A debut parenting book shares ideas for creating happy, fulfilled families.
As a mother of three and grandmother of four, Rutherford has lived the advice she gives in this easy-to-read, occasionally humorous guide. She aims to help parents not only get through their days, but enjoy them as well. Her main idea is often heard but rarely followed. “The solution,” she says, is “getting back to the basics, so family life is less chaotic. By basics, I mean spending an entire day without any electronics whatsoever and focusing instead on interacting with your kids, and perhaps playing a board game or going for a walk with the family after dinner.” Her tone is warm and amusing. After hearing the news of a new baby in the family, “grandpa and I were total blubber butts.” Some of her suggestions, such as the list of activities for a summer vacation, are worth hanging on the refrigerator for those inevitable moments when bored children and frustrated parents collide. Others, however, are so obvious that the audience can finish her sentences: “Read to your baby every day. The rhythm of your voice will soothe and content them.” Her voice belongs to her generation but may feel dated to younger readers. Does anyone make sloppy Joes anymore? How many parents of young children were old enough to watch television when Phyllis Diller was a regular on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show? These are quibbles, however, in a thoughtful book that is comprehensive—she covers everything from deciding between cloth and disposable diapers to preventing skin cancer and creating family journals—and serves as a helpful primer for new or soon-to-be parents. Rutherford begins her book by explaining that she took the title from her Scottish grandmother, who often said, “Having a baby’s like having a cup of coffee, wee darly.” The author confides that she still doesn’t know what her grandmother meant, but it works as a metaphor for the confusion of parenting.
A candid and useful, if sometimes familiar, guide to the challenges of parenting in an era of distraction.