Monday, September 01, 2003
Book offers advice for grandparents in a new age The Grandparent Guide: The Definitive Guide to Coping with the Challenges of Modern Grandparenting, by Dr. Arthur Kornhaber, McGraw Hill, $16.95
You’re going to be a grandparent!" How exciting those words were each time my husband and I heard them.
Since 1978, the Sunday after Labor Day has been designated Grandparent’s Day, a day set aside to recognize the importance the older generation can make in the lives of their grandchildren.
Grandparents don’t always fit the traditional mold. I remember one of my grandmothers riding a bus and a streetcar to reach our house. She would always darn our socks. I remember her trying to teach me that skill-which nobody uses today. Today’s grandparents may both be working and more independent. If they are retired, they may live in a different, warmer climate for the winter months. Medical advances have increased the life span and lead to a growing number of great grandparents.
When our children were born, grandparents weren’t allowed to visit at the hospital. What an experience for my husband and me to be there shortly after the birth of our first grandchild.
It is impossible to relate all the valuable information found in this 400-page book, which emphasizes four grandparenting roles: love, teach, enjoy and support. Several chapters are dedicated to issues that face the modern grandparents. How do grandparents react when children are adopted? What effect will divorce have on the relationship? Should grandparents be primary babysitters? What about the children of gay and lesbian families?
The end of each chapter includes a list of Web sites, books and support organizations for each topic. Another feature is ongoing updates available under the Grandparent’s Guide at www.grandparenting.org.
It’s not unusual for the grandchild to learn your phone number before their own, for them to call and ask to be rescued for a short period of time or overnight, to invite you to one of their games or concerts, or say they need to go on a shopping trip, wouldn’t you like to come along, or go with me on a school field trip, and don’t forget to buy cookies and candy to support their groups. And then that little voice on the other end of the phone line says “bye, Grandma, I love you." I am grateful I am near enough to experience them all. It helps to keep us young. Judy Belanger
Turning boys into men with no man around to help How to Turn Boys into Men Without a Man Around the House: A Single Mother’s Guide, by Richard Bromfield and Cheryl Erwin, Prima Publishing, 2002, $15.95.
Alleluia. Proudly addicted to self-help books that have helped me with writing, decorating, dieting, working and general living, I have devoured several dozen books on raising boys. In 14 years of parenting, including the last eight years as a single parent to three boys, I have inhaled thousands of pages of advice from the lame to sublime. Finally, there is a book custom-made for my life that is neither academic nor idiotic, but speaks precisely to my nagging guilt that as a woman raising men alone I am hardwired to do this wrong.
Written in a tone that is intelligent and compassionate without ever succumbing to trite, this book offers fresh, insightful and concrete suggestions on how to do everything from disciplining to instilling a social conscience. Interrupting the text are carefully selected case studies of mothers who have run into peril with their boys. Bromfield, a clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School, and Erwin, a marriage and family therapist in Nevada, then prescribe a way out of the maze. Highlighted sidebars are spaced throughout the book with bulleted points on topics from allowances to homework, as well as results of pertinent studies and surveys.
I never expected to know it all when I finished reading the book, but it has prompted me to think more clearly about limits I set, as well as how to reinforce for my boys, now 14, 12 and 9, that hard work pays off and that I am not their peer, their queen or their spouse, but their mother. This book made me feel understood, acknowledging the inherent difficulties in raising humans who are quite unlike me, compounded by the reality that I do it alone, most of the time exhausted.
Without judgment, the authors name the landmines from toddler through teen years and appropriately advise on the nuances of each issue, noting what needs professional intervention and what can be solved with intelligent choices. After reading this book, I can appreciate where I need to adjust my own attitudes and actions. I vow to listen more, preach less, understand why they take the risks they do and keep welcoming their friends for dinner. Maybe, just maybe, with what I already know and what I learned here, I can succeed in what the book promises and raise exceptional sons. Michele Weldon
Just the right mix of advice and support for a new mom The New Mom’s Companion: Care for Yourself While You Care for Your Newborn, by Debra Gilbert Rosenberg and Mary Sue Miller, Sourcebooks Trade, 2003, $13.95.
Expectant and new mothers have no shortage of reference materials at our disposal. Books, magazines and Web sites offer advice and support on an endless range of topics. But few offer advice as comprehensive, understandable and compassionate as The New Mom’s Companion.
Rosenberg, a licensed clinical social worker, worked with Mary Susan Miller, a specialist in parent education who has written nine books. The book begins with the premise that giving birth is only one step in the process of becoming a mother. Since it is an event which changes almost everything we know about ourselves, the book sets out to “offer all the support that new mothers need from a companion who’s been there and discovered that she is not alone."
While no one book can answer every question, Rosenberg has done an admirable job of addressing issues likely to arise in the first few months. The book is easy to read and navigate, divided into three sections: your personal transition, your relationships and an appendix which has a hodge-podge of topics not quite as universal as the first two sections. All of the chapters are written in a question-and-answer format, making it a wonderful resource for a mom with a specific worry.
The tone of the book is refreshing, because it admits that the sheer amount of information provided to first-time mothers makes the job of motherhood seem overwhelming. Instead of setting us up to fail, Rosenberg reassures readers throughout.
What I found particularly useful is the book’s advice on dealing with differences in parenting styles without alienating your friends and family. Rosenberg draws on her own experiences as a mother as well as the many concerns she’s heard as leader of a new mother’s workshop for more than 13 years. She also crafts answers which balance reassurances and bits of advice with accurate guidelines for when a woman should seek professional help.
Whether addressing emotional issues of loneliness and anxiety or offering practical tips on how to squeeze a shower into each day, this book is a welcome addition to any nursery. Alena Murguia