NurtureShock by Bronson & Merryman

A friend recently recommended that I read the book ‘NurtureShock’. I have, as far as possible, avoided books that try to ‘teach’ parenting, relationship building, et al. Not because I don’t subscribe to the ideas and theories these books have to offer. Just that I’ll be rid with guilt by the end of the day for having violated every rule in the book, a total failure!!

No two people are the same, adults or kids. What works for my first child, doesn’t work for the 2nd (yes, already!). Aren’t most of our actions, proactive or reactive, instinctive? Correct me if am wrong. For instance, consider a modern parenting rule that says ‘be firm when saying NO’ or another tough one that says, ‘don’t use ‘don’t” or the famous ‘spare the rod’! . My auto-reflex allows me to just say, ‘don’t run, you’ll hurt yourself’ when I see my little fellow dash to the gate and escape a sharp turn by a degree! However much I rehearse to say, ‘Kanna, walk slowly as there is a bend ahead’, I can never say it at the right moment, and I doubt if it’d ever work with my kids! I patiently remind Vyas thrice if he has some schoolwork to catch up with. I’m gritting my teeth the 4th time and that is all the patience I’m capable of. Another minute of delay is asking for a tight pinch on his thighs. Trust me, it works!

That said, I don’t question the intent of such useful positive parenting tips.. It’s perhaps for calmer folks:) NurtureShock was a different ride though! The book works on the basic premise that most modern parenting methods are flawed!

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Authors Bronson and Merryman explore different stages of child development and talk about the reasons for obesity, aggressiveness, lying, sibling rivalry, and impact of  the relationship between the parents on the children. Few things that stumped me were this:

1. Kids watching too many violent shows do not necessarily turn violent, and those watching good, funny, passive ones certainly do not turn out as saints!!

2. Children of permissive parents lie more often than those with ‘strict’ parents! Such children lie to simply keep the parents happy and carry on with their plans.

3. Children who are ‘only praised’ never learn to acknowledge or handle failure. How doing –Very good, you are doing a great job– all the time even for the smallest of tasks a child accomplishes is detrimental to the child’s growth.

4. Parents, if having an argument in front of the kids, must also take the conflict to a resolution. Moving an argument to another room is a bad idea and never having conflicts is equally bad! I liked this one 😉

5. Single child mostly ends up being a snob and those with siblings are wonder kids who know how to share, is but a myth. Hint gals and guys. If you are under great pressure from your folks who are generously sharing gyan on the importance of having a second child, you can consider gifting them this book. Or at least ftp that one chapter directly into their brains!! All is well if you want to have more than one of course 🙂

6. Peer pressure and fear of rejection are the chief reasons for aggression and starts in early tweens!

7. Drugs, alcohol, and sex among the teens, is a chapter I read forcing myself to believe that all these things happen only in the ‘West’ and I know it’s far from the truth!

8. One grouse I have with the book is its claim that the traditional dads make better dads than the progressive dads! By progressive dads, the authors refer to the ‘nicest’ men of this century who share every work a wife/mom/sister does!

I would have loved some casestudies based in India and a tad disappointed at its absence:( According to the book, the Chinese parents do a great job pointing at a failure and enforce the need for hard work to turn things around. Why their ‘good parenting’ isn’t helping improve the teen pregnancies and abortion rate in the country is a connection I fail to understand. The Filipinos are parents who set the rules. Their children fight the rules their parents make, but do not fight the authority of the parent to set the rules. Wow! Both these sounded quite desi.

Conclusion: Worth a read. Makes you feel you are a normal parent:)

Just as I heaved a sigh of relief on finishing the book, the same friend suggested yet another. This time, its The Nurture Assumption by Judith Rich Harris. I wished I’d learnt to apparate!! With the ‘ding’ sound with which characters disappear in Crazy Mohan’s dramas!!

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