, don't you think? (Hey, if you go shopping with your baby, you could make drooling a family activity. Ha ha ha.)

| posted by Ann D @ 11:04 AM

The Write Stuff

Thursday, July 06, 2006
Sometimes being a writer is totally crazymaking -- and when you try to explain to non-writers why it's crazymaking, they look at you like you are, in fact, crazy which, of course, is even more crazymaking. That's why writers have to "hang together" -- both online and face-to-face -- and why attending writers' conferences can be such an inspiring and empowering experience.

Tonight, I was one of the invited authors at the "Dinner with an Author" event at the Canadian Authors' Association annual conference.

I'd had a really rotten day, so when I arrived at the dinner, I immediately said to my tablemates -- who'd forked over $25 for the privilege to dine with me, "Forget about being an author! Ask for your $25 back now." They seemed to think I was joking, so there was no backing out of the dinner: I had to find a way to try to inspire them -- or at least convince them that being a writer doesn't totally suck every single day. Talk about pressure.

The evening went really well, this despite the fact that

1. I didn't recognize my youngest son's gym teacher, even though she was sitting at my dinner table
2. some of the out-of-town delegates told me that a woman at the liquor store had enthusiastically welcomed them to town and told them she knew I was speaking at the conference and that I was really nice -- or something to that effect. (It's nice to have friends in the right places, don't you think?)

And you know what? I left feeling really inspired. Some of that writer comraderie worked its usual magic and I headed home feeling proud to be one of those half-crazed fools who gets high on paper, ink, and ideas and who can't imagine making a living any other way than weaving words. Thanks, CAA Peterborough.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:15 PM

There is Definitely a Parallel Blog Universe

Wednesday, July 05, 2006
I haven't had time to surf the momosphere in a serious way for many months -- okay, it may be almost a year since I spent hours and hours just randomly exploring links -- and that's an eternity in the life of something as organic and ever-changing as the Internet. All I can say is


After I spent a while playing around with the links at Mom101 (and getting choked up over her first birthday post to her daughter), I somehow found my way over to Life of Pie. (I had the chance to meet kittenpie (a.k.a. Life of 'Pie) in person a while back (and, just for the record, she did not order or eat kitten pie), but I had not had the chance to check out her blog in any serious way until tonight. I love, love, love the way she writes.)

Her blog led me to Friday Playdate (hey, it's only Wednesday! I'm early for once!). Too cool and too fun.

And then I found this really neat blog called Making Things Up, which talks about some of my very favorite subjects: babies and writing and sleep. The writer, Melissa, loves parentheses almost as much as I do. (You are very cool, Melissa.)

I can hardly stand it, people! I have the same feeling I get when I'm doing research: I'm never going to read all the things I want to read, so how do I choose? Sometimes my head feels like it's about to explode with all that information spinning around -- but it's mostly in a good way.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:52 PM

I Can't Believe I've Never Found This Blog Before

I bet you've all been there, but somehow my travels through the momosphere have never taken me to Staci's blog. How odd is that? And it's such a neat blog! (I know: the last thing I need is another blog to read -- but if you were me, could you resist diving in?

I particularly enjoyed her manifesto over at Squidoo:

Mothers Just Say NO to Parenting Experts

Give Yourself (and Your Kids) a Break!

It's important to love our kids and let them have experiences while growing up, but so much of the parenting advice out there relies on spending too much money on "learning tools" (give them a cardboard box) and on parents remaining ever calm and unaffected by their kids' behavior....

I totally agree with Staci: back away from the "learning tools" and find a cardboard box. That cardboard box can be transformed into a fort or a puppet theater that will prove far more "educational" in the end. (Besides, what's wrong with just having fun?)

And as for remaining ever-calm: what "real" parent can pull that off for 18+ years? Not me.

I guess that's why Staci's Squidoo lens and blog caught my eye: like me, she is only interested in having an honest dialogue about mothering. I'm all for leaving the white-washed version for someone else. Frankly, that version is too boring for me. My life may be messy and complicated, but it's real and it's mine. I think I'll keep it rather than trading it for the made-for-TV version of some picture-perfect parenting guru's life -- although it does sound tempting some days. (Perfect kids? A miracle parenting formula? Hey, that's pretty heady stuff!)

| posted by Ann D @ 7:59 PM

Funny Motherhood Anecdotes From Canadian Moms

Do you have a funny motherhood anecdote involving a child over five -- perhaps about a time when something your child said or did make you laugh out loud, or you found yourself in a parenting situation so ludicrous you couldn't help but crack up?

Only your first name and your child's first name would be mentioned -- and you can have pseudonyms if you prefer.

I'm looking for a couple of funny anecdotes from Canadian moms -- and I need 'em in a hurry for an article rewrite. (Yes, the joys of being a writer.) If you have an anecdote to share, please email me at ann@having-a-baby.com ASAP.

A million thanks.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:07 PM

Breastfeeding May Protect Against Bedwetting Later On

Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Here's a rather unexpected benefit of breastfeeding: breastfeeding your baby during early infancy (up to age three months) may reduce the incidence of bedwetting later on. A study reported in the June edition of the medical journal Pediatrics found that bedwetting was less common in children ages 5 to 13 who were breastfed than in children the same age who were bottlefed.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:48 PM

Funky Junk

We're one week into the summer break in my part of the country, which means that some kids are going to be getting pretty antsy and some parents are going to be getting pretty desperate right about now.

If you've got a school-aged child and you're looking for a really terrific activity book (one that's kept my eight-year-old entertained for over a week, with no end in sight), might I recommend Funky Junk. You'll have to make a trip to the hardware store to pick up nuts, bolts, wire and other assorted "junk," but that's a small price to pay for hours and hours of fun and entertainment. You also end up with some really neat stuff.

I wish I'd managed to take a close-up shot of the necklace the six-year-old girl who visited our cottage on the weekend made for herself. Her mom wore it for most of the weekend and it looked very chic. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see something similar selling for $30 in a Queen Street West boutique.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:32 PM