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It’s the end of a long day, and you are one story away from watching Real Housewives in your PJs with a glass can of wine. You anxiously await your kids’ book decision. Will it be the borderline unbearable “5 Minute Stories” book with the stories that just don’t make sense and are dry as a bone? Will it be the longest children’s book ever written? Or will it be a book you actually LIKE?
Welcome to the second installment of The Salty Mamas Book Club! If there’s one thing that you take away from our latest book, it should probably be the Renegade Golden Rule:
It’s Okay if it’s not hurting people or property.
Initially, this had me a little like, “Whoa. Then what ARE the rules??” But the more I read the more I realized it wasn’t about chaos and a complete lack of structure. There’s still discipline. There’s still order. I’m still the parent. And that’s when I decided I could really get behind this….So here are some highlights of what we loved – and what we didn’t.
Kids Need Conflict
As a teacher of young children, you can imagine the amount of tattling I dealt with. “She hit me!” “He’s cutting!” “They said I can’t play!” And time and time again, my response was the same- “What did you tell them?” Because I’m not going to help you fight a battle you haven’t even tried to solve yourself.
So you can also probably imagine my delight when I found that “It’s OK Not to Share” has a chapter on the importance of conflict in kids’ daily lives. They are going to have problems with other kids and, sometimes, even with adults. Sure, we could rush in and solve the problems for them, which frankly just seems soooo much easier sometimes. But what if we gave them the tools to resolve conflicts on their own? The author recommends that we teach kids to speak up for themselves, to use strong voices to set boundaries, and that they are in charge of themselves. And if they can’t do it on their own? That’s where the adult steps in as a negotiator, helping the kids to solve the problems for themselves.
“I Hate You!” Is Nothing Personal/Go Ahead and Let Him Hate the Baby
I remember the first time Lila told me she hated me. I had just made her leave a toy she very much wanted behind at a friend’s house, because she threw a HORRIFIC tantrum about it. She was absolutely, ridiculously furious, and those big words just spilled right out of her tiny little body. She looked vaguely terrified of herself, like she didn’t know what she would do next. I pulled the car over, pulled her out of her carseat, and gave her a giant hug. She collapsed into me and sobbed and we worked it out. So yes, I agree that there was nothing personal about her “I Hate You.”
However, I disagree with the author on one big point here- I don’t think that she should be allowed to tell me she hates me. I think the author kind of agrees with me on this one too, because a few chapters later, in “Go Ahead and Let Him Hate the Baby,” she states that the child should never say she doesn’t like the baby within earshot because it will hurt their feelings. What about MY feelings? I deserve to have my feelings protected to, and so no, I will not allow my kids to say they hate me. Even if it ISN’T personal.
It’s OK NOT to Share…
It’s the name of the book, so we better touch on the attention grabbing rule that has people going, “But…But…But!” Probably like most of you, when my child has something another child wants, the words, “Okay, finish up and give your friend a turn” just come tumbling out of my mouth. I definitely do it with my own kids. Heck, I literally wrote a whole blog post about how I mastered the art of taking turns! The words are mostly habit at this point, and to be honest, a little bit courtesy to appease the other parent as much as the child. “See? My kid isn’t a toy hog!” But what if my child was in the middle of some really creative play? What happens to my child when I end that before he’s ready? I’m pretty hardcore on team play. I love watching my son and daughter use their imagination in incredibly inventive ways – ways that I certainly don’t want to stunt.
I really enjoy the way this book has you “Take Off Your Adult Lenses” to see things as the children see them. This chapter talks about how “interrupting play – and instantly rewarding the other child – doesn’t benefit either child.” And that “young children aren’t ready to share, they’re ready to take turns.” So it’s not about encouraging your child to be selfish, but rather to communicate when they’re done with a toy and to then be courteous. We’ve implemented it around here, and I’m digging it BIGtime.
We’re Not All Friends Here/Hang Up a “No Girls” Sign
Ahhhhhh, why didn’t I read this book years ago? I can only imagine all the anguish and stress I could have saved myself, agonizing over why Lila was excluding kids and refusing to play with the male friends she had played with just last week. It’s not that I would have allowed her to be unkind, but I wouldn’t have spent months crying and reading “Little Girls Can Be Mean” and considering taking her to a psychologist to work on her mean girl behavior. Because she was three. There are lots of strategies in the book- again, like dealing with conflict and helping the kids find a way to work things out on their own- to help kids learn to play better together, but at the end of the day, there’s going to be squabbles, and that doesn’t mean my kid will be turning into Regina George anytime soon. Thank God.
Bombs, Guns and Bad Guys Allowed
This one was definitely the one that had me pushing back the most prior to reading. We have one water gun hiding somewhere in the garage, but other than that, we are a gun free house. We were those parents that made a conscious and very purposeful choice to “not keep guns in the home.” I was very skeptical that this book could do anything to sway me. So, of course, I changed my mind and told Cole he could play with guns.
Cole is obsessed with all things superhero. He loves to wear a cape. He rescues his sisters. And yes he was turning really ordinary things into guns. The strangest was the stand from the cleaning set. The mop, broom, and dustpan were thrown aside and a gun was born. I was trying to fight it. And maybe it’s just that the book let me stop fighting it. Because it helped me understand that Cole has very few opportunities in his life to be a hero. He gets things wrong, a lot. He’s always being corrected and having to learn things and all the scolding. But when he puts on his costume and grabs his “shooter” he’s a strong, powerful, good guy. And it’s fantasy. He gets that it’s not real and he’s four. I’m thirty four and should be able to figure that out as well. The book points out that children playing parents use dolls, pirates use swords (which we don’t seem to have a problem with), chefs have pots and pans and fake food, so good guys and bad guys need props too.
Furtermore, there are lots of great tips for how to ease into gun-play if you have a knee jerk reaction (like I did!). Plus, and I found this super important, the author makes it clear that kids should ABSOLUTELY understand the difference between play guns and real guns and has some great pointers for discussing that as well!
Did we pique your interest? Watch us discuss the book LIVE on FB, Monday, Sept 18 at 8:30pm PST!
Welcome to the first in our ongoing series of Salty Mama Book Reviews! We hope you’ll join us in The Salty Mamas Book Club – read with us, join us in discussions on Facebook, and check out our reviews!
The first is that you must either a) read this book in total secret or b) be ready for anyone and everyone to ask if you and your partner are doing okay. I’m a big fan of carrying a book EVERYWHERE. Which means that inevitably I leave books all over the place. Which leads to everything from sad looks from strangers or concerned questions from close friends and family when you read a book that implies that the baby in your belly is going to destroy your marriage. So just be prepared.
The second is something a very good friend gave me a loving heads up about, and I am now paying that forward to you, dear reader.
There is no delicate way to put this, so I’m not going to dance around the issue.
This book is going to tell you to do certain acts. Oral acts. A MAJOR takeaway from this book is that these loving services may very well save your marriage. So be prepared.
That stuff aside, there’s a LOT of awesome information in this book, so even if you think “are you kidding me? I made him dinner and am raising his kids and am up to my elbows in spit up and poop and now I’m supposed to do what???,” just trust me for a solid second and give it a try. The book. And probably that-which-shall-not-be-named, but the book for sure.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, onto the review!
Gut reaction: LOVED IT.
There were some MAJOR takeaways that I implemented darn near immediately. One of the first things I realized was that I’m HARD on my husband. On a daily basis, I don’t think I am. I think he has it easy. Heck, I generously give him TONS of advice on what to do and how to do it! How loving is that?? Unfortunately, I learned recently that he just think this makes me a control freak! And guess what? It makes it not super fun for him to do things with the kids! Fun fact: Men do not like to do things when they are set up for failure. Now, I try to empower him and set him up for success. In some cases have I lowered the bar for him? Sure have! But it gives him a chance to fly over it. To gain confidence. And the positive reinforcement makes him WANT to do more with the kids. Win – freaking – win!!!
The other thing that I now preach to everyone I can find is to GO OUT OF TOWN AND LEAVE THE KIDS WITH YOUR PARTNER. Whenever I first suggest this to someone, I always get a response that’s some version of, “Oh, I can’t do that.” Why? “Well he doesn’t know what she eats.” “My kids are REALLY busy and it’s just a lot to take care of.” “He’s never been alone with both kids for more than a couple hours.” “We have a unique situation because my kids are [fill in the blank].” Well guess what? Lots of people have kids that are really busy. And we ALL have unique situations. But if you don’t give him the chance he will never know what she eats, he’ll never be alone with the kids, and by God he will NEVER understand what you do each and every single day until he gets the opportunity to live your life. Not for a few hours, not for a day, you’ve got to go out of town for a solid two nights to let the reality really sink in.
Lest you think I don’t practice what I preach, after reading this book, I booked a three day cruise with my girlfriends. Yes a cruise. I couldn’t turn around, come home early – shit, I didn’t even have cell phone reception. I left my husband with three kids. Cole was 3 years, 9 months. Evie was 2 years, 3 months. Izzie was 5 months old. And had never taken a bottle, no matter how hard we tried. And yes, I left them all. Here you go, take a minute to be appalled at how heartless I am, I can handle it.
Done? Okay, moving on…
Guess what? He handled his SHIT! He kept the two older kids fed, entertained, alive. He got the baby to take a bottle. He did all the carseat buckles and got clothes on the kids and kept them in clean diapers the whole weekend. Did I think he could? Eh, I was pretty skeptical to be completely honest. Did he think he could? He was a healthy blend of overly confident and naïve enough to have no idea what he was getting himself info. But the end result was that he stepped up, took care of the kids, and best of all, had an opportunity to bond with the kids that was never available to him with me always hanging out in the wings. And I knew he could do it, which is such an amazing feeling to have.
Now, I know I said I wouldn’t bring up you-know-what (and yes, I’ve equated this act with Voldemort a few times, so sue me) but I feel like I need to clarify something before y’all write me off as someone who turned in their feminist card, put on an apron and bowed down to serve my husband. THAT is not what the book is endorsing. At the end of the day, you need to find what makes your husband feel loved. Feel appreciated. Feel special. That-which-shall-not-be-named is generally a safe catch-all way to show your partner appreciation. But that might not be your Boo’s favorite way to be appreciated. That might not be on your menu. That’s FINE. But find what is, and do that. A lot.
These are just a few of the nuggets of advice that I swear I couldn’t live without. And in case you’re thinking, eh, our kids are older and my partner and I are doing just fine, I’d STILL say to read this book. I finally got around to reading it when we were gearing up for Baby #3. It’s like a textbook in my house. I am forever flipping back through it to find a helpful hint, tip, or piece of advice.
I can honestly say that my marriage truly is better because of this book. And that is worth every single penny.
Grab your copy here! We’d love to hear what you think 🙂