Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Rubs Me the Wrong Way

Do you ever pick up a book you want to read and then something puts you off? That happened to me when I began The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma. The book focuses on the author's pact with her dad to read together every day and how the ritual changed their lives.
I read to my kids all the time when they were little, and my parents read to me, so I knew I would be able to relate to the book.
My mistake was reading the foreword. Who even reads the foreword? I should have skipped it. The foreword was written by the father who read daily with his daughter, now in her early 20s, until she left for college.
The father, Jim Brozina, told his version of how the daily reading plan began and then espoused the many benefits his daughter received from being read to by her father. At the end, he sums up how important reading together is.
Here's the part that bugged me:

If children feel that a parent is living a life that shows compassion and understanding, patience and love, that child will not have to reach a stage of rebellion against that parent. Why rebel against someone who has listened to you and wants to help you fulfill your dreams? (p. xviii)
Okay. There was a time when I was more judgmental about parents and kids. As Grace reached her high school graduation, I was feeling a bit smug about our relationship and how she managed to stay out of trouble. Some grandiose temper tantrums during her preteen years were the extent of the drama she caused our family. I might have even been able to write the words written by Brozina. Obviously, the other parents were doing it all wrong.
However, Grace was my first child, not my last. And since then, I've discovered that even good parents have kids who get in trouble. I was wrong when I judged parents whose kids took a wrong turn. That becomes more obvious when parents raise all their kids the same way and some of them find trouble while others stay on the straight and narrow path.
My boys have chosen to rebel. They aren't in trouble with the law or anything, but they find typical teenage activities to occupy them and keep me awake at night.
Luckily, I can learn from Brozina's words and examine myself to see which of the many characteristics he has that I'm missing. Maybe not enough compassion and understanding? Too little patience and love? Perhaps I never wanted to help them fulfill their dreams.
Unfortunately, (?) my boys, who I read to, are still close enough to me that they inform me of their rebellious activities, which only causes me to lose more sleep.
As someone who spends her days trying to make sure my kids can go to the college of their choice and enjoy the extracurricular activities that will make them well-rounded, along with providing them a house in a good school district and healthy meals, I don't think I'm going to criticize my own parenting. Instead, I'll put down The Reading Promise and move on to another book.


Linda said...

I totally agree. It doesn't matter what your parenting skills are or how much you read with your children, most of them will rebel and get into trouble. It's normal.

Delana@dujour said...

I'm with you on this one, Paulita. I have to kids always seemed to be in trouble of one sort or another!

Paulita said...

I'm probably being too sensitive about it, but since my boys are still in the midst of their teens, it's kind of a raw subject. Parents should feel good about the job they did raising kids -- just not assume that if people's kids turn out differently then they must have done it wrong.

BFF said...

Amen to you, Paulita. I often want to go back and have a good long "talk" with the old me. Rebellion is some kids way of finding their own path. To say they won't need to? Please, she must have been an only

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