Lindsey Jane's Reviews > Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort
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May 19, 12

bookshelves: parenting-books, books-i-own
Read from December 30, 2011 to May 19, 2012

In reading parenting books, you rarely find one you'll agree with 100%. The trick really is to take the good and leave the bad. The book is a good book if the good outweighs the bad. Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves did contain quite a bit of good. However, it also contained, in my opinion, an awful lot of bad.

I'll start with the good this book had to offer. It is true that far too many people do not view children as people. Our society tends to place them somewhere around a well loved pet, not a fully formed person. For some reason, the trend has remained that magically at 18 a child becomes a person, capable of having their own opinions only at that magic point. However, that isn't as it should be. This book offers great perspective on treating children as persons, equal persons. Considering their needs and desires as you would the needs and desires of any other person in your life. I wish that message could be sung from the rooftops. Respect children! Treat them like people!

"Many small events... don't require solutions even if the child reacts with tears or rage." (p.100) What a great point! I don't have to rescue my child simply because they are upset. If I'm there, that is all that the child needs. It is not my job, place, or duty to "fix" everything for my child, even if they react negatively. I think that many parents fail to see the value in letting a child be mad and not trying to "fix" them being mad. This book was great at pointing out that children should be free to express all emotion, even negative emotion, and there isn't something you need to do in letting them express their emotions other than simply listen. "We cannot stop the rain for out children and it wouldn't be good for them if we could." (p.145)

I also found many of her communication techniques to work wonders. Simply listening and validating my children has been a big game changer around here. I am listening, I am there for them, but their feelings are their own. I feel that they've been owning their lives more and relying on me a bit less to provide them their happiness or solutions to their negative emotional state. I've noticed a particularly evident change in my older daughter (she's 6) that she feels more "at home" expressing herself these days, good or bad, and she doesn't blame others for her feelings so much. She's also gotten much better at her problem solving skills since I'm not jumping in with suggestions every time she encounters another child who doesn't want to play with her or some other disappointment.

So, there is a great amount of good that can come from this book if you have the particular ability to take the good and leave the bad. If you are one that fixates on what is wrong with a book, then this may not be the book for you.

Most of the personal stories given in the book seem outright fake. The interactions between parent and child or counselor and parent just don't feel real to me. Perhaps much was condensed so that the point was easily displayed, but the stories just didn't sit right with me.

I often felt Naomi Aldort went too far. That she had a good point and I was with her, until she went too much to the extreme and threw the point off a cliff. It seemed many of her points went from me nodding in agreement to saying, "Whoa Naomi! Too far. Too far!" I feel like I took her basic points and then had to throw the rest out of my head.

I felt like she was asking the impossible at times. I get that "power games" (where a child empties the garbage over and over while you pick it up while play acting that is is a big deal, but not trying to stop the child) can be a good tool for kids who are feeling a bit helpless, I just don't have the time or the energy to play anytime my kids says to. I cannot possibly come up with the energy to chase my 3 year old around every evening at bedtime so he can feel powerful. Often I just don't have the time for a game of throw the sippy cup on the floor. There were multiple point like that that could make a parent feel like a big, fat failure because they just can't do that today or right now.

Dr. Aldort and I also disagree on expectations. I know that my living room being relatively clean is my goal. Dr. Aldort feels that as such, it is my responsibility to keep it that way and should my child trash it, I can verbalize my wish that it be clean, but I cannot expect them to help clean it. In my world, family just doesn't work that way. We all have to pitch in and do what helps the whole. There are many goals that my children have that I help meet. Likewise, I expect their participation and cooperation with some of my goals. I don't expect them to steam clean the carpet or keep all the toys on the shelves at all times. I do expect that they pick up their own things when they are done with them and that they pitch in on family cleaning day for the good of all. Mom is not a slave. Community works when everyone works for all, not just when they personally see benefit.

I was also very confused when Dr. Aldort told me I should not praise my children. She seems to believe scolding nor praise should take place. Everything should be matter of fact and avoid trying to steer them on way or another. I want praise when I accomplish difficult things. I anticipate my children wanting the same. I think this is just one instance of Dr. Aldort throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Some people use praise to coerce their children toward certain things. So, no one should praise their children. I think that is very short sighted. I think praising a child in the things the child is proud of or does well is a good thing. And I can't imagine stopping myself from telling my daughter the picture she spent hours making is lovely because I don't want my daughter to think I only want her making such pictures. That's just silly.

So, if you can leave the bad and take the good, read this book- it will do you good. If you are one that fixates on the bad- avoid this book, you'll hate it. If you are a slightly insecure sort of parent who easily feels they fall short of expectations- avoid this book, it'll make you feel worse. If you can read her expectations and feel they are silly and not feel personally assaulted- the good in this book could outweigh the bad for you.
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Nikki Magennis Pretty much my thoughts exactly!


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