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Monday, 29 August 2011

How to write a bestseller on parenting

This one is going to be mean. I mean, really mean. I am going to make fun of people. This time, it’s the authors of parenting books that got to me. So now I am getting back at them. Just before I start, I would like to mention that I have read some really wonderful books on parenting. I loved reading them not only because I am a mother but also because they were fascinating. They were books showing the development of a child instead of giving suggestions on how to raise children. I liked them because they were telling me: ‘those are the facts. Now, it’s your turn to figure out how to put them to good use’. Other books? OK folks, here it comes.

Basically, everybody can write a book on how to raise a child. And nowadays, everybody does. There are thousands of books, thousand of methods, thousand of approaches to parenting. But, regardless of those differences, all books have something in common. If you want to write a book on raising children, just keep these simple rules in mind, and everybody will be thrilled, and the money will start flowing in. Are you ready?

1)      Start with describing why your method is the best. Not why it could be beneficial for children and parents, not how your method could possibly help the parents develop a better understanding of their child’s needs, no. Your method is the best, it’s the cure for everything. It will change the world, don’t you know it?
2)      Always tell parents that everything they do is wrong. They don’t have any idea how to raise their children, but luckily, YOU do. A good idea to do this is to introduce model families and point out their mistakes. Make those mistakes sound funny or ridiculous (‘Would you believe they actually did that…’).
3)      Also, it is clever to make the parents feel guilty. Happy, confident parents will NOT buy your precious book and we cannot have that, can we!
4)      Never do this directly, but always by implication. If then parents come to the conclusion that they are stupid, horrible, and totally unworthy of having children, you can always say they figured it out themselves, so it wasn’t your fault.
5)      Remember, YOU are the knight in shining armour and the good witch put together. Armed in your infinite wisdom and boundless experience you come to the rescue of parents who are at a loss. Luckily it is never too late. You arrive just in time, and with your magic wand you fix these horrible situations. After that, the parents change their ways and become better people. Describe such situations.
6)      Your children are always awesome, they behave well, they play the piano, the violin, the guitar, they sing like nightingales, they love you and each other, get only the best grades and have a fulfilling social life. They are basically angels in disguise. Of course, imply (do NOT, under any circumstances, say this directly!) that this is because of your fantastic method. Also, imply that if people don’t stick to your method their children will become quite the opposite.
7)      Think of how to answer criticism. I know, it’s weird but some people really don’t get you at all, and they might have problems with your awesome methods. So think of some points that might come up and address them in such a way that the person in question has no other choice but to embrace your wisdom.
8)      Cherry-pick your studies. Choose only those that support your claims. The rest is not important. Even better, you can skip science altogether. After all, who needs science when they have YOU!
9)      Always give the impression that all families and patients who apply your method are grateful for it, and cannot thank you enough. Also, your method ALWAYS works. Not most of the time. Not with most of the patients. Always.
10)  At the end, take some time (and many pages) to reflect on how your method can change the world and make it a better place.

Simple, isn’t it? So keep to these 10 simple points, and go write your book! I think I will.

Remember that I wrote this for fun. As I said, there are many wonderful books about child development. And, there are many methods of raising children. Psychology has many approaches to the human psyche, and none of them is the best. Just like no book on parenting will work for all parents and children.. However, what really maddens me is that how authors of parenting books claim to have the ultimate method for raising children. They don’t. There is no ‘one method to raise them all’. Parents can choose from a huge variety of methods and approaches. We could read the parenting books, and learn from them, and maybe even adopt some of their advice. But don’t expect more from us.
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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Cycling in the Netherlands

 I wrote this post so long ago and I don't know why I haven't translate it into English. Please forgive me and here's the translated post. I revamped it a little and added pictures. Hope you enjoy it. PS. Since I wrote this, we had another child, lost a part of the trailer. I didn't really cycled as much as I could have. I am still willing to try, though.

Bikes are the most popular means of transport. Everybody cycles, regardless of their age of social status. Businessmen cycle to work in their fancy suits. Students cycle to school or university. Moms and dads put their children on their bikes and take them to playgrounds.

I am writing about this because never have I seen bikes in such a huge number and in so many forms. For children, you can buy seats or trailers. There are even special bikes with build-in boxes, the so-called bakfiets. As if this wansn't enough, the Dutch are great when it comes to putting the maximal amount of stuff (including people) on a minimal amount of bikes. Often it looks very dangerous, but I can't help but admire their creativity.

In Warsaw, I didn't cycle a lot. There weren't enough cycling paths, and cycling on the streets was far too dangerous.When I moved to the Netherlands, I bought myself a bike. I wanted to cycle better and as I was pregnant, I wanted to move. I got my daughter to daycare, got on my bike, and went to the park. I didn't cycle a lot because my belly was getting more and more annoying. I tired easily, but felt much more comfortable cycling.

When winter came, I didn't cycle and J. was born. I couldn't cycle in the post partum period, and the weather wasn't inviting either. So my poor bike stood closed up in the shed. Later when the weather got better, I still couldn't cycle because when K. was at daycare, I had J. with me at home, and I was too afraid to cycle with a child.The poor bike waited and waited.

Until one day, we bought a trailer. We took the children for a little ride. My husband had the trailer attached to his bike, and I cycled behind them. I was afraid (I have balance problems and am not a great cyclist), but soon could cycle without problems. The weekend after that, we did the same. We went to Voorburg, around 10km from our place, and then we went for a long walk. I was less tired than I expected to be. 

The weather is not nice right now, but I hope that I will make many cicycle trips with my bike. J. will start daycare in September and I will be able to cycle alone.

Hope you'll enjoy some more interesting bicycles here:

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