Saturday, July 11, 2009

Confessions of a Slacker Mom - Muffy Mead-Ferro

Summary: The slacker mom speaks:

I think parents probably have better instincts that they know. You don't have to be a pediatrician or a child psychologist or an academician to have some inborn wisdom about raising your child. You just have to be a mom or a dad with a sense of what's practical, and a willingness to listen to your inner voice, instead of bowing to the inevitable pressures of "perfect parenting" messages.

And don't think this book is just one more installment in those endless parenting archives. I'm not going to end each chapter with reference material such as, "The Thirteen Baby Supplies You Really Need" or "The Only Six Toys You Ever Have to Buy" or "The Three Disciplinary Methods That Actually Work." I'm way to much of a slacker to come up with lists like that.

But I do hope it'll give you enough to mull over the next time you hear from some magazine, TV show, friend, or in-law about the latest thing that you, as a parent, are supposed to do or buy, you'll pause. And if you hear your inner voice saying something like "yuck," you'll listen. (Summary from back of book - Photo from amazon.com)
My review: I’m going to be honest. I picked this book up based solely on its title and the snazzy shoes on the cover. Am I a slacker mom? I wondered. To keep it brief for all you busy moms out there...

If you believe any of the following (but don’t tell anyone because you’re afraid to be labeled a “slacker” by other moms) you’ll probably like this book:
  1. It’s okay for my kids to get dirty and put stuff in their mouths. They'll live and it will build up their immune system.
  2. My kids do not need a ton of toys, even if those toys are rumored to make them smarter. They should play with Frisbees, empty paper towel rolls, hula hoops, and sticks.
  3. I do not need to buy my baby everything under the sun. They don’t care. I am NOT damaging their brain or their eternal salvation by refusing to provide an ergonomically designed bassinet.
  4. Over-schooling my kids to make them the smartest kids in the class will likely just make them friendless and annoying.
  5. My kid does not need their own room, their own bathroom, their own car, their own computer, or their own cell phone. They can share. They’ll survive and they’ll probably learn a few life skills in the process.
  6. I am not a short order cook. You eat what I make or you go hungry. No exceptions.
  7. I do not need to bubble wrap my coffee table. Life is dangerous. I will teach my child to be careful.
  8. If I spank my kid on occasion they will NOT become a serial killer.
My complaints about this book were, first, Mead-Ferro's continued tendency to call herself a “slacker” when it’s obvious that she isn’t one. I realize it was a title hook, but in reality, the author has a firm philosophy on how to raise self-sufficient, well-adjusted, reasoning children and sticks by it. Her continued use of the word “slacker” only made ME feel like one when we agreed.

Second, the author had a tendency to make dire predictions: If you buy them too many toys they will never be satisfied with something that is not new and will end up needing to buy a new car every year (I'm paraphrasing that). This was a bit of a stretch for me considering the level of variables involved.
And finally. Chapter 8. I don’t want to spoil it.

Other than those minor details, this book is a humorous, sarcastic, and refreshing take on the concept of modern mothering with the message that, instead of listening to what the world is telling us we must do, we should try listening to ourselves and employing a little bit of common sense and some reasoning skills. Confessions of a Slacker Mom is only 137 pages long, making it a quick and easy read. The short chapters allowed me to pick it up whenever I had a spare moment and come back to it later without to much trouble. I agreed with about 90 percent of the author’s parenting philosophy (she lost me in some later chapters) and enjoyed having my apparently slackerish life validated.

My rating: 3.75 Stars. It would have been 4 but Chapter 8 rubbed me the wrong way. For the sensitive reader (and I don’t really know a better way to put that—if you do, please let me know) there are occasional instances of language. It’s not pervasive, but it is there every once in a while.

To Sum it up: An affirmation that I should continue doing many of the things I’ve been feeling terribly guilty about.

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