Parenting Columnist: Outside the Lines

Parenting coach and Washington Post columnist Meghan Leahy asked herself, “Could I write a book that provides some hope, while also challenging you to be more compassionate, more loving, and more open to your child and yourself?” This 2020 book is the result. She wants parents to trust their own gut. She explains, “I see my role as a parenting coach as culling the immense wisdom, experience, and knowledge of the previous generations of parents, combining it with today’s science and real-world parenting needs, and helping each and every parent find their intuitive voice.” Practical anecdotes and encouragement fill the pages.

One of her main messages is to decreases the stress and perfectionism of our overparenting culture. She suggests that we stop worrying about the elusive “perfect” home and set up a reasonable standard. Her description of that standard: “if you mostly awaken and smile at your child today, embrace them, hold them when they cry, celebrate them when they win, listen to their stories, eat with them, read to them, challenge them, hold the necessary boundaries, allow the anger and tears, then you are fully parenting. Even if you are doing this, like, 70 percent of the time? Winning! And if you hold your tongue at the eye roll, decide to not care what they wear to school, and allow them to fail without chronic hand-wringing? Well, that’s icing on the cake.” All of this is designed to remind you that if you even picked up a parenting book, that’s already progress.

She follows this up with what seems to be a strong summary of her parenting theory: “American parenting has become so intense, so theory-driven, so bullet-listed, neuroscience-y, data-driven, technique-heavy, and expert-laden that simply believing you are doing ‘good enough’ by lovingly showing up is a rebellious act.” She wants parents to believe they are sufficient and to trust in the power of the connection they have with their children.

She concludes with the encouragement to press forward. “We don’t understand the power that we already have. The power to keep simply showing up. So, instead of going down the rabbit hole of ‘never enough,’ why don’t we actively remember the simple parenting moments, the moments that we chose peace, bravery, and compassion over anger, fear, and hard-heartedness?” She wants parents to speak kindly to themselves and recognize what they are doing well as they strive to keep going with this invisible yet meaningful parenting work.

I don’t recommend this parenting book. She retreads information from other sources without carefully prioritizing the info or making her own cohesive theory. She does ask some meaningful questions, but I don’t think that’s sufficient enough to justify reading yet another parenting book. This is the kind of parenting book that is aimed at helping people feel better about what they are already doing.

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