After book club last night, I don’t think I will need to eat or read anything today. Kind of overdid it on both accounts. But it was fabulous, as always. I mean, what could be better than spending the evening with seven amazing, intelligent, book-loving women … and a raclette grill. The food and the conversations were equally delicious.

While I was in the midst of reading NurtureShock, I blogged some about the challenge I was finding it. It is dense, full of studies and statistics, but that wasn’t what was bogging me down. What I struggled with was more the over-thinking, neurotic kind of parenting that I think these kinds of books promote.

I’m at a different parenting stage than the other (younger) women in the group, though, so I was very interested to hear what they had to say. And, as always, they shared from their hearts about the impact the book had on them.

Someone found something useful in every chapter of NurtureShock. We had some interesting conversations about racism and lying and developing self-control. As a group, it seemed we were the least impressed with the chapter titled The Search for Intelligent Life in Kindergarten. There are some crazy, performance obsessed parents out there, which this chapter confirmed. The Can Self Control be Taught chapter prompted some interest and even further research into the seemingly super successful Tools of the Mind program being used in some pre-k and kindergarten classrooms.

I don’t know if I had a favourite chapter or discussion. I did appreciate the authors’ conclusions in the final chapter, though. I loved the discussion on gratitude, and the study which shows that among college students, those who kept a gratitude journal (Ann Voskamp, anyone?) were twenty-five percent happier, were more optimistic about the future, and got sick less often during the controlled trial. They even got more exercise. Even their friends noticed a positive difference. But interestingly, the same effect did not seem to apply to children who kept gratitude journals. There was basically no difference in happiness or positive behaviour. Hmmm.

I also agreed with their conclusions in general:

When Ashley and I first began this book, we wrote out a wish list of Supertraits we wanted for kids – gratitude, honesty, empathy, fairness. If we could sufficiently arm children with Supertraits such as these, we hoped that problems would bounce off them just as easily as bullets bounced off Superman.

After summarizing some of the conflicting results they uncovered in their research, they conclude:

It isn’t as if we’ve now abandoned our desire for children to acquire honesty and other virtues. (And we’re still telling kids to “Play nice” and say thank you) But we no longer think of them as Supertraits – moral kevlar.

Basically, I think, what they are saying is … it’s complicated. Kids are complex and mysterious and individually unique. And as parents, we get to participate in the growing and the maturing of the children in our care. We get to parent and mentor and make mistakes and grow ourselves through the interaction we have with our kids. It’s what we call parenting.