As promised, a loooong time ago, some more of What I’m Reading.

As the big kid has gotten older, we ‘ve been working on increasing her independence. There are lots of reasons for this, but basically we don’t want our kids to be sheltered by the ‘safety’ of tv, and be turned out into the world without practical problem solving skills. There still is that fear, that lives in our animal brain, that commands us to protect our young, and Gavin De Becker’s book,
Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane), is a GREAT read for teaching kids about their personal safety. (Surprise — it’s not about stranger danger and finding a cop. In fact, it’s about the opposite. The recommendation for a lost kid (from him, which I think is brilliant) is to “find a mom with kids.” Those are a whole lot easier to identify than a cop, especially when you’re four and staring at the hips of every grown-up around. He puts the horror stories we’ve all heard into perspective, so there are horror stories (maybe don’t read it if you are especially sensitive to those, like, oh, after the birth of a child …) but his overarching message is that we only hear about them because they are rare. (He also has a book about adult personal safety, which is just as interesting, in my opinion, but I love that human behavior stuff. That one is The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence.

On that same note of fostering independence, you’ve probably all heard of Lenore Skenazy — she’s the mom that dared let her kid navigate their usual NYC subway route, alone, at ten. (A side note, when I am in NYC, and see  little kids running about on the train platforms, I’ll admit, it makes my heart skip a beat. (But I’d bet if a city mom saw my kids running on a lakefront dock — which they do — they’d have the same reaction. It’s all in your comfort zone. ) Her book, Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) is a good resource to gain confidence in letting your kids learn independence. She also has a great blog at www.freerangekids.com

Rounding out the trifecta of “books about letting kids be kids, safely” would be Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. I actually first read this way back in grad school, as part of my research on technology’s impact on community (which, hey, BangorBaby was the product of!) and for someone who, literally, grew up in the actual woods, it was especially meaningful. Living in the big city of Bangor means I’m often looking to recreate some of those rural experiences, which is why you will see my kid turning over rocks and digging up worms, learning to ID trees and birds, and experiencing all four seasons that Maine has to offer. And related to the loss of kids’ experiences with nature, the book The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Children and What Parents Can Do About It by Sarah Bennett and Nancy Kalish is a must-read if you are feeling the pressure of homework, especially in lower grades. (Apparently, this is to prepare them for the “next grade, where it gets Important” — but they say that for every grade — so by that logic, I guess I should have the 6 month old start on some busywork now. She’ll only eat them, but we can say that we tried, right?) I’d rather have my kid collecting earthworms in the rain than doing work that has little to no value to her actual life. (Disclaimer: I’m a former teacher who ascribed to this in the classroom as well, and didn’t assign homework then, but made time in class for independent work. Most parents were very appreciative of this.) They also have a website, which is no longer updated, but has a great FAQ and a fact sheet if you are looking for the basics.

And how about a few shorter reads?
This article on NPR was great (which probably explains why I’m a nut about stringent car seat use, and less worried about Stranger Danger):

5 Worries Parents Should Drop, and 5 They Shouldn’t

And this is an article that came out shortly after the birth of my oldest child, and really struck a chord with my family, and has helped guide our parenting partnership ever since:

When Moms are Gatekeepers

Coming up in a future post: my must-have items for life with baby. Sadly, I can’t link to “an abundant amount of time,” so it might be a week or two. Until then, do you know of a Halloween activity in the Greater Bangor area that other local families should know about? Email me, or comment, or mention it on the Facebook page.

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