I enjoyed reading Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother right along with Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. Chua's child-rearing methods were not ones I would employ myself, although the work ethic she managed to elicit from her children was remarkable and enviable. Bringing up Bebe shared some child rearing strategies that many French parents employ and showed how children are not necessarily the focal point in French families, allowing parents a bit more freedom than we Americans allow ourselves.
Cleaning House: A Mom's 12 Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma, my most recent parenting read, is perhaps the most usable by me, the mother of three girls ages 6 to 11.
Wyma is the mother of five children aged 4 to 14 and she is dealing with some teen issues I have not yet seen in my house, but know are coming. She is also dealing with a lot of issues that I am concerned about. The children we are raising comprise Gen-Me, and truly believe it is all about them. Wyma is well aware of this fact, and her own hand in helping to create Gen-Me. I have seen the entitlement rights my own children have and unfortunately have contributed three members from my household to this group who think everything is all about them.
The point of Wyma's book is not to lay blame, but rather how to go about helping our children be productive and independent people. She lays out twelve different tasks she wants her children to know how to do before they leave home. They include such things like making their beds, knowing how to prepare food and host a party, and get a job outside the home. Her list is one that all parents should look over, because every time I do a job for my child I am taking away an opportunity for them to feel pride in what they can accomplish and a chance for them to build their self confidence.
Each month the Wyma household focused on one area in this experiment. (Her children were none to excited to realize the "experiment" was their new normal). I plan on employing some of her suggestions with my own children. For the month focusing on keeping a clean bedroom and making the bed, Wyma gave each child glass jar filled with thirty one dollar bills. Each morning she would inspect their room after her kids departed for school. If their room passed inspection, the jar of money was left alone. If it failed inspection, a dollar was removed and Wyma kept it. I have purchased my own glass jars and started loading them with dollar bills in anticipation of a month where we focus on this.
Although Wyma does have to counteract some whining and resistance, I fear that my own brood's dramatics could do me in. With Cleaning House as my new Bible, I am resolving to hold firm in this effort to raise independent, confident children.
Cleaning House has not received the attention that Tiger Mother or Bringing Up Bebe has, yet it is by far the one that is most applicable and helpful to me as a parent.