This debut parenting book by a teacher and mother of three provides instructions on how to meet children’s needs and build a supportive family.
Bartow is a certified professional life coach, and she has gleaned many observations about parenting and child behavior from her years as an educator. She also worked to raise her own children to be happy, successful adults. In this book, she provides detailed insights into “how to be the mom your children truly need,” as the book’s subtitle promises. She presents them in the form of 12 chapters, each covering an emotional, mental, or spiritual gift that a mother can provide a child. For example, “The Gift of Intrinsic Motivation” discusses the importance of having children do tasks with the goal of doing their best rather than with the expectation of a reward. Bartow gives examples of her own daughter’s labors with difficult schoolwork and tells of the pride that the youngster had with its completion. Although the book specifically focuses on the role of mothers, it also offers reflections on how parents can collaborate, especially in a chapter titled “The Gift of a United Front.” The author explains her concepts simply and backs them up with examples from her own life—most often from her parenting but also from her time in the classroom. Memories of her own childhood, too, provide a window into a youngster’s perceptions and concerns. Overall, Bartow writes with a clear, deliberate voice that’s easy to follow. One of her key messages is the importance of being honest and direct with children in all circumstances—from preparing young tots for trips to the supermarket to discussing the topic of sex with adolescents. She also illustrates how children can learn valuable lessons when they’re allowed to have their own experiences and aren’t protected from challenges or natural consequences. However, Bartow distinguishes punishment, which she characterizes as a hurtful, vindictive response, from discipline, which she paints as a logical, appropriate action. The book also covers religious faith, urging mothers to allow their children to explore it even when their own beliefs may differ.
A calm, clear, and encouraging read for mothers who seek to optimize their children’s well-being.