There are plenty of parenting books out there, the average book store has shelves groaning under the weight of this mighty tomes. Most share a common theme, they are written by dispassionate experts and based on more theory than practical experience. Much akin to someone teaching piano lessons based purely on theoretical knowledge and without the ability to play. There is nothing wrong with theory, but experience wins out every time.
Dyan Eybergen does not fall into the category of theoretical expert, yes she is a registered pediatric psychiatric nurse, but Out Of The Mouths Of Babes is written from her personal experiences with her own three children. One of the mistakes that many parenting books make is to take the ‘one size’ fits all approach. One size does not fit all. Her three boys are very different individuals, they were different babies, different toddlers, and different preschoolers, what worked for one did not work for another.
As a father of two, now grown children I can attest to that. My kids had, and indeed have, very different personalities, one is out going and extroverted, the other reserved, thoughtful, and conservative.
Although Out Of The Mouths Of Babes is only about 120 pages long, it is crammed full of practical advice gained from personal experience.
Dyan has an easy going writing style which makes for an entertaining as well as informative read. She covers many diverse areas, all of which are important to parents of young children. There was one section in particular that caught my eye, it was on the subject of fear. I recently read a book about the trials and tribulations of living with a sibling with special needs. By trial and error the author had come to realize that routine was not monotony for her sister, routine represented normalcy, and when that routine was changed it became stressful. Dyan also talks about this subject, relating a story about taking the children on a surprise trip to Florida, one of her children reacted in a very strange way, the surprise trip represented change to his already ‘cast in stone’ Christmas time. Rather than being thrilled at the prospect of seeing Disney World, he he instead found numerous reasons for them not to go. The moral of the story? What we as adults think of as being fun and exciting is not always what the child will want.
Another common war zone in many families is food. I consider myself blessed, my kids shared my love of all things edible! Other than the searingly hot Indian Curries that I love they would happily plow into whatever was placed in front of them. This certainly is not the case in many families. Dyan lays out some strategies for parents with children who are picky eaters. No, it does not involve forcing them to eat what is on their plate, but rather rationalize the whole eating strategy. My wife is a very finicky eater, she thinks that vegetables are the work of the devil! I am planning on trying some of Dyan’s ideas out on her.
The title Out Of The Mouths Of Babes is most apt. Dyan liberally uses actual quotes from tots. This adds a delightfully humorous aspect to the text. It is hard to pick a favorite, but maybe it is this one:
Ryan, what do you think of my socks?
They make you look fat
Mother, age 40 something
Ryan age 4
I give Out Of The Mouths Of Babes very high marks, it is short enough (120 pages) to not be overwhelming and full of theories by ‘experts’ to be an easy read. yet in the 120Â pages are an enormousÂ number of practical tips. After reading this book I reflected back on my personal experiences with young children, and more by luck than judgment realize that we had actually done most of the things that Dyan recommends. Parenting is not a matter of having a PdD, it is about applying common sense. Yet a huge number of parents do not seem to realize that, children should be a joy, not a battle zone.