Photo courtesy of KJ Dell’Antonia (https://kjdellantonia.com/share-the-book/)
KJ Dell’Antonia, one of the voices behind my favorite podcast, #AmWriting, just released a new book: How to Be a Happier Parent. She planned the publication to coincide with the beginning of the school year. This is often a contemplative time for parents who are full of New School Year’s Resolutions.
I have to admit, the timing was great. I’ve been planning what our fall schedules are going to look like. That includes putting a lot of thought into subjects like the balance between activities and free time. I’ve also been dreading early mornings and the chaos that leads up to school bus time. Enter this book. The author wrote it because she didn’t want to spend her parenting years in a “haze of resigned exhaustion.” She wanted to identify problem areas within parenting (for me it’s mornings) and present ideas for solutions. Besides mornings, she covered other hot-button parenting topics that include homework, chores, activities, and discipline.
Dell’Antonia began the book with a set of mantras that she reinforced throughout the text. My favorites are “What you want now isn’t always what you want later” and “You can be happy when your children aren’t.” The first is a reminder that there are some areas where parents could just take the easy way out. This includes examples like just doing a chore yourself, instead of reminding a child (daily, possibly for years) to do that chore. Doing it yourself will get it done, but it won’t teach the child anything. If a parent’s goal is to raise adults, then it’s important to remember what you want later.
The second mantra that resonated for me was “you can be happy when your children aren’t.” Dell’Antonia means that we don’t always have to be invested in our children’s squabbles. We can give them the space to mourn when they don’t make a team without mixing in our own emotions. We can be pleased and proud of their success without making them feel that our happiness depends on that success.
This book was a fun read. It’s packed with great ideas and I know that our school year will go a little bit more smoothly if I can keep them in mind.