Why be a parent?
Gopnik approaches this question by examining the paradoxes inherent in being a parent and unraveling some of the mystery surrounding the bonds between parents and children. As a cognitive developmental scientist -- and a Grandmother -- she draws on many fields of human study to encourage parents to create caring, secure and loving environments. She encourages the development of bonds between children and parents that
"allows children to explore. to try entirely new ways of living and being, to take risks. And risks aren't risks unless they can come out badly. If there isn't some chance that our children will fail as adults, then we haven't succeeded as parents. But it's also true that being a good parent allows children to succeed in ways that we could never have predicted or imagined shaping."
There is one reason this book is the first Parenting by the Book review: Gopnik examines the paradoxes of being a parent from the point of view of a developmental cognitive scientist as well as with the heart of a Grandmother.
Gopnik is a professor at UC Berkley, the author of numerous academic papers, writes the Mind and Matter column for The Wall Street Journal and publishes books for parents' general reading, including
Well-being in childhood
Recently, on a FB video chat with Little Guy it was pretty obvious he was experiencing Big Feelings. When I asked why he was sad, he said that Mom and Dada would not give him a treat. I could see his little face all scrunched up and knew he felt quite put upon by not getting a treat before dinner; I could also tell Mom and Dada were just about done with the crocodile tears. So, after letting him know I was sorry he felt sad, I attempted some distraction -- visual games of peek-a-boo with both of us moving out of sight, as well as showing him some great pictures from the books I will bring when I next visit -- while the grown-ups prepared dinner. A few giggles later and some pretend tickling through the phone, Little Guy was ready to help set the table -- I'm not sure the treat was forgotten, but the Big Feelings were more under his control.
There are so many fascinating things about this less than 10-minute video chat with my Grandson which are made clear by the book!
Gopnik covers quite a bit of material in The Gardener and the Carpenter -- cognitive development, learning processes, children and technology, and the world of play -- but it solidly supports her premise that our relationship with our children is the key to their well-being in childhood.
Regardless of where you are in being a parent -- hoping to have a child, raising children or are part of the village raising a child -- Gopnik is an excellent resource and The Gardener and the Carpenter is well worth your time and attention.